|Founded||Santa Cruz, California (2006 )|
|Headquarters||Scotts Valley, California, United States|
Zero Motorcycles Inc. is an American manufacturer of electric motorcycles. Formerly called Electricross, it was started in 2006 by Neal Saiki, a former NASA engineer, in Santa Cruz, California. The company is now located nearby in Scotts Valley.
The Zero S began shipping in volume in 2010, the first model year to include the Agni Motor, at which time the DS, a dual-sport model based on the S chassis became available. The XU, a smaller street bike with a removable battery, based on the same chassis as the Zero dirtbikes was produced from 2011 to 2013.
In 2012, Zero introduced the ZF9 Power Pack with the Zero S & DS models making them the first production electric motorcycles that can exceed an EPA-estimated 100 miles on a single charge.
In 2013 the Zero S and DS were completely redesigned. The battery capacity was increased to 11.4kWh, and a new brushless permanent magnet AC motor was introduced. In 2013 the Zero FX dual-sport model with modular removable power packs was introduced. CHAdeMO fast charging was also available on 2013 models.
In 2014 the optional 2.8kWh "Power Tank" became available. 2014 also saw the addition of the Zero SR to the range, a higher performance version of the Zero S, incorporating more powerful controller electrics and a motor with higher temperature magnets.
The 2015 models had battery pack size increased to 12.5kWh, for a total possible maximum capacity of 15.3kWh including the optional Power Tank. Also introduced in 2015 were standard ABS brakes and Showa suspension. CHAdeMO fast charging was eliminated as an option, leaving instead an optional quick charger accessory at added cost.
Zero has announced the DSR and FXS models for 2016. The DSR is based on the DS, but with the more powerful motor from the SR. The FXS is a supermoto version of the FX. Additional changes for the model year include the availability of a "Charge Tank" accessory, which is an on-board Level 2 charging system compatible with the J1772 plug. The air-cooled motors were revised to provide additional cooling capacity, and all models saw improvements in battery capacity.
Zero Motorcycles also produces a line of electric motorcycles for police, authority, and military use. The fleet motorcycles are based upon the company’s standard models but outfitted with equipment such as police lights, sirens, crash bars, and storage accessories.
Zero's Lithium-ion power packs and motors were developed in-house, and are branded under the names "Z-Force" and "ZF". The power pack uses a cell configuration that operates at 102 volts. The motorcycles' propulsion is provided by a single electric, air-cooled, brushless, permanent-magnet 3-phase AC motor. The motor is directly coupled to the rear wheel by a belt or - optionally on the Zero FX - a chain. A controller manages the power delivery and comes in 420-amp and 660-amp sizes depending on the model.
Zero Motorcycles has had success racing at Pikes Peak. Zero has won the production electric motorcycle class in 2013, 2014, and 2015. In 2014 a Zero FX was the first production electric motorcycle to break the 12 minute mark.
In 2012, Brandon Miller set a Bonneville Land Speed Record on a Zero S ZF6 model. He achieved an average speed of 101.652 mph over a one mile course. This beat the previous record for modified production motorcycles weighing less than 150 kilograms by over 23 mph.
Zero Motorcycles hosted an endurance racing event for electric motorcycles on April 4-5, 2009, called the 24 Hours of Electricross. This event was the largest electric motorcycle race to date. The 10 teams competed on Zero X electric motocross bikes. Team HotChalk set a Guinness world record for the furthest distance traveled on an all-electric off-road motorcycle in 24 hours at just over 500 miles.
Zero's main competitor is the Victory Empulse (formerly Brammo), but current and upcoming models from Lightning, Energica, and Alta Motors will compete with Zero's product lineup as well. Some of the larger OEMs have also released electric concepts and prototypes such as the Harley-Davidson LiveWire electric concept, and Yamaha's PES1 and PED1 (recently updated to the PES2 and PED2 concepts).
Zero Motorcycles have the same inherent advantages and disadvantages as most electric vehicles, but in particular have been criticized for lack of range and slow charging capabilities - which make long-distance touring use difficult compared to their combustion engine counterparts. Detractors also point out a comparatively high price compared to equivalent conventional motorcycles.
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- Motorcycle.com - 2008 Zero X Review
- LA Times - 2008 Zero X electric dirt bike
- Cycle World - 2014 Zero SR First Look
- Cycle World - Interview with Zero CTO Abe Askenazi
- Zero's founder gives video tour inside company headquarters (from faircompanies.com)
- Can a 2012 Zero S Electric Motorcycle Really Cover 100 Miles?
- Green Car Reports - 2015 Electric Motorcycles Buyers Guide