• Jun 13, 2009
Click above to watch the video after the break

We suspected it wouldn't take long for Jay Leno to throw a leg over the new Zero S electric motorcycle, and indeed the popular late night comedian and talk show host has just posted a video review of the bike at Jay Leno's Garage. Zero founder and CTO Neal Saiki drops by and offers a bit of commentary on the recently-released machine, and there are a few bits of interest to dissect.

For instance, Neal says the bike's 32 horsepower is roughly equivalent to 50 horsepower in an internal combustion engine since the Zero S's power is available throughout the rev range. Coupled to a weight of just 225 pounds, that's an impressive power-to-weight number, regardless of which horsepower figure you elect to use. Saiki also says that the Zero's frame is made from aluminum that's just three times the thickness of a soda can. Regarding the bike's top speed of 60 miles per hour, Saiki says it's possible to make it go much faster, but the gearing required to hit those speeds would reduce the Zero S's ability to wheelie on command, and that's not good.

While Jay doesn't test Neal Saiki's assertion that you could ride the Zero S from LA to New York with just $30 worth of electricity, he does hop on and take the bike for a ride. Jay definitely seems to like the electric motorcycle, saying that he got used to the lack of shifting pretty quickly and that "this is the future" of motorcycling. Of course, it's also quiet, and Leno quips that "you could go through the bird preserve and not even bother anybody." There are a few flies in the ointment, though, such as the wimpy sound of the bike's horn. Click past the break to watch the video.

[Source: Jay Leno's Garage]



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 21 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      How tall would you say Jay Leno is?

      Just to get an idea how I'd fit on some of the bikes he features in his videos.


      On topic: I'd buy this if the price was right (or any electric motorcycle), man I CAN'T wait till the Mission Motorcycle (google it) gets a lower price....

      This has got to be the ideal comuter bike, and if you add a little more fun to it (Mission) it's all you're ever gonna need (me anyway)
        • 5 Years Ago
        I can't remember exactly, but he says how tall he is in a couple of his videos (when climbing into a tiny 1950s/60s euro or japanese car ... Fiat, NSU, Cosmo). Either 6 feet even or 6'1".

        In the most recent Jag video, he's super excited because the guy who built the hot-rodded Jag is tall, so Jay fits in it without having to bend his knees to shoulder height and drive with the wheel in his chest.
      • 5 Years Ago
      lol might want to upgrade that horn just so drivers will hear you over their stereo.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Are you kidding? Might want to get that horn upgraded to hear it over the sound of other drivers' idling engines! I've heard electric horns on a tricycle that would get more attention! O.o
      • 5 Years Ago
      pretty cool seeing an aerospace engineer who's also a gearhead. the aesthetics of the bike look top notch. funny horn though.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Nice machine. What i don't get is how the guy first says that by changing the gearing, it could go faster but lose torque, and later that there was no point in adding gears. Is it that the extra weight and volume of the gears would make it not worthwhile, or like Jay suggests, will future electric bikes have more than one gear?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Sure you could drive across the country for $30. Let's see, at 60 MPH you'd be risking your life being passed by everything on the freeway and probably pick up a few tickets for riding below the speed limit. Then you'd have to stop every few hours and take a several hour recharge break. So the trip would take you 7 days, paying yourself a decent wage of $20/hr plus a week of hotels and food...your $30 trip just cost you $1000. Oh and guess where the electricity you used to charge the bike came from. A nuclear plant, a coal fired power plant, or a hydroelectric dam.

      Gee this really is the future of transportation.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm sorry, but "Jay loves everything" is getting a bit worn out.
      • 5 Years Ago
      True gearheads and engineers can find SOMETHING to love in every toy. Whether it's the complexity of a Prius drivetrain, or the simplicity of a pushrod V8.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Stuka, You've probably confused the Prius transmission with a conventional CVT or other transmission.

        The Prius engine is pretty much a normal sixteen valve four cylinder that closes the intake valve late. Nothing particularly complex about that.

        The Prius transmission is exquisitely simple, with fewer moving parts than conventional manuals, automatics, or other CVTs, and due to the unique power split device, all parts that move are permanently meshed together. It's a single planetary gear set. The output is ultimately controlled by how much resistance is offered by the sun gear in the center and the ring gear on the outside.

        There are no funky drive belts or pullies to wear out. No switching gear, not even for reverse. No synchronizers. No pressure plates or torque converters. And the reliability of it has proven far better than other CVTs and better than any automatic that I'm aware of, too.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Michael: The Prius drivetrain has far more moving parts in it than a basic pushrod V8 with auto trans. While the prius is simple in a general sense, its far from that in reality. The CVT transmission is also much more fragile than a basic 3-4 auto trans. The 6-7 speed autos are amazingly complex though.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You mean the simplicity of the Prius drivetrain or the complexity of a pushrod V8 and automatic transmission.

        Once you understand it, the Prius drivetrain's real genius is its simplicity.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Centralized pollution that's a good one. LOL. Obviously a climate change expert.

      Listen I realize the cross-country reference was illustrative but my point is how does it help the environment to own a vehicle that is only capable of one specific task ie. city commuting in perfect weather. So I am supposed to have another vehicle that is capable of getting groceries, driving anywhere off of city streets, using in rain or winter, or hauling children? How does it make environmental or any other sense to expend the resources to build a vehicle that is little more than a feel-good toy for most people so they can ride to the local starbucks and feel special about themselves saving the planet? I would be less resentful of alternative energy if it was even remotely better for the environment than a modern car with a clean burning internal combustion engine.
        • 5 Years Ago
        the environment doesn't need "saving". It will around doing its thing long after we are all gone.

        The beauty of electric transportation is that it should free us from foreign oil and the high price of fuel. The solution, however, is fuel cells, not batteries, for electric propulsion.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Saw that bike - well, its predecessor - on "Mean Green Machines," a show on Planet Green that pits green versions of vehicles against their traditional (ICE) counterparts. While the ICE motocross bike won overall, the Zero bike won one of the events outright and was extremely competitive in another two (out of four total).

      Plus, it helps that Neal Saiki is not a zealot (another episode featured the most annoying jackass ever pushing his electric ATV). Very cool bike. I look forward to seeing more from Zero Motorcycles.
      • 5 Years Ago
      That horn is so geeky. I love it.
        • 5 Years Ago
        it sounds like a microwave beeping
      • 5 Years Ago
      Bad ass bike... How much did they say it went for?
      • 5 Years Ago
      way of the future in the countries other than China where it is common place today - thousands of electric scooters and motorcycles running to and from work. They make not look as good as the Zero.

      The stance on that bike is extremely high for a sports bike must be carry over from the motor cross version.

      Looks great but for 10K USD its a little pricey.
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