Our first proper leak ahead of the upcoming EICMA show in Milan is now officially in the bag, as Asphalt & Rubber has gotten word on Zero Motorcycles’ 2012 electric motorcycles. Completely revamping its model range, our sources tell us that the 2012 Zero Motorcycles will have all-new motors, battery packs, and bodywork. Talking in numbers, the battery pack options will be 6kWh & 9kWh, with prices expected to be $11,000 and $13,000 respectively. Perhaps the most compelling news (and there’s plenty to be compelled about with this news) is that Zero Motorcycles plans to have the new models under production in December, and on dealer floors by January.

With battery packs expected to come in 6kWh & 9kWh power storage form factors, the new Zeros will nearly double the current range’s offering, and will have plenty of electrons to go the distance, especially with a 116 mile range expected from the 9kWh battery pack (we assume that’s using the MIC’s range methodology that Brammo, Quantya, & Zero backed). For the off-road models, a 45 minute range estimate has been given.

Getting power from those new batteries is all-new motor design that Zero has developed internally, which our sources say will not be a air-cooled brushed DC motor (thank god). Top speed for the street models is said to be 95+ mph. Our sources also say that the bodywork for all the models is completely brand new. Styling is said to be completely re-worked to feature a more traditional motorcycle aesthetic. Expect to see some familiar brand names for components, and more polished look and feel

Clearly wanting to avoid the vaporware nomenclature that’s begun to plague rival Brammo, Zero Motorcycles has production set to start next month, with its small dealer network expected to get the 2012 models in January. We’ll have to wait and see about the quoted range figure, but at $13,000 MSRP the 9kWh Zeros sound like a promising package, especially after federal and state incentives are dropped on that price tag. And perhaps more importantly, the bikes seem to be deliberately priced under the Brammo Empulse range.

Asphalt & Rubber will be up-close and personal with the 2012 Zero Motorcycle range on Tuesday, though if history and this posts tell us anything, the more detailed information and photos will likely leak (here) ahead of the EICMA launch.

Source: Bothan Spies

  • Jason

    wow, this technology has now (theoretically) almost equalled the range of japanese sportbikes, and at a similar price too. Will be interesting to see how they perform on the road, and how well they do on the sales floor too. I’d be tempted if I wasn’t a lowly student at the moment.

  • Rob

    Great news. Can’t wait until my daily rider is electric! Good to see technology pushing forward at this pace!

  • frogy 6

    116 miles is in reality 80. I’d love to know weight too, charge times etc. Like can ya travel 80 miles away and charge it for a hour or 2 over dinner

    Until you can travel 100 miles and back or charge 80 to 90% in hour or 2 its pointless. Only useful as a city commuter.

  • Wil


    So not pointless at all, then. City commuter, back canyon road close to home. I can hit an awful lot of giggle inducing scenery within an 80 mile round.

    Is good to see the range numbers increasing, and I suspect they will continue to rise in the future. But even at these quoted numbers this machine is not pointless for a lot of us riders out here.

    Why so negative?

  • MikeD

    @ Wil:

    Frogy is just being real. The day it can be recharged as fast as fueling a regular Bike & anywhere and with the same range then ALL WILL BE GOOD.

    In the mean time this is kind of irrelevant to some of “us”.
    I wich the “electron cowboys” the best of luck and may they dreams come true soon enough.

  • Richard Gozinya

    It’s nice to see things improving, but electrics are still overpriced, and way too heavy for what they can do.

  • Richard Dort

    I know the Empulse Killer title is from a sales figures angle, but you guys make me giggle. On the steet, that Empulse is going to wax anything Zero will be able to come up with in the next 2 years. And we all lap times is what drives sales figure in the US, so I’m not quite convinced. But it really nice to here that Zero’s offerings are alive and well.

  • 76

    they need designers badly, I’m not paying 11k for anything that looks like what you have in the header, like some nerdy engineer made something in his garage and had his friend put stickers on it

  • Pointless if a motorcycle is only a toy. If that’s all a bike is to you then yep, I agree, completely pointless. If however you actually use your bike every day rather than just on the weekend, then it’s fantastic. It’s good to see the range increased, but personally, the 30 km flat out range on the 2010 zero was/is plenty for me and then some. I would never and have never lived more than 30 km from work as my time has some value to me. Ride to work, plug in. By lunchtime it’s fully charged again, ride out, have lunch, ride back, plug in. By the time you are ready to go home it’s fully charged again. Ride home, plug in. Shower, get changed, then it’s fully charged again, ride out to do some shopping for dinner, ride home and plug in. Have dinner, then it’s fully charged again. Ride out to visit friends and plug in. Hang out, play some video games then it’s fully charged again, ride home and plug in. Go to sleep, wake up it’s fully charged again. Repeat as required. Never below half charge, never worry about range, there’s a fuel station in my garage, on my desk at work, in my friend’s garage, at the take away I get lunch, in the shopping centre. Range anxiety is for people who’ve never lived with electric. For those who have we know it’s a non issue.

  • Oh, MikeD, it’s recharged ***MUCH*** faster than a petrol bike. It takes me less than 10 seconds to plug in while my petrol bikes I have to make a special trip to the petrol station as there are none on my regular commute. 10 minutes out of my way and 10 minutes to fill, pay and get going again. That’s 20 minutes (and 10 km) every 100 km compared to 10 seconds every 25 km. There’s just no comparison. If I run out of juice on the petrol bike then I have to push it to a servo. If I run out on the electric (I never have) then every house and every shop around me has somewhere I can plug in. I’m also never without the bike while it’s serviced as there *isn’t any*. What a time saver that is! On the old XR630 I changed the oil every 5 tanks of fuel. An hour of my Saturday, 3 litres of synthetic and an oil filter every time.

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  • If there are no pics it didn’t happen…

  • MikeD


    I can see how an electric works for u when wherever u go u can plug it and always have it charged…i guess people are super nice and friendly in your part of the world.

    Try that where im at and u’ll get the stare of ” BITCH, PLEASE ” … plugging ain’t gonna happen, Electricity ain’t free.

    Were i live i have at least 4 gas stations in a less than 1/4 mile radius and it only takes me 10min max to fill up(4.5 gl)…and that’s taking my sweet time(take gloves off,scratch my butt, etc, etc)…not to mention that i have a habit of filling it to the neck before putting it away after each ride so it’s always “charged”.

    P.S: U were riding the wrong bike all this time for commute (100km fill ups and oil change every 5 fill ups ? , man, u got the wrong hardware there !)

    All your points are valid and it seems to be working for u.
    But for some electric it just “doesn’t work yet”… the tech is not “that good” yet. JMHO.

    Wrong or Right is does not apply here, it’s still a matter of what work out for u can’t be that wrong, right ?

  • Westward

    As a daily commuter 100 miles is sufficient. The cost of total electricity used should be less than $100-200 a year. I for one would love to have an electric bike. That way I can relegate my ICE bike for the weekends in the twisty’s…

    Only two things concern me about electrics.

    1) Hot Swappable batteries. I want to know that if newer technology arises, that I can upgrade.

    2) the pricing. there is not real reason an electric bike should cost as much as a Ducati 848 or an MV Agusta F3, or F3 Brutale. cause to be Honest, I would rather buy any of those three over an electric any day. Even with the tax breaks, a Triumph Street triple is a lot more attractive a buy as well.

    The price point of electrics should not be competing with exotic bikes but more like the Kawi and Honda 250…

  • frogy 6

    Jason does that amount of plugging in not take time too? That’s 6 times you have to make sure and plug it in so you don’t have to worry about running out, and are ya gonna drag a 10 or 15 metre cable around with ya?

    Average sportsbike will do 120 miles no problem and for most people that’s a few days petrol.

    Also what about 2 or 3 years down the line when the batterys aren’t charging to 100% anymore will you only have 50 to 60 miles. Fully electric isn’t the way. Too heavy and too restrictive not everyone can do everything within 40 miles

  • Spiffster

    I RARELY ride my Gixxer 750 more than 100 miles a day… its just not that comfortable and I would run out of adrenaline before I would fuel. A Brammo or Zero with 100+ range would (for me) get the job done with room to spare… just plug it in at night and be done with it, would take literally <10 seconds. Jason is going a little nuts there with all the plugging in here and there, but he has a valid point. For me I would plug in once a day and never give range a second thought. With my Gixxer, sometimes I fire it up and think… shit, got to hit the gas station… fuck that, im over it. I look forward to waking up to a fully charged bike every day.

    Dont get me wrong, I love my Gixxer, but im ready to go electric, leaning towards the Brammo so I could still smash some gears! Electric would suck for track days though… probably only good for a handful of laps (unless you could charge it in 40 minutes between sessions) but im getting old and lazy (32) I will get back out there when electrics are track capable…

  • @MikeD Yes, exactly, what works works. I *know* it works because I’ve tried it. I’ve never seen anyone actually try electric and say they don’t like it. I don’t know about people being friendly. I have only ever plugged in at work, home and friends houses. That covers everywhere I need to go. I did plan a long trip on it and rang a restaurant and said “I”m riding my electric bike up the coast, can I plug in while I have lunch, it will draw about 1 dollar of electricity” They were super keen and excited to have me stop by and said I should bring it around the back where it will be safe while I eat. In the end I had to take 2 other people so I dragged out the car.

    @Frog 6 you said what about when the range drops. Well right now I have the 4 kWh battery and I hardly ever use more than a quarter of it. You also said they’re too heavy… My bike is 122 kg or 268 pounds *fully fueled* and ready to go. Compare that to a similar powered Honda CBR250R at 395 pounds!!!! or even to a honda CBR125R which at 127 kg is five kg (12 pounds) *heavier*!!! (and has half the power of my electric bike).

    The bike does everything I need to do (not everything I want).

  • I’m just struck by the irony of this conversation. I’ve spent the last 35 years telling car drivers that motorcycles are a valid form of personal transport. That though they don’t meet all my possible imaginings of possible uses, do actually perform all the tasks I need on a daily basis. Now here I am having *exaxtly the same* pointless conversation with people who’ve already made up their mind, yet they’re all motorcyclists.

    I used to get “what if you have 3 friends who need transport” and I’d reply “my friends mostly have bikes too, and even if they didn’t they arrived at the meeting somehow, let them use the same transport for the next leg of the journey”. I’d also reply to them, “why don’t you have a bus in case you have 36 friends who need transport”?

    Now I get “what if you suddenly need to go 200 miles non stop”. Ummm how often does that happen for me? Well about 6 times a year I have to do just that to see my 10 year old daughter. We take my wife’s car because ther are 3 of us… There is a train, we could take that but we don’t. Other than that, times I have to go somewhere 200 miles or more away, by myself? Never. Just doesn’t happen. I’m not saying it couldn’t, but it never has. If it did and if I didn’t have a car anyway and if my wife didn’t have a car, and if I didn’t have two other motorcycles and if my friend wouldn’t lend me his spare car or his bike and if his brother wouldn’t lend me one of his 3 spare cars, then I might have to hire a car…

  • frogy 6

    Right Jason what electric bike do you have to we can compare a similar petrol comparison.

    Is also like to know what range the brammo does at 75% throttle. So we could compare it for someone who uses it for 100 mile max blasts like spiffer.

    And my comment about range dropping is when the battery gets less effective as batterys do. Like how much is a replacement battery, and constant charging from half battery to full has a detrimental effect on all batterys litium ion regardless what they say is still affected it just takes longer to happen.

    There’s also the stat that after 1000 charges a battery is shagged, so again how much is a new battery

  • frogy 6

    And for the record I’m not against electric bikes, I just think the ranges are too small and charge times too long.

    Also a problem highlighted by various car shows, if ya use the lights at night it has a big impact on range.

  • Spiffster

    @frogy batteries are always rated down to 80% of original capacity… Zero is claiming over 300k miles before the 80% capacity threshold is met. With any next-gen bike from Brammo or Zero the battery replacement is a non-issue… they will be designed to run the life of the bike, or yours depending on which ends first.

  • frogy 6

    Fair enough if the claims prove true but I’d like to see some high milers or 3 or 4 year old ones before I believe it

  • MikeD

    Spiffster said:

    “they will be designed to run the life of the bike, or yours depending on which ends first.”

    That is funny right there…thanks i needed the LOL. (^_^ )

  • I’ve got a 2010 Zero DS (so I’m an “early adopter”). Every single vauge passing thought I’ve had about the bike has been recorded on http://zerods.blogspot.com/ Lots of it not very complimentary…

    The closest petrol comparison bike I’ve ridden is my own KTM200EXC (The 125 would probably be even closer but they’re not sold here). It is about the same weight and cost. The 200 is a quite a bit more powerful but the actual point to point times on the street are almost the same and the *practical* top speed is similar. The KTM is faster but over 100 km/h it’s a bit all over the place and the vibration will not just loosen fillings it will pull your teeth out. It’s actually difficult to hold on to the bars.

    The KTM is *FAR FAR* better in the bush and the DS is *FAR FAR* better on the road.

    I did a cost comparison on my three registered vehicles. http://zerods.blogspot.com/2010/12/boy-check-out-figures-on-that-one-day.html I can’t remember exactly how I came to those figures but it did include a battery change every 3 years (more often than the manufacturer expects) Cut to the chase:

    Grand Vitara 34870
    KTM 200 64200
    Zero DS 20520

  • I put a few links in my last post, so it’s “awaiting moderation”. I’ll try again. I’ve got a 2010 Zero DS. I did a comparison in detail on V is for Voltage and a summary on my zero blog. Summary of the summary, for 6 years riding/driving covering 47000 km the cost is:

    Suzuki Grand Vitara 34870
    KTM 200 64200
    Zero DS 20520
    BMW Xmoto 20600

  • Minibull

    @Jason: Good for you man. If its working for you, brilliant. Dont go bashing the petrol riders though. I am still in with the petrol bikes though. I have a 98 GSXR 750, done 55,000kms, my only vehicle and I use it everyday. I get around 240km per tank. I commute round town, which it handles fine, then every few days I’m out on the open road for a days worth of riding. Probably around 300-400kms.
    Not all motorcycle riders just commute. I may not go out on the open road for a week, maybe I’m too busy or something, but I have that ability to do so when I want to.
    Who the hell says filling up is a hassle anyway? When my odo ticks near 210kms, I go to my local station and spend a couple of minutes there. I waste more time looking at stupid videos on youtube…
    Also, synthetic oil and filter every 5 tanks of gas??? The manual for my GSXR reccomends every 7000kms. I do it every 5000kms with a semi synth. And why the hell are you buying synthetic if your just commuting on it? Synthetics tend to last longer than mineral based oils, so you have to change them LESS often.

    Petrol has the ability to do pretty much anything. Trackdaying, touring, cruising, whatever. I like the advantages the electric engine has like massive torque, but there are some enourmous disadvantages that will take a while to solve. Plus after a few years, horrendous battery costs.

    @MikeD: Exactly the same here. I cant even use a shops toilet unless I pay for something… Why the heck would they let me plug in for an hour or so…

  • Minibull

    Plus I do my own servicing so it never leaves my house…

  • I wouldn’t dis petrol bikes, I’ve been riding since I was old enough to hold a licence but I didn’t get a car licence until I was 35 and that was only for work. I just want to counter some of the disinformation that’s being put out. Here’s some quotes just from this thread, all are wrong.

    They’re “pointless” when actually they’re very useful (unless all you want is a toy).

    They’re “too heavy”, when they’re actually much much lighter.

    They’re “overpriced”, when the total cost of ownership is the same or less. With the longer lasting batteries coming on line then I would say *much* less.

    “The day it can be recharged as fast as fueling a regular Bike & anywhere and with the same range then ALL WILL BE GOOD” with the inference that the day they take less time to refuel has yet to come, when in reality they already take much less (of the rider’s time) to refuel. You can *already* fuel up “anywhere” unlike petrol! I can refuel in my garage! Every house is a petrol station. There are hundreds of thousands of petrol stations (all of which have electricity BTW) but there are *billions and billions of electrical outlets.

    “if ya use the lights at night it has a big impact on range” The headlight on mine is 55 watts. The battery is 4000 watt hours. So if I flatten it in an hour of riding (which is about normal) I’ll go about 50 km. So having the light on drops my effective capacity from 4000 watt hours to 3945 watt hours. That cuts my range by 600 metres. How is that a “big impact”?

    “so again, how much is a new battery” Well for the Zero I don’t know, partly because they haven’t had to sell any replacement batteries yet I don’t think they’ve priced them, but I’m expecting around 5000 dollars. The inference is that makes the bike too expensive to run. However, the rest of the bike has a total of 3 moving parts, the two wheels and the core of the motor. The motor needs a brush change (300 dollars) every 100 000 km. There’s nothing that will corrode on the bike, put in a new battery and it’s a new bike. So new brushes every 100 000 km, new battery every 300 000 km. I’ll ask you in return, how much is a new engine? Do you expect to get 300 000 km from an engine? Sure it has happened, but how often?

    There’s just an avalanche of intentional mis-information being put out (particularly by “car shows”, yes Top Gear I’m looking at you) that is being redistributed by people without even one second of critical thinking being applied first.

  • Oh BTW, on the battery replacement front… If your manufacturer goes belly up you can’t get parts and the bike is dead. (it’s happened to me with my Moto Morini) A local guy has quoted me 3000 dollars to stuff new cells (better cells) in my battery pack when it dies. They’re rated for 6000 charge discharge cycles so that will give me another 15000 km (about 100 thousand miles) before I have to do it again. That’s 2 cents per km for batteries.

  • MikeD

    Lot of info around here…thats all im saying…LOL.

    Jason: Seems like u know your shiznit, man…(^_^ )

  • Minibull

    I know battery tech will get better. But then again, ICE and “fuel” technology will too. Direct injection 2 strokes will start to arrive, and we may figure out a way to create large amounts of hydrogen as the fuel. Maybe even biofuels out of algae, saving the land for food farming or whatever it may be.
    As with anything though, we just have to wait and see what actually happens. When people start changing their batterys and brushes, we then know what it will actually cost and what mileages are to be expected. Until then it is all just speculation. We know that an engine that is looked after can run for ages, as they have been around long enough. Mega mile touring bikes are proof of that.
    When you calculated your running costs stats, was that done with a 1500km interval oil change on your KTM?

    Quick charging is still the main issue for me. Battery cost is important, but the ability for the electric bike to take over COMPLETLY from the petrol bike is whats important. You say “in reality, it already takes much less time to fill up”, but no I’m sorry, it does not. The day an electric bike can go from zero to full in 2 mins is the day I’ll take one.

    Again though, you keep saying they are useful unless your bike is a toy…mine and all my friends bikes are not just toys…they are daily riders and long distance bikes…

  • Minibull, those are all good points. The electrics do have disadvantages (and advantages). I don’t mind the real disadvantages being talked about, just irritated by the imaginary ones. I worked out the costs based on professional services done by the book straight out of the manual. I said I couldn’t remember just how I calculated it but I found the post on an electric vehicle forum where I spelt it out. Someone on that forum said “what about a bike like a BMW rather than your KTM” and that’s where the Xmoto comes from. Both the KTM and the Zero assume nil residual value after 6 years while the car and the Xmoto have a residual in the calculation (33% in the case of the Xmoto). Xmoto has 10 000 km service interval. However as you rightly point out, at this point it’s speculation. I don’t think that the lack of hindsight should stop us! I grew up in an era when Honda released a clean sheet design every *week*. I think it’s worth taking a chance on something that could be significant.

    You’re never going to have an electric if you insist on a 2 minute recharge time because the powerlines would melt off the poles. That will never happen. However I wonder if you insist that you’ll only have a mobile phone when it can be recharged in 2 minutes? Or, are you happy to have it charge while you sleep and use it during the day? How would you feel if someone offered a mobile that instead of charging from a plug in your house in 6 hours instead you go to a shop and recharge it in 2 minutes? Would you be tempted to buy that phone? Would you regard it as taking less time?

    I’m still waiting for direct injection 2 strokes, just like I have been since 1978 when Orbital Australia built the first direct injection system and demonstrated cleaner and more fuel efficient twostrokes. I continue to wait. Apart from the Aprilia scooter… nothing. They’ve sold nearly a million of the scooters, they get fantastic fuel economy and use almost no oil while meeting Euro3. So where is the DiTech 250RS (or what we really need, 750RS)? Suzuki’s patent on the Superlube system would have expired by now. The oil goes direct to the main bearings under pressure, then through oilways in the crank to the big end bearing, then through an oilway in the conrod to the little end bearing. Those bearings never see oil that’s been mixed with fuel. From the little end it leaks out into the crankcase and lubes the piston. My GT750 had it and got better than 1600 km per litre of twostroke oil. With direct injection it would do even better while using hardly any fuel. Bring on the GTX-R750 (if only)

    You’re right, the “toy” jibe was not a good one, but my reason is that most of the arguments against electrics come from “I can’t ride with my mates on the weekend, so it’s pointless” kind of viewpoint. Sure if the weekend blast is the only role for your bikes then electrics are not the right choice. Along with Enduro bikes, Motorcross bikes, Trials bikes, Choppers, Vintage, Adventure Tourers, Luxo Tourers and probably some other specialist bikes that I can’t think of right now. Yes electrics are “only” commuters, but surely there’s space for a “specialist commuter” in the world of many varied specialist bikes? Some, (some on this list) seem to argue no, there isn’t. My electric is the best city bike I’ve ridden by a *huge* margin compared to all the hundreds and hundreds of bikes I’ve ridden over 35 years. Nothing even comes close. Many people are happy to spend 20 000 dollars on a Ducati that they get out for a couple of hours on a Sunday every 3rd week. I’m happy to spend a bit over half that for a bike that brings a smile to my face 5 days a week, every week. I think that it’s valid to have something nice for the week too!

    The only disadvantage that I can see with electrics is that they are not (as you point out) long distance bikes. Long distance is a right pain. There are lots of bikes that are no good for long distances. Sure you can ride around the world on a CT110 and people have, but then again, someone is riding a 2010 Zero DS from London to Melbourne right now.

  • Oh, btw, (before I take over the entire website with my raving), back to the “too heavy”. I compared my DS with a CBR125R. Since I bought my DS they’ve come out with the XU. It’s even lighter. 221 pounds or 100 kg, fully fueled and ready to go. Can anyone think of a registerable 100 cc or more bike that’s got a lower wet weight? I can’t. Even a Sach Madass is 105 kg wet.