DigiNow has today announced the launch of the Super Charger, which is able to bring any Zero Motorcycle since 2013 to at least 80% charge, in most use cases, in under an hour. The Super Charger can also be used to recharge batteries in other electric vehicles, including the Victory/Brammo, Lightning Motorcycles and even electric cars.

The Super Charger project was spearheaded by DigiNow’s Chief Technology Officer Brandon Nozaki Miller, who you might remember from our The Life Electric series, along with the assistance of eMotorWerks, an experienced team of electronic engineers in Mountain View, California.

When used in tandem with the onboard charger, DigiNow claims the Super Charger can charge at up to 12kW peak power and up to 9kW continuous – that’s 7-10 times more powerful than the standard Zero charger, allowing a completely drained battery to reach 80% charge in under 60 minutes. Of course, since most users don’t completely drain their batteries on each ride, this means a full charge could be achieved in even less time.

The naked Zero DS on the left reveals where the Super Charger would be positioned on a Zero not equipped with the Power Tank option. With the bodywork attached (right), the Super Charger is hidden from sight.

The naked Zero DS on the left reveals where the Super Charger would be positioned on a Zero not equipped with the Power Tank option. With the bodywork attached (right), the Super Charger is hidden from sight.

A J1772 connector is included with the Super Charger for North American customers (European customers get a Mennekes connector), allowing a rider to take advantage of the network of Level 2 charging stations around the country. In fact, Miller says he would personally remove the stock Zero onboard charger, which weighs 10lbs and only provides 1.3kW, and use the Super Charger exclusively, accepting the 20-lb weight penalty for the vastly superior 7.5kW charging power it provides at J1772 stations. When plugged into a NEMA 14-50 power outlet, the same outlet used for a household clothes dryer and the one found at many RV parks, charging power increases to 10kW continuous.

The Super Charger is able to be used either onboard a Zero or off, and can work in conjunction with the charger already equipped on the S, DS, SR or FX. For S, DS and SR models. The unit fits nicely in the compartment normally reserved for the Power Tank range extender in the faux gas tank, and weighs approximately half as much. FX models, and those who already have the Power Tank installed will have to use an aftermarket top case in order to fit the Super Charger. This is the setup electric evangelist Terry Hershner will be using on his Zero.

When it comes to putting the Super Charger to the test, there’s none better than Terry Hershner for the job. He’ll be receiving the first production unit and putting it through the wringer. Here you can see a prototype installed in his top case.

When it comes to putting the Super Charger to the test, there’s none better than Terry Hershner for the job. He’ll be receiving the first production unit and putting it through the wringer. Here you can see a prototype installed in his top case.

Because the Super Charger is portable and able to be carried in something like a top case, a major benefit of the Super Charger is its ability to be used on virtually any electric vehicle, two wheels or four. It can also be used as an off-board charging station when plugged into a NEMA outlet.

Miller says the connectors are modular to support the use of the Super Charger on a variety of electric vehicles, including older Zeros. “Their batteries are so small,” he said “they can be charged in no time.” He gave the example of a prototype Super Charger unit he tested on his 2012 Zero S with the ZF6 (6 kWh) battery, claiming that bike could go from fully flat to fully charged in under 40 minutes. “Charging from 30% to 90% would be ridiculous,” he said. “Like stop, plug in, go pee, then go ride again.”

The Super Charger can also be used at home as an off-board charger. Hershner’s dog, Charger, not included.

The Super Charger can also be used at home as an off-board charger. Hershner’s dog, Charger, not included.

This isn’t DigiNow’s first foray into building Zero accessories, having built a Bluetooth dongle to connect a smartphone directly to the bike’s brain. However, its history with Zero has mostly been racing related. The small company isn’t tied up in bureaucracy whenever a change is called for, which gives Miller and his team the ability to be flexible and pivot quickly from one project to the next.

Introductory pricing for the Super Charger is set at $2944, and a very limited number of units will be available in the first production batch. The units will ship on November 24, and as an extra incentive for users, eMotorWerks will offer a generous discount on its JuiceBox EV Charging Station when purchased together with a Super Charger.

For more information, visit www.emotorwerks.com.

  • DickRuble

    I hope it works. I really do. However, assuming the performance numbers are real.. how many fast charges can a lithium battery take? In my experience, the faster you charge a battery, the hotter it gets.. How will owners extinguish the occasional Li battery fire in their garage?

    • Brandon Nozaki Miller

      Great question, thankfully there won’t be any lithium ion fires 😉 for a few reasons. Given the way our charger slows down at the top end of the charge, we are supplying power very much in the way the Zero battery cells like to be charged.

      First, our charger slows down as the battery approaches full and has full communication to the bike, which leads to reason 2

      Reason 2 The Zero battery is highly intelligent and not only protects itself in many ways it also prevents you from doing anything dangerous with it this way. And tells you when to slow down or stop. Though for most people charging from a regular jPlug, they will never get close to this.

      • DickRuble

        Ahem… great hands waiving here.. thanks for the “explanation”.. in other words … “our product is so smart and the battery so intelligent that there won’t be any problems”.. very convincing and highly technical..

        • Brandon Nozaki Miller

          We are not looking for funding at this point. If you want technical details it would be best to email us. Also as a handy not Google provides a lot of great detailed info on the Zero batteries themselves 😉

    • benswing

      Zero’s batteries are rated to charge at 1C, which means charging in 1 hour is within their ability without any concern.

      • DickRuble

        My understanding is that 1C means it can only take up to 150 Ah (at 66.6 nominal voltage). If my understanding is correct, your statement doesn’t explain anything… It certainly doesn’t mean you can charge it under an hour. It means it can take 150Ah, if you can deliver that at around 75V. With the four (maximum) auxiliary chargers, a Zero a 9kwh motorcycle battery pack can be charged in 1.9 hours. I am sure there’s a reason for that.. In other words.. thanks for participating.

        • http://protomech.wordpress.com/ protomech

          1C means that a battery cell rated at X amp-hours can accept up to X amps during bulk charge, which typically terminates at 90-95% SOC.

          So roughly speaking, the battery can charge from 0% to 90-95% in an hour, or proportionally less time if it starts at mid-SOC (50% to 95% is about half an hour).

          2C means a cell rated at X amp-hours can accept 2X amps (charging 50-95% in 15 minutes, etc).

          • DickRuble

            Thank you! I don’t know the exact voltage of the Zero battery pack, but I am guessing 66V nominal. You would need 135 Ah to reach the 9kwh battery capacity..

          • http://protomech.wordpress.com/ protomech

            “State-of-the-art 102 volt power pack configurations and cell chemistry” (nominal voltage btw)

            Source: http://www.zeromotorcycles.com/zero-s/features.php

            Approximately 81 Ah for the ZF9.4, 108 Ah for the ZF12.5, and 132 Ah for the ZF12.5 + Power Tank bikes.

            Presumably this charger can supply 100+ amps, so the larger bikes may take proportionally longer to charge.

          • DickRuble

            Just to be clear and according to your own definitions: If an 81 Ah battery is 1C, that means it will accept a maximum of 81A in one hour, no more. So it won’t be charged 0-100% in less than an hour, even if your supply is capable of 250 Ah.

          • Vincent Swendsen

            The max voltage on my Zero SR is 116 volts. When the battery is discharged down to 10% SOC or less the voltage will be around 90 volts.

          • DickRuble

            That confirms the 102v. Thanks!

          • http://protomech.wordpress.com/ protomech

            Click the top View Details link. It’s there, just not obvious.

    • http://protomech.wordpress.com/ protomech

      Charging temperature is largely dependent upon chemistry and relative charge rate (the C-rate). Experience with a particular chemistry may not carry to the next; the Zero packs are designed for a 1C charge rate.

      Zero warranties their battery packs for 5 years. Presumably that warranty would be intact with this product.

      The Farasis cells are rated to well over 1000 cycles at a 1C charge and discharge rate.
      http://www.cdiweb.com/datasheets/ctc-battery/FEI-DataSheet-IMP06160230P25A-Pouch-25Ah-v5.pdf

      In the unlikely event of a vehicle fire, combustion or electric, you’d deal with it the same way: exit the premises and call the Fire Department. If you’re paralyzed by the fear of potential but unlikely hazards, I wouldn’t recommend riding a motorcycle.

      • DickRuble

        I ride a motorcycle.. but I won’t buy aftermarket, expensive, unproven gizmos whose CTO’s cannot articulate the technology better than “it’s very smart”.

        • Brandon Nozaki Miller

          If you would like in detail technical specs on the product I think the most appropriate thing to do would be to email us. Thanks for your desire to learn more about our product…

          • DickRuble

            I think I’ve got the info I needed. Congratulations, you made it.. you’re in good company with other inventors of revolutionary products profiled in MO

            http://www.motorcycle.com/features/weekend-awesome-brazilian-motorcycle-gets-1176-mpg-of-water.html

          • http://protomech.wordpress.com/ protomech

            Numerous people on modified Zeros have crossed the US. This charger will make long distance touring much easier .. though I think it’d be awesome to see a long distance attempt using these chargers :)

            How many times has the hydrogen-from-electrolysis bike crossed the US? Right.

          • DickRuble

            How many? Just about as many as those who used this device to ride in Brazil’s jungles.

          • http://protomech.wordpress.com/ protomech

            Just saying.. the electrics are real. We’ll see about the DigiNow once it ships, but it’s based on a device that has been shipping for years (I looked at it a couple of years back for faster charging for my own electric bike).

            The hydrogen bike smells of snake oil.

            Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.

          • DickRuble

            Of course it’s snake oil..and the DigiNow is barely more.. It will not charge your Zero under an hour under any circumstance (1C batteries cannot be by definition)..and will get close to that only and only when you have access to another source…

          • http://protomech.wordpress.com/ protomech

            A battery rated at 1C can be charged more quickly. Doing so *may* damage the battery, and it may not.

            The battery as a physical device doesn’t care what the charge rating is on the datasheet. The actual charge acceptance rate of the device is limited by a slew of physical characteristics.

            As an example:

            The EIG cells used in the 2012 bikes do not have a maximum charge rating listed on the datasheet. They have a recommended charge rate of 0.5C, which is a two hour charge. Zero slightly exceeds this recommended charge rate with the maximum supported “quick charger” configuration, which is 4 accessory chargers connected to a ZF6 bike for a 1.3 hour charge time.

            http://www.zeromotorcycles.com/zero-s/2012/specs.php

            However, the manufacturer’s own lab cycle lifetime tests use a 1C charge and 1C discharge rate .. and under lab conditions, those cells go for 3000 cycles before reaching 80%.

            The Farasis 25Ah cells list a maximum charge current of 25A (1C). Again, it may be possible to physically exceed this charge current .. but as with the above, this exceeds the manufacturer spec. Whether this damages the cell or not is an exercise left to the reader.

            In most cases, the more modern 2016 bikes won’t be able to be charged at more than 1C simply because the charger itself isn’t powerful enough. The largest battery bike Zero now sells is 14 kWh, so a 12 kW peak / 9 kW continuous charger will charge the bike at a maximum of around 0.9C.

            Even the smaller S bike – ZF9.8 – would be charged at only slightly over 1C while the charger operates at peak current. Probably okay – but I’m curious whether the charger has the ability to set a hard current-limit.

          • DickRuble

            Whatever.. you go and buy this miracle device that voids your warranty..

  • Vincent Swendsen

    No question this sounds great. I currently use two Elcon 2500 watt chargers with the internal charger for a total of 6300 watts. Most J1772 systems are only rated at 6.6 kW. Some will not go that high, especially Blink. While this system go clearly charge a lot faster than what I am using you are not going to be able to take advantage of it with most J1772 systems out there. Is it possible to pull power from two J1772 plugs at the same time? That would clearly let you charge at maximum speed.

    • DickRuble

      And if you pulled power from twelve J1772 plugs you would be able to recharge in a microsecond..If only engineering were that simple..

      • rsteeb
        • DickRuble

          And the performance was….? Did it charge four times faster?

          • Brandon Nozaki Miller

            I believe this setup was Terries, with the 4 elcons running he would have gotten 10kW max. And been carrying about 80 to100 lbs of chargers.

    • Brandon Nozaki Miller

      From a J-Plug you will get between 6 and 8kw most of the time, depends on the station. A lot will give 6.6 or 7.5 which is pretty darn good. You can use NEMA 14-50 for 10kw or a j1772 juicebox pro 40, or even a j1772 juicebox 70 which will give you 15kw. Or when the CCS and ChaDeMo is available as a swappable plug you’ll be able to use those as well. Need the charger for those because most don’t go down to a low enough DC voltage to charge the Zero.

      • wavelet

        Happy to hear about this…
        Two questions:
        1) If the original Zero onboard charger is removed and the DigiNow is installed onboard instead, will it still be possible to use the DigiNow charger to charge from a standard household socket (in my European case, 220V)? If so, at what rate (kw)?
        2) Is the 20lbs weight the total weight of the DigiNow, or the extra weight if it replaces the original?

        • Brandon Nozaki Miller

          It is the total weight. Yes you would still be able to charge with a regular outlet, but you would have to let us know what type you needed, in the EU there are a few types. In most countries in the EU you can charge at 220v and 12-15 amps, but some homes might be limited to 10Amps, you would need to check your fuse box to know for sure.

          • Steven Day

            Do we still need the onboard charger to balance the cells? Does powering the DigiNow Supercharger with a J plug power the onboard charger also?

  • Campisi

    Always jealous of Terry’s blue bodywork.

    Is that nine-kilo weight penalty for the DigiNow unit before or after the stock Zero charger is removed?

  • halfkidding

    I know nothing about charging Ni batteries. Apparently this unit charges faster than other chargers. Let’s assume 110V. How much faster? Why? I simply cannot imagine there is something new under the charging sun. Something just discovered. In other words something Tesla or even Toyota couldn’t do if they wanted to.

    • DickRuble

      I am going to go out on a limb and guess what this “invention” really is.. It is possible it’s just a unit that allows an electric motorcycle to be charged at a DC fast charging station. These stations allow fast charging of electric automobiles at 25kwh or even 50kwh, which is about 20x respectively 40x the power of the onboard charger of a Zero motorcycle. By bringing down the voltage from about 400V to the 100V of the motorcycle, this gizmo probably allows motorcyclists to use the DC fast charging stations…so the CTO is right.. no danger of fire in your garage because.. you’re unlikely to have a DC fast charging station at home.

      • Brandon Nozaki Miller

        We will support this with our modular connectors. The current Super Charger is available with J1772, Mennekes, and NEMA 14-50 connectors. DC modular connectors will be available next year, and just plug right into existing setups.

        Electric Motorwerks has offered us a home charger that outputs 8kW as a package deal with our Super Charger for only $420. you should be able to get other chargers upto 15kW for under $800 to $900.

  • schizuki

    Looking at the luggage set-up on that Zero. Am I the only person who doesn’t mount Givi E21 bags backwards? Saw a guy at a bike show with the same backwards mounting. Must be easier for the passenger or something.

  • schizuki

    $3000, huh? Let’s see, that’s… one thousand gallons of gas. Which would equal 42,000 miles on my Bandit.

    The future belongs to E-bikes!

    • Steven Day

      How many oil changes, spark plugs, brake pads, valve adjustments, weeks in the shop waiting to be winterized, etc. will your gaser need over those 42,000 miles? I plug mine in every day and buy new tires every two years or so, may replace pads in 5 or 10 years, regen keeps that need down. No winterizing also.

  • ‘Mike Smith

    At that price, no friggin thanks. After 8 months of ownership and nearly 5,000 miles, not once have I needed this. The slow method works just fine for me.

  • E-Nonymouse A

    40-50 minutes is a lot of peeing, how much beer does one drink during or before the average ride? 😀
    I’m sure this stuff will really turn heads on a race track but this type of ride won’t see any real use from the rest of the world for a long time. Short urban travel perhaps but electric bikes are right up there with some tesla’s in price, so good luck with that.