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Diary of a Zero Part Two

Updated: Jun 11

Fit for purpose

Silence is golden!

It’s a brave new world and a change is on the way for those of us who like to ride motorcycles. I’ve been running a Zero DSR/X for the last two months and it’s been an interesting experience.

As with everything new approached it with a mix of curiosity and scepticism. As a riding experience so much of it is different. There’s no clutch and no gear lever. I find that when I’m ‘on it’ I still look for a gear to drop when I’m coming into a corner. Then again, when I’m behaving myself it’s a lot easier to work with the automatic transmission.

It never finds a busy charger

I’ve used a number of other electric machines. BMWs CE 04 is fantastic, the CE 02 is very clever and the new all electric Yamaha Neos is quite small, but makes for a perfectly good commuter. The only problem with the last one is that an EBike is cheaper, doesn’t need a licence or any training and as Yamaha are now making their own, they can be found on the other side of the showroom. As commuters the Beemers have it all going on. They also look reassuringly weird. Honda have added a scooter similar to the Neos called the EM1e. It differentiates itself by having a cup holder.

The thing is, none of them are motorcycles. While there are ideas and suggestions bubbling up in the industry we’ve yet to see anything impressive come onto the market from any of the other brands other than Harley-Davidsons Livewire. This is also a spectacular bike to ride. A heavier price and a reluctance for dealers to invest in maintenance equipment has made it a much more difficult machine to access.  

An almost exclusive Zero socket!

Meanwhile after using the Zero for a number of weeks I can confirm that it is, indeed, a motorcycle, and a very good one at that. The bike has a selection of modes the usual standard, sport, rain and ECO ones are available by scrolling through the menu on the left bar. There’s also a ‘canyon’ mode for riding the trails. In the more than practical ECO mode the bike pulls well and the regenerative power being delivered by the rear wheel when the throttle is closed acts like engine braking.   

As stated before the spec is more than acceptable. Pirelli tyres, radially mounted callipers, Showa suspension and a very powerful battery that sits in an excellent chassis. That battery has been developed by the company themselves and goes by the very cool name of ‘The Z-Force Motor’.  This has been designed to offer sustained top speeds and deliver huge amounts of power. That’s exactly what it does.

One of the things that I found odd is the speed limiter on the bike. It simply stops accelerating at 120kph. Now having said that, it only does this in ECO mode and when I put it into sport mode and pull the throttle back to the stop I really need to hang on for dear life!

Charging couldn't be easier

The power delivery is incredible. There’s tonnes of torque and simply no lag whatsoever between stopped and full tilt.  There is, of course, an App. This can connect to your bike and be used to configure the rate of regenerative braking, the top speed and even that wonderful torque number.

What I do find is that the standard seat height is just that little bit low. But I’m aware that there is a higher one available as an accessory as is a taller screen and a suite of luggage.

Over the last few weeks as the better weather has begun to appear I’ve started to use the bike much more for recreation. When parked up I’m constantly explaining what the bike is about to fellow riders. The response to the bike is always enthusiastic. ‘What’s it like to ride’ being the main one that I’m asked.

To that end the lack of a clutch and gear lever threaten me with a bike that somehow isn’t all I’d expect from something with its profile. What I’ve got instead is something different and yet the same where it counts.

One on the side

One of the fascinating things is that I can reset so much on the bike via the Zero app. This includes the bikes top speed, all the way up all the time, as well as the maximum power and the level of brake regeneration. I can do all this from my phone via a Bluetooth connection.

In terms of ‘range anxiety’ it has to be said that while riding a conventionally fuelled bike I always ride well into reserve before fuelling up. So I’m used to having a touch of uncertainty about how far I’m going to get. What’s working quite well is that I’m using the bike to commute and for leisure. As such I’m never going particularly far and with no range anxiety as a result. What I now do is leave the domestic charger in my shed and take the fast charger cable with me. When I get back to the house I simply plug it in again and it’s ‘full’ and ready to roll the following morning.

One of the other things that I really like is that the fast chargers out in the world all have a socket that fits the Zero on the side of each unit. This means that while the main power points might be taken up by someone hoping for a quick death as they’ve found themselves driving a BMW i3 120, there’s always one available for me.

When I’m running a further distance and I need one of these units to top up the battery I find that I don’t need to charge it fully to get home. Rather I find that a charge back up to 40% or so usually takes as little as 20 minutes. In that amount of time I’ve just about checked my emails and had a coffee at which point I’ve got plenty to get me home.

I think that it’s going to take quite some time to get used to no noise and especially no noise at speed. The other thing that’s very different is that the acceleration and deceleration aren’t part of the melody that would be appreciated while riding a traditional combustion engine. Even after 2,000km this is still a fascinating and novel machine to ride.  

Call Keith on 015385005 or send a mail to sales@franklinmotorcycles.ie

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