Wired Autopia honcho and Autoblog alum Damon Lavrinc is finished with the internal combustion engine. And four wheels. And a closed cabin in which to commute. For the next six months, Lavrinc will be staring Range Anxiety right in its cold, dead (battery) eyes, while splitting lanes and commuting through San Francisco on a long-term-test 2013 Zero DS ZF 11.4 electric motorcycle.

In reality, the latest creation from Zero is probably about as good as it gets in terms of EV bikes to live with (not that riders are spoiled for choice in that segment). The electric motor kicks out 54 horsepower and 68 pound-feet of torque, so power won't be an issue in the hilly Bay Area, and max range of 126 miles from the 11.4 kWh battery pack is more than reasonable.

Lavrinc isn't so over-the-moon for Zero that he doesn't see potential drawbacks to the arrangement: "Big ones," he mentions, "Death, for example." Which should all make for a very compelling series of real-world reviews. We suggest clicking through to Autopia to read Damon's own explanation for beginning this adventure, listening to Autoblog Podcast #338 where he reveals his plans as a guest on our show, and following along with updates as the months unfold. We will be.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 35 Comments
      Hazdaz
      • 1 Year Ago
      If he's in the right area and has a reasonable commute, then I see no issues that he should have. He's in San Fran, so weather-wise he should be fine. And with a 120+ mile range from that bike, he shouldn't be too worried about distances. I'll be very curious to read follow-ups to this story.
      justgoawaymad
      • 1 Year Ago
      I test rode a Zero bike....it was 2 years ago. It impressed me except for the brakes. Ive been watching the development and they have fixed the brakes (bigger) and now has a belt drive and a bigger battery. If your a big boy like me and dont have to drive on the freeway to get to work this thing is pretty darn cool. But after 50mph its workin hard....it can go faster but it eats battery power fast at hi speed. The only other complaint i had was the seat was pretty hi AND i was riding the one with the corben seat which is lower! There at the point where I think more and more people are going to consider them for a good commuter.
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
        2 wheeled menace
        • 1 Year Ago
        Is the point of a motorcycle to sit on something that creates vibration, noise, and smoke? I always figured it was more of a method of transportation.
          KaiserWilhelm
          • 1 Year Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          Most Americans see them as toys...the rest of the world sees them as economical transportation.
          2 wheeled menace
          • 1 Year Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          Yeah.. which is silly imho. Here in Utah, the "biker attitude", complete with chromed out harleys or sport bikes and all that crap, is the exception, and using motorcycles as a commuting vehicle is the rule. You see more motorcyclists in their work outfit, t shirt and jeans, or church clothes than with leather jackets. Almost all of the bikes have stock exhaust. Not everyone views 'em the same :)
        Dave
        • 1 Year Ago
        It sounds like a motorcycle for someone who doesn't like motorcycles. You don't have to listen to the noise / sound of the engine. You never have to shift. You're better off going slow (to save energy). And you never have to drive it more than 120 miles. I'd buy one if the price were right.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dave
          [blocked]
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
        tump
        • 1 Year Ago
        Loud pipes DO NOT save lives. That is the biggest pile of crap myth (and excuse to have excessive dB pipes). You MUST always assume and ride as if NOBODY hears or sees you -- always. Loud pipes just annoy everybody and cause pervasive hearing loss.
          Spec
          • 1 Year Ago
          @tump
          And even if they did, that is no excuse for an obnoxiously loud bike. If you care about your life then don't ride a motorcycle.
          rboote
          • 1 Year Ago
          @tump
          I think everyone who wants to install loud pipes for safety reasons should be legally mandated to wear a helmet and head-to-toe racing leathers that're neon green with reflective stripes. THEN we'd see how truly concerned about "safety" they are.
      Deneway
      • 1 Year Ago
      Hope he's filled out an organ donor card.
        Spec
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Deneway
        There is a reason emergency rooms call them donorcycles.
      DaveMart
      • 1 Year Ago
      If he is dead then he might find it difficult to write a review, compelling or otherwise.
        Ryan
        • 1 Year Ago
        @DaveMart
        There are a lot of other people in the Bay area who might also be worried about ending up as roadkill, yet if more and more people switch to e-motorcycles and that doesn't happen, then society might change their minds. I rode a regular bicycle all of San Fran last April, and there were some roads that you would want to avoid, but overall it wasn't too bad.
      nassau
      • 1 Year Ago
      Last I heard when someone is wired they either sniffed coke or smoked the magic weed. Going to be an interesting read.
        Dave D
        • 1 Year Ago
        @nassau
        Dude, you've clearly never had "the magic weed". If that were the case, you could have kicked them in the balls and they'd have just said: "hey, that hurts man...got any pizza?"
      RobG
      • 1 Year Ago
      Carzzz... please keep in mind that those two buttheads do not represent the majority of riders. I know it's frustrating when riders do crap like that. Now, for the Zero bike. I hate electric cars with a passion (perhaps with the Tesla Model S being the one exception), but I do like the Zero bikes. I'd love to have one for my daily commute. It's six miles each way, with four miles of that being freeway. I figure I could go an entire week on one charge. Instead, I'll settle for my near-50-mpg 2001 Yamaha FZ1. :)
      raktmn
      • 1 Year Ago
      Personally I probably would have chosen a Brammo Empluse (not the R version, just the regular version) for a few bucks more. A first gear could be handy on hills. Neither bikes require the use of a clutch to start, so it is just twist and go on the hills. That's handy. The down side for SF is that I don't think either of them have an e-brake.
        DarylMc
        • 1 Year Ago
        @raktmn
        Hi raktmn Both the Zero and Brammo have regen braking.
          raktmn
          • 1 Year Ago
          @DarylMc
          Yes, both have regen braking, but I don't think either of them has an emergency brake, and electric motors don't hold your vehicle in place because they don't have compression. Somewhere hilly like SF, you have to be careful where you park so your electric motorcycle doesn't just roll away....
          DarylMc
          • 1 Year Ago
          @DarylMc
          Hi ratkmn OK I see what you're saying. You reckon an park brake would be handy in SF. A kerb or centre stand has always done the job for me and I would never use engine compression to hold a bike parked on a hill. Must be really steep over there :)
      2 wheeled menace
      • 1 Year Ago
      Wish i had that problem. I'll stick with my 47mph ebike tho... :)
        • 1 Year Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        [blocked]
          2 wheeled menace
          • 1 Year Ago
          Come visit me in Utah and let me know how confident you feel riding in the middle of the car lane ( no bike lanes ) doing half the speed of cars. Until i get the dough to do an EV conversion or buy a Chevy Spark, this is it for me ( and many others ) How's the danmobile coming along?
        DarylMc
        • 1 Year Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        2 wheeled menace was a good choice for your name:) I've moved back to the outskirts of a city so my ebike plans are on hold for now. We have compulsory bicycle helmet use here in Australia. Do you normally wear some protective gear? Hope it handles and stops to match. I don't think it should be ruled out but due to the laws here in Australia I doubt we will ever see a high performance electric bicycle for road use. I've driven all sorts of vehicles but not such a thing. What do you think of the safety compared to say a motor scooter?
          2 wheeled menace
          • 1 Year Ago
          @DarylMc
          Yo! I wear gloves, pants, and a helmet.. nothing else. My fastest bike can do 47mph, but i usually cruise at 20-30 while pedaling. I've thought about having some serious gear on, but it would look a bit weird i think, on a bike.. :) It is really fun to be able to hang with cars and even catch them by surprise from stoplight to stoplight. Having something really torquey is a total thrill. Definitely handles and stops to match. I do not have rear suspension so the ride is bumpier than it should be. The stopping is very much aided by really really strong regen. I have very wide tires, the one in the back is a motorcycle tire actually. The front is a 2.5in. wide. Maybe you want to forget an ebike where you live and go straight to a motorcycle conversion, if you have long distances to cover. You also have those awful 250 watt rules. There are tons of guys in Australia building ebikes that are above and beyond the 250 watt limit, and that's fun, but a motorcycle gets the lawman off your back.. :)
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