Best Electric Motorcycle Of 2017: Zero SR/Zero DSR
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.
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.
Honorable Mention: GenZe 2.0
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.
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.