US firm ze­roes in on elec­tric off-road bikes

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - CARSGUIDE.COM.AU - Mark Hinch­liffe

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.

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