Long promised, but not yet delivered, the electric motorcycle with a range exceeding 100 miles has finally arrived. But not from Brammo. The 2012 Zero DS and S — heavily upgraded, but similar looking to previous models — now come with an optional 9kWh battery pack giving them a range of 114 miles. The 2012 Zero S reached a top speed of 88mph.

Skeptical, we asked the company how realistic these number were. “Absolutely honest,” was the response.

The upgrades across the Zero model line are predicated on the company’s new Z-Force battery technology, which, “uses a completely new battery cell chemistry and configuration that is up to 95% more energy dense and is rated to 3,000 complete charge cycles before hitting 80% capacity. This means that a Zero S could travel as much as 308,000 miles on its original power pack. All Zero’s on and off-road motorcycles leverage the new technology meaning that the power pack is designed to exceed the longevity expected of any conventional motorcycle.”

If only Michael Uhlarik had a nickel for every time someone used his MT-03 headlight... Regardless, this Zero DS is now a pretty nice looking motorcycle.

“The 2012 model line is truly game changing,” stated Zero VP Scott Harden. “It marks the first time in history that riders can actually own an electric motorcycle that is capable of exceeding 100 miles of range on a single charge. Every model in the lineup goes faster, further and is more fun than ever before. These are not concepts. In less than three months, riders can see and purchase 2012 models at authorized Zero Motorcycles dealers.”

That “not concepts” line is a shot across Brammo’s bow. That company unveiled it’s Empulse electric sportsbike way back in July, 2010, but has yet to show any signs of making its production a reality.

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The only fly in Zero’s ointment is cost. That 9kWh battery pack is optional, upping the price of the S or DS from $11,495 with the standard 6kWh to $13,995. While vastly improved products, that leaves the bikes firmly in the realm of the enthusiastic, monied, early adopter.

Zero’s dirt range also benefits from the new battery tech, as well as motor upgrades. Power on the X and MX is claimed to grow 33 percent and range is up to a max of 120 minutes of off-road riding.

These are still the kind of products you really have to want to buy and none will serve as your only motorcycle if you do more than basic commuting. But, within those parameters, these are now better, faster, longer-lasting, more appealing motorcycles. The future draws closer.

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