I first rode a Zero back in 2009. It was a horrible machine. It was so bad, I don’t even dare call it a motorcycle – the execution on that goal was just too far off the mark to warrant calling that creation a motorcycle.
For an example of this, I remember going for a ride on an early Zero S and the on/off switch was marked in sharpie, right on the frame.
The brakes were like wooden blocks attached to the wheels, which didn’t matter much because the tires were cheap rubber from China that were absolutely useless (and terrifying) in the rain.
It wouldn’t take long to learn that Zero’s focus on lightweight components was a bad decision as well, as we would see frames on the dirt bike models collapsing when taken over any sort of jump.
The bikes from Zero were so bad, the product reviews on them could serve as a litmus test of who in the media was bought and paid for, and who was actually speaking truth to power.
These machines were objectively awful, and anyone telling you otherwise was getting paid – straight up.
I could probably go on and on about the quality issues of these early machines, but it would rob us time from discussing the constant management issues that Zero has faced in the past decade, its failed dealership and servicing model, not to mention just the general branding issue of calling your product a “Zero”.
To their credit though, the folks at Zero have improved their product with each successive iteration. The management team finally seems to be stable; Zero now uses a traditional dealership model, and isn’t wasting time sending technicians all over the country in a van; and well…the branding is still tough, but there is a new corporate logo.
Most importantly though, Zero’s motorcycles are actually now motorcycles. The quality of these machines has improved dramatically, and generally the bikes are fun to ride.
So what is keeping me from putting a Zero in my garage, and using that massive electric torque to put a grin on my face? The answer is right there above these words, in the lead photo of this story.