2013 Zero Electric Motorcycles: Bigger, Badder, Faster

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If you’re a fan of electric motorcycles, you’ll know that Californian-based Zero Motorcycles likes to update its range of all-electric motorcycles one a year. 

And, unlike many automakers and motorcycle companies, that means more than just a few new paint options and handlebar tweaks.

In fact, its entire range, from the motocross-ready Zero MX to its headline Zero S streetfighter, have been rebuilt from the ground up. 

As a consequence, every one of Zero’s street-legal  motorcycles gets a bigger battery pack as standard, an improved, air-cooled motor, a higher top speed, an interactive smartphone app, and the ability to recharge to 95 percent full in under an hour using an optional Chademo charge accessory. 

2013 Zero S

While the 2012 Zero S provided a competent around-town ride, and enough range to cover 100 miles, its stylings still leaned toward first-time motorcycle riders rather than hardened two-wheeled fans. 

For 2013, that has changed with the introduction of a more traditional motorcycle design, with the area usually reserved for a fuel tank on a gasoline motorcycle doubling up as a storage area. 

It also offers pillion capability for the first time as standard, with a new, two-tiered seat replacing the old, tired motocross-style flat seat of previous years. 

Performance and range has improved too, with the 2013 Zero S capable of a maximum 40 kilowatts of power, and 68 foot-pounds of torque.  At the time of writing, Zero hasn’t disclosed a 0-60 time, but top speed has increased from 88 mph to 95 mph.

Range is also improved, thanks to a larger, 8.5 kilowatt-hour battery pack included as standard, or a larger, optional 11.4 kWh pack.

In mixed riding, Zero says the standard 8.5 kWh battery pack will provide 70 miles of range, while the larger, 11.4 kWh pack will yield 93 miles of mixed riding. 

Stay in the city limits, and Zero claims the larger battery pack will give the 2013 S a range of 137 miles. 

2013 Zero DS

Historically, the Zero DS, or Dual Sport, has been the more adventurous, dirt-track-ready twin to the road-only Zero S. 

That family tie has continued for the 2013 model, with the same enhancements found on the 2013 Zero S making their way over to the 2013 DS. 

These include the redesigned seat, pillion capabilities, storage area, power train, and battery improvements. 

Thanks to a different suspension setup and broader handlebars, the riding position on the 2013 DS is more upright than its streetfighter sibling. 

At 395 pounds with the 11.4 kWh battery pack fitted, the Zero DS is also 13 pounds heavier than a similarly-specced Zero S. 

That extra weight has an impact on range, dropping it to 62 or 82 miles of combined riding and 95 or 126 miles of city riding, depending on the battery pack chosen.

2013 Zero XU

With similar improvements in battery and motor technology to the rest of the range, the 2013 Zero XU becomes a serious commuter motorcycle for the first time.

Top speed has been improved from a rather unimpressive 65 mph to 77 mph, while a small 2.8 kWh battery pack provides enough range for a basic, 20 mile commute. 

In fact, from a distance, the XU looks to have adopted the best parts of the outgoing 2012 Zero S, without compromising on the battery swap capabilities which made the original XU an ideal apartment-dweller’s electric vehicle. 

Like its predecessor, riders can park up, and remove the 2.8 kWh battery pack, charging it away from the motorcycle. This makes it the motorcycle of choice for anyone wanting to switch to electric power, but who doesn't have a charging station nearby.

Failing that, the Zero XU’s compact dimensions and 218 pound weight make it easy to maneuver through doors and perhaps even into an elevator.

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Comments (3)
  1. Zero really has the looks and the claims of performance that are generally unfounded.
    The larger battery is because of the chain's added resistance and it also breaks! You also forgot to mention the 3 recalls in the last 12 months covering their entire sold production of 350 vehicles. But that's just quality control , so no worry. But the bike is cute. With no incentives from Feds, Barry will lose, they ought to sell about 1000 bikes for 13 million and operating loss of 5. Based on 70 million investment, that's not bad as far as EV companies go. Who is their battery supplier? Are they on the ropes yet.
    But it is an attractive bike

  2. I'd definitely consider buying one, as I'm looking for a proper commuting verhicle. About 50, 60 miles a day. Too bad the Zero S is priced so high. I'm just a starting security guard, and it's hard to get financing here in The Netherlands....

  3. Hmm... so it's Brammo with its weird 6 speed gearbox, non-existent UK dealers and no ChaDeMo charge option (long trips are a complete non starter then) or Zero with its unfinished-looking styling (surely there should be a panel over the battery?) and fiddly bits that'll fill up with road grime and salt in no time. A cleaning nightmare. Is that the controller bolted underneath, right in the firing line of any stones etc that get thrown up by the wheels? They seem to have the drive train sorted - a bit more thought needed on how it is all put together, IMO. That said, I am seriously considering one as a replacement for the Vectrix. I don't want another one of those!

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