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Driving the Zero FXS Electric Motorcycle

The singular cycle rips apart preconceptions about electric-powered bikes…

As long as electric vehicles have roamed the roads, range anxiety has riddled those who choose battery power as their sole means of propulsion. Zero Motorcycles­­ (based in Santa Cruz, Calif.) addresses this age-old issue by offering several plug-in bikes capable of triple-digit mileage before needing a charge, but their Zero FXS model dissolves the anxiety altogether by embracing one priority above all else: fun.

Weighing under 300 pounds but powered by a mighty 6.5 kWh lithium-ion battery, the Zero FXS is capable of launching to 60 mph in a sports-car-like 3.8 seconds. The view from the thin, stiff saddle is not unlike that from a dirt bike, with a flat-black “tank” flanking a small digital instrument panel in keeping with the lean-and-mean super-moto aesthetic. Aboard this taut, menacing, Armageddon-ready ride, the world blurs past with nothing more than the sound of the wind and the faint, high-pitched whine of the drivetrain.

Acceleration from a standstill is not quite as startling as, say, a short-geared, gas-powered dirt bike. But, as the speedometer approaches the 20 mph mark, momentum overcomes inertia and the FXS lurches ahead with urgency. Passing from around 30 mph to 60 mph is a rush, with a crisp throttle response and suspension-squatting thrust providing a gratifying antidote to other eco-conscious forms of transportation. The duality in character is largely due to the Zero’s clutchless direct drive, which offers less low-speed flexibility that yields to outstanding power once the motor hits its sweet spot. Acceleration is intense enough to entertain all but the most jaded of speed-seeking riders, and the nimble handling invites unplanned detours on twisty roads. 

In case you were wondering, our real-world cruising range was in line with Zero’s estimates: Aggressive city and highway riding yielded only 35 miles from a full charge, a number which can reach 90 miles in the city (with a more conservative riding style). Your mileage, as the adage goes, may vary—but if you choose a Zero FXS, you are likely more concerned with the thrill of getting from A to B than the length of the ride. The Zero FXS starts from $8,495. (zeromotorcycles.com)

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