Like many great businesses, Zero Motorcycles was born in a garage. In 2006, Neal Saiki, a former NASA engineer, founded the company (then called Electricross) in his Santa Cruz, California, home. That same year, the company produced its first electric motorcycle prototypes. For the past 18 years, Zero has worked on “perfecting the electric motorcycle,” according to Dan Quick, director of communications for Zero Motorcycles. In order to climb that mountain, the company has had to become world-class in industrial design, manufacturing engineering and software development — all while navigating the complicated legal hurdles of homologating a new product for over 40 different countries.
However, Quick notes, Zero’s mission remains the same as it always has: “If there is one single, critical element that everyone in the building obsesses over, it’s ensuring the needs of the rider — specifically that need for a truly transformational ride experience —are always at the forefront of every decision we make.”
Ahead of the Game
Electric vehicles (EVs) are the talk of the town lately. You need look no further than the fact that every legacy manufacturer has either announced or is currently working on an EV model. According to Quick, these companies wouldn’t be throwing huge amounts of resources into research and development if they didn’t believe it would be crucial for their survival. Yet, since Zero Motorcycles has been in the EV game for almost two decades now, it has a leg up on the competition in that regard.
“Zero has the highest power and energy density power packs in the industry,” Quick claims. “We have been working on this and perfecting our proprietary powertrain and battery chemistry for almost 20 years, and the lead we have on the competition in this regard is undeniable.”
The barriers keeping consumers from buying EVs are dropping away. Access to public chargers is “skyrocketing,” Quick notes, as is familiarity with the behavioral changes that came with owning any EV over an internal combustion engine (ICE) machine. One such a change, for instance, is that unlike waiting to refuel when a gas tank gets near empty, most people riding their EVs do so on a full charge, since they sit at home or work powering up when not in use.
Of course, not every barrier has come down. Access to chargers varies by region, mileage per charge remains lower than that achieved with fuel, and costs (though coming down) are still significant. However, for those whose lifestyles fit the capabilities of the machine, it can be a perfect fit.
“There will always be corner cases about people who have extreme expectations and needs for their machines, but the majority of people already have a life that is perfectly suited for an electric vehicle,” Quick explains. In fact, Zero Motorcycles has not had any problems converting even die-hard motorcycle fans to electric bikes.
“One of the largest groups of owners we have is a pretty traditional motorcycle enthusiast who has been riding and owning motorcycles his or her entire life but came to their own conclusion it was time to add an electric to their stable. I’ve found that many of those folks made that decision about the same time as their first test ride,” Quick says.
Looking Ahead to 2024
While Zero Motorcycles continues to work on perfecting the EV, its base models have already proven so popular that the company is now turning its focus to expanding its offerings across more motorcycle segments.
“The core focus of the [model year 2024] MY24 line is expanding the world’s biggest product line of all-electric, full-sized motorcycles with options for even more riders than ever before,” Quick states. “Affordability and choice are paramount in both the S line of street bikes and the DS line of dual-sport models. The newest MY24 S, for example, has over 30% more battery capacity for more than $500 less than the nearest competitor.”
The S is Zero’s brand-new street model for 2024, which boasts an all-new motor with twice the battery capacity (14.4 kilowatt-hours) of its predecessor and an MSRP of $15,000, providing significant value in terms of battery output.
On the dual-sport side, Zero saw an incredible response from last year’s launch of the adventure-category DSR/X. Using that momentum, Zero is releasing the next-generation DS and DSR models for 2024. These bikes share the same reinforced chassis, extra-durable Gates carbon belt drive and many other off-road specific benefits that the DSR/X offers. The all-new DS sells for $15,995; the all-new DSR is available at $19,995; and the DSR/X retails for $22,995.
In addition, the FXE returns for 2024 with a 7.2-kilowatt offering at $12,495, while the FX sells for $12,495.
As Zero grows its lineup and its capabilities, it seems certain that this company, which was at the forefront of EV innovation, still retains that same value. “We’re looking forward to making 2024 another great success and providing a ton of momentum to transition into that period,” Quick concludes.