Tuesday, May 13, 2014

I Applaud The *Concept*...

Sent in via Facebook friend Ken O.

Zero Motorcycles.

Not a bad looking motorcycle, I'll admit. 171 mile range*. 0-60 MPH in 3.3 seconds.

There's only two problems:

1. It is far too quiet. Go to one of the videos on the site and listen to it - it sounds like a remote control car. People have a hard enough time with gasoline powered motorcycles; I would be afraid to ride that in traffic.

2. The bike pictured is $17,000. With the *extra battery that brings the total range to 171 miles, the cost is $19,500.


This bike:

is a Kawasaki Ninja 650. It gets 50 MPG and has a 4.2 gallon tank. It will do 0-60 MPH in 4.3 seconds.

It costs $7,700.

Is the electric bike worth $10K more? That's a value judgement, up to the individual. From a purely financial standpoint, it's hard to justify the Zero SR. A marginal increase in performance, combined with overall lower cost of operation, do not in my mind add up to sufficient incentives to overcome the short range, danger of zero noise, and hefty extra cost.

Not to mention it doesn't even have dual front brakes.

The Kawasaki is $10K less (more than $12K if you're talking the extra battery for the Zero), is only slightly slower off the line, and can travel further on a tank of gas than the Zero can on a charge even with the extended pack. Even with the Fast Charge system (which costs $1800 and is something you'd have in your garage, not out on the road), it takes an hour to charge the Zero back up. That 171 miles turns into less than 90 when run on the highway, too - meaning that you have a realistic range of maybe 50 highway miles before you have to turn around.

And that doesn't even take into the equation if you have a passenger.

Again, I like the concept. I think that motorcycles are infinitely more ready for electric motors than automobiles. They're smaller, lighter, and typically run in weather conditions more favorable for optimum battery life. It's just incredibly hard to justify nearly triple the cost for a marginal increase in performance and less maintenance and operation costs.

Now, in all fairness, I did compare the top-of-the-line Zero to a lower-mid-range Kawasaki. A high-end Ducati superbike is more expensive than the Zero, true - but then again, no one compares a Toyota Prius to a Lamborghini, either. All but the most exotic sportbikes or tricked out cruisers are going to be less than the Zero; the lower-range Ninja was the closest in size and performance I could think of.

A for Effort, D for Execution, in my opinion.

That is all.


Bob S. said...

I could see this as a SHTF "I have everything else I will ever need for practical purposes" item.

Put it together with some solar panels/deep cell batteries and it would be awesome to use to scout around.

For everyday practical purposes; I don't think it would even make my daily commute and 1 errand.

Dave H said...

I'm glad to see EV technology make it to a commercially available bike. No, it's still not ready for prime time, but it's a foot in the door of market acceptance. More acceptance = more profit motive = more development = more price & performance parity with dinosaur juice.

Armed Texan said...

Electric motors are far superior to IC engines in almost every way. They have fewer moving parts, product less heat, have full torque at all RPMs, require no transmission if the motor is large enough, etc.

The problem with electric motors is delivering the electricity. Batteries are just not energy dense enough and are too dangerous for the energy they do contain. What I do not understand is why no manufacturer is going the way of Fisker; having an IC powered generator driving an electric motor with a few batteries to smooth out the voltage and provide storage for KERS.

Stingray said...

"but then again, no one compares a Toyota Prius to a Lamborghini, either."
Well, maybe not a *lambo* but....

NotClauswitz said...

It's hippie-cute that they make 'em in Santa Cruz (or Scotts Valley), but can they get up over Tioga Pass? Can they do the Markleeville run over Monitor Pass and then Ebbett Pass? No. They can't even get half-way out of Santa Cruz across the Valley.
They're just another identity flag, a conspicuous-consumption iPad holder, like a Tesla.