Going Electric !! 2012 Zero DS Long Term Rider Report

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by Wind_Rider, Mar 9, 2013.

  1. Wind_Rider

    Wind_Rider Been here awhile

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    Strongbad, Range is addressed some in last post. I am still learning the limits and hope to achieve around 80 miles of usable range in mixed riding once the weather warms up more here. I will post more on Range as I learn more about it.

    The price is hard to reconcile on one hand and easy on another:

    - It will take some time to get to price parity with a similarly featured ICE bike. However, depending on how much you spend in maintenance for your bikes it will happen with enough time and miles. The Zero will roll for less than 1 cent/ mile here in Idaho where we have pretty inexpensive power. There is hardly any cost in operating it. No valves to adjust, filters to replace, oil changes, etc, etc. Over time those costs will add up. However, with the Zero you have to pay the ticket up front and it is not inexpensive. I also appreciate the time that I used to spend on wrenching I can now do something else with.

    - On the other hand the Zero represents and amazing amount of technology for a lower price than the average Harley Davidson that uses the same basic design that they have been using for 50 years. Before I get entirely flamed for that statement, consider that I have owned 2 Buell Ulysses and one HD Sportster. The point is, people drop that kind of coin on motorcycles that are way less in terms of the technology that they represent.

    In my own case, I was compelled by the end of year incentives and Zero's Cash for Carbon program so the price was a lot less than the sticker and that made it worth it for me and my riding needs.

    Until the price of EVs go down, they will probably not achieve mass market appeal but the 2013 Zeros are pretty amazing machines and if you have the budget to spend that much on a bike, they are a good buy in my opinion.
    #21
  2. Wind_Rider

    Wind_Rider Been here awhile

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    Very good points Travrsx.

    One thing that is really obvious once you start riding EVs: There is a LOT of energy in a gallon of gasoline! It is hard to replace that with battery storage.

    I am guessing but unless there are huge advances in battery technology we will see incremental increases for the next several years.

    The future is probably more about fast charging. If the energy could be dumped into a 10KW battery pack in a few minutes then the experience of charging would be a lot like filling with gas.
    #22
  3. Wind_Rider

    Wind_Rider Been here awhile

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    SoSlow. I never expect to replace the battery pack on this bike.

    Zero rates the battery pack at 300,000 miles to 80%. That will do it for me!
    #23
  4. SoSlow

    SoSlow Having fun

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    That's awesome! Let us know how it's performing when you get up past 275,000. :D
    #24
  5. Dave.0

    Dave.0 Been here awhile

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    I think these are great bikes. I test rode an S model in Austin at AF1 and really liked it. I sat on the DS and decided that would be the bike that I would get, and almost did. Then we moved to flagstaff, and now my commute is a lot shorter. Now I'm considering the FX, the range is short but enough and its really light and pretty quick.

    Enjoy the bike and thanks for the real world experience.
    #25
  6. Wind_Rider

    Wind_Rider Been here awhile

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    With just the onboard charger half the capacity could be replaced in about 3-4 hours and with an additional charger about half of that time.

    The 2013 Zeros can be charged on the ChadeMo standard in less than 1 hour but those charge stations are not plentiful right now here in Idaho. They are popping up in large cities but I think it will be a while before fast charge stations are widespread in the hinterlands.
    #26
  7. Wind_Rider

    Wind_Rider Been here awhile

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    Yes, the general quality of the bike is excellent and I like the way it fits. The frame is pure motorcycle art, almost too pretty for a DS bike.

    It is interesting to see that two American companies are leading the charge (sorry, could not resist that pun) to Electric Motorcycles. Zero, based in CA and Brammo, based in OR. KTM has a dirt bike in the works but it is not in production yet.

    I wonder what will happen to the price when Honda or some other large companies with low cost high volume manufacturing capabilities jump into the mix?

    I hope that Zero can stay competitive. I have always liked to ride American motorcycles and it is great to have one again that represents a combination of leading edge EV tech and skilled craftsmanship and engineering.
    #27
  8. Wind_Rider

    Wind_Rider Been here awhile

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    The FX is the one that I would get if I had more modest range requirements. The power/weight ratio of the FX is the best for any EV motorcycle and it will do power wheelies. The FX would also be a hoot on trails with a 21" front wheel and 275 lb weight.
    #28
  9. Wind_Rider

    Wind_Rider Been here awhile

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    I thought a little about that before posting this review on ADV. I like visiting this forum to read about people who "Ride the World". I love the thought of riding across vast expanses and riding for days, weeks, months at a time and those are some of the most entertaining threads here. I have taken a few extended trips by motorcycle and I love the freedom and excitement of travel by motorcycle.

    I thought about that a lot before committing to having only an electric bike this year. From my own calculations I find that the range of the Zero DS will fit 95% of my riding from last year. This could be a sad statement about my personal priorities but probably many on this forum are in the same state if they are honest.

    I have kids, a job, and responsibilities that limit my riding time. If I can ride to work and back, and take a few hours on a Saturday for a 50-80 mile loop ride out and back from home that will fit my lifestyle for the next several years. I may add a gas bike into the mix again sometime but I am committed for not to trying to live in the electric bike's range / recharge limitations, change my adventures to fit those parameters, and see how it ends up.

    If you are fortunate enough to have several steeds in the corral a Zero can be one of them. But can you do long distance on a Zero and is it an Adventure?

    I think that the answer is yes in both cases but it will be a significantly different kind of adventure. Consider the 3500 mile road trip of Terry Hershner on a modified Zero S from FL to CA here:

    http://www.torquenews.com/1075/how-did-terry-hershner-travel-3500-miles-electric-motorcycle-6-days

    While Terry did some substantial modifications to the bike to make this happen, almost every rider here has mods on their rides as well. Certainly, Terry had quite an adventurous trip!

    It will probably not be too far in the future when there are threads on ADV about being the first ebike rider to traverse Africa, South America, or Asia. It could be argued that electrical outlets are more widespread than gas stations so it is bound to happen.

    So, when all is said and done, an adventure is up to the adventurer and therefore I think that the DS can live on the ADV forum.
    #29
  10. Wind_Rider

    Wind_Rider Been here awhile

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    There are some amazing places to ride in Idaho. To help work with the DS's limited Range I have this tool that I will use on occasion to get the bike to the start of a great loop ride.

    [​IMG]

    I have always been a stickler about riding Dual Sport bikes and never having to fuss with a pickup or a trailer but I may have to change some of my habits and burn some gas in the pickup to get the Zero to some of the best riding on occasion.
    #30
  11. Red Sand

    Red Sand Been here awhile

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    That's a very cool motorcycle.

    As long as it wheelies, I'd like to have one.
    #31
  12. Solarbronco

    Solarbronco Been here awhile

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    I live in Meridian, where are you? I'd like to go riding with ya sometime and check that bike out. How is it in the dirt? Can it take a jump without breaking anything? Can it do a day at Hemmingway?
    #32
  13. Wind_Rider

    Wind_Rider Been here awhile

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    Ha, well, power wheelies are difficult on this bike. Not quite like the old Buell in that regard. Consider that you are starting off in road gear and it makes some sense, along with a the longer wheelbase and big old heavy battery pack up front.

    However, Wheelies and stoppies are easy on the 2013 Zero FX as seen here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DQcvZnE-X8

    :clap
    #33
  14. Wind_Rider

    Wind_Rider Been here awhile

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    Hey Solarbronco,

    I live half way between Boise and Idaho City just off of Hwy 21. I commute to Meridian so the bike will be out there most days soon if the weather starts to warm up to riding temps. Hopefully tomorrow....

    The DS is pretty easy to ride in the dirt. I ride dirt every ride to get to the highway which is 3 miles of steep rough dirt road. The dirt limitation is the 17" wheel up front but it feels stable and power is really easy to dial up and smooth.

    I don't plan on doing a lot of jumping with the DS but it certainly looks like it could take some off road use and the frame is the same basic design as the Zero MX which flies well.

    What is Hemmingway? Not familiar with it, sorry. I mostly ride in Boise county and further up towards Stanley, Sun Valley, or McCall.

    PM me and we can arrange a meeting out in Meridian if you want to see the bike or you can go to Big Twin in Boise to look at the new ones.
    #34
  15. cognugget

    cognugget n00b

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    70 ft-lbs of torque, up to 44 hp

    Insane:norton
    #35
  16. Matified

    Matified been there done that

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    I already see a lot of Chinese parts on this bike, that is what puzzles me on the price.
    #36
  17. MORT666

    MORT666 Been here awhile

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    The electric bike sure looks good.But things worry me,the belt and charging +battery life.:norton
    #37
  18. Wind_Rider

    Wind_Rider Been here awhile

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    The large price comes along with a 9KW battery.
    #38
  19. Wind_Rider

    Wind_Rider Been here awhile

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    According to Zero the battery life will not be an issue as it is rated to achieve 80% capacity up to 300,000 miles. There is a 2 year warranty. Time will tell.

    The belt is an easy swap... I will soon have some reliability data on the belt as I ride a lot of sandy dirt.

    Everyone told me that the belt drive on my Buells was terrible and I would get stranded after it broke. I put almost 50K miles on my 2 Buells including a lot of dirt/gravel roads and I never had any issues with it.
    #39
  20. Wind_Rider

    Wind_Rider Been here awhile

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    Well, it is hard to believe, but I have already put 500 miles on the Zero.

    Normally, at the this point with a new bike I would change the engine oil and filter. Not on this ride. Nothing really to do other than make sure some fasteners are still tight.

    Some things that I love about the Zero DS at this point:

    - Smooth throttle response. It is really perfect, like what perfectly tuned FI almost is.
    - Silence. It is really surprising what you can hear without an ICE along for the ride
    - Simplicity. I thought that it might be a bit boring riding a single speed bike without any challenging power curve but I find it kind of distills riding down to its purest form without the ICE distractions.
    - Almost Zero Maintenance.
    - NO GAS. It is so much fun to ride by the gas station and know that I will never stop there and pour money into the pump.
    - Slim but comfy seat. I guess most riders did not like the 2012 seat as it is narrow and dirt bike style. The 2013s have wider seats. I like the 2012 seat and find it plenty comfy for the Range that this bike has. It is easy to move around on.
    - Little details like the frame welds, the foot pegs, the material that the seat is made from.
    - Made in USA by a small company that is doing great things, kinda reminds me of my Buells in a way. One of the chief Buell engineers is the CTO at Zero.
    - Balance. The bike weighs 340 lbs but it feels lighter.
    - Belt final drive. Smooth, silent, no lash.

    Things that I wish were better:

    - Steering lock is surprisingly limited for a small bike. If it were not for that this would be the easiest tight spot bike ever. As is, be aware of the limited radius before committing to the turn.
    - The charge cable port on the bottom corner of the bike is awkward and always covered in dirt/mud. I am going to move this at some point.
    - For a long travel suspension it sure seems harsh. It lacks the progressive feel of other suspensions that I have ridden and owned. I think it would take quite a hit to bottom it out. This could be due to the fact that the suspension is new and I am riding in the cold. I will spend some time with the suspension settings when it warms up a bit and see if this can be improved by spinning the dials.

    The owners manual comes on Flash drive which is different:

    [​IMG]

    The manual is pretty basic but does contain torque values for major fasteners. There is no shop manual from Zero.

    Rear shock provides a surprisingly harsh ride. I have washed the motor with a gentle spray... it does get dirty from my riding.

    [​IMG]

    I added a Wolfman tank bag to the tail of the Zero DS. It fits perfect and I really like it here rather than on the tank.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Sorry, bad light on that photo.

    Footpegs are excellent for OEM !!

    [​IMG]

    For those of you who worry about the belt drive's reliability I am the test of your theories. I feed it a regular rock, sand, and mud diet. We will see how it holds up over time and miles.

    The nice thing about the Zero final drive is that it can be quickly converted to chain final drive if desired. They have a kit with the right ratios ready to go.

    [​IMG]

    After the first 500 miles I am very happy to own this bike and am looking forward to the next 10,000 miles of silent riding.
    #40