As Eric Schaal reported, California-based electric motorcycle company Zero Motorcycles recently announced it would be dropping the its prices by $1,350 across the board. The company said it was finally in the position to reduce its prices thanks to falling battery prices. While even the cheapest model is still much more expensive than an entry-level bike like the Honda CB300F, three of Zero’s four models can now be had for less than $12,000.
“As leaders in this space we believe it is important to pass on the benefits of improved battery technology and our increased scale to consumers as soon as possible to allow more motorcyclists to experience the thrill of electric,” said Richard Walker, Zero Motorcycles CEO. “We’re not here to do things as they’ve been traditionally done in the motorcycle industry. Making this change mid-season to deliver great value to consumers at industry-leading price points, rather than waiting for 2016, is just the right thing to do.”
That price cut now puts an electric motorcycle within the reach of most buyers, and with real power and range, these aren’t just tarted up electric bicycles. For $8,495 Zero will put you on the FX ZF2.8, its most affordable option. Weighing in at less than 300 pounds, the FX can hit 60 miles per hour in 4.3 seconds. Its maximum range is only 35 miles, though, so buyers will probably find the $2,495 bump up to the ZF5.7 to be worth it for double the range and close to double the power.
For riders who want an electric bike with even more range, the sportier and more expensive Zero S ZF12.5 offers 151 miles on a single charge for only $13,995, and a $2,495 “Power Tank” is available as an option that pushes the maximum range up to 185 miles.
With several versions of its bikes costing less than $12,000, one version costing less than $9,000, and the option to buy battery packs that extend ranges well over 100 miles on a single charge, the electric motorcycle is about as viable as it can get. Falling battery prices and increased power density will continue to extend the range and lower prices, but what we’re about to see is just how viable an electric motorcycle company really is.
For just under $12,000, anyone who wants an electric motorcycle can have one capable of riding all over the city and commuting back and forth to work with minimal-to-no range anxiety. Riding to the mountains for a day of spirited riding might require a recharge before hitting the twisties, but it’s still doable. The question is, how many people really want an electric motorcycle right now?
Recharging one of Zero’s motorcycles costs somewhere around a dollar, which makes fuel costs negligible. Skipping one latte a week would pay for at least three full charges that, depending on the model, could mean several hundred miles of riding range. For most urban riders, though, the cost of gas is already pretty insignificant, and considering how inexpensive used motorcycles can be, riders who are truly looking to save money probably won’t ever see a return on their money if they buy a Zero.
Taking a motorcycle on a road trip is also still challenging at best, and while the types of bikes that Zero offers wouldn’t be the best for all-day, cross-country riding even if they were gas-powered, even riders who don’t own Honda Goldwings love to occasionally ride over to see a friend in the next city.
That said, electric motorcycles certainly have their own advantages. You can’t beat an electric motor for low-end torque, which makes even lower speed riding more fun. Secondly, they’re cool. At least for now, you’ll probably be the only person you know with an electric bike. It might not quite top the coolness factor of a Tesla Model S, but for more than $50,000 less, it’s certainly cooler per dollar.
What may end up being the biggest motivating factor for people to buy Zero instead of a conventional motorcycle is that electric bikes require significantly less maintenance. Not only will you never have to remember to change your oil ever again, you can also store your bike for the winter and get it back on the road again in the spring with just a couple minute tuneup. It would be great to go on a more motorcycle road trips, but for me, the appeal of instant torque and minimal maintenance makes an electric motorcycle like the Zero S quite appealing.
Will enough other riders find it as intriguing? With Zero established and its prices low enough to be fairly affordable, I guess we just have to wait and see.