Do Dandroids Dream of Electric Bikes?

It's been a while since I contributed to the site and I have a lot of catching up to do with my trials and tribulations of multi-bike ownership. Aside from the obvious impacts over the past 2 years by "V who shall be nameless", in recent months one thing after another has made it such that I have been unable to ride at all. I had seriously given thought to hanging up my boots and calling it a day! However, by happenstance I started talking to a fella beside a beautiful Velocette MSS at the IMS Atlanta show and he turned out to be Keith Kizer, the Executive Director of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America (AMCA, where I had previously been a member, but had allowed my membership to lapse in recent years. Anyway, long story short, Keith got me signed back up in the club and encouraged me to pull my 1950 Velocette Mac off display in my basement and get it back on the road. Yes, that seemed like such an easy thing to commit to at the time, but I have removed said motorcycle from my basement and it now resides in my garage, though not quite running again yet...more to come on that adventure.

It seems that the 2021 IMS show in Atlanta was a day for new beginnings for me. While at the show I took advantage of a Zero electric motorcycle test ride, opting to ride a very slick SRS model. The acceleration, balance, handling, control, basically everything about the bike exceeded all expectations and a seed was planted about ownership of an electric motorcycle. As they say, with age comes maturity (well maybe sometimes), so I allowed the idea of purchasing a new motorcycle (it would be number 8) to settle to the back of my mind for a while. And there it sat buzzing away periodically, nagging at me, zipping and zapping across my mind and it would not rest. I began to search for options on electric motorcycle ownership. Frankly there is only one game in town at the moment and that is Zero Motorcycles. They have a good range of models, if not a good range of miles (yet), but memories of the sheer fun and enjoyment of whooshing down the street almost silently on the IMS test ride would not leave me.

The SRS is an expensive bike and by the time you are done with the bike, fees and everything else, you are going to be well into $22k+. Consequently I researched other models in the Zero range, and had started to settle on the idea of a DSR, a dual sport type model, which is significantly cheaper than the flagship SRS model, but is essentially built on the same running gear and battery, with similar characteristics for range and performance. There was no doubt about it, I was hooked!. I scoured the web for purchase options and found there are few dealers around, not many, but there are at least some and within reasonable distance of my home in Northwest GA.

With a trip to Florida coming up I decided to take a brief diversion into Jacksonville to the Ride Now dealership ( who had several new Zeroes (or should that be Zeros?) listed. I packed my gear in the car and headed that way. The team at Ride Now were excellent and very accommodating, asking me if I had brought my gear and offering a test ride on the FX and the DSR models. I had not considered the FX before since it is the smaller 7.2kw battery and limited range of around 90 miles (city or non-highway riding). Travis the sales guy who helped me is a true motorcycle enthusiast and like me has had his head turned by the unique experience of riding an electric motorcycle. Travis was able to come out on the test ride with me, despite it being a Saturday, so he led off on the DSR, while I rode the FX.

The little FX is an absolute blast to ride. The seat height was perfect for me, being about 1.5" taller than the DSR, and if you ignore the limited range, the performance and handling was astonishing. The bike weighs in at around 250lbs, so it really isn't that heavy and the positioning of the battery and motor in the frame makes for perfect balance. The FX model that I rode had a 21" front wheel, which had aspirations of defying gravity at the slightest encouragement, and the bike was reminiscent of my days riding old two stroke dirt bikes at Dave Taylor's Trials Park in Kent, England back in the day. We zipped around a small neighborhood behind the dealership, a place where I'm sure the locals were sick to death of motorcycle test rides, but the expected angry scowls and shaking fists were replaced by pleasant smiles and waves as we glided through the streets with barely a sound (although some speed may have been involved).

Stopping part way through the test ride Travis and I traded bikes and I took on the DSR, which is quite a different bike to the FX. The DSR was the bike I had my eye on originally and although it is just as well balanced and lithe as the little FX, it sports the bigger 14.4kw battery and has a standard range of around 160 miles (city or non-highway riding). Other benefits of the DSR are the upgrade options, including a Level 2 charge unit that can charge the bike to 95% capacity in just an hour, or an additional battery to extend the range to around 200 miles. Unfortunately the two power options are mutually exclusive, since they occupy the same storage bin in the fake gas tank of the bike. This is also true of the other upgradeable the bikes in the Zero range. The upgrade options are not cheap either and each come in at over $2k on top of what you’re going to pay for the bike. But the point is that with the DSR you do have options. With the FX what you buy is what you get and if you tire of using the bike locally only for short rides of electric enjoyment, then you will have no choice but to part with the bike and sink more cash into another model. The FX was a helluva lot of fun though, and cheaper still compared to the DSR, though we are still not into the realms of anything remotely like “cheap” for one of these machines.

I thanked the guys at Ride Now, and even after we reviewed numbers for both the FX and DSR, I walked away. Again with the getting older and more mature thing, I honored my commitment to myself that I would take a breather after the test rides to consider options, do more research and think verify carefully before committing to by one of these motorcycles, no matter how much I loved the experience and truly believe the convenience and lack of maintenance headaches, compared to gas motorcycles, would mean I spend much more time in the saddle of one of these incredible machines.

More to come, but the adventure is beginning…