2012 Zero XU
If you’re looking to merge your desire for emission-free EV commuting with your passion for motorcycles, ZERO motorcycles has got the perfect bike for you or 5 bikes actually. Based near Santa Cruz, California, ZERO has spent the last 6-years refining their original concept into a wide range of two-wheeled offerings, starting with the XU for $7,695.
Designed more for the urban commuter with a range of only about 40 miles, the XU’s 3-kWh battery pack is easily removable for charging in your apartment, or place of work. Plus, there’s an onboard charger on the bike as well. It only takes about 3 hours to fully charge the battery and less than 50-cents to do so.
The MX and X are off road versions of the XU, and come stripped down and trail ready, with long travel suspensions and chain drive replacing the street bike’s quieter belt drive. But, we spent most of our time on the ZERO S and DS.
The S is the sportiest offering in ZERO’S line-up featuring a firm suspension, triple disc brakes, and an 88 miles-per-hour top speed. An available 9kWh Z-Force Lithium-ion battery extends the range to over 100 miles. Charging takes up to 9 hours, but you can cut that time in half by adding a second charger.
There’s enough power and EV torque to get you up to speed in a hurry, but not quite enough to overwhelm you. Weight comes in at just 341-pounds, making the S very nimble and more fun than expected through twisties. The DS is based on the same chassis, but gets a longer travel suspension and more off-pavement friendly tires.
BRIAN ROBINSON: Probably the best thing I can say about the Zero is it feels like a real motorcycle, not a scooter, or some kind of electric bicycle. It’s a real motorcycle that just happens to run on batteries, instead of gas.
JOHN DAVIS: Still, with prices for the S and DS beginning at $11,495 the ZERO is bound to appeal more to high-techies and enviro first adopters than traditional motorcyclists, but more power and additional range could quickly change that.
But, the ZERO is not the only new EV on two wheels.
DAVE SCRIVENER: For all of you middle-aged dads looking for an edge over the kids, this is the game-changer, the smart e-bike.
JOHN DAVIS: A new electrifed offering from smart gives a battery boost to old-fashioned pedal power, to create the ultimate eco-friendly urban cruiser. The e-bike’s 26-inch bicycle chassis features 3 gears, hydraulic brakes front and rear, and a maintenance and oil-free carbon-toothed drive belt.
The “e” part comes courtesy of a 423 Watt-hour lithium-ion battery pack wedged into the base of the frame. It powers a rear wheel hub motor through four driver-selectable levels, and provides assistance up to around 15 miles per hour.
The e-bike can be recharged three ways, by regenerative braking, pedal-power or a standard wall outlet, and max range is about 60 miles. A full recharge takes about 8 hours. The smart e-bike is on sale in Europe now for $3700, but U.S. sales have not yet begun. And stay tuned as we’ll charge up more new EVs first impressions soon.