Zero S: first street-legal electric motorcycle introduced

by on April 21, 2009
in Industry News

Zero Motorcycles of Santa Cruz, California unveiled its new street-legal electric bike, the Zero S, on April 7. The Zero S will begin shipping to pre-order customers within the next 30 days.

A news release about the bike stated:

The Zero S uses a completely non-toxic lithium ion array (proprietary power pack), and the majority of the motorcycle is fully recyclable. The landfill approved power pack recharges in less than four hours while plugged into a standard 110V or 220V outlet. Eco-friendly with zero emissions, the Zero S is also economy-friendly with an operating cost of less than one cent per mile or kilometer.

The release also states that the bike’s maximum range is 60 miles, and top speed is 60 mph.

I think it’s fair to say this is strictly an urban commuter bike – you won’t be taking any long road trips with it. But, there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. I learned to ride on a Yamaha 250 Exciter, a commuter bike if ever there was one, and understood that the bike wasn’t designed to take me any great distance. Same thing here – the Zero’s look is decidedly urban, and it should make for a nice alternative commute option for those who want green features and a (motorized) two-wheel commute.

Understanding the bike’s purpose and limitations, then, my only real criticism is the seat height. At 35.5 inches, this seems like it would be out of range for a large number of riders.

By the way, I did follow the links to contact the PR person for Zero, but they have not responded yet to my inquiry. Here are the questions I asked – I’ll follow up with the answers if/when I hear from them:

1. What about the bike makes it “high performance”? Is it the power-to-weight ratio? What else?

2. When you mention “recyclable” components, I think plastic. How “solid” does the bike feel given its light weight?

3. The seat height, at 35.5 inches, will exclude many riders. Why did the company launch a product for the mass market that isn’t accessible for a large chunk of the riding population, especially if the goal is to have a real, widespread environmental impact?

4. I assume the bike is very quiet? Do you have any thoughts on whether this reduces awareness of its presence on the road?

Update: here’s an interesting link provided by Skadamo in the comments below that gives a ride-test report on the Zero S: