We’ve tested plenty of electric motorcycles over the years here at MO. In the process, we’ve been able to witness firsthand how rapidly e-bikes have evolved. Through it all, however, we get asked the same questions over and over: 1. How far will it go on a charge? and 2. How long will it take to recharge the batteries? There used to be a third question – how fast will it go? – but through our testing and experiences with the greater e-bike community, speed no longer seems to be a concern amongst the critics.

2014 Zero SR Review

In the quest to satisfy curiosity surrounding the first two questions, we ordered up a 2015 Zero SR and lived with it for two months. We used it as a daily driver, its intended environment, to experience just what it’s like to ride a bone-stock electric bike in the everyday. As you can see from the photos, ours came with a few choice accessories, which we’ll cover later on. For now, let’s tackle the two aforementioned questions head-on.

Life With A Zero

You want to know how far a Zero will go on a single charge. The answer to that could be upwards of 100 miles, if you ride gingerly and equip your S, DS or SR with the optional Power Tank like we did. We didn’t make it to 100, but we still managed over 90 miles on a single charge during a ride through city streets, open freeway, then congested freeway. We rode as we normally would, with no special technique in regards to conserving energy. The only adjustment we made was switching the ride mode to Eco approximately halfway through our ride in order to conserve energy where possible. This still enabled us to travel at an electronically-governed 70 mph (Sport mode is governed at 100 mph), but we rarely reached that speed as SoCal gridlock for the last quarter of our ride meant filtering through traffic at a slower pace.

For getting to/from the office or campus, it doesn’t get much easier than the Zero. The width of the saddlebags don’t protrude further than the mirrors, so filtering through traffic isn’t an issue.

For getting to/from the office or campus, it doesn’t get much easier than the Zero. The width of the saddlebags don’t protrude further than the mirrors, so filtering through traffic isn’t an issue.

Nonetheless, in a real-world situation, we were pleasantly surprised to get more than 90 miles on a single charge. At the end, the battery level display on the dash was reading in the single digits when we made it back to home base: Casa de Brasfield. Could we have reached triple-digit mileage on that day? Maybe, but it would’ve been cutting it close. A range of more than 100 miles is possible if freeways/highways are limited, and speeds are kept below 65 mph.

2015 Zero New Model Introduction

Considering the average American’s commute to work is far less than 90 miles (more like 15, actually, according to a survey from the U.S. Department of Transportation) the SR easily has enough juice to get you to and from the office. When equipped with the optional bags, it can even accommodate a run to the grocery store if you’re short on TV dinners for the week. If your workplace has EV charging stations, you can refill your batteries back to 100% before clocking out for the day, sometimes free of charge. But more on that later.

This brings up another realization: it’s not often that we’re traveling 90 miles or more in our typical day. For those who do, this or most other electric motorcycles currently available may not be for you. However, we’re guessing the number of people who are actively looking at a Zero and whose daily travels get into the triple digits, mileage-wise, are relatively low. For the rest of you, we feel confident saying range anxiety doesn’t need to be a concern anymore for normal transportation and commuting duties.

The top case has a large enough volume to fit plenty of groceries, but its rectangular shape means there’s no squeezing a helmet inside. At least its mounting bracket doubles as a passenger grab handle.

The top case has a large enough volume to fit plenty of groceries, but its rectangular shape means there’s no squeezing a helmet inside. At least its mounting bracket doubles as a passenger grab handle.

Obviously, we concede electrics and their relatively short range aren’t yet a viable option for touring-oriented riders. Sport riders may also be disappointed, as simply riding to/from the twisties will consume much-needed energy, while the aggressive nature of canyon riding will not only zap power quickly, but could also overheat the air-cooled motor, potentially leading to thermal cutback issues as the bike attempts to cool off.

Parts and Accessories

In order to make the SR as utilitarian as possible for the daily grind, Zero delivered an SR with heaps of items from the accessories catalog, including the RAM smartphone mount ($70), commuter windscreen ($200, including mounting kit), 21-liter Givi side cases ($600, including mounting kit) and Givi Trekker top box with 33-liter capacity ($550, including mounting kit).

The Zero SR makes a fine urban commuter in standard trim, but adding bags and a windscreen goes a long way to really make it fit for daily commuting duties.

The Zero SR makes a fine urban commuter in standard trim, but adding bags and a windscreen goes a long way to really make it fit for daily commuting duties.

To maximize our range, our SR came with the optional Power Tank ($2495), which adds 2.8 kWh to the standard 12.5 kWh battery (nominal rates of 2.5 kWh and 11.0 kWh, respectively), for a max output of 15.3 kWh, or 13.5 kWh, nominal. To optimize charge times, we were given not one, but two Delta-Q quick-chargers ($600, each), which require the use of a $250 Y-adapter to work together and throw electrons at the batteries. Lastly, since more and more parking lots are equipped with J1772 charging stations instead of standard wall outlets, a J-plug adapter ($300) was ordered to make charging options on the go easier.

The Life Electric: Next-Gen Hot Rodding + Video

Factor all that into the $15,995 starting price for a standard Zero SR (not accounting for rebates or incentives in your state), and the nearly $22,000 price tag is admittedly a tough pill to swallow, no matter how much you want to reduce your dependency on gasoline. However, you could do without some of the accessories and slash the price considerably. Nonetheless, we wanted to live the life of someone who has fully bought-in to the e-vehicle lifestyle to see how useful a highly accessorized Zero could really be.

Side note: because J1772 charge ports are becoming more commonplace throughout the country, Zero has quietly moved away from the CHAdeMO quick-charging system it promoted only a couple years ago, with no charge adapters or other related accessories available in its accessories catalog.

With only two external quick-chargers, this creates a tangled mess of cords and wires when everything’s plugged in. That’s the price you pay (at least for now) for quick charging. The S, DS and SR models can take two additional chargers for even faster charging, assuming you have enough independent circuits in your home to plug them all in. The orange Y-connector seen here connects to a port just above the Zero’s motor.

With only two external quick-chargers, this creates a tangled mess of cords and wires when everything’s plugged in. That’s the price you pay (at least for now) for quick charging. The S, DS and SR models can take two additional chargers for even faster charging, assuming you have enough independent circuits in your home to plug them all in. The orange Y-connector seen here connects to a port just above the Zero’s motor.

Plugging In

On the topic of charging, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is there are numerous charging stations popping up throughout the country for electric vehicles, and apps like ChargePoint are great for helping EV owners locate them; the app even lists civilians who are open to having strangers charge in their driveway! Depending on the location, sometimes stations will let you charge for free. No matter where you go, however, the J1772 adaptor will come in handy, because even though some stations accommodate standard 110-volt wall outlets, nearly all of them will have a J1772 plug. However, the J-plug adapter simply allows one to plug in to a charge station – it does nothing to shorten charge times, which is limited by the Zero’s integrated 1.3 kW charger.

If you’re serious about using a Zero for commuting and want to use public charging stations, a J1772 adapter is a must-have.

If you’re serious about using a Zero for commuting and want to use public charging stations, a J1772 adapter is a must-have.

Here’s the bad news: On occasion, there are more EVs than there are charge stations available. Also, most stations charge (pun not intended) a fee, and in our experience some stations deliver a higher output than others. None of that matters, though, if you run into another problem we faced: Not every public charging station is reliable. On what would eventually become our 90-mile run, we attempted to recharge earlier in the day while grabbing a bite to eat. As it turned out, the station we visited wasn’t working. Using the Chargepoint app we found another … which also wasn’t working. After clocking approximately 50 miles and coming across a third, failed, station, we decided to bite the bullet and attempt to make it to the Brasfield residence, over 40 miles away.

Inside Batteries: Zero Motorcycles Senior Battery Specialist, Luke Workman + Video

As noted earlier, the power pack (a.k.a., the batteries) were down to single digits percentage-wise when we arrived. We hadn’t intended on running our SR this low on battery, but draining the batteries to nearly empty was a good test for real-world charge times. After only plugging in the included power cord to the 110v wall outlet, the onboard charge indicator on the dash said it would take nearly 10 hours(!) to fully replenish. Then, after connecting the two Delta-Q quick-chargers, each providing an additional 1 kW of charging capability on top of the on-board charger’s 1.3 kW, with the Y-connector and plugging that into the bike (which must be done after the standard cord is inserted), the estimated charge time dropped dramatically to slightly more than three hours for a completely replenished power pack. The estimation was pretty close, too; we reached a full charge in about four hours. Zero says up to four external quick chargers can be paired with the S, DS and SR platforms. With that configuration, a full charge can be reached in a claimed 2.8 hours. Less, if you ditch the Power Tank option.

Keep in mind, too, that the bike doesn’t need to be fully recharged before unplugging, nor does it cause any damage to leave the cord in after full charge is reached. Think of it like your cell phone.

With the onboard charger and two Delta-Q quick-chargers plugged in, reaching full charge from only 12% was only a smidge longer than the indicated 3.5 hours. Still, it’s much better than the original 10-hour prediction without the quick-chargers.

With the onboard charger and two Delta-Q quick-chargers plugged in, reaching full charge from only 12% was only a smidge longer than the indicated 3.5 hours. Still, it’s much better than the original 10-hour prediction without the quick-chargers.

Of course, there are a couple caveats with the quick-charge system, other than the price. While each quick-charger can fit in one of the saddlebags (though they’re rather heavy), this isn’t meant to be a transportable system, as each individual charger needs to be plugged into a separate circuit (you run the high risk of tripping a breaker in your home otherwise). Good luck finding somewhere to do that while on the road. An optimal charge area is at the home, Evans’ home in this case, which conveniently has three separate circuits in close proximity to where the bike was parked.

Other Observations

Once questions about range and charging are answered, the question becomes, “What’s it like to live with?” As the editor who spent the most time with the SR, the first thing I noticed about using a Zero as a commuting machine is that nothing really changes. The controls are all the same. The obvious difference is there is no shifting, leaving the left appendages free to relax. Then of course there’s the lack of noise upon startup, convenient should your commute start early in the morning and you’d prefer not to make enemies with the neighbors.

On standard Zero S, DS and SR models, this center compartment is convenient for storing small items during your ride. Should you opt for the Power Tank, the 45-pound battery cell sits in this spot instead.

On standard Zero S, DS and SR models, this center compartment is convenient for storing small items during your ride. Should you opt for the Power Tank, the 45-pound battery cell sits in this spot instead.

The SR’s riding position is relaxed, with the bars set at a neutral position and the pegs fairly low to the ground. The seat is shaped well enough to allow a rider’s knees to grip the faux gas tank, and for my 153-pound frame, the padding was adequate. By the time I’d want to get up and stretch out, it’d likely be time to recharge anyway. Heavier riders may wish for additional seat foam.

The RAM mount on the handlebar has a large enough mouth to secure either an iPhone 6 or a Samsung Galaxy S5, though anything much bigger than that could be tight. Of course, one of the main reasons for the RAM mount is to be able to view the Zero app displaying from your phone. Apart from being able to act as a typical dashboard display, showing speed and state of charge, it’s also a cool rider aid, providing insight into the bike’s functions in real time. One can view a myriad of information like kilowatt hours used, cost per mile, motor temps, battery temps, distance or time until empty, and so much more. Maybe its neatest feature is the app’s ability to allow the rider to adjust top speed, torque and regenerative braking with the push of a few buttons.


In previous e-bike testing, we’ve drawn comparisons to the power from 650cc twin-cylinder motorcycles, so we’ve compared dyno data here for further illumination. A dyno records power from an ICE bike by calculating the force being applied to a roller based on engine rpm, but the Zero has no tach lead, so we have to use wheel speed (in mph) instead of rpm on the X axis. The caveat here is that all Zeros have single-speed transmissions, while most ICE bikes have six-speed gearboxes (usually measured in fourth or fifth gear), so this chart isn’t precisely apples to apples. However, the important info is that a Zero SR actually produces more horsepower than Suzuki’s V-Twin or Kawi’s parallel-Twin. It also grunts out more torque, but exactly how much more is impossible to determine without rpm data.

We’ve documented in the past how spritely the SR likes to move, and its 68 horsepower, measured on the MotoGP Werks dyno, and claimed 106 lb.-ft. of torque, available instantaneously, all but guarantees victory in stoplight-to-stoplight drag races. It also comes in handy when merging onto the freeway, as the power makes it easy to find a gap to slip into. That said, E-i-C Duke wasn’t completely thrilled with the e-throttle response.

2013 Brammo Empulse R Vs Zero S ZF11.4 – Video

“Dialing on full throttle doesn’t deliver 100% power, so it’s the motor controller that is the ultimate arbiter of how much juice gets thrown to the motor,” he says. Nonetheless, power is deceptive, as you can easily find yourself going well over the speed limit in Sport mode, which is the mode I kept it in the vast majority of the time. That said, the slightly muted output in Eco mode certainly didn’t leave me feeling bored.

Once moving along with freeway traffic, one has time to appreciate the accessory windscreen, which can tilt on its mount to stand completely vertical or angle slightly toward the rider. Both positions suited my 5-foot, 8-inch frame, as the air moved much smoother around and over my head. Without the screen, wind blasts would be directed straight for my chest.

The accessory windscreen nicely diverts airflow away from the chest, up and around the rider’s helmet.

The accessory windscreen nicely diverts airflow away from the chest, up and around the rider’s helmet.

Suspension gets upgraded to Showa for 2015, and ride quality is centered on comfort over performance. Both Duke and I agreed that damping is well suited for the bumps and imperfections of city roads, though it’s at the expense of ultimate control when ridden aggressively. Still, “I’ll put up with an overabundance of front-end dive under heavy braking for something this plush,” says Kevin.

J-Juan may not carry the same cache as, say, Brembo, but the Spanish company’s braking components are quite impressive in bringing the SR to a stop. There’s firm, predictable lever travel, aided by the steel-braided line. Also, the Bosch ABS allows one to squeeze the front lever fairly hard before any hint of activation kicks in.

The bags and top case, too, were simple to use, though the top case’s square shape meant no helmets could be stored in it; even the small backpack seen in the photos was just a tad too large. Were it mine, I’d swap for the other Zero Givi top case shaped appropriately to fit a helmet.

Despite being the sportiest Zero in the lineup, low pegs and a top-heavy chassis (at least with the Power Tank) are real detriments when trying to ride quickly in the twisties. The Showa suspension and Pirelli tires are welcome upgrades from last year.

Despite being the sportiest Zero in the lineup, low pegs and a top-heavy chassis (at least with the Power Tank) are real detriments when trying to ride quickly in the twisties. The Showa suspension and Pirelli tires are welcome upgrades from last year.

The biggest difference to riding electric that I wasn’t expecting is when riding two-up. The linear power delivery and lack of shifting meant greatly reduced clanging of the helmets, and the system enables especially easy launches when on an incline. After riding on the back of the Zero, my wife, who couldn’t care less about motorcycles, confessed she liked riding on it better than other bikes she’s been on in the past. “I liked that it was quieter and the ride was really smooth,” she said. “It was easier to talk to you and I wasn’t hitting my helmet against yours.”

Of course, there are a couple complaints. Simply wheeling the SR around our garages and our inclined driveways reminded us of a few things: first, having the 45-pound Power Tank unit situated in its high perch makes the bike feel heavier than its 463-pound wet weight (with bags removed, but mounting brackets still attached) when pushing it around. Kevin noted the SR with the Power Tank “feels much heavier and less adroit than the S model I rode a couple years ago.”


Second, the high perch of the Power Tank also doesn’t do the SR any favors in the handling department, a trait we’ve mentioned in our past dealings with the SR. Kevin called its low-speed handling manners “truckish,” while higher-speed direction changes require slightly more effort from the rider compared to non Power Tank-equipped Zeros. Since this test was centered around commuting duties, we didn’t place as high a penalty on this fault.

Lastly, one needs to be very cautious when putting the sidestand down when the SR is parked on an incline, as we noticed our bike roll slightly on occasion. Zero, if you’re listening (err … reading), would it be so hard to equip all your models with an emergency brake? We suggest a system similar to that used by BMW’s C650GT, which activates the rear brake mechanically once the sidestand is deployed. Simple, elegant, and effective.

The Right Choice … For Some

Buying a Zero is obviously a very subjective decision based around a very close look into one’s daily transportation needs. While the range might be limiting for some, we feel for a large number of commuters, the SR will more than meet your range – and performance – needs. Of course, the cost of entry is a barrier for some, but Zero has actually lowered prices compared to 2014. Take into account the cost for electricity is less per mile compared to gasoline and maintenance costs are lower (belt-drive is almost maintenance free, and there’s no valve adjustments or oil changes, unlike the upcoming Victory Empulse, which requires it for the gearbox) and the price gap might make more sense in the long run to someone on the fence.

The moral of this story? Going electric isn’t for everyone, but it can be for many.

The moral of this story? Going electric isn’t for everyone, but it can be for many.

For my personal usage, it’s rare that the wife and I venture very far outside our surrounding zip codes, and we have a gas vehicle to use for those times we do. We were so impressed with the Zero that we’re considering picking up an electric four-wheeler for the everyday. Could I see myself owning an SR for the two-wheel commute? Yes, I could, but it would be an addition to my gas bike, not a replacement. At least for now.

  • http://www.themotorcycleobsession.com/ Chris Cope

    A good and fair review. I think people too often ignore the intended purpose of an electric motorcycle when waging complaints against it. But, really, electrics are now more or less “there” for commuting/urban use. Complaining that they can’t go really far is akin to complaining about the lack of off-road ability on a Panigale.

    Price is still a big issue, but for me the question of where to put an electric motorcycle is the biggest hurdle. John Burns wrote not too long ago about the challenge of finding a home with a garage, something moto-journalists need because manufacturers are putting various bikes in your care. The challenge of finding such accommodation was so great that Burns had to move in with his ex-wife.

    Electric users are going to need the same sort of safe, secure and power-supply-equipped storage. That more or less writes off people living in apartments, condos or townhomes. You know, the sort of people who live in the urban environments to which electric bikes are best suited. But there are also all those people who live in hot states –– you know, where a commuting motorcycle makes the most sense –– and have covered carports rather than full garages.

    • Vincent Swendsen

      I have a Zero SR and use it for my 60 mile round trip commute. I love it! I also have a 650 V-Strom and a ZX-6R. For me it is about the power delivery of the electric motor. You will hear all kinds of people say you can buy a Ducati for the price of an SR and they are correct. But Ducati has never produced a motor than can match the power delivery of the SR. Every engine configuration has its fans. Some love big V-Twins or big singles. Nothing wrong with any of them. Sure can tell the difference between the V-Twin of the V-Strom and the in-line four of the ZX-6R. But there is a smoothness of the electric that is appealing to me. And yes I paid a premium to enjoy that smoothness. It is not the only feature of a motorcycle that if you really want it you will pay a premium for. There are all kinds of motorcycles out there for all kinds of people. Electrics are never going to be for everyone the same way big cruisers are not for everyone. But my advice is try one. As far as performance the SR will smoke the V-Strom. At lower RPMs it will smoke the ZX-6R. But at higher RPMS the ZX-6R will run away from the SR. But I don’t always ride with the RPMS about 8K. And sometimes it is nice not having to down shift if you really need to pull away from someone. And while the SR tops out at about 102 MPH have never needed more while trying to pass someone.

      • ‘Mike Smith

        I am also a 2015 SR owner, and own a ’09 R1. The SR only loses out in the seat department. Otherwise, it’s fantastic. And like you said, down low, it is crazy!

        • Doug S

          I’ve had my SR since January 2014, and I agree, it’s the most satisfying, fun bike I’ve ever owned (or ridden, for that matter!). It’s not just that the bike has such monstrous torque down low and off the line, it’s the utter responsiveness with which it’s delivered that always brings a smile. I do my 50-mile round trip commute for less than $1.50 per day, and can smoke Corvette owners at the traffic lights. How many other vehicles can claim that, and be just a plain joy to drive?

          And if you’ve never ridden one, you really shouldn’t be talking smack about them….the experience isn’t one that can be put into words. It’s like trying to explain motorcycles to someone who’s never ridden one — they just aren’t going to get it until they try it.

    • roma258

      Interesting point about people living in hot climates. One of the upsides I’ve found of commuting on my Empulse is complete lack or radiant heat in hot weather. On most gas bikes, my thighs and nether regions are getting cooked if I’m stuck in traffic and it’s over 90 degrees. On the Brammo, it’s not an issue. Pretty big deal 3 months out of the year.

    • gasdive

      The Zero doesn’t smell or drip oil. It can come inside your apartment just as you would bring a bicycle inside. It weighs about the same as 2 people, so it can go up in most lifts. Just one of the many advantages.

  • Bruce Steever

    You have hp and mph. And you know the gear ratio… Calculating torque is easy.

  • desl

    I’ll probably give one of these serious consideration in the coming year or two. I found a dealership with some different models of the zero in stock. Taking the bike on and off the sidestand was terrifying for all variants in the showroom. My wife and I already have an electric car and I’m sold on electric propulsion.

  • Alexander Pityuk

    Electric bikes are becoming very cool indeed, but for now you shouldn’t try to find rational reasons to buy them. If they appeal to you (and you have deep pockets) – go get one. Otherwise just savour the last moments of outgoing era of petrol, as we all will have to embrace electricity inevitably.

    • ‘Mike Smith

      We’re all going to be on this planet for a short time, why deny yourself? Get what you want and ride!

  • Uncommon Sense

    These bikes are 99% of the way there. Now if the could just make one that actually has some sex appeal, I’d get on board.

  • Paul Russell Laverack

    Thanks, Troy, for a thoughtful and well-written piece. You took the space necessary to give us a feel for what today’s electric motorcycle is like to live with every day, and that’s just the kind of review that readers like myself – interested in electric motos but wary of unforeseen pitfalls – have been waiting for. Also, your upbeat personality shines through, and catching glimpses of the world behind the scenes (charging at Evans’s house, and riding two-up with your missus) is a treat that draws readers in. I would dare to say this sort of emotional identification is the essence of all good storytelling, and it is a particular strength of the writing here at motorcycle.com – that’s why your site has become my favorite for all things moto. Keep up the good work!

  • John B.

    To compare a Ducati to a Zero is like comparing Kate Upton to Kelly Osbourne. They are both women, but let’s not pretend we don’t have eyes. Next time MO has an event, have Troy pick up Kelly on a Zero and have Alexander ride with Kate on a Ducati Diavel, and let us know who is jealous of whom!

    Clearly, electric motorcycles were brought to market at least 10 years too soon due to government subsidies and irrational fears about climate change and its causes (One 2-stroke scooter engine in Vietnam makes as much pollution as 50 American automobiles; i.e., American motor vehicles will have a negligible impact on worldwide pollution, and thus climate change).

    You compare a $7,000 Ninja 650 to a $22,000 electric, which tells me everything I need to know. Get back to us when the Zero costs $6,500 and has a 180 mile highway range. That will be years from now, if ever.

    Retail price alone does not fully capture the true cost to own an electric versus an IC model. In particular, the steep depreciation curve on an electric runs inverse to improvements in battery technology, and far outpaces depreciation on an IC bike. Again, electric bikes should not have come to market until battery technology enabled these bikes to have a similar range to IC bikes. Bringing the bikes to market while battery technology continues to advance at a brisk pace causes steep depreciation.

    At the end of the day, electric bikes are a terrible value. I can buy a Ninja 650, take Uber to/from work for the next two (2) years, and have enough money left over for a trip to Hawaii!!!

    I enjoy Troy’s writing style and personality, but have no use for electric motorcycles.

    • ‘Mike Smith

      Considering how far the Zero bikes have come since 2012, you’ll be eating your words sooner than you think.

      • John B.

        Let’s say its 2017 and your dreams come true. The 2017 Zero gets 190 miles per charge, weighs 30 pounds less, recharges in an hour, and costs $14,999 fully equipped. How much will the 2015 $22,000 Zero tested here be worth? $8,000? $5,000? $2,000? What’s the current resale value on the 2012 Zero that has a 35-60 mile range?

        To purchase a current model Zero is a terrible investment precisely because the technology is advancing so quickly. When electric bikes advance to the point where they offer the same value as an IC bike I will be eating Lobster (not words) with the money I saved by not buying the crude exemplar featured here. Until then, IC all the way!

        • Doug S

          Purchasing a Zero now is NOT a “terrible investment”. I bought my SR in January 2014 based on a spreadsheet I ran, which showed that it will pay for itself in about four years’ worth of not commuting in my car…when in reality, I plan on owning the bike for ten years or more. In what way is it a mistake to start saving money earlier rather than later?

          You’re entitled to your opinion, and your financials may not bear any resemblance to mine. But coming up on two years out, buying my Zero remains one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

          • John B.

            It’s clear you do not understand how to analyze an investment. You are comparing your Zero to a car. Try comparing it to a comparable IC motorcycle, and then get back to me. I hope buying Zero was NOT one of the best decisions you ever made….

          • Doug S

            What’s clear is that you think you know everything, and assume the rest of us know nothing. I assure you, the electric motorcycle works best for me in my situation. Now go troll someone else.

          • John B.

            I do not know everything (not even close), but I have extensive education and experience in finance, economics, and law. Furthermore, I’m not a troll, I’m am a… man!

            Enlighten me please. Compare your Zero to a comparable IC bike. How does the math work out?

          • Doug S

            I have a B.A. in Physics (yes, my school gave out only B.A. degrees, even for technical fields), and I’ve been an EE for 30+ years now, so I consider myself pretty well educated too. I have no formal financial education, but I’m a whiz with numbers, and thoroughly understand opportunity costs, the time value of money, depreciation and all the concepts I need to understand the value of an investment.

            On a purely financial basis, it can be difficult to make a case for a Zero SR (or other EM) over an ICE motorcycle. But most decisions aren’t made on a purely financial basis…at least in my world, they’re not.

            That being said, I’m not going to do your homework for you, I did it for myself, but if you honestly add up actual costs of ownership over, say, ten years of an ICE motorcycle, without underestimating maintenance as most people do, and compare it to the cost of an EM, you’ll be surprised how close to parity they are. (And yes, I do intend to own my bike for another 8-1/2 years — the battery is rated for 2500 cycles, which is 5 cycles per week for ten years.) For purposes of your analysis, I commute 50+ miles per day, and here in San Diego I do it almost every day on my bike.

            And that’s at today’s prices. Do you think gasoline or electricity is going to be more price stable for the next ten years? In the last year or so, I’ve paid over $4.00 per gallon, then under $2.50 per gallon, then back up to $4.30 per gallon to put gas in my BMW 528i. Meanwhile, the price I pay for a kWh of electricity has gone all the way from 17.2c a year ago to 17.4c today.

            But again, there are far more aspects to the consideration than financial. Very few people who redecorate their kitchens get 100% of their money back when they sell their house…but they get to enjoy the new kitchen! We buy things not just for their financial value — if we did, we’d all be driving the cheapest car we could find — but for all the types of value they bring to us. As for my bike, 1) the dollar cost of ownership isn’t as far off as most people think it is, as mentioned above, 2) it’s a quiet, torquey, powerful, smooth machine that’s a pure joy to ride, 3) it’s far more environmentally friendly than any petrofueled alternative (red herrings about where the electricity comes from notwithstanding), 4) its reliability and uptime are unparalleled (and isn’t your time and energy spent doing maintenance or dealing with broken equipment worth something?), 5) it’s an investment in future technologies which WILL someday reduce our reliance on petrochemical companies foreign and domestic, and 6) it’s my favorite bike I’ve ever owned.

            So okay, you think it’s a terrible investment, considering only the narrow financial aspect. I think it’s one of the best I’ve ever made, because a) you’re not as right on the financials as you think you are, and b) my analysis encompasses more than just the financials. I get to ride the coolest bike going, for ten years, and it’s not going to cost me any more than another bike would.

          • John B.

            I concede we disagree.

            Since I don’t have a personal relationship with any of the people who read MO articles, I cannot comment on their subjective preferences. In fact, I almost never argue about subjective preferences because they are…. well, subjective.

            You just wrote a mini-treatise about your subjective reasons for buying a Zero motorcycle (with some personal attacks and flawed investment analysis thrown in), which is inapposite to the objective economic analysis contained in my comment. In fact, you still have not made a cogent economic argument for your purchase.

            Surely, you compared IC-Bikes to E-Bikes before you purchased a Zero. Why not share your wisdom with the MO community and me? Be honest… admit you didn’t buy the Zero because it’s a better value than an IC bike. It’s okay to simply say you love E-bike technology and you wanted an E-Bike. Engineers too have emotions.

            If you or anyone else wants an electric motorcycles for any reason, or no good reason at all, that’s your business. My only point, which still escapes you, is E-bikes are a terrible investment based on economic principles.

            Granted, my economic analysis does not take into consideration whether or not you get hot and bothered while riding an electric motorcycle while contemplating real or imagined societal benefits. You obviously have an emotional attachment to your decision to purchase a Zero. I get that. That does not change the fact you will spend the next 8.5 years riding what will soon become a worthless (i.e., near zero market value) dinosaur. If you can afford the financial hit, more power to you, but don’t try to convince other people E-bikes are a sound investment based on objective data.

            Only an engineer would think a $22,000 investment reduced to zero in four (4) or five (5) years is a great investment, which explains why engineers make terrible Board Members and CEOs. Yea, that’s a parting shot.

          • Tim B

            John, I think he stated the maths pretty clearly. Now they wouldn’t convince me to buy one, but if he’s going to own the thing for 10 years, and his numbers add up, that IS a ‘cogent economic argument for his purchase.’

            It doesn’t turn me on either, but then as another poster said, don’t judge one till you’ve ridden it, and I haven’t.

            Finally, a 10 year old SV650 ain’t worth that much either. sure, it’ll depreciate less than an SR but nobody buys an moto for the resale.

            That’s what Camry’s are for.

          • John B.

            Respectfully Tim, you honed in on exactly why his argument is not “cogent.”

            Namely, he’s using a 10 year horizon exactly because, as you stated, nearly all vehicles fully depreciate over that time period. The 10 year horizon puts his investment in the best possible light, but it still stinks. Bike’s depreciate regardless of how long the owner keeps it. That is to say, he’s losing money due to depreciation while he owns the bike. This is why businesses depreciate equipment throughout equipment’s useful life and not only upon sale.

            Suppose he purchased a Ninja 650 instead for $7,000, rode it for 10 years, and invested the $15,000 he saved in the stock market. At a 7% rate of return, the $15,000 would turn into $30,000 (the natural log of two divided by the rate of return = doubling time) after 10 years.

            At the end of 10 years, the Zero purchaser will have a worthless motorcycle and no cash. (Interesting, the Zero owner will likely have no cash and a worthless (zero market value) motorcycle after five (5) years.) After 10 years, the Ninja purchaser would have $30,000 and a worthless motorcycle. So tell me, which is the better investment?


          • Doug S

            John, John, John….please, no lectures about opportunity costs. If I hadn’t had the money to buy my bike, I wouldn’t have done it. (And by the way, your “analysis” ignores the operational savings the Zero rider will be racking up the entire time he owns the bike…I suspect an intentional ignorance on your part.)

            By your argument, we should all be riding 250 Ninjas, or whatever is the cheapest bike on the market at any time. Why then are all these other machines available, many selling far better than the 250 Ninja? It’s because some of us recognize…..let me try it one more time……that VALUE is not always monetary!

          • John B.

            I selected a Ninja 650 because Troy and MO used that bike and the SV650 because they have performance characteristics somewhat similar to a $22,000 Zero. It makes no sense to use a Ninja 250 (now 300) for comparison.

            To make a meaningful comparison, E-Bikes should be compared to bikes that cost the same amount, or to bikes that have similar performance characteristics. Troy and MO chose the latter approach. If MO compared E-Bikes to $22,000 IC-Bikes, the Zero would compare even more unfavorably.

            For example, compare a BMW R 1200 GS Adventure with a Zero E-bike. It’s ludicrous.

            I know I cannot change your mind, but I take comfort in knowing you are subject to the natural laws of the universe just like the rest of us. If your Zero is a great investment you will bear the fruit of that decision. More likely, you will wake up in a couple years with a worthless E-Bike that pales in comparison to current year iterations. Enjoy!

          • Doug S

            Wow, glad to hear you hope I wake up unhappy some day. You’re obviously as charitable as you are witty, which is to say not in the slightest.

            Again, you’ve intentionally misunderstood me, again, because I’m right. Your “logical” argument reduces to one possibility — we should all be riding the very cheapest mode of transportation that’s available. This is an exercise in “reductio ad absurdum”, which you should Google. And it was a successful exercise.

          • John B.

            I’m beginning to think you’re not reading my comments. I don’t need to Google “reductio ad absurdum” or any other latin phrase related to fallacious arguments because I graduated from law school and earn a living, in part, responding to fallacious arguments. While you have your latin dictionary out, take a look at ad hominem. You will find personal attacks do not bolster flawed arguments. To the contrary. BTW – What’s the second best decision you ever made? Buying a Apple Newton perhaps?

          • Doug S

            Second best decision I’ve ever made? That’s easy, but I’m not going to launch an ad hominem attack by saying that normally I like poking trolls, but you bore even me.

            Buh-bye though.

          • John B.

            You spent quite a long time corresponding with me Doug. I must not bore you as much as you claim. More likely you (like your e-bike) ran out of energy before the job was done. Get some rest.

          • GreggJ

            I am confused. You go on and on about depreciation, residual value, long term investment value, etc. Yet you go out and buy a Ninja and SV? Am I missing something here? The value of those bikes drop like a rock compared to Harleys. Most old Harleys are worth about as much as they were when new, and many are worth more, some a lot more. Why on earth did you buy two bikes that make no financial sense at all? You buy bikes because of investment value? Buy a Harley, ride it, give to your kids, they can give it to there kids to ride, and their kids could probably still sell it from more than you paid for it. Try that with your oh so logical Ninja. What would you buy such a terrible investment, not once but twice! Could it possibly be, gasp, because “value isn’t only about dollars” even for you? How can I possibly take what you say seriously when you don’t walk the walk?

          • John B.

            No offense GreggJ, but yours is the most obtuse comment I have seen on MO in a long time. I did NOT buy a Ninja 650 and/or a SV650. Troy’s article above compares those bikes to the Zero motorcycle discussed, which is why I referenced those bikes in my comments.

            Please read Troy’s article (NOTE: The MO staff writes articles for us to READ), and then read my comments. Then think for a little while and try to understand my comments in context.

            Whenever I comment in public forums I am so grateful I spend 99% of my time with smart people. I’m serious. Thank you GreggJ! For years, I could not understand why “If it don’t fit, you must acquit” was so effective given the overwhelming DNA evidence.

          • joe1234x

            I appreciate your analysis and actually agree with your hypothesis/conclusion that e-bikes are bad investments. But I think you did unfairly skew the analysis a bit:
            1. The e-bike equal to the Ninja 650 is $15k, not $22k. Much of that $22k was for windshield and hard luggage that is not on the Ninja either. It’s arguable as to whether the fast chargers and extra range are needed, but I’d say to give the e-bike fair shrift, we leave those out.
            2. There was no consideration of fuel cost. With some rough calcs, I’m getting a savings of approx. $50/k miles on fuel (gasoline at $3/gal, elec at 12 cents/kW.hr–my rate). If you make 100k miles in 10 years, that’s $5000, spread out of course.
            3. Maintenance. This is a tough one because it’s easy to cost oil changes, valve adjustments, air filters, and spark plugs for the IC engine bike, but tough to estimate the maintenance costs for the e-bike. (I left tires out assuming they’re the same.) Figure you save somewhere on the order of $600 worth of oil changes and pick a number for the rest, maybe $2000, over 100k miles.
            So, I think your conclusion stands, but you’ll lose the argument if you don’t make concession to the fuel and (some) maintenance savings for the e-bike. The above points to saving up near $8k in fuel and maintenance over a 100k mile, 10 year life. Which is approximately the difference in cost. Albeit that the $8k from the e-bike comes over time so is not equal to the $8k saved initially when time value of money is considered.
            And you’ve gotta ride the hell out of it to get there. 50 mile round trip commute 5 days/wk comes to 13k miles/year. But I know of NO ONE who puts 13k miles/year on a bike with commuting only. That’s high motorcycle mileage for someone who does some touring. So, this is a very e-bike optimistic approach, and it still doesn’t come out by pure economics. And that, I think, is your point.

          • John B.

            Joe, I agree with your analysis and agree you raised additional points I did not consider. Your comment made me think of other issues.

            I live in the D-FW Metroplex, which has 6.8 million residents and a land mass bigger than Rhode Island and Delaware. Specifically, I live in North Dallas. DFW’s only Zero dealer is in Fort Worth; 34.8 miles from my home. That’s like living in Santa Monica and having to travel to Valencia to visit a Zero dealer. That alone makes a Zero a non-start for me.

            In addition, life in Dallas is much different than LA. DFW has no beaches, no mountains, no desert, and terrible weather, and it’s nearly impossible to wear out the outer 1/3 of motorcycle tires unless you visit a track. In many parts of the metroplex you will see more pickup trucks than cars on the road. Our traffic is heavy, but real estate prices are MUCH lower. As such, a large segment of the population lives within reasonable commuting distance to work.

            For the price of a two bedroom bungalow in LA (nowhere near the beach), a DFW resident can buy a 4,000 square foot house with a 3-car garage and a pool. Yesterday, I purchased premium gas for $2.60 a gallon. DFW residents pay no state or local income tax and our automobile insurance rates are 70% lower than in LA.

            Unlike life in LA, commuting by motorcycle is Dallas will not significantly shorten a person’s commute (with or without lane splitting). Moreover, temperatures hover between 95-105 F 3-4 months out of the year and the entire metroplex is covered with concrete, which makes motorcycle commuting uncomfortably hot. For these and other reasons, far fewer people commute on a motorcycle here. In fact, people here don’t even think about commuting issues; whereas commuting is a major issue for nearly everyone in LA.

            All these differences make current model E-bikes more practical and more popular in Los Angeles than they are in Big D. In fact, I have only seen E-Bikes at the motorcycle show. We don’t ride motorcycles in a vacuum, we ride them where we live.

            Maybe Mr. Duke will send a staff member to DFW to compare riding in flatville to riding in California. I just realized part of the reason I read MO is because the staff rides on such amazing roads.

          • Tim B

            I have to admit, you may have point. But my overriding reaction is…whatever.

            John B I genuinely admire your passion my friend, but I certainly don’t understand it!

            You’re all lucky bastards as far as I’m concerned; my bike is stored in a shed on the other side of the world to me and I haven’t ridden it in 15 months.

            Now there’s a poor outcome, economic and otherwise!

          • John B.

            Thanks Tim! I aspire to spend as much time riding my motorcycle as I do reading about motorcycles. In two weeks I leave for a two week ride to Colorado and couldn’t be more excited. I hope you get back to riding soon.

          • Tim B

            I have to admit, you may have point. But my overriding reaction is…whatever.

            John B I genuinely admire your passion my friend, but I certainly don’t understand it!

            You’re all lucky bastards as far as I’m concerned; my bike is stored in a shed on the other side of the world to me and I haven’t ridden it in 15 months.

            Now there’s a poor outcome, economic and otherwise!

          • Doug S

            You most certainly did NOT say it was a terrible financial investment. I quote you: “To purchase a current model Zero is a terrible investment precisely because the technology is advancing so quickly.” No mention of your analysis being solely based on the financials…you just made a blanket statement calling it a terrible investment.

            Let me just say it one more time, and maybe you’ll be able to grasp it this time: “Value” isn’t only about dollars. Again, people upgrade their kitchens just to enjoy them, even if it doesn’t make financial sense to do so — even if they never plan to sell the house.

            With very few exceptions, you can count on ANY vehicle to depreciate, every single year, until it’s worth nothing. To fault EMs for that is silly. Vehicles are not financial investments. Their values are their utility and whatever pleasure we get out of them. If you think of your vehicle as a financial investment, prepare to get totally clobbered, almost regardless of what you buy.

            And you’re right, Elon Musk and Steve Jobs are/were just awful CEOs.

          • John B.

            May I recommend for your consumption Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography. If you read it, you will find Jobs briefly attended Reed College in Oregon where he mostly audited liberal arts classes. Notably, Jobs audited a calligraphy class which is why Apple computers were the first to have so many fonts. Also, you will find Jobs loathed most of the engineers in his company and took great pleasure in laying them off during down times. Steve Jobs was not an Engineer; he viewed engineers as tools. Any wonder why?

          • Doug S

            By all accounts, Jobs loathed everybody. Engineers came under no particular scrutiny from him. And when he and Wozniak founded the firm, Woz did the electronics design and Jobs handled the packaging and design engineering. I’m aware he had no Engineering degree, but he knew more about product engineering than anybody else at Apple.

        • El Apestoso

          Since when do people buy motorcycles as an investment? I’m not a Zero fan at all, for a variety of reasons, but if someone digs it, they dig it. And more power to them. The same goes for you and your choice of ride.

          • John B.

            Everything one spends money or time on is an investment. Whether or not a purchaser views a motorcycle as an investment is immaterial.

            Zero offers an inferior product at three times (3) the cost, with an accelerated depreciation curve as a bonus. That’s a terrible investment.

            I’m a Civil Libertarian, and favor allowing individuals to make decisions for themselves. I’m not trying to stop anyone from buying a Zero or anything else. I am merely discussing the economics related to that decision. No one who knows what they are talking about will defend purchasing a Zero as a smart economic decision.

        • ‘Mike Smith

          It doesn’t matter what the resale value will be in 2017 because the ’15 already meets my needs in spades. I won’t be trading it in or selling it in 2017, or probably not even quite some time later. On the rare occasion I need to go further, I already have another bike.

          • John B.

            Mike, You do not understand depreciation or market value. Your bike depreciates over time regardless of how long you intend to keep it. The good news is you can enjoy your E-Bike understanding these concepts. Enjoy your bike!!! Cheers!!!

          • ‘Mike Smith

            There’s a huge difference between understanding depreciation/market value and caring about it. I will however, enjoy the bike, tightwad.

          • John B.

            You just agreed with my essential point. E-Bikes are a terrible value, but you just don’t care. It’s easier to call me a name than to consider the possibility you made an uninformed decision. You’re no economist, but you are a great jockey Mike; one of the best ever. Good luck at the 2016 Derby. I hope you get a great mount.

      • gasdive

        “Considering how far the Zero bikes have come since 2012, you’ll be eating your words sooner than you think.”

        Well here we are in mid 2016. A base Zero FXS is 650 dollars cheaper to buy than a Ninja 650, as well as being 214 pounds lighter.

        Now it might be a ‘terrible investment’ to buy an electric because if we wait, they’ll be better and cheaper, but right now, in 2016, if your commute is less than 80 miles (like almost every commute is) you’d have to pay extra to lug around >200 pounds of metal through traffic and you’d be without that vehicle 3 days a year while it’s serviced.

        • ‘Mike Smith

          So what’s your point? It took us 12 years to go from a brick cell phone, then flip phone, to a smart phone. Imagine traveling back in time to the 80’s and explaining to your younger self that everyone will have $600 smart phones in their pockets, half of them with cracked screens…

          • gasdive

            Well my point is that he should now be eating his words. Interestingly he’s not, he’s just making things up and denying easily verifiable facts.

    • trvlr

      It’s 1905. An Indian is stuck in the mud on an unpaved road with a flat tire and bent rim. John B.’s great-great-grandfather walks by. “They should never have brought these things to market until they were reliable, the roads were smoothly paved and the tires were better so you could at least go faster than a train.” Where would we be now?

      • John B.

        Let’s compare apples to apples.

        An IC bike and an E-bike are substitute products, while trains and motorcycles are not. That is to say, no one in the market for a train ticket (say from Boston to NY in the winter) would buy a motorcycle instead. Moreover, the E-bike is not a not a new to the world product since we already had highly evolved IC bikes when E-bikes appeared on the scene.

        New to the world products (e.g., iPad) can come to market even while the technology curve is steep because there is no substitute product available to consumers. Substitute products, absent government subsidies, cannot come to market until they are at least as good as existing products (think better mouse trap). Until battery technology advances, E-Bikes are inferior to IC-bikes (notice there was no track test in this review).

        2015 IC motorcycles are a highly evolved product with an amazing bundle of technology. In fact, IC bikes are so advanced it costs millions to make incremental improvements to the product. Entrepreneurs, more than government bureaucrats, know when to bring a product to market. Government subsidies forced electric vehicles to market before the product became interchangeable with IC vehicles.

        I’m all for less pollution and wholeheartedly embrace new technology. I will not, however, accept an inferior product for three (3) times the price. If you want to blow $22,000 on green bananas, be my guest. In three (3) years, the 2015 Zero will be museum piece.

      • Percival Merriwether

        You can be the Indian stuck in the mud. I’ll be the sensible one riding by on my horse.

    • rsteeb

      OK, Sloopie, go take a test ride on a Zero SR and get back to us, mmm-kay?

      When I cracked open the throttle while going about 80MPH and felt the juice it had left, I was SOLD. Way more enjoyable than the ’88 Super Magna I put 50k miles on. And I DON”T miss the 16-valve tune-ups, oil-changes, cam chain adjustments, ad nauseum… I have put 7k+ on my ’14 SR over the past 14 months, and have NO regrets.

      [Just took my new Zero FX out for its trial run today. A whole ‘nother joy!]

      • John B.

        Mr. Steeb:

        I love to learn, and wholeheartedly embrace new technology. When battery technology advances to the point where E-Bikes are as good or better than (performance and value) IC bikes, I would love to own one. (Does anyone on the MO staff believe we have reached that point?).

        My complaints related to current E-Bikes has NOTHING to do with performance. Electric motors have been around a long time, and they work very well in this context. My complaint relates to economics and battery capacity.

        If you think E-Bikes are great and want one, by all means follow your dreams. If you wish to discuss further these issue with me, please avoid name calling. Name calling doesn’t bolster arguments, it undermines them. Please call me “John.”

        Have a great weekend!

        • kensiko

          A car or a motorcycle is not an investment, we loose a lot of money buying those in comparison to a house.

          You have good reason not to want an electric motorcycle. But, when people try them, they want one simply because of the feeling. It’s the best motorcycle feeling you can have.

          You want to wait when they cost less than ICE motorcycle? Do it but you don’t know what you are missing. But if everyone is not buying them, we will never help lower the prices. Just look at computers 40 years ago. We need to start from somewhere !

          Again, all Zero fans here have the same reason for buying one, the feeling !

          A Zero S 2013 owner.

          • John B.

            What’s the market value (i.e., what something actually sells for in the market) for your 2013 Zero? Have you lost a bunch in depreciation?

          • kensiko

            I can’t find another Zero 2013 for sell in Canada, so I’ll assume 8000 CA$.

          • John B.

            Sounds like there’s no market in Canada for a 2013 Zero; i.e., no sellers = no market.

    • joe1234x

      I don’t want an electric vehicle with 190 mile range. Electrics are inappropriate for distance travel and very appropriate for commuting. For me to haul around 190 mile range batteries for my 20 mile round trip commute would compromise so much of the bike’s performance and price. I want something with a solid 50 mile range, at its end of life point. And since it can’t go on trips, it needs to have life-cycle cost (including fuel and maintenance) that is significantly below a fully capable IC engine bike that I CAN take on cross-country trips. At least if I need to make the purchase decision rationally on a financial basis rather than on emotion. And if I go on emotion, I’m going to end up on a nice S1000RR. :-)
      To each his own.

      • John B.

        If I went on emotion, I would have a Panigale in my living room. Can’t argue with the S1000RR except the ergos don’t go well with disc degeneration and spinal stenosis. Lol!

    • gasdive

      Current price for a base model Zero S is 8895 after tax deductions and with the current 1000 dollar cash back (Which I’d bet will become permanent)

      Current price for a base model Zero FXS is 6995 after tax deductions and with the current 650 dollar cash back. That’s less than your hypothetical 7000 dollar Ninja. Particularly so when we find that the price of a 650 Ninja is actually 7599

      Now they don’t have a 180 mile highway range. How often do you ride 180 miles? That’s a pretty heavy commute, particularly if that’s each way… Fact is that even the base FXS will deal with most commutes, even without charging at work.

      Most people stop a few times when touring. I certainly do and you can recharge when you stop. I did 485 highway miles in a day a couple of weeks ago because I stopped and charged. I’ll do the same again in a week when I visit my daughter. That was on a ’14 bike.

      • John B.

        Exaggerate much? Here’s a Ninja 650 OUT THE DOOR for $6,593.00 available every day of the week http://tinyurl.com/hpe774p

        I reviewed your comments on Disqus and it appears nearly all your comments relate (directly or indirectly) to electric vehicles. This may explain why you commented on an article nearly a year old. Go back under the bridge and wait for Troy’s next Zero article. In the meantime, come clean. What’s your angle?

        If Zeros were so awesome they would not need government subsidies or hired guns. You can have the last word. I don’t argue when I’m the only one not getting paid. Blow hard until your heart’s content!

        • gasdive

          I was comparing MSRP as you well know. You might be able to get a discount on either bike from your dealer.

          My ‘angle’ is that your maths are shonky and your claims are wild.

          You constantly compare Zeros with loads of accessories to ‘similar’ bikes with none. Anyone can check your figures, but you clearly think that bluster and self aggrandizing claims have greater validity than solid argument.

          If you don’t like electrics, fine. Go with that. I’m never going to argue with personal preference. Making shit up? I’ll call you out on that.

          You claim I’m being paid… Another example of your imagination apparently trumping facts.

          Fact is that the MSRP on the Zero S is currently 8895 after federal tax rebate, not 22000. It was *never* 22000 even before the federal rebate and the current special. You were perfectly well aware that it wasn’t 22000. Even in 2015 before the price drop, the *most expensive* Zero was MSRP 15995


          I comment a lot on electric vehicles because there’s a lot of rubbish spoken about them. If you want me to keep commenting, it’s easy, keep making stuff up that’s easily disproven.

          • John B.

            So tell me then. Based on market value, how much (%) has a 2013 loaded Zero depreciated? Or isn’t depreciation an expense in the alternative universe in which you reside?

            Also, even if you’re not paid, you have some angle other than Grand Corrector. Please share. And why are you referring to articles from last year?

            Any comparison that uses MSRP as opposed to market value is hypothetical. In the U.S. Markets, and not manufacturers, set prices. The price I gave you for the Ninja is real; you can buy one for that price out the door today.

          • gasdive

            I can’t tell you how much a 2013 has depreciated, but I can tell you *exactly* how much my 2010 bike depreciated. I blew up the motor (doing things with it that the maker never intended). When I approached Zero for a replacement motor they said ok, but maybe you would be more interested in a trade in? Now I live in Australia, and Zeros cost a lot more here, (as do Ninjas, which are 9999). I bought my 2010 for 14 000 dollars ride away (1200 in dealer delivery and registration). Zero offered me 7150 as a trade in with it *not running*. So after 4 years, it retained more than 50% of it’s value.

            That’s not unique to Australia. In 2015 Zero offered a fixed trade in price on old bikes (I think it’s still valid but I’m not sure. It’s still up on their website). In 2010 a Zero S cost 8995.50. 5 years later Zero was offering 5000 dollars trade in. For a retained value of a *minimum* of 55%. In some states a Zero only cost 5000 dollars after state credits, effectively you get to use the bike for 4 years for only the opportunity cost.

            Less than 1000 per year. Lost opportunity on the 8995 even compared to your figure of 6000 for a Ninja is about 600 dollars using 5% (which is what Harvard teaches in their business school). So even if a Ninja retained 100% of it’s value over 4 years (somewhat unlikely) and only cost 6000 dollars to buy new (somewhat unlikely) and the dealer agreed to service it for free (somewhat unlikely) then the additional cost of the Zero over the Ninja is 3595.50. Equivalent to fuel for about 50 000 miles for the Ninja. Using more realistic figures for service and resale value on the Ninja, you would find that even without riding them, the Ninja cost more to own.

            Of course all this is accepting your flawed idea that the equivalent bike to a fully loaded 2015 Zero is a Ninja. If quiet smoothness is what floats your boat then the closest petrol bike is the BMW K1600 at about 30 000. They also come with panniers and a topbox, like the fully loaded Zero. However they’re neither as quiet, nor as smooth and you have to put up with them being 794 pounds…. For instant torque the closest bike to my 2014 DS that I’ve been on was the Honda VFR1200X Crosstourer. Not as good, by a fair margin, but closest. But again, absurdly heavy and much more expensive. Panniers are also an optional extra.

            I’m commenting on an old test because it came up in my facebook feed. I have no angle other than being intensely annoyed by people spouting complete tripe with an authoritative tone.

          • John B.

            Wow, even a warm and fuzzy anecdote to go along with the rest of your sales pitch.

            Trade value is not market value, especially when dealers and manufacturers are desperate to move units. If you tried to sell your wounded Zero for currency on the open market you would have received scrap value, or worse. Bottom line, there’s no market for 2013 Zeros in the U.S., which means depreciation expense is near 100% in less than three years. That’s a deal breaker for nearly all consumers.

            Anyone who wants a Zero and is willing to suffer the financial hit (i.e., Zero market value after a few months) should buy one. Discerning consumers, however, will recognize your pollyannaish recitals and flawed rhetoric for what it is; a self-interested sales pitch.

            Electric motorcycles are religion to people like you, and religion is a belief system based on faith. Smart consumers don’t buy on faith; they buy on facts and reality. I hope no MOrons fall prey to your self-serving palaver. I know I won’t.

            CAVEAT EMPTOR MOrons!

          • gasdive

            Zero giving a set minimum trade in price sets a ‘floor’ price for the second hand bikes. If you don’t understand that then there’s not much point in talking to you. You say “Smart consumers don’t buy on faith; they buy on facts and reality”, well I’ve presented the verifiable facts. There’s certainly someone operating on faith and rejecting facts in this discussion…

            If you can find a 2013 Zero for Zero dollars, please do feel free to contact me, I’ve got a thousand USD finders fee waiting for you.


  • El Apestoso

    So, in the end, electric motorcycles are still just for people who are shopping specifically for electric motorcycles. Which is fine, as variety makes the world a more interesting place. Don’t expect to see these cross-shopped with ICEs anytime soon though. Compare a comparably priced bike, the electric loses on performance. Compare it with a bike of comparable performance, and the electric loses on price.

    But, if what you want is an electric, you’re probably better off with a Zero than with anything else. At least you know they’ll still be around for at least the next couple of years.

    Oh, and Zero, for the sake of everybody with any taste’s eyes, ditch that crappy headlight already, and design something that actually looks good. The DS especially would look great with a pair of old school Street Triple headlights.

    • gasdive

      Current base price for a Zero DS is 8895. For a BMW F700GS it’s 9995
      They make a similar amount of power, but the Zero is 381 pounds fully fuelled and the F700GS is 461 pounds, 80 pound penalty for the BMW.

      The BMW loses on both performance and price. It’s more expensive despite having lower spec suspension (conventional Tele vs USD forks).

      If you factor in running costs, the BMW loses even more on cost

  • Bmwclay

    Beat the 22,000 buy-in and wait a year. Then you can get it for 6,000.
    Just saying………….

  • benswing

    Nice review of the Zero SR. Regarding finding charging stations, you may want to also use the Plugshare app, which has reviews of stations so you know ahead of time which ones are working and which aren’t. I just traveled 7,000 miles on my Zero SR and didn’t come to a single location where at least one station was working.

    Also, I traveled 100+ miles going 60mph several times with my SR fully loaded with chargers and a 46L top rack with clothes and gear. Riding down Skyline Drive in the Shenandoahs I went 130 miles on a charge with 21 miles of range remaining.

  • Gary

    Nice review. Thanks very much. And good for Zero, taking a chance on a bold new concept. Theirs is an uphill fight. The two main obstacles I see are 1) psychological and 2) financial. 1) I know logically that 90 miles of range is probably enough. But psychologically, I chafe at the idea of having ONLY that much range. Tesla has found 200 miles to be the magic range threshold, and I think Zero will also find it so, and 2) $22k is an awfully big pill to swallow for a one-trick pony. You can buy several awfully nice bikes for the same money that get excellent fuel economy–and that aren’t tethered to an electrical outlet for 4-10 hours.

    • benswing

      The SR costs $16k and the Zero S costs $12k. The price you are referring to has all kinds of extraneous goodies that you don’t necessarily need.

      • ‘Mike Smith

        I agree, I out the door I think mine was around $17,000. I didn’t pay anywhere close to $22,000.

  • John B.

    Hey Troy, With a little luck, before the day is done, the volume of comments on this article will surpass those in the liter-bike shootout. Well done then! Lol!!

  • blueson2wheels

    It sounds like Troy doesn’t actually need a power tank and 100 miles range for his daily duties. He might get by just fine with a Zero S 8.5, which would make the price of entry much lower.

  • Ron Sindric

    I read a lot of reviews before taking the leap into e-biking. I am sorry to say that my 2014 ZERO S zf11.4 even with the POWER-TANK does not come anywhere near the performance you claim. Driving to Iowa City from Waverly, Iowa necessitated two long stops for recharging. The bike is OK; just limited in range and VERY over-priced. My biggest frustration however is not so much with the bike as it is the company. The bike was delivered to me from the dealer with a defective dashboard. I had to do the replacement ( my dealer is over 100 miles away ). I’ve had lots of questions of a technical nature and questions about the use of aftermarket accessories ( LED bulbs, better horn, etc ). ZERO was VERY unresponsive. Here’s hoping the new EMPULSE TT will force ZERO to become more customer responsive.

    • benswing

      Sorry to hear about your experience. Although that appears to be the exception rather than the rule. Personally I have had excellent experiences with Zero’s customer service with my Zero SR and I’ve been pushing it hard since the day I bought it.

  • roma258

    Great stuff as usual troy. One thing I’m hoping you can clarify for me- what is the charging rate with the J1772 plug if you go to a Level II charging station? It sounds like the internal charger is 1.3 kW which is pretty limiting. Would the external chargers speed things up, or does it not work that way?

    • rsteeb

      I bought a pair of 2.5kW ElCon chargers from Hollywood Electrics, along with a J1772 jack with three power cords– one for the on board charger, and two for the ElCons. A similar patch cord, with a 50 amp 240V plug replacing the J1772 jack, allows charging at most RV parks, which are ubiquitous, compared with J1772 level 2 chargers outside of metro areas… 2hrs vs 10hrs with the power tank for a 0-100% recharge– that’s charging at 50MPH vs 10MPH with the stock charger.

      The chargers are mounted inside $10 gun cases, attached to aluminum plates cut to fit the Givi side bag brackets.

    • benswing

      The onboard charger is 1.3kW and is designed to charge at home exclusively. You are correct in that plugging into a J1772 will not charge the bike faster using the onboard charger.

      There are aftermarket kits available from Zero or Hollywood Electrics that allow you to charge faster on the go by carrying extra chargers. I just traveled 7,000 miles, averaging 310 miles per day using a kit from Hollywood Electrics.

  • halfkidding

    An electric is definitely what I would have for a second bike. The thing is I’m not going to have a second bike. I’m too poor and my first bike has cost me about $7K in 3 years and may be worth near $4K now.
    I think I may represent a pretty large segment of possible electric customers. That is people who won’t buy one but would like to. Here is hoping the companies can survive.

    • Steven Day

      Good news! You can get a Zero for just over 7K now, after tax rebates. A fun FXS version even. The savings on maintenance and gas will give you more money over all if you switch.

  • LCB6

    Great review of Zero. For anyone who’s seriously considering a purchase, there’s a groupbuy happening now for the 2015 Zero SR that includes an $800 in store credit at Hollywood Electrics. More info: https://groupgets.com/campaigns/140-2015-zero-sr-zf12-5

  • Wavshrdr

    Did you ever track how many miles you used per kilowatt? That would be a useful metric to know. For cars, in California (and depending on your electric company and plan) driving pure electric can cost more than gas. Now that gas prices have tumbled, it is even harder to justify at times on a cost basis.

    I have a plug-in hybrid car and the cost per mile is more for electric than for gas and that was calculated when gas was about $4/gallon. Since I can choose when to use gas or electric to some extent I found that in my situation, electric only makes sense when under 45 mph when I am getting about 5-6 miles per kilowatt. Well it made sense when gas was $4/gallon. Now it doesn’t make any sense to use electric unless I can plug in for free.

    Since most public chargers base it on a price per hour, not how many kilowatts you use, unless you have a very fast L2 charger, it makes almost no sense to use the public stations. If you used a Zero at a Chargepoint in California, you’d likely spend the equivalent of about $9/gallon for gas at current typical Chargepoint rates. I love the idea of an electric motorcycle but in California I don’t see how it works from purely an economical standpoint.

    • Steven Day

      California is still only about $0.15 per kWh, less if you charge at night. How is $4 a gallon for gas cheaper?

      • Wavshrdr

        I can only use commercial chargers. So I pay quite a bit more than $0.15kWh. So it all comes down to how fast the charger can recharge and the price per hour. I am usually paying about $2/hr or more to charge. One place near me was $1.50 but they just bumped up. Others are more.

        • gasdive

          You don’t need to use commercial chargers for a Zero. It plugs into any wall socket. It leaks no fuel or oil and doesn’t smell so you can bring it inside like a bicycle. Currently the S is on special with 1000 cash back so it’s 8895 plus on roads after the tax rebate.