My initial thought on electric motorcycles was similar to the thoughts of many other motorcyclists…”Eww, electric”. I need the sound, I need the clutch, I need the speed! But do you really? After test riding the ZERO FXE for a few days, my opinion on electric bikes has completely changed. This bike is certainly not for everyone – if you like touring, adventuring, racing, this may not be the right bike for you. However, if your primary form of riding is commuting around town, I’m convinced the ZERO FXE is the perfect and most practical option.
First and foremost, this bike is so freakin’ fast! Not top speed fast but race any of your buddies on their $30k sport bikes off the line and I promise you’ll leave them in the dust. Because there is no clutch, launching the bike from zero to full throttle is extremely easy to do smoothly and you don’t have to worry about stalling or burning your clutch. You won’t be able to stay in the lead for long but for about 2-3 seconds, you’ll be smiling ear to ear waiting for your buddies to catch up. I thought not having a clutch would take some getting used to but there was no learning curve. It is so easy to ride without a clutch and even at times where I heavily rely on the friction zone on a regular bike, when riding at really low speeds for example, the ZERO FXE felt just as stable without it. You’re always be in the right gear, you don’t have to downshift and struggle to find neutral at a red light, you are always ready to quickly get out of the way if necessary, it just makes sense. I was not able to successfully get the bike to wheelie but doing burnouts on the FXE is a breeze.
Despite the somewhat heavy battery, the FXE feels fairly lightweight and easy to maneuver. It is very comfortable and responsive to steering inputs. To try out the suspension, I may have jumped a few curbs and speed bumps (don’t tell CHP) and even targeted potholes and rough road surfaces to see how the bike would handle. To my surprise, the suspension handled great. It wasn’t overly stiff and handled the ride very comfortably. The one thing that took some getting used to was the way the bike turns at low speeds. Perhaps due to the thinner front tire, the bike drops in very quickly. So quickly that the first few times I turned, it almost felt like the bike would fall over. Although I did get used to that feeling rather quickly, I do not particularly like it. I prefer the bike to give the rider a bit more feedback and control while turning.
With how great the bike felt around town, I was excited to try it out on the highway. But my excitement quickly turned into worry. The FXE is definitely more of a city rather than a highway bike. The top speed on the FXE is 85mph and once I got it to 85, I felt like I was going about 185mph. The bike felt shaky and unstable, there was nowhere to hide from the wind and I could not wait to get off the freeway. Not only that but once on the highway, the battery range started dropping at an alarming rate. In the 5 miles I spent on the freeway, the range went down by over 20%. This bike is definitely not meant for wide open throttle rides. The battery range around town was solid. Zero claims a 100 mile range in the city and although that definitely varies depending on how throttle happy you are, I can safely say you can do at least 85 miles around town. ZERO does offer a fast charger for their bikes that can take the battery from zero to 100% in about 2 hours. The standard charger would need to be left on overnight for a full charge.
Another huge benefit of going electric is low maintenance. No chain cleaning, no oil changes, no valve adjustments. The only maintenance you have to worry about is tires and brakes. Speaking of brakes, the brakes on the FXE could use some work. The brake lever required pretty significant pressure to stop the bike from higher speeds. When pulling up to a red light, I’m used to mainly using engine braking and very light front and rear braking to come to a full stop. With the FXE, there is virtually no engine braking and the front brake has to be pulled in pretty firmly for the brakes to engage. Although that might be something you can electronically adjust (I probably should’ve asked the Zero rep about that).
I thought not having an exhaust sound would be weird, but it was actually quite nice. Even with music blasting in my helmet, I could hear everything going on around me much clearer than I do on my regular bike. And if you happen to be one of those “loud pipes save lives” people, it might be time to reconsider how you ride. You will always be safer if you pretend no one can see or hear you instead of relying on other drivers to hear your exhaust.
My final verdict – if you’re looking for a good commuter bike for around town, the ZERO EXE is a fantastic option. Easy, comfortable ride, no fuel or maintenance expenses and it’s just so fun to ride! It may not be the coolest bike on the block but it will out-torque the coolest bike on the block off the line any day.
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by Kate A May 21, 2021
by Kate A December 23, 2020 1 Comment