Electric motorcycles helping contribute to cleaner energy

Zero Motorcycles operates in Scotts Valley, California where they work to transition the world towards cleaner energy one motorcycle at a time. (Photo courtesy of Zero Motorcycles)

It’s no Prius sport model and Tesla is a good second guess but this vehicle might be the bright beginning of a new form of clean, personal transportation.

Yet, another alternative for more sustainable personal transportation has been brought into the green spotlight. Zero motorcycles might not exactly look like the glossy, futuristic, high-speed, electric bikes we have imagined and depicted in science fiction movies, but their performance, versatility, and simplicity might have you thinking twice.

Founded by former NASA engineer Neil Saiki, the company started under the name Electricross, based in Santa Cruz, California. They now operate in Scotts Valley, California under their current name Zero Motorcycles and have been getting recognition as the world turns to cleaner electric power.

This is not the world’s first electric motorcycle producer. Conventional motorcycles are also more often ignored in the world of sustainable innovation because of their excellent fuel efficiency found with today’s modern combustion engines. Ultimately there is no single quality that the Zero motorcycle has that makes it so much better than conventional bikes, but more of a culmination of simple, intelligent designs and modern technology that, together, make it so astounding.

For any motorcycle enthusiast or a new buyer, it might be difficult to sway them away from the roaring engine, chest beating and classic styles that is American motorcycle culture but you can bet it would be hard to deny these specs.

Zero motorcycles have a battery pack that can charge as fast as only a few hours and can go up to 202 miles (city) in a single charge. Zero says that the charging time can vary depending on many factors like the power grid, quality of cables, and the status of the battery being charged but will typically range in the ballpark of a few hours or overnight. They recommend treating your Zero bike just like your smart phone; use during the day, charge at night. Zero bikes can charge at any 110/220 Volt outlets. That’s right, the same kind that is in your house, and just about everywhere so there is no worry of missing a charging station, like electric car owners might experience.

Zero bikes use 100 percent recyclable batteries that plug and play so you can modify your bike’s range with a little creativity. In over 50 tests and studies, Zero bikes proved to produce 70 percent less emissions than a car and 90 percent less emissions than other bikes, not to mention the improvements being made to power grids around the country to increase electrical power efficiency. Remember: cleaner energy does not always mean zero emission.

Because of the way these motorcycles are engineered, they are a bit more expensive than your average combustion engine motorcycle and arguably more expensive than other electric bikes, but the costs are primarily up front for Zero. Their most inexpensive model is going to run around 8,000 USD. However, making the decision to ride a Zero bike versus conventional ones will save you money after only a relatively small amount of mileage, not to mention the various state and federal rebates for the purchase of an electric vehicle. Their intelligent design will save you money in different ways as well because zero bikes have no need for purchasing gas/filters, oil/filters, air filters, sparkplugs, or timing belts. In addition to forgoing costly materials, servicing Zero bikes does not require you to have any work done on clutch and clutch cables as well or any other part of the dreaded powertrain. These factors also relieve stress on physical waste management.

Don’t believe in the power of Zero? Last year, several counties in California had their police motorcycles replaced with Zero sport models, so you know they are high performance, economically, and ecologically sound. Zero is growing fast and is constantly improving on their already exemplary design. There is even a dealer located in Enfield, CT where you can schedule a test drive.


Dan Wood is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at daniel.wood@uconn.edu.