We've been told that Larry Page has three of these puppies. More economical than an electric car, Zero Motorcycles latest bikes have a new powertrain with batteries that boost their range to over 100 miles and give them top speeds up to 88 miles an hour. Most important for many potential buyers who may be sitting on the fence: a battery designed to last the life of the motorcycle. Zero says its new Z-Force™ power pack uses a revised battery-cell chemistry and design that is more energy dense and can withstand 3,000 complete charge cycles before falling to 80% of its original capacity, 95% more energy dense, giving the Zero S a battery lifespan of as much as 308,000 miles - meaning the bike itself will probably wear out before the battery pack does.
All of the street models feature regenerative braking and the Zero S supermoto and Zero DS dual sport will be available in 6 or 9 kWh configuration (ZF6 and ZF9). Range-wise, for the Zero S this translates to 76 or 114 miles (122-183 km) on a single charge for city riding and 43 miles (69 km) and 63 miles (101 km) respectively when traveling at highway speeds. This is up from a 50 mile city range on the earlier the model and in our time spent with the outgoing Zero S we found that the city riding range figures hold true. If the same applies for the new addition, it will be a very practical urban commuting option and according to Zero Motorcycles, the improvements make the S the world's first available mass-produced electric motorcycle capable of exceeding 100 miles on the EPA's UDDS range test.
Top speed for the S is specced at 88 mph (142 km/h) while the Zero DS can hit 80 mph (129 km/h).
For recreational riders, the increased range makes the bikes more practical for what many riders crave: weekend rides that last a couple of hours ac cover 80 to 100 miles.
Recharging time for the 6 kwh Zero S is quoted at 6 hours (100% charged) and 5.3 hours (95% charged) through a standard outlet, while the 9 kwh model takes 9 hours (100% charged) / 8.0 hours (95% charged). There are also quick-charge options available that can cut recharge times by up to 75 percent.
Revised frame geometry and a new bodywork (which gives the S model in particular a noticeably meaner streetfighter appearance) complete the transformation of street models along with the welcome addition a larger front brake master cylinder.
For those heading off-road, the upgraded Zero X trail bike gets 33% more overall power and 75% greater range, along with lights to make it highway-legal. The Zero MX motocrosser also gets a power boost and both models have undergone a redesign which the company says "speaks to their more aggressive and longer lasting powertrain."
The bikes are also being used in law enforcement. The Scotts Valley police say they will use the electric bike for patrol, traffic duty and other assignments where maneuverability and quiet operation can give officers an advantage.
“We are excited to be the first police department in California to receive an electric Zero motorcycle because it will allow our officers to patrol more places, more often,” said John Hohmann, a lieutenant with the Scotts Valley Police.
"The 2012 model line is truly game changing. 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," said Scot Harden, VP of Global Marketing of Zero Motorcycles. "Every model in the lineup goes faster, further and is more fun than ever before."
Prices for the new bikes range from US $7,695 for the light, bare-bones XU model to $13,995 for the S or DS with the higher-capacity battery.