capacity, so I was pretty sure about getting home.
And 1 did. I carried a slightly higher average speed on the Zero, and perhaps I worried less about running out of electricity than I had on the Enertia because the Zero's dash offers less detailed information about the state of charge and remaining range. It does have a "gas" gauge with a little fuel pump next to its bar graph, ironically enough.
Out on the road, there is a weird satisfaction to riding something that is so quiet and, if it weren't for the chain slap and other associated drivetrain noises, it would be very magic-carpet-like. The motor is torquey, steering is quick and the Zero's claimed 273-pound weight makes it quite light in streetbike terms. It does feel fairly budget-bike-like, with rudimentary (sometimes harsh) suspension and a spongy, numb front brake. Throttle programming is about a B+ grade—not bad but not quite what the lifetime motorcycle rider comes to expect from twisting the right grip.
As I was gliding along and traffic had thinned, I found myself wishing for built-in speakers and an iPod dock, but wondered how many watts that would take and what possible effect it might have on how far I could ride. Still, with a vehicle this quiet, and minimal-wind-noise cruising speeds of around 40 mph to make the range I needed, I was wishing for some tunes. AC/DC, anyone?
My ride home, admittedly, is somewhat outside the use for the Zero and other e-bikes of its capacity, but it truly highlights the battery limitations faced at this time. Even the Brammo Empluse One Hundred (see Roundup, p. 14) with its claimed extended range and higher speed capability falls well short of a budget middleweight gasoline bike, and for its projected $13,995 MSRP, there are a lot of incredible gas options.
Still, there is utility here, and even a lot of fun, if your trip is short enough and you have long enough to stuff juice back into those lithium ions. On quick shots out to lunch or any ride under 20 miles, you will have fun and enough speed to zap anything but the most motivated car traffic off the line. How to extend range? When we had a Yamaha EF2000iS generator here for a product evaluation, we joked about making our own hybrid by wearing the generator on our backs...
Yes, we joke about electrics now. But they are real and they are going to get better. For the time being, though, 380-horse turbo Hayabusas are safe. □
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