US firm zeroes in on electric off-road bikes
THE invasion of electric cars is about to start, but already there are twowheel electric vehicles on the market.
Most are Chinese-made scooters, but American company Zero Motorcycles has off-road bikes available and plans to introduce a range of road bikes by the middle of this year that will be able to be registered.
Zero Motorcycles Australia director Phil Wilkinson says its off-road bikes are not able to be registered and can only be ridden on private property.
‘‘They are ideal for people on small acreage who are concerned about disturbing neighbours,’’ Wilkinson says. ‘‘Since it makes very little noise, users can ride without attracting complaints and the attention of the police.
‘‘Kids can have unlimited fun without creating offence, or the serious MX rider can perfect their riding techniques before or after work in their own back yard, without having to load up and travel to the nearest bike track.’’
Prices start at $9950 for the X range and $10,500 for the MX.
Now Zero is planning to release its S (for sport) and DS (for dual sport) registrable road bikes.
‘‘Currently ADR (Australian Design Rules) compliance is about two months away,’’ Wilkinson says.
‘‘We’re just waiting on the Government. There are no issues as the bikes are homologated to European standards.’’
Wilkinson claims the build quality of the American range of road bikes is high and the bikes are ‘‘maintenance-free’’.
The Zero S and DS feature Z-Force Air Induction System, allowing the bike to produce more horsepower from lighter and more compact motors by increasing the airflow. Wilkinson claims the motor, which runs at 58V at 70 amp hours, has comparable output to a 250 fourstroke bike.
‘‘But they are quite light, which gives them a good power-to-weight ratio,’’ he says.
The S is claimed to have a top speed of 110km/h.
The road bikes can be charged in four hours from flat (two hours for the off-road bikes) and cost less than 50¢ to travel 100km.
He ‘‘conservatively estimates’’ range is about 80km for the road models and two hours for the offroad bikes.
‘‘Range depends on usage, the weight of the rider and even the temperature,’’ he says.
The new models use Z-Force power pack technology with cell monitoring to improve battery life, provide more power and improve acceleration.
Most electric bikes have a snatchy on-off feel to the throttle because of the instant maximum torque. This makes low-speed manoeuvres very tricky.
However, Zero claims its bikes have a new throttle technology that modulates the power to provide smoother control.
The road bikes come in red and black and blue and black and have Corbin seats, which are acclaimed in the aftermarket industry for their comfort. There is also a Corbin low seat available as a no-cost option.
Zero has dealers in Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney and Newcastle and Wilkinson says it hopes to appoint dealers in Brisbane, Hobart and Perth.
‘‘As yet we have not established a firm price for the S and DS. However, we anticipate it will sell for around $13,000 plus on-road costs,’’ he says.