Founded in 2006 by former NASA engineer Neil Saiki, the Zero electric motorcycle company is breaking new ground with its high performance dirt and street bikes. In 2010, the Zero MX was introduced as the most aggressive production electric dirt bike on the market. The Santa Cruz, California-based firm offers the Zero MX in two variants, the MX Sport and the MX Extreme.
The 2010 Zero MX Sport is powered by the MARS permanent magnet electric motor, which produces 23 horsepower and 50 lb-ft of torque. With a bike that only weighs 200 pounds, combined with the instant power transmitted by the brushed DC motor, the MX Sport is able to reach a top speed of 70 mph. The Zero MX Extreme sees the power boosted by deploying the German-made PERM motor, bringing the horsepower to 25 and the torque up to 55 lb-ft. The transmission of the Zero MX line is more like a rheostat, in that it is single speed and clutchless. It is electronically controlled by software that increases torque gradually to prevent uncontrollable over-revving. The 2010 MX drivetrain consists of a hardened steel 420 chain and direct drive gearing, with a 12-tooth cog in the front and a massive 73-tooth cog in the rear. New for 2010, Zero uses a larger rear sprocket mounting/bolt pattern for increased durability and improved management of high torque acceleration.
Both the 2010 MX Sport and MX Extreme use the patented Z-Force lithium-ion Intelligent Power Pack as its fuel cell. The maximum capacity of the power pack is two kWh, with a nominal capacity of 1.7 kWh. The charge time is two hours as a standard when using 110v; however, the optional quick charger uses 220v, and allows the power pack to be charged 100 percent in 1.2 hours. Runtime ranges from 45 minutes to two hours, and is heavily dependent on the style of the rider. The Power Pack has an estimated life of 1215 hours, or 29,000 miles. Swapping out the 45 pound battery is a very quick operation, taking only two minutes. However, at close to 3000 dollars each, it can be expensive to keep multiple spares close at hand.
The 2010 Zero MX Sport softens big landings and smoothens out the bumps with a new suspension system. Up front is a 48mm inverted fork, allowing eight inches of wheel travel and fully adjustable rebound and compression damping. In the rear, Zero uses a unique double diamond aircraft grade aluminum swing arm for reduced weight and increased torsional rigidity, while allowing nine inches of wheel travel. Zero has taken things even further in its MX Extreme, which can boast a fully adjustable Marzocchi fork and FastAce shocks in the front and rear. While wheel travel remains the same, performance and agility are increased, a difference you really feel on the track.
The 2010 MX slows down compliments of the four-piston hydraulic brakes, which clasp nine-inch stainless steel rotors both front and rear. The brakes are powerful and responsive, thanks to the increased reservoir size for 2010. The MX sports a 19-inch spoke, custom alloy front wheel, with a 17-inch wheel in the back. Both are wrapped in rubber with an aggressive tread pattern, with the rear tire being a half-inch wider, at 3.5 inches.
For 2010, Zero has redesigned the instrument panel, putting all of the information and controls in a central location directly in front of the rider. A new wiring system increases safety and the lifespan of the electrical system. Keyed ignition improves safety and security.
According to CEO Gene Banman, ""The Zero MX is the world’s most advanced electric dirt bike."" The improvements in 2010 leave little doubt to the truth of that fact. With increased gas prices, the future is looking bright for Zero Motorcycles.