2018 Zero Motorcycles Models Promise Up to 223-Mile Range

New batteries, an optional quick-charge system, and firmware updates downloaded straight from your smartphone make the electric game more enticing.

Zero Motorcycles
Zero Motorcycles CEO Sam Paschel says Zero sells “between 2,000 and 10,000” motorcycles annually. The segment is on the rise and Paschel just might be the right person to guide the brand as consumer acceptance of the burgeoning technology increases.Zero Motorcycles

For 2018, California-based Zero Motorcycles is improving performance across its model range by introducing batteries with increased capacity and range. The lithium-ion batteries feature new chemistry that Zero says improves charge time, performance, and the distance you can ride—up to 223 miles with the company's largest power pack. Of particular interest is Zero’s claim the new battery tech permits better performance at higher rpm. The prospect that this could help high-speed acceleration match the already insane off-the-line performance is a titillating one.

If you’re new to Zero’s product range, each model is available with two battery sizes other than the flagship DSR and SR models (which are available exclusively with Zero’s largest batteries). The new batteries include the ZF14.4 (14.4-kWh max capacity), the ZF7.2 (7.2-kWh max capacity), and the ZF3.6 Power Tank (3.6-kWh max capacity), an optional range extender available on the S, SR, DS, and DSR models. Zero says that by harnessing the latest battery technology and configurations, users can now achieve a range of 223 miles. That’s an impressive distance.

Zero Motorcycles
The Zero SR (MSRP $16,495, which is about $1,000 more than for the 2017 model) remains the brand’s flagship standard. In place of the 13.3-kWh battery, for 2018 it will feature the new ZF14.4, which boasts a 10-percent boost in range and an 11-percent increase in torque. The SR will be available with the updated Power Tank for an additional $2,895.Zero Motorcycles

Zero’s new batteries permit faster charging too. With the 6-kW “Charge Tank” (a $2,295 option) available for the S, SR, DS, and DSR models, users can now take advantage of the J1772 Type 2 charging stations that are becoming common across the country. Plugging into a Type 2 charger improves charge time by a factor of six. That means motorcycles with the ZF7.2 battery can be charged (from drained) in roughly an hour, while the larger ZF14.4 battery can be charged in about two hours. Given the cost of the Charge Tank, we’re not surprised it’s an option. Compared with their fossil-fuel competitors, electrics remain relatively pricey, but we would eventually like to see this tech trickle down as standard equipment, if it continues to be relevant in the rapidly evolving technological landscape of EVs.

Also of note, for 2017 and 2018 model owners, firmware updates will be available directly from your smartphone—no trip to the dealership required. This is a good move on Zero’s part. While it’s a simple procedure to update firmware in this manner, it’s not yet the norm in the motorcycle industry. Earlier this year, for example, Ducati made its DTC EVO electronics package available to owners of 2015 and 2016 1299 Panigales but requires that it’s installed at the dealership—and it costs $565.

For a more detailed breakdown of how Zero’s updates pertain to individual models, keep reading. Be sure to comment below to let us know if Zero’s advances make the whole EV thing more appealing to you.

Zero Motorcycles
The SR’s little sibling, the Zero S continues to use the old-style ZF13.0 (MSRP $13,995) as its large-capacity battery (available with the Power Tank) while the smaller ZF6.5 is updated with the new ZF7.2 (MSRP $10,995) for improved range. In both guises, Zero changed final drive to improve acceleration while maintaining the same top-speed figures.Zero Motorcycles
Zero Motorcycles
The Zero DS dual-sport receives the same changes as the S. Pricing is also the same as the S.Zero Motorcycles
Zero Motorcycles
The Zero DSR dual-sport receives the same changes as the SR. Pricing is also the same as the SR.Zero Motorcycles
Zero Motorcycles
The Zero FX continues to be available with its modular battery configuration. The ZF3.3 Modular is updated with the new ZF3.6 battery (MSRP $8,495), the ZF6.5 is upped to the ZF7.2 (MSRP $10,495), and the Modular ZF6.5 also gets the ZF7.2 (MSRP $11,390). The FX receives the same shorter gearing as the S for improved acceleration.Zero Motorcycles
Zero Motorcycles
The Zero FXS supermoto receives the same changes as the FX.Zero Motorcycles

Naturally, as with all model updates, Zero is offering “bold new graphics” for its 2018 models. The new bikes will be available in dealerships by the end of the month.