2018 Zero electric motorcycles: longer range, 6-kw charging, only a few price hikes

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2018 Zero electric motorcycle lineup

2018 Zero electric motorcycle lineup

The research and development engineers at Zero Motorcycles were busy this past year, and for 2018, they've delivered electric motorcycles with exactly the improvements their riders asked for.

Faster charging and bigger batteries are the two most critical features holding back electric motorcycles from mass adoption, and both got an upgrade this year. 

Riders asked for a faster 6-kilowatt integrated charging system, and now they’ve got that. Meanwhile, maximum battery capacity jumped from 13 kilowatt-hours to 14.4 kwh on the SR & DSR models. 

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Every Zero offers clutchless direct drive and comes standard with an onboard charger. Larger bikes charge at 1.3 kw, while the FX and FXS have a 0.65-kw charger.

While the overall designs remains the same, paint options have been updated to offer a different color palette.

2018 Zero DS electric motorcycle

2018 Zero DS electric motorcycle

2018 Zero DSR electric motorcycle

2018 Zero DSR electric motorcycle

2018 Zero DS and DSR electric motorcycles

2018 Zero DS and DSR electric motorcycles

Zero SR and DSR

The top-of-the-line street racing (SR) and dual-sport-racing (DSR) models offer the longest range and plenty of power, with 116 ft-lbs of torque and 52 kw (70 hp) delivering a maximum speed of 102 mph.  

They can be outfitted with 14.4 kwh of battery, and a power tank can be added for a total of 18 kwh, fully twice the size of Zero's largest battery in 2012. 

This gives the SR and DSR city ranges of 223 miles and 204 miles respectively. Combined city & highway range rating is 150 miles for the SR, and 132 miles for the DSR.  

READ THIS: 2017 electric motorcycle buyers guide

The 14.4-kwh version can be outfitted with the 6-kw charger in a "charge tank" that gives a total recharge time of about 2 hours. This is useful since most public 240-volt Level 2 charging stations can supply 6.6 kw of power. 

That means it's now possible to travel over 300 miles in a day on an electric motorcycle you can order directly from the maker.

Both models have Showa shocks and Bosch brakes, paired with Pirelli Diablo Rosso II tires on the SR and Pirelli MT-60 tires for the DS. 

Prices increased by only $500 despite the longer range, to $16,495 without the power tank and $19,390 with the power tank. The Zero SR is now white for 2018 (all previous years were red), while the DSR remains classic black. 

2018 Zero S and SR electric motorcycles

2018 Zero S and SR electric motorcycles

2018 Zero S electric motorcycle

2018 Zero S electric motorcycle

2018 Zero SR electric motorcycle

2018 Zero SR electric motorcycle

2018 Zero SR electric motorcycle

2018 Zero SR electric motorcycle

Zero S and DS

The mainstream street (S) and dual-sport (DS) bikes come in three battery sizes at three prices; two of those batteries are larger although the price stayed the same.

The bike with the most affordable 7.2-kwh battery weighs only 317 pounds, and costs $10,995.

The standard version of the Zero S weighs 413 pounds, for $13,995, while the version with the power tank weighs 457 pounds and starts at $16,890.  

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Range for the largest battery in mixed riding is 141 miles; charging the 13-kwh battery with the charge tank takes about 2 hours, again putting 300-mile riding days within easy reach.  

The Showa suspension, Bosch brakes, and tire selections are the same as on the SR and DSR.

The Zero S has changed from yellow to silver, while the DS used to be orange but is now green.

2018 Zero FX electric motorcycle

2018 Zero FX electric motorcycle

Zero FX and FXS

For riders who want a smaller bike for trails (FX) or track (FXS), the FX and FXS are lightweight and powerful.

They can be outfitted with one modular battery at 3.6 kwh, a pair that doubles capacity to 7.2 kwh, or built-in batteries giving 7.2 kwh that can't be removed for charging.

WATCH THIS: 2017 Zero electric motorcycles: more range, more power, better options

These two models are the best way to get onto an electric motorcycle on a budget.

Either costs $8,495 with the smallest battery; the fixed 7.2-kwh version comes in at $10,495; and the modular 7.2-kwh version starts at $11,390.  

The FXS stays classic black while the offroad FX turns white, giving it a distinctive look.  

2018 Zero FXS electric motorcycle

2018 Zero FXS electric motorcycle

Verdict

Overall, the Charge Tank with its 6-kw charger and the range increases for the SR, DSR, FX, and FXS make the 2018 Zero lineup a significant step forward.

They may open electric motorcycles to more riders who weren't comfortable with previous ranges or charging times.

It’s good to see a manufacturer take customer feedback to heart and deliver the most-requested improvements, and it's doubly impressive that all these upgrades come with little or no increase in prices.  

The number of road-trip stories posted by Zero riders using public charging stations has increased in recent years, and they will likely grow exponentially now that 6-kw charging can be built in.

Despite new electric-motorcycle competitors, Zero leads the industry by offering the highest battery capacity. The next logical improvement for these bikes would seem to be adding DC fast charging.  

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