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Old 08-01-2014, 08:52 PM   #1
domingo3 OP
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Location: SF East Bay
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Thumb Zero S and Zero SR

Had a chance to test ride a couple Zero motorcycles at their headquarters in Scott's Valley CA. I couldn't write up a good report, but I will say that I was thoroughly impressed and believe these are ready for prime time. Obviously you can't go tour on it, but for a commuter and around town bike, it's great as long as you aren't going out for more than an hour or two.
I have a bit of a hard time reading specs and determining what it will feel like to ride. I was a bit worried that I'd find the power lacking, especially on the freeway. On the contrary, I was pretty disappointed when I got back on my SV650 to ride home. It felt noisy, clunky, and down on power in comparison.
Since the Zero bikes have no transmission, I thought I'd miss shifting. I did find myself searching for the shift control with my left foot when slowing down for stop lights and again when starting from a stop. Otherwise, though, I just went and enjoyed the ride. I think I don't like automatics because you can tell when it's shifting, and I don't like to not be in charge of when the shifts happen. With these bikes, there are no shifts, so I just forget about it. It was like always being in the power band, so I imagine that's why it feels more powerful than my SV even though it isn't.

I'm almost sure I am going to buy one. For me, this will take a few steps:

1. Justifying spending $15k for a new bike that will surely depreciate like hell.

2. Amassing said $15k.

3. Justifying another $2k to get the SR model over the S.

4. Amassing the last couple thousand.

Zero had a big jump in performance and range from 2012 to 2013 models, which I assume makes resale value suck for 2012 models. I asked the demo guys about rumors for model year 2015. They said to expect modest improvements in performance and range, but nothing significant. I'm a buy and hold kind of rider, so I hope to hold on to it for a decade or so and be happy with what I've got.
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Old 08-02-2014, 06:39 AM   #2
sfrider300
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The up front cost seems ridiculous, but if you use it to handle the bulk of your commuting and errand running, it becomes a reasonable proposition over 5 years or more. It will make your daily commute a more pleasant thing. And you'll still have your SV around for when you need a kick in the pants.

As you know, there's a $900 rebate in California. If Congress would reinstate the 10% tax credit, that would help a lot.

If it was me, I'd get the S not the SR. The S is plenty fast, and the SR has no extra benefits in the chassis, which on both models is still a somewhat mediocre package. Let's just say, it doesn't do justice to the excellent power train.

I used to take my Empulse out for joy riding every weekend, but eventually the thrill and novelty of that wore off. I still love it for being incredibly useful and easy on a day to day basis. In fact I consider it irreplaceable. But for recreational riding, it doesn't fill stir the soul the way a gas bike does.
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Old 08-02-2014, 07:15 AM   #3
Dave.0
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I rode the S in Austin. Its a capable bike, but it doesn't do anything great. There certainly is a novelty to having an electric bike, and when I lived in Dallas, I came close to getting one. The upfront costs are a little hard to swallow. Its still expensive for what it is. Or another way to look at it -- for slightly less money you could get a ducati hypermotard sp or a triumph street triple R, which would both be pretty spectacular commuting and around town bikes. I think this technology is about 5 years away from being truly viable -- better battery technology should help increase range, decrease weight and decrease cost. At 10K these bikes look reasonable, at 15 -17k they are more of toy for those with money. I do think electric bikes will have a real place in the future, we're just not quite there yet.
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Old 08-02-2014, 07:29 AM   #4
chazbird
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If you rode them near their maximum battery range per day as a commuter for 5 days a week you'd rack up serious miles over 10 or so years. Deduct the maintenance costs for a bike with valves to adjust, oil, fuel, and it might be pretty cost effective.

I wonder what insurance would be on a Zero S might be?
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Old 08-02-2014, 08:34 AM   #5
sfrider300
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chazbird View Post
If you rode them near their maximum battery range per day as a commuter for 5 days a week you'd rack up serious miles over 10 or so years. Deduct the maintenance costs for a bike with valves to adjust, oil, fuel, and it might be pretty cost effective.
Exactly. People who say they're not cost effective haven't stopped to do the math. But the math only works out if you have a commute that's somewhere around 50 miles or more (total). So it's still a discreet segment of riders who would benefit financially from having an ebike.
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Old 08-02-2014, 09:58 AM   #6
mikejjmay
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And also, live in a climate where you can get enough to recoup that investment. Obviously in CA it would be great for you, but I commute 60 miles each day, but being limited to 6 mo riding a year would make it take much linger to re-coup the investment.
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Old 08-03-2014, 01:30 AM   #7
velocity
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Joined: Nov 2007
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I tested the SR and really liked it. I rode it around primarily residential areas, and the ability to go full throttle while being stealthy should not be under-appreciated. The fact that it's incognito means that I could probably ride it faster and harder than I could do on an ICE bike.

The power hit on the SR is strong enough that after several good hits on the throttle I started to get that floating nuatious feeling in my stomach. AWESOME!

I'd like to own an SR or something like it someday.
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