What is a Zero Motorcycle?

If you haven’t yet heard there has been a bit of a revolution in the motorcycle world with the advent of electric motorcycles. Harley-Davidson and Vespa have even jumped into the fray with their own electrically powered vehicles, the Harley-Davidson Livewire and the Vespa Electtrica, respectively.

But one of the most popular newcomers is the Zero Motorcycle which raised eyebrows when it was unveiled earlier this year in Amsterdam. Their SR/F model promises to deliver ‘industry-leading power, control, and connection" and is currently outselling all of its competitors, and the FXS can be a great option for commuters and learner riders.

History of the Zero Motorcycle

Zero Motorcycles started life in 2006 in Santa Cruz, California. The company was originally called Electricross and was founded by a former NASA engineer. After a name change to Zero Motorcycles, the company began developing their range of electric bikes and currently offers 7 different models. Their first motorcycle to come off the production lines was the Zero S in 2010; since then many modifications, additions, and even a complete redesign have been seen. 2016 saw two more motorcycles added to Zero’s range and the rest, as they say, is history.

Who is an electric motorcycle good for?

So far, commuters have embraced the Zero more than tourers, which makes sense. Commuters can typically travel to work and back home on a single charge, depending of course on the length of your journey and the model you choose. Each night, the commuter can recharge their bike at home, ready for the next day. We spoke with a local Zero dealer outside of London who said the FXS is their most popular model, and that most people buy them for commuting. For a starting cost of £8,990 (with government grant) and a cost of £1.12 for a full charge, the Zero FXS (ZF7.2) can make great economic sense for a commuter.

How far can I ride on a Zero motorcycle?

You can expect a fully charged Zero SR bike (the model with the longest range) to carry you for 90 Highway/179 City miles (if you don't have a power tank). Adding a power tank increases the range by around 30 miles on average. Range varies by model, as you can see in the table below.

Zero Motorcycle range (miles)City RangeHighway RangeCombined RangeCity RangeHighway RangeCombined Range
No Power TankWith a Power Tank
Zero SR17990120223112150
Zero DSR1637810520497132
Zero SR/F16182109201103136
Zero Black Forest Edition157649119680114
Zero S8945601346790
Zero DS8239531225879
Zero FXS5020291004057
Zero FX461927913954
chart showing the range of Zero electric motorcycles

How long does a Zero take to charge?

Charging times vary by model, and are longer if you have a Power Tank. In addition, the Zero SR/F motorcycle comes in a standard and a premium model, which have different charging times. For example the Standard model will take an average of 4 hours to fully charge, while the premium version will take 2 hours on average—but buying the 6 kW Rapid Charge option brings these charge times down to 1.3 hours and 1 hour, respectively.

Zero Motorcycle Time to Charge (hours)Charge Time to 95%Charge Time to 95% (with max accessory chargers)
Zero SR/FStandard4 hours1.3 hours
Premium2 hours1 hour
Zero SRZF14.49.3 hours2.3 hours
ZF14.4 Power Tank11.6 hours3.3 hours
Zero Black Forest EditionZF14.49.3 hours2.3 hours
ZF14.4 Power Tank11.6 hours3.3 hours
Zero DSRZF14.49.3 hours2.3 hours
ZF14.4 Power Tank12.1 hours3.3 hours
Zero SZF7.24.7 hours1.1 hours
ZF14.4 Power Tank11.6 hours2.8 hours
Zero DSZF7.24.7 hours1.1 hours
ZF14.4 Power Tank12.1 hours3.3 hours
Zero FXSZF7.29.2 hours1.3 hours
Zero FXZF7.29.2 hours1.3 hours

What is the power performance of a Zero motorcycle?

In terms of power, the Zero motorcycle offers a pretty healthy maximum top speed of 124 miles per hour (SR/F model) and will provide you with a maximum peak performance of 110 hp. The Zero Motorcycle is a fully ‘smart motorcycle’. All the information you require will be relayed to you via the motorcycles inbuilt full colour 12.5cm dashboard LCD display which is completely programmable to allow you to access the data you need. The bike's specs vary slightly based on whether you have purchased a standard or a premium model. Some further specification details are contained in the table below.

ModelPeak PowerTop Speed (mph)
Zero SR/F110 hp (82 kW)124
Zero SR70 hp (52 kW)102
Zero Black Forest Edition70 hp (52 kW)102
Zero DSR70 hp (52 kW)102
Zero S46 hp (34 kW)98
Zero DS46 hp (34 kW)98
Zero FXS27 hp (20 kW)85
Zero FX27 hp (20 kW)85

How much does a Zero Motorcycle cost?

In the UK, a Zero motorcycle will set you back at least £8,990 (£10,490 less the £1,500 Government Grant) for an FXS, with prices going up for different models or with the addition of options. Sales have been a bit slower Zero with the public not being quite as quick to adopt the electric-powered motorcycles as expected. That may have something to do with the price tag. While cost is offset by dramatically reduced running costs (e.g., no petrol needed to operate the vehicle and reduced annual maintenance requirements), the initial cost may prove too much of a stretch for many motorcycle riders, despite the added bonus of non-polluting emissions.

Here are starting prices for the available UK Zero Motorcycles:

Zero Motorcycle PricesStarting PriceStarting Price less £1,500 Government Grant
Zero DS (ZF7.2)£11,490£9,990
Zero FXS£11,490£9,990
Zero FX£11,490£9,990
Zero S (ZF7.2)£11,490£9,990
Zero DS (ZF14/4)£14,190£12,690
Zero S (ZF14.4)£14,190£12,690
Zero DSR£15,490£13,990
Zero S£15,490£13,990
Zero Black Forest Edition£18,990£17,490
Zero SR/F£18,990£17,490

Accessories such as the Power Tank, Charge Tank or Quick Charger cost extra.

How much are Zero Motorcycle Accessories?
Power Tank£3,000
Additional 6 kW rapid charge system£2,640
Charge Tank£2,300
Quick Charger£702

How much does a Zero cost to charge?

It will cost between 56p and £2.23 to fully charge a Zero electric motorcycle, depending on the size of the battery.

Average cost to charge the Zero electric motorcycle
Zero SR/F14.4 kWh£2.23
Zero SR14.4 kWh£2.23
18.0 kWh£2.79
Zero Black Forest Edition14.4 kWh£2.23
18.0 kWh£2.79
Zero DSR14.4 kWh£2.23
18.0 kWh£2.79
Zero S7.2 kWh£1.12
10.8 kWh£1.67
Zero DS7.2 kWh£1.12
10.8 kWh£1.67
Zero FXS3.6 kWh£0.56
7.2 kWh£1.12
Zero FX3.6 kWh£0.56
7.2 kWh£1.12

Cost to run a Zero electric motorcycle per mile

It costs around 2p per miles in electricity costs to run a Zero electric motorcycle, which is 80% less than the average 10 p/mile fuel cost to run a traditional motorcycle.

Per mile cost to run a Zero electric motorcycle
Highway2.8p/mile
City1.3p/mile
chart showing the cost to run the Zero electric motorcycle per mile

Are Zero motorcycle maintenance costs higher?

As electric motorcycles do not need things like oil changes or the standard form of servicing the way that petrol models do it can lead to annual cost savings on things like repair and maintenance. The only recommended regular maintenance for your Zero motorcycle is to change the drive belt and the brake pads as part of normal wear and tear. The amount of times you will need to do it will be dependent on the total amount of annual miles that you ride. The Zero Motorcycle also provides its owners with a 5 year, unlimited mileage power pack warranty.

Where can I charge a Zero motorcycle?

Charging requirements can be a concern for riders using electric vehicles—no-one wants to be trapped in the middle of nowhere with no access to a charging station. Luckily the Zero range of motorcycles requires no special equipment to charge their bikes, and with the addition of an included cable that can be easily carried with you, you may charge your bike at any time using a standard electrical power outlet. There is also a ‘rapid charge’ option that can be added to the Zero SR/F model.

Zero Motorcycle test ride

To check the claims of Zero motorcycles and test the performance of their new SR/F model, Motorcycle News recently performed a test ride. Results were favourable overall and the test rider cited it as a ‘step in the right direction’ for electric motorcycles. The test ride puts the SR/F through its paces and tests driving function in each of its driving modes: Eco, Sport, Street, and Rain along with various other programmable options.

Summary

While the price tag may discourage some motorcycle riders from making the change and investing in an all-electric vehicle, the technology is progressing at impressive levels. For many riders that have made the switch, the reports are favourable with cost savings being realised annually for maintenance, repair and fuel.

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The guidance on this site is based on our own analysis and is meant to help you identify options and narrow down your choices. We do not advise or tell you which product to buy; undertake your own due diligence before entering into any agreement. Read our full disclosure here.