MD Quick Rides: 2012 Zero S and Brammo Enertia …

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Brammo Enertia

MD Quick Rides: 2012 S and Brammo Enertia


At some point, we’ll to stop saying “the are coming,” and start saying electrics are here.” And I suspect we realize when that has come and gone. We may already passed it.

Zero S ZF6

I didn’t we were there until week, when MD Contributor Lapp and I spent a long cruising around San Francisco on a of battery-electric motorcycles, a 2009 Enertia and a 2012 Zero S Let’s be clear: this is not a test between these two The Enertia is a four-year-old design, so in terms the Zero has a huge lead, as battery, motor and developments have leapfrogged every year.

We rode bikes so we could get a feel for the approaches the two companies use and see how well hold up to what’s a pretty environment.

The $7,995 Brammo is the and polished product, as well as the one. That’s because an older design, with a smaller lithium-iron-phosphate battery—3 instead of the Zero’s 6 kWh lithium-ion The battery is wrapped in an extruded-aluminum suspended by a compression-adjustable Marzocchi and an expensive-looking Elka rear

Brakes are by Brembo. The motor is a brushless AC unit with magnets—that means low maintenance. no clutch or gearbox, just a and a big sprocket.

It weighs 324 pounds, and is in futuristic, rounded bodywork looks much more a flowing, integrated design the Zero.

Zero’s offering is the here… to be expected from a lead. It uses the distinctive frame design we first saw on Zero. a very light composed of aluminum tubes and A large metal box conceals the power pack. Behind it is a axial flux (I don’t what that means, sealed, brushless motor.

goes to the rear wheel via change and numerous others to and components were made by Buell engineer Abe Ashkenazi—and is from a nameless Asian but is fully adjustable (the is made in Santa Cruz, but of the parts list comes Taiwan, I was told at the factory year). It weighs in at a reasonable 297

Brammo Enertia and Zero S ZF6

So sound like pretty bikes, but show very characters. The Zero is the hooligan. It has two modes—eco or sport—which gives you a of good acceleration or better and regenerative braking.

It won’t you if you’re used to middleweight but it’s more than to stay well ahead of car or to merge safely onto the The no-name brakes have bite and power and, as a supermoto, the rear brake has grab to easily skid the tire. Decent stoppies are possible.

Ride quality is very on the Zero, and it steers quickly but give up much in the way of stability—until you get 80 mph, when the front end to feel vague.

The Brammo is composed and staid. The seat’s a lower, the bars are higher, and you feel you have to pin it everywhere. midrange—is ample, plenty to your safety cushion in traffic. The brakes have power and control to meet braking needs safely.

A new should be able to ride of these bikes with no which I think is a problem—a and gearbox is just a small of operating a motorcycle safely, and I about a flood of untrained getting hurt on these Get proper training before you buy or any motorcycle. Please.

Actually, started on an e-moto is harder it looks. The Brammo has a complex procedure intended to minimize motion. Though the Zero is to figure out, they have big green lights on the clusters to tell you the bike is and ready to ride. Instrumentation on bikes includes the all-important remaining’ meter, with the telling you how many miles you before you have to plug in

Both bikes include chargers, and have enough space to stash rolled-up cords.

Zero S Instruments peel before using

is something to think about. A charge on the Zero is good for 76 of slow, around-town riding by the EPA’s ‘City’ UDDS 43 miles on the higher speed at 70 about half the trip) Opt for the $14,000 ZF9 version of the Zero S its 9kWh battery) and you may go 114 city or 63 at higher speeds. The older will do 42 miles on the city ‘20-plus’ miles in higher-speed according to Brammo.

To achieve numbers on either bike, need a full charge—easy to do the on-board chargers. The Brammo in four hours, the Zero in For faster charging (as little as 1.8 for the Zero), you can get accessory quick-chargers, may or may not make your house down, depending on your Check with an electrician.

offers an SAE J1772 charging so you can take advantage of public stations (and primo spots).

Battery pack is more of an issue with the rated for 2000 full cycles (so 80,000 miles at speeds according to my hasty although topping the charge off the battery is flat will life. Two thousand cycles is eight years of Monday-Friday after which the pack still have 80 percent and have core value (as material or as back-up batteries for systems, for example). A new pack about $3500, and I’m guessing by the 2020, that pack be a fraction of the current price and several times the performance.

The Zero, on the other hand, serious battery life. 205,000 miles to 80 percent according to Zero, and the ZF9 will go miles, or about my total for the last 20 years. If you want to out and do the math, batteries and electricity are cheap for the Zero: at 40 miles per it’ll cost you about two per mile before you have to buy a new in the year 2032.

My Triumph Triple R runs about 14 per mile when you factor in the regular services and $4.50 gas. That’s a savings of per year at 15,000 miles—spread five years, that’s the cost of an entire motorcycle.

that’s the practical, economical you’re using your less than 50 miles per day (as are moto-commuters), an e-bike may be right for But what about soul? you miss the roar of the V-Twin, the hit of your inline-Four, the Tito ritmo of your Thumper?

As points out below, isn’t an just a rideable computer? An

That’s what I thought I decided to take the long way to Munroe Motors (San Zero dealer who was good to loan us the bike) with the It was a 16-mile trip through light afternoon commute and my main worry was getting to Munroe before the battery down. But the charge was still above halfway by the time I through Daly City, and the of riding was not so different from a steed.

Quick off the line, and midrange like a Twin, that there was no noise or all. That smooth, torque, that magic is character, if a subtle one. I’d call it soul.

At the big 280 interchange, I to the front of the pack, worried the wouldn’t get up to speed quickly as I silently rolled past of grim-faced commuters. The light green, I put the cheesy-looking toggle to the ‘sport’ position, and pinned the We took off, not blazing but plenty fast enough to ahead of any potential road-rager, and I the weird feeling of coasting as I turned the throttle.

The speedometer 75 in a hurry, and 80-plus was no problem at Again, completely silent, the noise the wind rushing my helmet.

Do you remember your first ride on a motorcycle? It was like wasn’t it, the way a movement of your translated into effortless as you whipped past all the suckers in their ugly rolling That Zero made me that all over again. I had gratifying moment as I whizzed a BMW K1600GT rounding a big curve on 101.

Sure, that motorcycle can do 160 mph and go 220 miles on a ($30) of premium. But the Zero, though off the line, accelerates well 60 and 80 mph, where I spend of my freeway time. It may have that little rush of I felt at higher speeds really convinced me e-motos are

In fact, my Zero ride was a experience that made me (for a change) very about the motorcycle industry’s

So: what got you into riding in the place and keeps you riding so many years later? Is it the carbs, gears, clutchplates and pipes? Is it the vibration, the leaking the 14 cans of almost-empty chain in your garage?

The passive-aggressive your next-door neighbor under your door on afternoon? (“I hate to bring it up, but do you you could maybe push bike down the street you start it up at 6 am every Sunday, of under my bedroom window? Yeah, I like that too, but what drew me to two was freedom, and while two cents a isn’t free, it’s freakin’ close. Rather snubbing electric motorcycles, should embrace them, they represent the best we have of getting a new generation two wheels.

Before you assume I’m pimpin’ for a long-term test (Zero S ZF9 in black, please), go to an e-moto dealer—Vectrix, Brammo, seem to be the best-established brands so test ride one on the freeway. If you have a huge grin you get back, if you’re not amazed at how fun and these things can be, I’d be very And if you think they’re good what will five or 10 bring?

I think we’ll get motorcycles with 125 mph top speeds, ranges and 20-minute recharge And that’s when you can have my relic to use as a lawn ornament.

Take: Alan Lapp

I had ridden an electric motorcycle Gabe tapped me to help this review, so I was uncontaminated by experience. I am a bit of a technophile, and I have who are avid e-bike fans who tidbits of information about the industry to me. So, even though I experience, I had opinions; some some pragmatic.

Pragmatically speaking, the e-doubters a number of issues: range, recharge times, etc. In words, people want the we are accustomed to with petroleum-fired I fall into the camp see e-bikes as inevitable, but remain about how useful they are in life.

To find out what is it to use an e-bike for a day, I met Gabe and our lens-slinger and Senior Editor Bob at Scuderia West in San Francisco ( to up Scuderia owner Don Lemelin’s Brammo). Since Don’s is three years old, it cannot be directly compared to the new S. The e-bike industry is making by leaps and bounds, so three is an eternity.

Astride the Zero, we set off Scuderia and headed uphill Twin Peaks, then out to the House for photos. The first I noticed is the absence of a clutch No transmission, no gears… no clutch.

time I hopped on, I whiffed two or times thinking I’d missed the lever. It’s not a problem, but it is

The next thing I noticed is the bike simply accelerates at its own more or less regardless of you put the throttle. All e-bikes have controllers that manage how torque is delivered to the wheels, regenerative braking, and feed the information about remaining level and current power What I find extraordinary is the power delivery: it is regal, and gentlemanly.

With no interruptions for and no coming on the cam or peaky power acceleration is velvet-smooth, and feels as if you are swept away in a fast-moving Because the computer controls delivery, you simply pin it and go. It’s the beginner bike: there is no way to do anything wrong with the when leaving from a other than forgetting turned on.

Brammo Enertia

It’s not an on-off like a two-…, but a rheostat works as smoothly and precisely as dining-room’s dimmer knob.

of sound, it is truly a unique to ride next to another at 30 mph, and hold a conversation the other rider without These bikes aren’t silent, but nearly so; just the of the final-drive belt and the tires on the

One perception I have harbored the years is that e-bike has typically put the emphasis on the ‘e’—the power—and less emphasis on the Many early e-bikes like bicycles with problems, hampered by spindly and weedy brakes. The Zero S that this company is attention to the whole package and produced a comfortable, properly motorcycle equipped with brakes.

It was quite fun to toss the curves near the Cliff

My sole complaint about my time on e-bikes is that aren’t hooligan-y enough. you can do stoppies all day long, and skid the tire into your space in front of the cafe you hang out for all to observe your conservation. But—and this is big for simply can’t wheelie no matter what.

Anti-social junkies need not apply.

I predict that e-bikes continue to improve, that range and acceleration will comparable to internal combustion, and costs (if you evaluate the performance/dollar will decline. I believe will offer a riding that will satisfy anybody…. except people who are ideologically opposed to conservation, air, or bikes made Wisconsin.

Furthermore, I believe since e-bikes, at their are computers, that hacking will become very It is undoubtedly possible to program the to execute perfect, effortless wheelies. The Zero S already has a switch for Sport and Economy

Why not add a setting labeled “WHEELIE”?

How did I my day on e-bikes? I’ll just say afterwards, the first few miles on my KTM 690 were dismaying: it felt it was shaking itself to bits, the my brain had automatically filtered out into my ears—the rattling bolt, the clicking valves me for adjustment, the clattering gearshift, and the intake honk. My state-of-the-art six-speed 63-hp dual-sport suddenly felt like an

Richard Harmon: Living a Zero S ZF9

So what is it like with a 2012 Zero S? Two cheap and easy—if  you can get the $14,000 MSRP, of course. The requires little maintenance. You need to change oil or filters, and clean a chain, replace replace batteries, adjust balance throttle bodies, the clutch, or spend an hour bodywork to get to all that stuff.

really cuts down on costs.

How about running The other day I rode the Zero my home in Pacifica, California to the of Fairfax to visit my daughter, a trip of 76.8 miles. I to the speed limit during my About 10 miles of my travel was on the and the rest was on surface streets.

a ‘Kill-A-Watt’ meter to measure the consumption needed to recharge the pack, I used a total of 7.6 kWh of for the trip. The local utility me 13.7 cents per kWh, so the trip only cost or about 1.35 cents per If I had ridden my Triumph, which 42 mpg, my fuel cost have been $8.21, on the $4.49 a gallon price for gas at my station that day, a of $7.17 on just that one

When you add the lack of any substantial maintenance costs and the likelihood the motor and battery pack outlast the chassis, it shouldn’t too long to recoup the greater price of the Zero if you ride it a

That’s the cheap part. But the is also easy to use. You turn on the ignition key and ride You no longer have to play the choke and/or wait for the to warm up. What the Zero in its ability to go long distances it up with its ability to do all those short trips (within a radius) quickly and easily.

And of commuting to work is where it Plus, since the bike has no or clutch, getting stuck in a jam is a breeze. You can do the ‘beep and creep’ just by turning the throttle to move at a walking pace, or you can between stopped cars as the is very narrow. No smoking overheating engine, or cramping hand.

And if the bike gets it is easy to clean since it has no system or chrome to polish.

You ask if the lack of noise is a safety So far it has not been for me. No one has moved into my any more than usual and my real concern is when around pedestrians or bicyclists.

I to be very careful riding in an environment since the bike is so But that’s probably a good no?

Finally, there is the issue of of a new product and customer service a small start-up manufacturer. I had a issue with my bike stalling at stoplights. The staff at heard about my complaint on the and called me to say that they pick my bike up at my home, it to the factory in Scotts Valley and it to me with their latest and a new throttle assembly.

They did as promised and the bike has been great ever since.

an electric motorcycle may not be for everyone, it for me.

Brammo Enertia
Brammo Enertia
Brammo Enertia
Brammo Enertia

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