Google+ Two-Wheeled Tourist: Quick Rides: 2012 Zero S ZF-9 Electric Motorcycle


Quick Rides: 2012 Zero S ZF-9 Electric Motorcycle

By just luck of the draw, I had an impromptu opportunity in Los Angeles to test ride a 2012 Zero S ZF-9 electric motorcycle. This was a very different ride to say the least, and the overall performance of this motorcycle makes me very excited for the limitless potential of electric powered vehicles.

No internal combustion, no cylinders, just an electric motor and a giant battery.

The bike from the start was easy to handle. It's super light feel made it easy to move out of its parking spot. It started up silently and power was instant with the twist of the throttle. Its acceleration was surprising, if not astonishing, for an electric motorcycle. I found myself halfway across the alley before I realized what was going on. Fortunately, the brakes were more than responsive enough to bring me to a crisp stop.

The controls are standard to that of a conventional motorcycle. The big difference? This model is clutchless. I found myself reaching into space with my left hand.
Closeup of the instrument cluster.
On my short, 5-mile test ride through the streets of Westwood/Santa Monica, I weaved it through traffic quickly and efficiently with no issues. The twist of the throttle started the whirr of that electric motor and off I went down the street. Acceleration was smooth and there were no breaks in the powerband. The bike itself was very well-balanced and just flowed cleanly into turns. I could imagine the critics having issues with the bike's silence on the street. Although the whole "loud pipes save lives" thing is a big to-do with a lot of motorcyclists (it's not true, trust me), the overall nimbleness of this bike will get you out of a mess long before it begins.

Don't let the alternate mode of power fool you. Suspension in the front (forks) and the single shock rear is just like a standard motorcycle.
There are two driving modes for this Zero, "Sport" and "Eco." For the more spirited rides, push the button.
Belt final drive ensures the most power transferred to the rear wheel.
I wouldn't be surprised if more of these started showing up on roads more frequently in the next several years.
For in-town shenanigans, this bike is more than enough to get you where you need to be. For more information about Zero Motorcycles' current line, visit