As urban transportation, all current electric motorcycles share the same achilles heel — if you don’t have a garage with a plug, it’s difficult to charge them. No longer. The Zero XU’s 2kWh battery pack slides out of its frame and can be brought inside for easy charging in just two hours. Genius.

Update: cost, weight and other details on the removable battery pack.

The rest of the XU embodies that same spirit of common-sense improvement and adaptation. It’s essentially a Zero X with new body work and road tires. As such, it’s considerably smaller than the Bay Area-based electric motorcycle startup’s first road-legal models, the Zero DS and S. Less battery capacity, top speed and range too. With half the larger model’s 4kWh battery pack, the XU can only travel 25-30 miles on a charge and hit a max speed of 51mph.

Of course that means it’s cheaper too. The XU matches the X’s $7,995 price, coming in at two grand less than the S.

That price equivalency is a good indication of of the XU’s mechanical spec. It’s essentially a lowered version of the X wearing street tires and road-legal equipment. That both good — at 218lbs the XU is seriously light, just slightly heavier than the X — and bad — the XU is saddled with the same 19-inch front/16-inch rear wheels meaning tire selection will be limited over, say, a nice set of 17s. Like the X, the XU will also be absolutely tiny. The seat height is just 31.8 inches, 1.5 shorter than the X. You sort of get the feeling that even if the battery wasn’t removable, you could just pick up the whole thing and carry it up your stairs.

The removable battery pack brings other advantages than simply enabling you to ditch the chain of extension cords running out your window. Customers will be able to purchase second battery packs enabling them to quickly swap a depleted battery for a full one without waiting for it to charge. That may be financially impractical for the typical consumer, but makes the XU friendlier to fleet operators.

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The XU is going to suffer many of the same criticisms as the X, namely components which  tread the line between mountain bike and motorcycle. Spec-ing such lightweight parts is part of how the X manages to be so light, but also helps play to the strengths of electric power. The wheels, for instance, are lighter than standard items, decreasing the mass the motor has to get rolling every time you twist the throttle. dinky brakes and suspension are all that’s necessary to endow the bike with capable handling and stop it from its relatively limited top speed, so why fit anything heavier when it’d only serve to slow the bike down and decrease its range?

Removable battery or no, the XU is ultimately going to meet its strongest competition when the Brammo Empulse reaches market this summer. The cheapest Empulse, the 6.0, triples the XU’s battery capacity and can reach speeds of over 100mph. At $9,995 it’s considerably more expensive than the XU, but potentially considerably more appealing too. The Brammo Enertia Plus is already on the market with a 6.0kWh battery pack, an 80-mile range and a 65mph+ top speed. It's priced closer to the XU at just $8,995. The lilliputian market for electric motorcycles is a crowded one. Is an electric dirt bike with street tires, a limited range and a removable battery really enough to stand out?

Here's details on that battery pack from Zero:

Second Power Pack with Quick Charge (Upgrade/Accessory):  $2,995 MSRP
- Is bundled with second charger for quick charging and to ensure that the packs stay in top condition during storage.

Replacement Power Pack: $2,495 MSRP
- This option is not for customers who simply want a second pack. It is only for “replacing” a power pack that over long term usage or non-factory fault has resulted in the need for a new power pack. All warranties are void on the any Power Packs if the recommended care/charging is not followed.

What is the weight of the battery pack? - 50 lbs

How is the pack secured to the bike in terms of preventing its theft? Tamper-proof fasteners (the owner gets a special security tool that works with these fasteners).

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