The Zero FXE Blends Highway Capability With E-Bike Convenience
Among heavier, longer-range, more expensive electric motorcycle competitors, the Zero FXE is a lithe urban commuter. But it’s incompatible with public chargers, which limits its usefulness to only very predictable routes.To get more news about ebike, you can visit davincimotor.com official website.
I was on the 101, approaching San Francisco, when the Zero DS’s battery went into low-power mode. I went from about 70 mph to below 40, and moved to the far right lane, then the shoulder, as annoyed cars passed.
I eventually exited into a neighborhood and looked around for an outlet, like you do at an airport terminal. A gas station attendant let me use theirs and loiter nearby for about an hour, until I had enough range to get home. That was back in 2013, but the same lesson applies: Electric vehicles punish poor planners.The vital numbers around that ride—range and charge time—haven’t changed much in eight years. That DS had a claimed range of 95 city miles (126 with the optional bigger battery), and 57 highway miles at 55 mph (76 with the bigger battery). The new 2021 Zero FXE says 100 city and 60 highway (at 55 mph). While that DS had an option that allowed it to charge from higher-speed public EV stations—which were scarcer back then—recharging the FXE will primarily happen slowly, via household three-prong outlets.
For a specific scope of riding, that setup works. Like all electric motorcycles, the FXE is quick, silent, and thrilling. Having ridden several Zero motorcycles (among other electrics like the Harley-Davidson LiveWire), I found that the FXE is the best tool for the majority of utilitarian riding. Its weight of only 300 pounds means you can maneuver it through traffic and cramped parking lots. The Showa suspension is long enough to smooth out the worst potholes and bumps. When the terrain permits, the 78 lb-ft of torque is enough to do wheelies, even without a clutch to drop—and if you push too far, the J.Juan brakes, Pirelli tires, and Bosch ABS will help save you. In total, the chassis, components, and geometry all make it feel like a proper motorcycle, even on the highway. You won’t mistake it for a modded e-bike.
For anyone wondering how the experience compares to gasoline-powered bikes: As long as you have an open mind, you’ll struggle to complain with any sincerity. On my short test ride, any longing I felt for vibration and noise was quickly replaced with the novelty of being able to hear the wind in the trees and not feeling my legs roasting while sitting in traffic. Range anxiety aside, I rode more calmly knowing that I was unlikely to be stranded by mechanical failure, except maybe a tire puncture.
But all of the FXE’s qualities have to outweigh a few substantial limitations inherent to electric motorcycles. In a four-wheeled electric car, engineers can offset the weight of 300-plus-miles-worth of batteries with an exterior shape that produces a low coefficient of drag—say, 0.208, that of a Tesla Model S. A motorcycle and rider, even in a racing tuck, won’t do much better than 0.6. Bikes also don’t have the space to fit a second motor tuned for highway efficiency, and adding more batteries for more range means more weight. Which decreases range.
Even within those limitations, the FXE’s 100-mile city range should be ideal for someone like me. I’m moving to a place where I’ll have a 40- or 50-mile daily commute that will sometimes involve highways. And it’s in California, where lane-splitting is a legal solution to traffic. But if I bought an FXE, I really couldn’t let my imagination go beyond that 100 city/40 highway range.
Unlike the more expensive Zero SR/S ($19,995 base) and other electric bikes, the FXE can’t charge from public stations—the tall cubes with the thick-gauge plastic connectors. At best, you can pay extra for “accessory chargers,” which let you connect the bike to multiple outlets at once—ideally, Zero says, each outlet should be connected to separate circuits. Going from zero to 95 percent with the main 110- or 220-volt connection and an accessory charger takes just over three and a half hours. Charging with just the one plug connected to an outlet will take a bit over nine. All of that means that any trip beyond about 50 miles will require an outlet and a place to sleep.
Minimal maintenance, no fumes, speed—the FXE emphasizes every benefit you get from electricity. But the range and charge time means its awesomeness is only relevant to a very specific kind of buyer. Besides having a motorcycle license, a place to park and charge, he or she has to live and/or work in a dense enough environment for that range limit to suffice. Additionally, that buyer has to require highway speeds that a much less expensive electric bicycle can’t provide.
As badly as I want to go electric, the lack of access to fast-ish public charging builds is a drawback. I can’t help thinking that the times I want to go just a bit farther, I’ll regret not having bought something that runs on gas.
My hesitations aside, I hope Zero can continue selling enough bikes to police and military to keep funding consumer models like the FXE. These motorcycles are a unique thrill and, within that specific context, an especially effective method of transportation.
Of all the things it does well, there's one spec that makes the FXE worth buying: the price. Harley’s new LiveWire One, Energica’s Eva and Ego, most of Zero’s lineup—they cost around or above $15,000. The FXE’s pre-rebates price of $12,000 means I have to actually ask myself whether electric makes more sense than a Ducati Scrambler or Honda CB. The fact that choosing between a gas or electric motorcycle is a difficult decision is a win for electric vehicles overall.