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Zero DSR electric motorcycle video review

Discussion in 'Other Bikes' started by Richard230, Jan 13, 2018.

  1. Richard230

    Richard230 Well-Known Member Contributor

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    I think you will enjoy watching this long video review of the 2017 Zero DSR by the The Missenden Flyer: Something a little different. :)
     
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  2. Bazza Beemer

    Bazza Beemer Well-Known Member

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    WOW I am impressed and this article and the subject of electric vehicles will draw nothing but constructive comments and criticism. If people are interested then google " England bans internal combustion engines" and read the articles. 2040 is the tentative date and not just Great Britain but a lot of Europe and India. They will transition into electric via hybrid. We already know Tesla has electric semi trucks that will haul 40 tons 500 miles and big outfits like Amazon and Walmart are ordering fleets of them. The end of oil is nigh and my province of oil based Alberta better get the hint soon. Where is that Zero made? Also I did not hear if it had regenerative braking to slow down and charge the battery up a bit. Seemed like it did because I never saw the operator standing on the one brake lever. The torque from that bike was 114lb ft2 at zero rpm so beats the RS by leaps and bounds. Of course we have Tesla cars here and an acquaintance of mine lives 90km from his office. His Tesla (the $150k one) will open his door, back out of garage, self drive (not allowed here) to his office and park underground in his space all without human intervention. He goes home and plugs in for the night. His electric bill rose about $30 for the month doing this. It's coming folks and I for one think it is about time. Let's see what others are thinking as I would change to electric in cars and bikes if we could complete the entire infrastructure eg charging stations everywhere etc. Someone even commented about having interchangeable battery packs where one refuels.
     
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  3. Martien

    Martien Member

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    Somewhere in the future we'll all be driving and riding electric cars or bikes, and hopefully have some "petrol driven fun" for time to time on our old RS-es. :)

    Have driven an BMW i3 car for a couple of days, and it was fun. When BMW brings out a proper i Bike (so not like the current electric scooter) I will definitely have a go! Or maybe have a go on a Zero, there is a new dealer not too far from here...
     
  4. ray2

    ray2 Well-Known Member Contributor

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    Did I understand a comment from you a couple of days ago to indicate you have a Zero in your stable?
    What do you think?
     
  5. Bunter

    Bunter Active Member

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    They have come a long way. I rode the Zero S in the UK in 2012 and it was about as exciting as a 250 commuter bike from the 80s (Superdream not RD!). At the time they were being handled by Land Rover dealers, 'nuff said.

    IMG_9939_DxO.jpg

    UK dealers disappeared for a while but a Dutch dealer brought bikes to the UK in 2015 for a demo day in docklands and I rode the new SR then (there was no DSR). It was about as fast to 80 as my 690 KTM Duke so plenty of fun. Torque and HP have increased every year since, if they could attempt at styling it would be a killer. I'd fancy the DSR probably so I can do a few green lanes as well as roads - don't know how well it would hold up if the suspension is on the hard side. Been hoping one of the mainstream producers comes up with something better but bingo so far from anyone credible.

    WHS_8440_DxO.jpg

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  6. Richard230

    Richard230 Well-Known Member Contributor

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    I have been riding electric motorcycles (as well as 5 gas-powered bikes) since 2009. The first two electric motorcycles I bought were manufactured in Oakland, CA by Electric Motorsport and were (frankly) crap. The first one burned up after 300 miles and its replacement only lasted 1200 miles before the batteries bricked (a technical term). Neither one could go more than 60 mph for 10 miles, or 30 miles at 25 mph.

    Then I bought my first Zero, a 2012 S. I never had any problems with that bike and I gave it to my daughter when I replaced it with a 2014 S. The 2012 model had a top speed of 85 mph and would hold that speed up a 6% gradient. It would travel about 50 miles at freeway speeds, or 100 miles at 40 mph, before the battery was exhausted. My daughter is still riding that bike, but its claim to "fame" was crappy Taiwanese Fast Ace suspension.

    In 2014 I bought a new "S" model (the DS has a higher seat, with longer travel suspension and is designed for occasional off-road travel). This one was about 50% better than the 2012 bike. It was much better built, had a stronger chassis, better (fully adjustable) Fast Ace suspension, Nissin brakes and would top 90 mph. Range was about 80 miles on the freeway and I once rode it 140 miles at an average of 45 mph. Recharging the 14.3 kWh battery from completely empty took 15 hours at 1300 watts from a 120V home outlet. When I bought my latest 2018 Zero S, I gave that one to my daughter, also. The 2014 bike can carry a passenger (the 2012 Zero could not) and she uses it to give her daughter a ride to her high school, which is located 10 miles away.

    The 2018 Zero has been little changed from the 2017 models, such as the one in the video, other than it has flat silver paint and a 16.6 kWh battery pack. Suspension is now Showa at both ends (just like the 2017 bikes) and that suspension is fully adjustable, including preload, rebound and compression adjustments. (The same as the suspension in the video, which was not detailed.) Brakes are by the Spanish company J.Juan, but they seem to work pretty well. All of the Zeros have always had regeneration upon closing the throttle, which increases when braking. However, on an electric motorcycle, the regeneration does little to extend the bike's range, maybe by 1 or 2%. So I have my custom setting set for coasting on a closed throttle and for full regeneration when braking. Using the custom setting via a smart phone app, allows you to adjust power and regeneration levels.

    Electric motorcycles can not replace an internal combustion vehicle at this time, although one brave fellow rode a 2012 S from the U.S. to the southern tip of South America, bumming electricity all along the way. It is a mystery to me how he managed that trip. My Zero has pretty much replaced my car for travel within a 50-mile radius, but any travel beyond that is gas-powered.

    A proposed law has just been introduced into the California legislature that would ban the sale of gas-powered vehicles under 10,000 pounds in weight by 2040, but there are real concerns that the state's electric and charging infrastructure will not be up to the task of powering millions of electric vehicles, even 20 years from now.

    Another issue is the cost of electric motorcycles. Both of my Zeros, with the largest battery options available, sell for about what I paid for my RS, although we do get a $900 rebate from the state, which about covers the state's sales tax.

    Zero's are designed and assembled in Scotts Valley, California (just west of Santa Cruz), from mostly Chinese manufactured parts. Right now Zero seems to have little competition, so their technical progress has slacked off a bit and they have been making just detail improvements lately. One nice thing about electric motorcycles is that they require very little maintenance. Other than the first 600-mile inspection (just for good luck) I never bother to have my bikes serviced by my dealer as I can perform all of the chassis work myself.

    Attached is a photo of my new Zero and one of my daughter's garage, showing the red 2012 Zero in the foreground, her 1981 BMW R65LS behind it, the yellow 2014 Zero behind that and my new silver 2018 Zero in the background (recharging).

    The main problem with Zero is that they only sell about 1500-2000 bikes a year and many of those go to government fleet sales. So they really don't have enough funds to make big changes, such as enlarging the chassis and making the bike look better. Also, with the demise of the Brammo/Victory Empulse, there is little competition in the (relatively) mass production freeway-legal electric motorcycle field to drive major innovations at the privately-financed Zero company. BMW makes a very well engineered and manufactured electric scooter in the C-Evolution, but they would have to design and market a motorcycle version to gain my attention and I don't see them doing that any time soon, as the scooter appears to have a lot of heavy EV car parts and I wouldn't be surprised to hear that the car guys designed the C-Evolution. Right now Zero is about the only game in town in their price range. You have to step up about $15K or more to get an Energica in the U.S., which is a much better vehicle, but you do pay for it and the brand has few dealers - although, ironically, they are being sold by my BMW dealer, along with the C-Evolution. Photos attached.
     

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  7. ray2

    ray2 Well-Known Member Contributor

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    Many thanks for your time. One of the better and more efficient reviews I've read.
    Tell me that the R65LS is also a hand-me-down-from Dad, and I propose that she think about putting the position of being your daughter up for bids....
     
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  8. Richard230

    Richard230 Well-Known Member Contributor

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    Nope. Although I owned a 1982 LS, I traded it in on my first R1100R. She bought that one used when she was living in Seattle some time around 1996. It currently has about 130,000 km on the clock. (It is a German import, which is how it came to have a kick starter, which was apparently an option in Germany that year.)
     
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  9. Richard230

    Richard230 Well-Known Member Contributor

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    In case you are wondering why I have been giving my old Zeros to my daughter, that is a lot easier than trying to sell one on the used market. Electric motorcycles depreciate faster than old cell phones. :eek: I figure about 50% a year and that is even if you can find someone who is actually interested in buying one, what with new low-cost Asian motorcycles coming on the market and gas prices being pretty cheap. If gas prices were to go up another 50% some day, selling new and used electric motorcycles might become a little easier. During the 1970's gas crisis, people would be paying a premium to ride electric, but I don't see another fuel boycott ever happening again now that the U.S. is squeezing oil out of (and contaminating) the ground via fracking.

    One nice thing about electric motorcycles is that, unlike BMWs, you don't have to ride them frequently to keep the oil from leaking past dried-out seals. The things can be kept around for years without needing to ride them. All you have to do is to make sure that the batteries don't drop below about 40% charge and then when you want to ride, you plug them in for a few hours and just take off. The batteries will gradually loose capacity, but the bike will still be fine for local commuting, shopping trips and short range traveling.
     
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  10. Daboo

    Daboo Active Member

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    I read something like this a few months ago. From the National Review:
    Note that it says the actual cost is not "ten thousand" more than it sells for, but "tens" of thousands. I suspect all the vehicle companies that sell only electric vehicles are in the same boat. Even with the purchase prices being so high, they couldn't survive without the taxpayers paying for them.

    Chris
     
  11. Richard230

    Richard230 Well-Known Member Contributor

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    I am sure that BMW looses at least $10K on every C-Evolution that they sell, probably more if you include all of the engineering and development time that went into that vehicle. Those costs are likely bankrolled by their car sales, is my guess. While I don't know anything about Tesla. I think their money comes from Eon Musk and the stock market.

    I have been following Zero since the company was founded about 11 years ago (being either a potential or actual customer during that time). To my knowledge the only government funding that they have received is a $900,000 Obama "stimulus" grant to design their current in-house electric motor and something like $1 million from the County of Santa Cruz to purchase their first factory building in Scotts Valley. (They now occupy two building next to each other. All of the rest of Zero's financing has come from a series of private investor funding totaling something like $52 million over the past 10 years, as I recall from reading a financial article recently - and of course, what little they make from selling motorcycles. ;) Being privately funded, they tend to be really tight when it comes to spending money that they don't absolutely have to, such as installing ABS on their bikes when required to do so by Euro 4 regulations. That is why the design of their bikes have been pretty much frozen since the 2013 model year (that used their new motor for the first time), other than improvements in suspension, brakes and component reliability.

    Zero has something like 130 employees, the majority of whom are engineers, with the rest being managers, support staff, marketing types and maybe one or two customer service representatives (a weak point for Zero in many of their customer's minds). Their assembly line appears to be staffed by part-time contract workers (just a guess on my part), which seems to operate about 9 months of the year. The assembly line consists of one moderately-sized room and (as I recall from a factory visit) 5 work stands where the parts are hand assembled by one or two employees at each stand. Most of the bikes sold are special ordered by each customer after placing a $1000 deposit with the retail dealer (I think there are about 100 Zero franchised dealers at the moment). So the franchise investment required of each dealer is quite small compared with most other major motorcycle manufacturers (BMW and Triumph come to mind) that require their dealers to pre-order and to "floor" most of their product.

    Attached are some photos of their factory that I took when they had their 10 anniversary open house about 18 months ago. While we were given a tour of the factory, we were not allowed to take photos of the assembly line, however we did get to see their dynamomenter in action, their battery assembly room, underwater battery testing facility o_O, assembly line and a few other things. As a long-time motorcycle buyer (45 motorcycles over 56 years), I am interested in seeing how a new motorcycle company starts up and manages to stay in business. Frankly, I am surprised that Zero has managed to stay in business as long as they have without much in the way of government support. I think most of us can think of motorcycle companies that have started with enthusiasm and then collapsed just a few years later when the money ran out and their design and business models were flawed, leading to a nasty end for their employees, investors and customers. So far Zero seems to be hanging in there (mostly thanks to lack of competition from the established makes) and I give them a lot of credit for that. Hopefully they can stay in business long enough to be bought out by a well-funded Japanese manufacturer like Suzuki, Kawasaki or Yamaha (my prediction) that doesn't want to do all of the electric motorcycle propulsion groundwork themselves in-house. :confused:
     

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  12. Grumpy Goat

    Grumpy Goat Well-Known Member Contributor

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    This has got to be the best and most informative resource for info on the Zero bikes. Thanks Richard. The excellent video review from the MF completes the picture.
     
  13. DABs

    DABs Active Member

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    I'm surprised we have so little already from the big names, and that the C-Evolution was the best BMW could offer. Then again, whenever I puzzle over businesses not pursuing an innovative competitive edge, I keep on re-learning that they don't really want to compete, and certainly not if it means undermining current offerings, but they'd much rather identify and chase a new market share.

    Dave
     
  14. Daboo

    Daboo Active Member

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    I think the "issue" (and that may not be the appropriate word), is not that the big names don't want to innovate, but there has to be a return on investment that they can see. Competition is so great among manufacturers in any market that they are constantly looking for ways to cut costs...not to spend more. If they don't see a way to do something economically and give a return to their investors...they won't do it.

    This example is from a different market, but I hope illustrates my point. When the original Boeing 777 was made, it was an engineer's dream. If there was a way to innovate, to improve...they did it. For its time, it was a technological breakthrough and a totally fantastic airplane. That all sounds great, doesn't it? But after all the excitement of the airplane launch wore off, the word got out that the R&D costs were so high that the company would never break even in sales. I'm sure it eventually did, but a point was made. Another point was made by the president of Southwest Airlines when they became the launch customer for the 737 NG, the next new airplane launch. He basically said that if the engineers came up with new innovations that would improve his seat costs per mile, then he'd agree to the changes. Otherwise, no. He wasn't bankrolling engineering for the sake of engineering.

    My comment about the Tesla wasn't meant to be negative about the Zero motorcycles. But it does raise a few eyebrows...or I hope it does. ;) Elon Musk has been able to convince the US government to subsidize his business to an unbelievable amount. The top of the line Tesla models sell for $70-140K...prices that at the top can only be considered by wealthy people. But even at those prices, they aren't making a profit. Just think...if you're a US taxpayer...you significantly helped my dentist buy his Tesla to the tune of "tens of thousands" of dollars. :D From an article I read months ago, almost all the cool alternative energy projects, can't pay for themselves without the government helping the companies stay afloat. And even with the government help, sometimes they still can't make it.

    It looks like Zero is doing some great things. And the only subsidies I can find with a quick search are customer incentives. Like someone else wrote, I suspect what will happen is a much larger company will buy them out at some point. My hat is off to them for pursuing a dream like this.

    Chris
     
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  15. Richard230

    Richard230 Well-Known Member Contributor

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    As I see it, there just isn't much of a market for freeway-legal electric motorcycles right now. The major motorcycle brands are waiting for either the market to be much larger or governments to force them to offer the product. If the electric motorcycle market isn't large enough for them to make back their investment, then you may see some manufacturers actually dropping out of the motorcycle market completely. Some European countries, as well as California, have introduced laws that would ban the sale of new gasoline-powered vehicles after 2040. (When most of these legislators might not even still be around.) Right now Honda is winning at the IOM with their electric racer, but there is no real indication that they are planning to produce a production motorcycle, other than a few concept bikes and low-power electric motorcycles and scooters designed for city travel. Right now I think BMW is producing the C-Evolution just so they can show certain governments that they are being "green" for political reasons.
     

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