Earlier this month I got an up-close and personal look at a high performance green ride from Zero Motorcycles. Showcased at a gathering of the Chicago Clean Energy Alliance (CCEA), the Zero S street bike was a crowd pleaser to this group of over 450 eco professionals from the windy city. We love that this bike is 100% electric powered, charges in under four hours, and is a top contender for performance and quality. Mike Mastrangelo, lifetime motorcycle enthusiast and also a distributor for Zero Motorcycles, was at the event and gave me the inside scoop about why he loved this bike so much that he went to work for the company.
Photo by Victoria Sprung
Although Mastrangelo loves the green features of this pristine two-wheeler, the first thing he wanted to tell me about was how the bike feeds his need for speed. The bike gets up to 67mph, but as many would agree, this is perfect for an urban dweller. One charge will last up to 50 miles, but it can be conveniently plugged into any 110v or 220v outlet. Motorheads out there would probably like to know that the Zero S has fantastic handling with a 31 peak horsepower and 62.5 ft/lbs of torque, which is similar to a 250cc gas powered motorcycle.
I did not get to test drive the bike around the 96th floor of the Hancock building at the CCEA meeting this week, but Popular Science has a detailed test drive report for those looking for some more sensual feedback about the ride.
I was skeptical when Mastrangelo told me that all of the bike’s parts are recyclable. I did some homework to fact check, and he was almost right on. Most of the parts, including the aircraft grade aluminum frame, are fully recyclable. At a weight of only 18 pounds, the frame also helps the bike to be the lightest in its class totaling 225lbs. Zero S uses a completely non-toxic lithium ion array and is claiming that it is landfill approved in the United States and Europe. With zero operating emissions, the electric charge is the only environmental contributor. But they only amount to less than one-eighth of the CO2 pollution that a gas powered motorcycle would produce per mile.
Mastrangelo went on to tell me that he admires the design of this bike because the company did not treat it as a retrofit of a gas powered bike with a cleaner technology. Zero Motorcycles took years to perfect develop the Zero S, and they started from the ground up by making their patent pending battery pack the centerpiece. The Zero S is Zero Motorcycle’s first street legal bike, but if off-roading is more your style, they have models to fit those needs.
Photo by Victoria Sprung
The thing that really shocked me was that I didn’t realize that the bike was idling throughout my entire interview with Mike! It was completely silent. It didn’t shake or give off fumes, or any of the other nasty things that might be associated with a gas powered cycle. A+ for reduction of noise pollution! Statistics on the Zero Motorcycle website say that the low volume power means that the bike produces only 1/100th of the smog causing nitrous oxides when compared to growling gas guzzlers.
Now for what everyone wants to know: how much does it cost? At $9,950, the Zero S is competitively priced with other electric bikes and also qualifies for the recently approved 10% Federal plug-in vehicle tax credit (a sales tax deduction) as well as other rebates in select states. Operating costs are approximated at less than one cent per mile. Zero S’s Lithium-manganese battery is custom-built and accounts for 50% of the machine’s overall price tag. The proprietary Z-Force™ technology is encased almost entirely in copper, which is intended to disperses cell-damaging heat 5 times more effectively than most steel housing units, and therefore have a longer battery life.
Lead photo by Victoria Sprung