Zero in 60 Seconds
Meet the 2019 FX: a spunky middleweight electric motorcycle with 18 and 21-inch wire-spoke wheels that came to us shod in fresh 30/70 Pirelli Scorpions.
The bike sat on display at the shop for a couple weeks and before we had much time to ride it, Zero informed us it needed to go back already. Popular Mechanics wanted to test it out. Suddenly we only had 24 hours before the bike had to go back. We called up Johnny Puetz, our favorite local dual-sport-ing moto vlogger. Here's what we came up with:
First up: routine morning errands—a breakfast sandwich and a joyride around Red Hook. The FX soaked up the cobblestone and pothole riddled streets of this refreshingly off-the-beaten-path corner of Brooklyn. We also found time to pay a visit to our neighbors at Tesla.
Then we did the tourist loop: through the Battery Tunnel, up the West Side Highway, under the shadow of the Freedom Tower. Then we filtered through Canal Street like spawning salmon crossing Manhattan. Back over the Brooklyn Bridge and we splashed back into the freer flowing traffic of our home borough. The bike was silent and efficient slicing through city traffic. Even "Eco" mode it provided amply torquey take-off power. That it doesn't make noise is something of a liability with other drivers who definitely noticed the Zero less than they would a bike with barking exhaust pipes; but on the plus side we certainely didn't attract any undue attention, either.
We also took the bike for a sandbox playdate in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. We ran it through some whoops, dumped it a few times, and took turns trading off trying to keep up with the dirt bikes.
Riding the FX alone in the woods was an eerily quiet experience— ducking branches and swimming the bars through singletrack with just the whirr of the motor and the crunch of tires on loamy trails felt like riding a Speeder through an Ewok forest.
We rode through some puddles. We sawed through some hill-climbs, and (gently) crashed the bike more than a couple times. We drag-raced a dirt bike and we chased a drone down some long dirt straightaways. The tires were great for choppy city streets, and did surprisingly well in most places in the pine barrens, but we did, ahem, pine for a more aggressive off-road tire to take advantage of all the FX's torque.
With Harley just having come out with its Livewire production bike, and Zero firing back with its 200-mile-range, Ducati Doppleganger SR/F, there's more excitement around the e-moto category than ever. Look no further than the "Electric Revolution" exhibit—currently running at the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles. Even though the ever-exciting Alta has gone belly-up, there are plenty of players with electric concepts. Even Walt Siegl has joined the fray.
During the short time we had the Zero FX we never charged the battery and frankly didn't bother looking up or fretting over the specs. After a morning and afternoon session of joyriding, we still had 25% of battery power left. We didn't even track mileage but Zero says expect 75 miles out of a full charge and that sounds about right.
This was by no means an exhaustive or technical review. We just rode the thing and gave it the giggle test. It passed.
Yes, it's expensive: $12k as tested. But intriguing considering the long-term maintenance costs amount to just tires, brake pads, and a pittance in electricity. Moreover, it's a supremely fun toy. We never figured out how to turn off the ABS (which Zero says is possible), but we did learn to love silent burnouts.
This particular 2019 Zero FX model is right now in North Carolina, being tested by Popular Mechanics. These guys will be sure to parse all the metrics. All we know is it left big smiles on our faces, and just a little bit fresh rubber Pirelli rubber on the streets of New York.
/// Big thanks to Micah Rome for help orienteering around the Pine Barrens, and for piloting a camera bike through the city. And also to JP, for the wheelies, drone-chasing, filming, and editing. Help him hit 1,000 YouTube followers by subscribing to his channel!