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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    Now that I have ridden the Zero for a bit, I am more at ease with range issues.

    My commute is an indicated 34 miles one way and covers a little bit of everything. There is some dirt, some twisty canyon 2 lane, some hills up and down, and then some freeway at 75 and 65 MPH.

    After this completely varied riding the Zero arrives at work with 6-4 bars of energy remaining on the bar graph energy meter. 11 bars is fully charged. I am blessed with a workplace that allows me to charge when I am at the office so I always leave fully juiced again.

    If I am rolling down the freeway at 70MPH a bar will go away about every 4 miles. If the bike is ambling along on the backroad at 45-55 MPH then it will cover 6-8 miles for each bar. Riding in city traffic they go a long ways.

    What I have found after several trips back and forth to work is that the bike can easily handle that distance and there is always energy to spare. If I ever need to go further, all I have to do is find a way to get there that is slower and then I can travel more distance on the remaining energy.

    If your commute is a 70-80 MPH constant freeway drone that goes very far this bike is not for you. If it is mixed, like mine, then the Zero does fine but the bars will go away faster as the bike's ground speed increases.
    #41
  2. Wind_Rider

    Wind_Rider Been here awhile

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    Oh, the farkles that can be done these days!

    I have already added the Zero Summer windscreen which is nice for those cold mornings. It can be easily removed for trail rides with 2 thumb screws.

    I also added some Cycra Stealth DX hand guards from the dealer. They are very light and only for breaking the wind and brush but they seem to be a nice fit on the DS.

    [​IMG]

    I would like to add the rear foot pegs (2012 models were homologated without rear pegs so they are an option) and a set of hard cases. I am looking at putting some Givi E21 side cases on to provide some rain tight storage for commuting and errand running. I always find myself carrying things on my motorcycles like this:

    [​IMG]

    or this:

    [​IMG]

    I just really dislike rolling the pickup when there is riding weather.

    I don't think that the Zero DS is going to be as good of a bike of burden as some of my previous steeds were but I would like to get some bags to add some carrying capacity.

    Lastly, I would like to get another charger so that I can take a few longer trips with charging stops. Dual chargers cut the charge time in half so the battery pack could be topped up in 3-4 hours depending how empty it was.
    #42
  3. 0ldhippie

    0ldhippie Been here awhile

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    Very kool! I would like an electric but I'm 20 miles from town and the round trip alone at 65-75mph would leave little run around/reserve battery range. 11 bars X 4 miles per bar is only a 44 mile range??? We are planning on moving soon so it may fit then?? Great to hear some real world experiences!!
    #43
  4. crypto666

    crypto666 Long timer

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    Cool, glad to see someone putting one to real world use. I have seen these bikes the past few years at the Nevada 200 trail ride, but haven't bothered to take one for a ride.

    One thing I would correct; it should be a brushless DC motor, not AC.

    Also, an electric bike should be capable of out running any IC bike off the line since electric motors have 100% torque at start up. However, I am sure the speed control limits the pulse width to keep it from shredding belts and tires. Your start up power should be adjustable through programming the speed control.

    Having gone back and forth with electrics and IC in another hobby, RC flying things, electrics have advantages and disadvantages. I have come to this conclusion; electrics are capable of unbeatable short term performance, but IC always wins with longevity and weight. Also, electrics will burst in to flames in a crash much more readily than IC, ironically. And electrics are NOT necessarily better for the environment. BUt if shear power and performance is the goal, nothing will beat electrics. I have built power systems that weigh about 500 grams, and produce over 2hp. That is pretty amazing to me.
    #44
  5. Stretch67

    Stretch67 Mad Scientist

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    I live and work in town, with a commute of about five miles each way. No joke, if I were still riding on the street, I'd get a Zero. :clap
    #45
  6. 100mpg

    100mpg Self Imposed Exile

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    :lurk
    #46
  7. strongbad

    strongbad Been here awhile

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    This is a disappointment. I would expect full schematics of everything electric. What happens if the company doesn't last as long as the bike?
    #47
  8. Wind_Rider

    Wind_Rider Been here awhile

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    I also live about 20 miles from town but my path to town is 2 lane 45-60 MPH road. I am past range anxiety with it and can comfortably run 60 miles of normal riding around here and there also some places to charge in town for free if I linger somewhere.

    I am going to make a run for max range here soon and see how far it can go if I baby it.
    #48
  9. Wind_Rider

    Wind_Rider Been here awhile

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    Actually, Zero used DC motors until the 2012 model. The 2012 Zero DS uses a 3 Phase AC Brushless Motor with a 420 Amp controller. As you noted the controller and the settings therein control the acceleration ramp.
    #49
  10. Wind_Rider

    Wind_Rider Been here awhile

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    That is a concern that I had as well. Something similar happened with Vectrix recently.

    I have a good local dealer so that helps but I wish that there was a service manual because I like to do all of my own work and understand the details of the bikes that I own.
    #50
  11. Matified

    Matified been there done that

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    That must be an expensive battery, since the suspension, speedometer, key switch, controls,brakes, even the seat, plus a few more items that I can tell from here ( when I say this I mean I have looked at them in person) are all made in china.
    It would be interesting to see that battery break down? What do you do when it fails and how do you dispose of it?
    #51
  12. Ricky Chuck

    Ricky Chuck Red Green Rulz!

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    :fpalm 2nd time with the made in China business...

    Wind, I wonder if a well-tuned fairing/shield could increase your distance? By that I mean could those hand guards and mirrors sticking up there measurably cut into your mileage, or even a shield if it isn't shaped correctly? I've seen wind tunnel tests on bikes, wonder how much more severely a battery drops due to pushing through the wind than an IC?

    Love the bike, would do it in a minute if the kid was out of college.
    #52
  13. Wind_Rider

    Wind_Rider Been here awhile

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    I am sure it is a very expensive battery. From what I understand that large aluminum box contains 108 Li-Ion batteries and a small computer called the BMS (Battery Management System). The BMS controls charge rates, current out, and and has several safety shutdown conditions that is made to respond to to safeguard some situations. The BMS has capability to measure and control what each cell is doing. One of it's tasks is to balance the battery pack so that each cell is performing optimally. Disposal would be the same as any Li-Ion batteries and it is fully recyclable. Based on Zero's projections, the battery pack will propel the bike > 300,000 miles and still perform at 80% of it's rated capacity.

    I saw one poster on the Electric motorcycle forum joke that he bought a $10,000 battery stuffed into a pit bike with a Zero. I am sure that Zero has to make some compromises to hit a price point given the cost of the battery pack. I think that the entire motorcycle has reasonable quality components given what it does and the price that it costs but value is subjective to many people.

    The Zero Motorcycle is as Made in the USA as it probably can be to hit a price point and to get the company going. I don't know how much of the bike is actually manufactured in the US, but I do know that the Frame, the Battery box, the battery array are built in the US in California and the entire bike is assembled in California. I do like riding an American bike as the Zero is about as American as it gets unless you want to buy a really expensive custom made bike. What brake, suspension, switch gear components can you buy that are US made?

    When I owned a Buell I had a chance to go to a Q&A with Eric Buell and he talked about what it is what like to be an American manufacturer in the modern global economy. He said that there are things that can be made in America for a reasonable price and there are things that don't make sense to make here unless the scale is there. He said that once you go past the $10K price point the market of buyers gets really small so you just have to get some components from the mass manufacture market to hit those price points.

    The bike in this long term review has a motor that is made by another company. For the 2013 motorcycles Zero built their own motor which is an inside out design (Stators and magnets swapped from normal orientations). This was done to put the heat on the outside of the motor so that it is more efficiently air cooled and allows more current to flow through it giving it more power. The 2013 motor is one of the best designs in EV technology anywhere and it was engineered in house at Zero. I am not sure if it is manufactured in the US. More here on the new motor: http://www.zeromotorcycles.com/technology/

    So, every component of the Zero is not made in the USA but it is a lot more US than a Honda. :rofl

    As far as the battery technology and longevity goes I think it will last a long time and if the battery ever does hit end of life I am guessing that there will be a way to put another battery box and BMS in the same space for this bike if I still want to keep it rolling. The motor should last a long time as well and I will most likely want the new Zero Force?? battery and motor that will be improved every year for the future before it dies. I already want a 2013 !
    #53
  14. Wind_Rider

    Wind_Rider Been here awhile

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    I am sure the DS styling affects wind drag. I thought that the windshield would help along with the hand guards but I am not sure. On 200s and 250s that I have owned in the past adding a small windscreen has aided their little motors to power me up a local 1000' hill and reach full speed. In other words, with little power the windshield has actually aided top speed.

    I should add that I ride up and down hills on my commute and Zero's literature indicates that hills decrease range so if you live in a flat area you may do better than my range numbers... here in Idaho we have hills and mountains.

    I also weigh about 190 lbs with full riding gear on so if you are lighter range will be better and if you are heavier range will be less.

    The problem with motorcycle wind drag is the human form that wants to sit on the bike with some form of comfort. Some wind screens may be better than the Zero summer screen which I am using now. I will try it sans shield in the warmer months and see if it makes any difference.
    #54
  15. strongbad

    strongbad Been here awhile

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    "Normal" motor design places the windings (the heat-producing part of a motor) on the outside and the rotor on the inside. I don't see how this design is different or inside-out. It's easy to make claims like this:

    when they don't supply complete specs (including weight) of their motor.
    #55
  16. Wind_Rider

    Wind_Rider Been here awhile

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    Good points Strongbad....here is some more detail from Motorcyclist Magazine on the new 2013 motor:

    "To that end, Askenazi and his team have re-engineered the range by installing an all-new Z-Force electric motor created in-house by Canadian designer Ryan Biffard, and funded by a $900,000 grant secured from the California Energy Commission. This compact, brushless motor is an “inside-out” design with the windings encircling permanent magnets attached to the rotor. The windings, which carry the electric current and get hot in use, can then be placed on the periphery where they’re easier to cool—no fans or liquid-cooling circuits required."

    See the whole article here.

    Read more: http://www.motorcyclistonline.com/f..._zero_s_first_ride/viewall.html#ixzz2NirrOgdu

    If you look at pics of the 2012 motor there is still a lot of metal around the windings that will keep the heat trapped in. You can't see where the windings are in the 2013 motor as it is fully sealed and wrapped in an Aluminum heat sink.

    I imagine that Zero is protective of some of their technology in regards to Battery sourcing, management, and motor design and specs. I don't expect that they would spill all of the details as this is their competitive advantage.

    And look at that! Not only are there Chinese parts, but the motor engineer is Canadian!
    :rofl
    #56
  17. AustinJake

    AustinJake DR650 - Versys

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    Great thread, great info in it, thanks for doing this, I am subscribing and will be buying one in the near future.
    #57
  18. Wind_Rider

    Wind_Rider Been here awhile

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    Thanks Austin Jake,

    I appreciate your tagline... everything you need to know about life in a few short sentences.
    #58
  19. Wind_Rider

    Wind_Rider Been here awhile

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    It has been a mild March here and I wanted to see what kind of range I could achieve out on the open road so I set out for a local mountain peak about 30 miles away to see if I could make it there and back.

    I was conscious of throttle position and tried to minimize current flow while maintaining speed. I rode at the speed limit or just over as indicated by the Zero Speedometer which is probably a bit fast. The route had some elevation. From the starting point I went down 1,000 feet then climbed from around 3,000 feet above sea level to the summit at 6,100 feet of elevation. It was right at 50 degrees at the starting point and probably just above freezing at the summit. There were people there riding snowmobiles.

    Here's the view from the top:

    [​IMG]

    The energy meter was just at half to get there.

    I toured Idaho City on the way back:

    [​IMG]

    There were some nice twisty sections on the way and I like the way this bike handles.

    I ended up back at home with one blinking bar (the second one just disappeared). The tripmeter indicated 67 miles so that works out to 6.7 miles / bar on the energy graph. If I would have run it to stopping it would have probably rolled about 75 miles.

    Things that hurt the range on this ride were the low temps and the climb in elevation.
    #59
  20. dahlheim

    dahlheim n00b

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    my experiences and opinions about the 2012 are similar to the OP's. it is a good bike. for <$5000 (i caught the colorado rebates before they expired), it's a fantastic bike. it's so different from a classic ICE bike, you really have to ride it to appreciate it. "linear" power up to the top with no noise and very easy to handle. those cycles in star wars come to mind.

    the frame is built beautifully. there are some cheap parts thrown in the mix. the battery life is quite good for a commuter which can run errands and do short joy rides. for a 75 mile ride in the rough desert backcountry in utah today, i took my 2000 XR400. however, almost all my seat time has been on the zero since i bought it.

    i am a happy camper and of the belief that electrics will take over the market at some point in the next 10-20 years.

    _pete
    western colorado
    12ZeroDS9, 07CRF450X, 03GL1800, 02R1150GSAdventure, 01XR650R, 00XR400R, 76GL1000. gone but not forgotten 97KLR650, 94XR250L, 83RM250, 97KX125, 79yz125, 74+72CT70, B&Sminibikes and PA50moped.
    #60