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The truly all-purpose do-everything electric motorcycle still hovers just out of range (due to lack of range), but for those fortunate enough to own more than one motorcycle, and a job with a non-ridiculous commute, an electric bike is a fantastic way to go. Plug it in when you clock in in the morning, plug it in again while you swizzle your martini when you arrive back at the estate. Ride right past gas stations and all the naysayers who bray that electricity production burns fuel too. In 2016, nearly 10% of California’s energy came from solar; the goal is 33% by 2020.

New players hover on the fringes, waiting for the battery breakthrough that will make an electric bike as usable as a Tesla, whose entire floorpan is batteries. Unfortunately, motorcycles just don’t have that much room. For the time being, we haven’t ridden any electric bikes that use the space they do have better than Zero’s R platform bikes – the sporty SR and the dual-sporty DSR.

Their Z-Force motors, rated at 70 horsepower but 116 pound-feet of torque, are crack-pipe addictive, and blasting away from traffic lights with nothing but a little drive-belt whine and an hysterical cackle is one of modern life’s great pleasures. It really is a close thing to ground-bound flight, with no need to shift gears and no sound but the wind whistling between your ears.

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Unfortunately, the range figures Zero advertises for the SR and DSR wind up being a bit optimistic; our DSR was typically all tapped out at not much more than 80 miles of our typical kind of heavy-handed moto-fun, and therein lies the rub. The price isn’t quite there yet, either, at $15,995, and adding Zero’s Power Tank (increases storage capacity) and/ or Charge Tank (speeds recharging), quickly pushes the price tag up around $20k.

Still, compared to the first Zeros 10 years ago, these things are already light-years ahead, and a future filled with many, many electric vehicles doesn’t seem like it will be a bad place to live. You know it’s coming.

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Ooooo! I just made you so mad! Well, disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed is my motto, and what better way than to hand an almost-MOBO to a vehicle that won’t exceed 30 mph? But there’s method to my madness: the GenZe 2.0 is the first truly affordable, available and practical electric scooter from a reputable manufacturer. Troy and Evan rode the GenZe last year, and they came away impressed, reporting it fun, practical and perfect for its intended purpose.

Triz’s biggest gripe? “The phone app and the Control Center don’t mirror each other’s displays…” That’s it? Seriously? For a $3,000 scooter to even have such connectivity is unusual, but it shows how GenZe is approaching this market. Mahindra, GenZe’s parent company, didn’t want to sell Americans a product developed for another market – it wanted a scooter made in this market (yes, they’re built in Michigan) for our needs. It uses an interesting aluminum “exoskeleton,” has a removable battery to prevent theft and make charging more convenient, and it has a huge cargo space to make it more useful.

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So it’s a different product, a disruptive one, but how well is it doing? I’m seeing a lot of new GenZe’s humming around in the S.F. Bay Area, but the most interesting use is by San Francisco-based Scoot Networks, a point-to-point scooter rental business. Riders can pick up a GenZe at the train station and ride it four or five miles to their home and then leave it there – all for the princely sum of $3. It’s been very successful, with Scoot planning expansion to other markets and happy-looking Scoot riders almost as thick as Ubers in San Francisco rush-hour traffic. “Transportation Revolution” may sound like hyperbole coming from marketers, but from where I sit it’s happening, and GenZe is on the front lines.

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  • Ulysses Araujo

    Was KTM’s e-dirtbike in this category or only road legal electric appliances? 🙂

  • Old MOron

    “Disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed.”
    I’m going to use that. Thanks, JB!

    • Alexander Pityuk

      It’s Gabe’s piece.

      • Old MOron

        Doh! It says “by John Burns” in the text. Maybe that refers to the photo.
        But then it would say, “photo by John Burns”.

        Oh well, it’s a cool motto. Thank you, Gabe or JB.

  • Auphliam

    Digging the runner up choice. Nailed it with your “motto” 🙂

  • Gabriel Owens

    Great, now my girlfriend can have 2 different Hitachi’s to ride.

  • Luke

    Anyone know how these e-bikes hold their value? It seems to me that they are likely to depreciate must faster than an ICE bike due to battery issues – both them decaying overtime, but also just that these bikes seem to get so much better year-on-year (making a bike from 3 years ago feel ancient, where a 3-year old ICE bike is just fine).

  • John B.

    I do not disagree with choosing Zero as the best in breed for this category, however, I would not recommend this motorcycle to anyone except my most impassioned enemies.

    To summarize, this is a great motorcycle for those who own more than one motorcycle (why buy a motorcycle that requires you to own another motorcycle?), have more money than brains, can live with an 80 mile range, have no eye for aesthetics, are willing to pay premium price for not ready for prime time battery technology, and are willing to take a near 100% loss when the inevitable battery technology breakthrough occurs. Asian two-stroke scooter motors emit 40-50 times the emissions from an American automobile, so you’re not saving any planets either. Not so long as the wind blows anyway.

    The Zero is best used as a go-to bike when recommending a motorcycle to well-heeled scourges. As such, I would recommend a Zero to Anthony Scaramucci and the Koch Brothers; perhaps with a sidecar for Steve Bannon. I definitely want Al Gore and Elon Musk on a Zero…. and Al Franken, the Everly Brothers, OJ, and most definitely Debbie Wasserman Schultz and her Pakistani IT guy. So yes, this bike has a market niche among certain elites.

    If only Zeros came with a remote control and a well-hidden explosive device. Perhaps next year’s iteration.

    PS – Occasionally, JB disturbs the disturbed. Obviously!

  • James D. Becker

    From the article, not much has changed. E-bikes are fast and still very expensive, with poor range. Big deal!

  • tim

    As someone who has actually ridden one of these bikes, I feel the need to chime in. They’really super fun, and for their intended demographic, quite practical.

    That said, I am the intended demographic, and I bought one a year ago. I still love this bike. I live in a mostly flat, overpopulated, semi-urban, military-fueled dealer area. I live an hour ride from any interesting roads. I make good money and my work life is made more convenient by commuting via bike every day and in any weather. I paid some premium for my rock solid reliable commuter and bought an old triumph sprint for seeing new places and traveling to these “twisties” that everyone else seems to live near.

    Ride a bike for a year that can deliver nearly unlimited amps to heated gear at any speed, weighs under 430 lb, comfortably goes 80mph, and requires zero fiddling with the transmission or clutch to show identification every day, and you might figure out why these bikes make sense to some people.

    Edit: Woot! I got more up votes than the guy who said I had so little taste in motorcycles that I should die in a fiery roadside explosion! Maybe there is hope for the Internet.

    • therr850

      The key word “some people”. I live 45 miles from a close friend. We always ride somewhere else. By the time I get back to his house it is time to ride 45 miles to my house. Hence, no time for refueling.

      I do live 8 miles from work in a small, population 4500, town, so, $16000 for a commuter seems a bit too much. I work only three days a week.

      • tim

        I agree. This bike doesn’t work for you. Why are electric bikes the only category where “it isn’t an all-arounder” is considered a negative?

        Also, is your workplace hiring? I’m interested.

        • therr850

          I’m in south western Michigan, on the Lake Michigan shore and we are not hiring at this time. Sorry

  • Mad4TheCrest

    The Zero is and has been an appealing option, and the range is starting to get there if still at too great a cost. That said, my interest has been on the eSuperbikes, a category that was hot a few years ago but has simmered down a little since, probably along with the drop in ICE Superbike sales. All I want is an eSuperbike with a guaranteed 100 mile range from full over my typical weekend mix of freeways and fast backroads (with big elevation changes), and that has no more than a reasonable premium over ICE equivalents. The only thing that might be there is the Lightning, but you are talking over 40K. The eco-gods help me, but I’d prefer a Ducati 1299 R Final Edition at that price.

    As an alternative, I’d get that Genze scooter just to be a tech enabler, but damn, a scooter where I live needs to hit 45 at least or I’d have to use the bike lane (or the sidewalk). The Genze’s 30 mph top would make me a rolling speed bump.

  • Speedwayrn@yahoo.com

    Just wait to the big boys get in the game. Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Yamaha, KTM. Prices will come down and range will go up.

  • Steve C

    For most of the riding I do these days, i would not mind having the DS, I have demo them and they are a hoot to ride, but still to much money for me, but cutting edge new tech always cost more and hopefully price will come down.

  • Jason Burroughs

    From Zero: “The Power Tank is not compatible with motorcycles equipped with the Charge Tank accessory.”. Your article says you can add the power tank “and/or” the charge tank. You have to choose whether you want longer range or faster charging.