BORN TO BE MILD by Scott Budman
When a motorcycle comes at you going 60 miles per hour, you know it’s coming. The roar of the engine, the smell of the exhaust, the rumble of the street under the tires.
That is, unless it’s electric. Then it’s silent, odorless, and gives off a polite little hum instead of a throaty rumble.
That’s what you get when you hop on the brand new “S” from Scotts Valley, Calif.-based Zero Motorcycles. Befitting its Bay Area roots, the “S” is completely electric, with no emissions and virtually no maintenance required.
Sure, you don’t get that low, bad-ass sound when you’re idling at the stoplight — but then again, wouldn’t you trade that for a gas bill of zero, not to mention the good karma you get by no longer harming the environment?
Zero Motorcycles first made a splash last year with its Model “X,” a BMX-style bike that could take motocross jumps in style, while running silently with its electric battery. Now, we have the street version, and it doesn’t miss a beat: 60 miles per hour, with a 60 mile range between charges. This is the hog you want if you also want to keep your neighborhood clean.
While companies like Tesla are making electric cars cool, Zero could be the one to make electric motorcycles a viable option. Zero’s CEO Gene Banman says it’s really all about the battery. The “S” can stay light and nimble because of Zero’s battery technology. In the future, he adds, that battery will get even smaller and lighter, and so will the bike.
For now, it’s an urban commuter, capable of zipping you around at pretty good speeds, even giving you the strength to jump curbs and stairs.
Put it this way: If you’re worried about global warming, but still need to fill the Easy Rider/Midlife crisis gap in your life, give the “S” a try. Well below ten grand with tax rebates and government incentives, it’s the bike even The Man wants you to ride. OK, that’s not cool, but the “S” is.
[For more Scott Budman stories, visit www.nbcbayarea.com]