5 Questions With...Zero Motorcycles Founder

Neil Saiki By Ari Henning
Photo: Zero

Q: What is the biggest challenge in designing an electric motorcycle?
A: The biggest challenge is the battery pack and the technology associated with the battery system. That's the most exciting part, because the technology is evolving every day. The battery is what has held electric motorcycles back in the past, but it's also what's going to make them better than gasoline-powered motorcycles in the future.

Q: Where do you envision the electric motorcycle in 10 years?
A: I think it will be a huge part of the market. Internal-combustion sportbikes are so refined and efficient that it's going to be a really long time before an electric bike can keep pace. But for anyone who wants a commuter for in-town use, we'll have equivalent electric bikes in about two years. Electric motorcycles will absolutely dominate those segments.

Q: Aren't the batteries used in electric vehicles highly toxic?
A: Zero is the only company with a non-toxic battery. It's landfill-safe; you could eat it if you wanted to! It is possible to make these high-output batteries and still have them be completely benign, but we had to design our own to get one.

Q: How would you answer the naysayers who assert that electric vehicles aren't really green, they just move the pollution upstream?
A: Although it's true that the pollution is being moved to the power plant, if you look at how that power is produced, it's actually about 10 times cleaner than what's going on inside your bike's engine. The power industry has made huge strides in cleaning up their emissions.

Q: Do you still ride gasoline-powered bikes?
A: I don't. I used to love gas bikes, but now that I have three little kids I just ride electric. That way I don't have to worry about one of them getting burned on an exhaust pipe. I ride my kids around on my electric bikes all the time and they love it. Electric bikes are a very family-friendly solution.