No-strokes to the fore
No smoke or noise? Electric bikes take the lead
ELECTRIC motorcycles are about to become zero-emission heroes with some major leaps forward in technology.
Californian company Zero Motorcycles claims its 2012 line-up is ‘‘ game-changing’’.
New features include a range of more than 180km, a top speed of 114km/h and battery life of almost 500,000km.
This is a huge leap from the previous models available in Australia, with range of 80km and a top speed of 110km/h.
Zero Motorcycles Australia director Phil Wilkinson says the bikes are scheduled for delivery in the United States in February.
‘‘ I would expect to see bikes here shortly after,’’ he says.
‘‘ Prices have gone up slightly— however, it is hard to ignore the value that the new bikes offer in terms of range, performance and capability.’’
The model line-up comprises the S street bike and DS dual sport, both at $12,995, and the Mxsport ($10,000) andmx Extreme ($11,000) off-road bikes. Wilkinson says the S and DS will come as ZF6 (6kwh) and ZF9 (9kwh) variants with up to $1000 premium on the latter. Themxmodels remain about 4kwh but with almost double the battery capacity.
The major improvement in range capability comes from adding regenerative braking, which harnesses kinetic energy to recharge the battery.
Zero also claims the powertrain does not require any routine maintenance, except for the low-noise, lowmaintenance belt drive.
Wilkinson says the biggest hurdle has been battery life.
‘‘ About 90 per cent of our customers ask what the replacement battery costs,’’ he says.
‘‘ With the new model you get 500,000km out of it, so you wouldn’t ever need to change the battery.’’
The bikes can be charged from flat on a standard domestic 240V/10-amp mains output in four hours; a second charger will halve that time.
They can also be plugged into the new quick-charging stations in some cities.
Zero Motorcycles Australia began selling non-registered off-road bikes in 2009 and added the street-legal S and DS last November.
Wilkinson says the 40-bike shipment has sold out.
‘‘ They’re not huge numbers at the moment. It’s a very challenging market,’’ he says. ‘‘ I’d think we could double, even triple, (our) sales.’’
Wilkinson says the company is expanding its dealer network.
Dealers are Action Motorcycles in Sydney, Graeme Boyd’s Suzuki in Newcastle, Jeffery Motorcycles in Melbourne and Bill’s Motorcycles in Adelaide— with Brisbane and Perth dealers yet to be announced.
The permanent magnet brushless DC electric motor uses one-tenth of the steel and half the copper of competing DC motors and, crucially, requires no maintenance.
Zero Motorcycles uses second-generation lithiumion cells to prevent fire. The Z-force power packs feature a cell monitoring system that constantly tracks the voltage and temperature of each cell to prevent overheating.