The Shocking Truth About Electric Motorcycles – /RideApart

The Shocking Truth About Electric Motorcycles – /RideApart


[MUSIC PLAYING] WES SILER: We’re here at
Glendora Ridge Road riding the fully electric 2012 Zero DS. It’s got the larger nine
kilowatt-hour battery pack, which is supposedly good
for 112 miles. Welcome to RideApart. [MUSIC PLAYING] WES SILER: So this new 2012
model Zero DS is special because it has an all-new
battery pack that packs nine kilowatt-hours of electricity. That is a [BLEEP] ton of electricity. That is like twice what a Toyota
Prius has, and that makes this thing expensive. The [? [INAUDIBLE] ?] guide to
battery costs is like $1,000 per kilowatt hour, and this
thing’s got nine. So you could figure,
at $14,000– because yeah, this thing
does cost $14,000– I’m getting like $9,000 worth of
batteries and about $5,000 for the motorcycle. And $14,000 for a bike that’ll
only go about 100 miles on a range and top out at 84 miles
an hour is steep. But that’s the problem
of early adoption. You are paying a premium to say
you are one of the first people to own one of these. [MUSIC PLAYING] WES SILER: The Zero’s really
upping its game in terms of motorcycle components. They used to basically be
glorified mountain bikes. They would have garbage mountain
bike brakes and everything. But now– nice, easy, real components,
real high quality damping, high quality brakes, stainless
steel braided lines. The thing that is different
is the transmission is a single-speed, and when you roll
off, there’s really not much engine braking. So that’s sort of an
alien experience. There’s still a nice, solid
connection on the Zero between the throttle and the back wheel,
but a lot of electric bikes have struggled there. This one, you can just nice
and natural roll on. You see, once I roll off,
I’ve got to get on the brakes to slow down. I guess you could say it’s
like a two stroke, but honestly, there’s not much
on here that’s like a conventional motorcycle. You really don’t bring
motorcycle expectations in riding this, because if you do,
you will be disappointed. It’s more of a futuristic
transportation device. [MUSIC PLAYING] WES SILER: I have to say, this
is a pretty special experience to be out here on a beautiful
day, up in the mountains of Southern California, just
whizzing along on an electric motorcycle. People talk about these things
being the future, and there’s no way these are as fast
as a conventional bike. But this is still a
unique experience. This is just– it’s [BLEEP] cool. Hey look, it’s Grant. Oh, great. And there’s the problem with
electric motorcycles. Grant’s on a Piaggio BV350. It’s faster than my $14,000
motorcycle. Can go a lot further on tank– pretty much unlimited. You can hop on that thing and
ride it across country. Worst part is, that
little scooter– 350 cc– significantly faster than this
electric motorcycle. That thing goes over 100
miles an hour, and this thing tops out at 84. Scooters like that BV350 sort
of rule in European cities like Milan or Rome. They get great fuel economy. That 350– I guess the USP of it is it
gets 500cc performance and 250cc fuel economy, which means
75, 85 miles per gallon. Park it anywhere. Costs pretty much $0 to run,
$0 of maintenance. Store stuff under the seat,
store stuff in that top box, throw her down on the road,
doesn’t really matter. It’s just the ultimate in
practical vehicles. This Zero essentially achieves
the same thing. It does it in admittedly
a sexier package. It does it with zero emissions,
which is appealing. It does it silently. But there’s not a lot that it
does do beyond those things that that scooter can’t do. Sure know which one I would
rather be seen riding, though. Grant looks [BLEEP] dorky. [MUSIC PLAYING] WES SILER: All right. Well, I’ve done 27.8
miles, and I’m at exactly half a battery. GRANT RAY: Ouch. WES SILER: What’s your
fuel tank say? GRANT RAY: I am saying
a little over a half. WES SILER: Yeah, we filled
you up like, way back. You’ve probably done like
what, 50 miles? GRANT RAY: Pretty much, yeah. WES SILER: Yeah, jeez. I mean, this thing’s fun. It’s no sports bike. It’s no real super moto. It’s just fun to cruise
around on up here. But at the going rate
right now, I’m going to get 50 miles. 50 miles of cruising around
on kind of a slow bike. GRANT RAY: So you said you’ve
got how much range left? WES SILER: I’ve got about
25 miles left. GRANT RAY: So, you think that’s
going to get you home? WES SILER: 25 miles would not
get me back to Azusa, much less anywhere civilized. GRANT RAY: So let’s keep
on trucking then. WES SILER: [INAUDIBLE] because I’m [BLEEP] hungry. To get the positives out of
the way, it’s pretty fast. It’s pretty fun. Handles OK for something
on $3 Chinese tires. What it doesn’t do is allow me
any flexibility in my life whatsoever. That 112 mile advertised
range is– they got to that using some MIC,
industry standard tests. Whatever that test
is, it’s [BLEEP]. I’ve been getting 60
miles out of it. Even with a 240 volt quick
charger, it takes five hours to get a full tank. So if I’m getting 60 miles, and
I have to wait five hours to go another 60 miles,
that’s a huge problem. From my house in Hollywood
to downtown for our usual meetings is 10 miles. From downtown to Venice is
15, 18 miles-ish, right? So I’m thinking in doubles. I’ve got to get there and
back, because I have to charge at home. So downtown is a 20
mile chunk to me. Venice is a 30 mile
chunk to me. It’s a halfway decent
motorcycle. GRANT RAY: Buddy, that
is leaps and bounds. It’s leaps and bounds. WES SILER: If you are a Google
software engineer and you want to geek out on electric bikes,
you know what, you could do this now. You could spend $14,000. You can geek out on an electric
motorcycle and impress all your software
engineer buddies. GRANT RAY: Even better if
you’re Facebook, because you’re about to be a millionaire
[? like ?] [? yet ?] anyways. WES SILER: Yes. Excellent way to spend
your Facebook stock. I can guarantee you that
all the female software programmers at Facebook will
definitely have sex with you. Where the [BLEEP] are we? SEAN SMITH: We’re
at Mount Baldy. WES SILER: We’re at Mount Baldy,
which is, what, 70 miles from my house? SEAN SMITH: Eh, somewhere
thereabouts, yeah. WES SILER: 60, 70 miles from
home, we’ve got half a tank– half a battery, excuse me– left
on the Zero DS, having put 28 miles on it so far. And we’re going to go see if
we can get home or not. And I’m going to guess that I’m
going to end up pushing. We’ve gone 44.3 miles. GRANT RAY: It’s telling
you it’s 44.2 miles? WES SILER: 44.3 miles,
I’ve probably got– I’d estimate 15 to 20
miles left to go. GRANT RAY: Okay. Well, it’ll get you to 60. WES SILER: Oh yeah. [MUSIC PLAYING] WES SILER: Ah, two bars
and flashing. [LAUGHTER] WES SILER: [BLEEP]. [MUSIC PLAYING] WES SILER: I don’t want
to talk right now. I’m really scared. Losing power on the highway
is not fun. That’s all I’m going to say. I’m going to go pee
behind this tree. [BLEEP] you guys. GRANT RAY: I don’t know what’s
going to happen. I know Wes is so scared,
he’s peeing himself. So 58.8 miles. It’s showing like it’s got
nothing in it, but it’s clearly got some juice left. I think we just didn’t quite
have it in us to run it out to see what happens, so I
guess that’s the end. I mean, I would have liked to
have known if we would have made it a little further,
but I guess, who knows. Let’s walk it up, come on. [MUSIC PLAYING] WES SILER: So what you basically
just asked me to do is put myself in danger
for your [BLEEP] amusement, Tom? [BLEEP] you. I’m on a meat grinder. We’ve got trucks, and
all of a sudden– no power, there’s no power. It’s not [BLEEP] cool. It’s not [BLEEP] cool. I don’t want to do that [BLEEP] again. [MUSIC PLAYING] WES SILER: There’s also, of
course, the limitations of a cameraman sitting with seat belt
illegally in the back of a Ford Raptor pick-up truck– trying not to throw him out. Oh, there he goes. He put himself in with
a carabiner. That’s safe. That’s safe. GRANT RAY: I guess just talking
about it in terms of– [BELLS RINGING] WES SILER: Oh, we’re going to
wait until that’s done. GRANT RAY: What’s that? [CRASHING NOISE] [MUSIC PLAYING]