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 Post subject: Zero DS-R demo ride.
PostPosted: Sun Aug 13, 2017 10:55 am 
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I Finally got a chance to demo-ride a Zero (all-electric) motorcycle. I managed to snag a DS-R (faster than the DS = 116ft/lbs torque) model. Overall, I came away extremely impressed with the quality and ride.

First, the components. Showa fully adjustable suspension, 7" front and rear on the DS, with Bosch ABS brakes. Very good (premium bike performance) stopping power, and with only a single disc up front (though the bike only weighs around 400lbs). The fit/finish on this bike exudes quality. Much like a Triumph or BMW, you can tell Zero didn't skimp.

The handling: Holy hell, it turns and manouvers like a little 250. Outstandingly easy to flick around. I was very surprised by that, it carries it's weight quite low and I guess the small-ish tire sizes contribute to the nimble handling.

The throttle response is phenomenal. Only 1 gear, and with 116ft/lbs of torque on tap, you'd think you have to be pretty ginger with the throttle to avoid wheelies, and it's somewhat true, but the way the throttle reacts, it's like a built in traction-control or something that doles out that power in the smoothest possible way while still providing a more-than-adequate thrill. In 'sport' mode, when you give it the full beans, it responds almost instantly and just on the border of frightening, but yet it somehow mananges not to burn/skid out the rear tire. It feels like there must be something in the electronic throttle management that knows exactly where the threshold is for spinning out the end or lifting up the front, as it certainly has enough torque for either, but never seems to allow for it (which is fine!). In Sport mode, the get-up-and-go is pretty much on par with the liter-bikes I've tested. In 'Eco' mode, it's dulled-down to maybe 40% (or less) power. Extremely tame performance at that end.

Range: It sounds ok on paper (140-160km per charge in mixed riding), but flogging it for 15 minutes on Sport mode reduced the power from 51% to 40%. Clearly, longer (non-commuting) rides are out of the question at this point, but as battery technology continues to improve, this is certainly approaching the threshold of viability.

Overall, performance and build-quality-wise, they're there! The bike has plenty of excitement on tap and more than enough to keep all but professional racers satisfied. Range-wise, they've got more hurdles to clear (in my opinion) before I'll be shelling out $20k. However, if 400-500k becomes viable, I'm in. Super-fun, very nible ride. The torque on tap was on par with the new FZ-09, which is more than enough for me. And it kept on past 130kph, at which point I declined to exceed the speed limit further. I don't see much in the way of performance specs online, but I'd guess it's pushing sub-4-seconds to 100kph.

Anyway, if you get a chance to ride one of these, it's well worth it. The idea of never changing the oil, no valve adjustments, no radiator flushes, no clutch rebuilds, etc... is pretty appealing. Just needs a little less price and a lot more range, and I'd be more than willing to make the switch. At the rate they're improving, probably by the time I'm ready for my next bike, hopefully it'll be there.

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 Post subject: Re: Zero DS-R demo ride.
PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 6:13 am 
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Yeah, it's really just the range (and cost lol), isn't it? The almost complete lack of maintenance is a pretty huge plus for me. Brakes and tires, basically. I really don't care about it being blisteringly fast. I would happily trade almost all of that "holy sh!t" speed for range.

One thing I don't get though - being that wind resistance is the real killer of batteries - is why don't they have a swoopy fully faired version? I know they're trying not to alienate "real" motorcyclists, but it's electric... you're never going to be attracting the hard core end of the spectrum IMO. It could be SO much more aerodynamically slippery, and still not look like a Buck Rogers prop. I bet they'd gain 20-30% range on the highway (guessing here, obviously lol).

If you sit down and really look at the electric motor, it quickly becomes obvious that gas motors are the past. Electric motors have ONE moving part. Kinda makes the internal combustion engine seem ridiculously complicated, almost hilariously so. So much frictional loss, not even considering the fossil fuel emissions.

Battery tech is a huge push right now, for all kinds of applications. I think we'll see some pretty big advances in a relatively short amount of time. Fingers crossed

I guess if everybody waits until they can achieve 300km range with a 30 minute recharge time, the companies will go bust due to lack of sales. I hope they can stay afloat until then, I really do.

For further reading, take a look at the Alta Motors bikes out of Oregon, they are doing some really cool stuff there too.

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 Post subject: Re: Zero DS-R demo ride.
PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 3:23 pm 
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Ah yes, and I discovered afterwards, Zero's main competitor, Brammo, got bought by none other than Victory!

http://www.victorymotorcycles.com/en-ca ... havasu-red

So, perhaps, floating this transition period through the 'big name' manufacturers is one strategy to hang on through battery development up until they're over the 300km 'hump'. Apparently, Tesla is working closely with Zero, and we know they're not going bust.

Agreed, a fairing seems almost...essential, yet is quite lacking on all their models. Maybe something to do with aesthetics?

I saw something on Alta a while back, but wrote them off as just dirt bikes. Looks like they do have a SM now. Looks like no Canadian dealers (yet).

I suspect they've focused on performance first and range second because, as with automobile commuters, most folks travel well within the range of the average electric vehicle already. To make a motorbike appealing, they have to make it exciting (otherwise people would just buy those goofy scooter/bicycle thingys). :lol: In fact, when you think about it, Range isn't truly the biggest hurdle. We ride bikes all the time with ranges < 150km. It's the charging time that needs the most work. If someone could dump the 13kwh needed into the battery pack within a few minutes, the extant range would be just fine.

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