#1 cleantech news, reviews, & analysis site in the world. Subscribe today. The future is now.


Clean Transport

Published on June 24th, 2018 | by Susanna Schick

0

2018 Zero FX Review | Cheaper Batteries = Better Everything

June 24th, 2018 by  


Photo courtesy of Robert Verez

Zero gave Robert and me a Zero FX for a month, to put it through its paces. As readers may know, I’ve been a Zero FX(S) owner since 2013, and writing about Zeros since 2009. The great thing about Zero is it has always tried to keep prices as reasonable as possible, considering how expensive batteries have been. And as batteries have gotten cheaper, Zero has passed that savings along to customers, while also improving the components and build quality.

As batteries become cheaper, the performance, components, and build quality improve but the purchase price falls. Note especially how the battery capacity climbs while the MSRP falls. This is across all Zero models, not just the FX. I enjoy using this as an example, because 5.7 kWh was more than enough to get me all over LA for 5 years. With the 7.2 kWh, I now have to worry about my boyfriend stealing my bike to ride to his job 25 miles away. I made this chart below to show how the FX has gained 1.5 kWh while also having become $1,495 cheaper over 6 years. As this trend continues, the company will soon have to worry about competition from the major OEMs.

Zero FX Model Year kWh MSRP

2013

ZF5.7

$11,990

2014

ZF5.7 $11,990

2015

ZF5.7 $10,990

2016

ZF6.5 $10,990

2017

ZF6.5 $10,495
2018

ZF7.2

$10,495

What I also like about Zero is that its battery warranty period has grown longer. In 2013, it was a two-year warranty. Now it’s five years. And Zero has been very good to the handful of customers whose batteries have failed. Although I thought the swappable batteries on the 2013 FX were pretty cool, I only ever used them once — as loaner batteries for an endurance race. The rest of the time, I was nervous that someone would realize what they’re worth and run off with them, leaving me stranded on the mean streets of LA. The wimpy lock securing them to the bike doesn’t inspire much confidence in a city where people steal catalytic converters from cars for their recycling value.

So, for everyday city riding, the integrated battery model makes more sense. Plus, it’s $895 cheaper to just buy the 7.2 kWh integrated instead of being cheap and getting the 3.6 kWh only to find you’d really like that second battery.

2018 Zero FXS vs 2018 Zero FX. Business or Pleasure? Photo courtesy of Robert Verez

Better Equipped for the Rough Road Ahead

The 2018 FX has better dual-sport tires than the 2013 had, making it more pavement-friendly. Which is good, because if I wanted to ride to any (legal) OHV areas near Los Angeles, the FX would run out of juice by the time we got there. Most people who go off-roading trailer their non-street-legal gas bikes out there anyway, so range isn’t an issue for them. What is an issue for them is keeping track of when they’re allowed to ride. Green sticker? Red sticker? On an electric motorcycle, the trails are always open! We had considered schlepping the bike out to some OHV to put it through its paces on some trails. But we’re also avid mountain bikers, and can easily fit both mountain bikes in the back of the 4Runner. And it’s a much shorter drive to the mtb trails than to OHV trails.

However, the brakes on the 2018 FX are strictly for puttering about off-road. A motorcycle capable of a top speed of 85mph should have brakes that inspire confidence at that speed. But then, that’s what the FXS is for. I like the taller wheels on the FX, so if I really wanted one, I’d swap the Pirelli Scorpion MT90’s for a set of Pirelli Scorpion Trail tires, as they’re designed for 95% pavement use. I’d also install a much larger front rotor and upgrade the brakes. Or I’d just buy an FXS, which I did, and you can read all about it here.

Robert’s job was a 25-mile commute each way.

Robert’s take on the FX …

The 2018 models are like a dream compared to the rickety old 2013 FX(S). The 2013 handled so badly I was afraid to ride it at 100% because I couldn’t predict how it would respond. The 2018’s are flawlessly responsive, doing whatever I ask of them with ease. I liked the looks of this bike and dreamt of buying one and covering it with stickers, like the 80’s MX it looks like. But after riding it to work, after also having ridden the FXS, I’m torn. The brakes are uninspiring at best, and it doesn’t feel as agile as the FXS. With the taller (18 rear, 21 front) wheels, it feels more stable at speed, but more work to flick through traffic.

At 131 kg, it’s 1.8 kg lighter than a stock FXS, and close to 4.5 kilos lighter than Susanna’s FXS with the Givi top box rack. But the Pirelli Scorpion MT90’s are not designed for maximum performance on pavement, so they don’t corner as smoothly as the Pirelli Diablo Rosso II’s the FXS is equipped with. Although I’m still not sure which Zero I’ll buy, it’s definitely narrowed down to an FX or an FXS. I liked the Zero DS we reviewed, but the FX & S are just so much more fun in city traffic. Check the full specs here.

Photo courtesy of Robert Verez


Support CleanTechnica’s work by becoming a Member, Supporter, or Ambassador.

Or you can buy a cool t-shirt, cup, baby outfit, bag, or hoodie or make a one-time donation on PayPal.






Tags: , , ,


About the Author

Susanna is passionate about anything fast and electric. As long as it's only got two wheels. She covers electric motorcycle racing events, test rides electric motorcycles, and interviews industry leaders. Occasionally she deigns to cover automobile events in Los Angeles for us as well. However, she dreams of a day when Los Angeles' streets resemble the two-wheeled paradise she discovered living in Barcelona and will not rest until she's converted the masses to two-wheeled bliss.



Back to Top ↑