Giant Green Leap in Motorcycling
Emissions from internal combustion motors-both sound and chemical-have been the bane of off-road motorcycles for decades. In the minds of many, quiet and clean electricity is the propulsion of the future for dirt bikes.
Zero Motorcycles’ 2009 Zero X is a great leap forward in the electric dirt bike field. Still more mountain bike than motorcycle, the latest Zero X offers beefed up suspension (albeit still bicycle-sourced) and larger, wider tires. The tires are nonstandard sizes for dirt bikes-a 24-inch front and 17-inch rear-but still a signifi cant improvement over past editions.
Boasting 50 ft/lbs of torque and 23 hp, the 151 pound Zero X has startling initial acceleration. Although it claims a top speed of 60 mph-that is quite fast for a machine with relatively short suspension travel, a short wheelbase and steep forks.
It is in tight quarters that the Zero X excels. The featherweight bike has quick steering and superb manners at ultra-low speeds. In corners, it can be thrown around easier than any full-size adult dirt bike. The throttle allows power to be delivered smoothly, so the narrow 3.50 rear Cheng Shin can fi nd traction in most terrain.
Certainly, the Zero X is an enjoyable, unique ride, though it requires that everyone in a group be similarly mounted. Mountain bikers will resent your electric power, and it is not quite ready to coexist with modern gasoline-powered enduro bikes, as the battery lacks range and quick recharging. Regardless, the Zero X is a welcoming preview of the future of off-roading.