Riding a Zero in Israel

Yuval, our faithful reader from Israel, gives us an update on his daily commute with a Zero FX.

“A crisp morning, clinic starts at 07:30, I wheel the Zero FX motorcycle out of the garage and start it with a mighty roar. OK, no roar, just a couple of clicks. The odometer is just shy of 14K kilometers and this is my third summer on the FX. Everything electric works fine, the garage door slides down, the gates opens and closes at the click of the remote, and the gangly bike rolls under its overweight owner as effortlessly as it did on the first day I took it off the trailer.

The FX has maintained utmost aplomb since I began riding it, except for that one single time when it stopped and required a software update. Oh, the low beam blew out some months ago, along with the 10A fuse which necessitated removing some body-work to get at the fuse box in addition to changing the bulb. Now I ride with the high beam during the day just to even out the usage.

The FX is very comfortable off the pavement, and occasionally I do take it out to the local boonies, with my young son onboard, especially when the bird migration season peaks. It’s quite a thrill to sneak up on the big long-legged storks on the silent bike and watch them realize something is afoot, or rather on the rubber, and take off heavily, flapping their huge wings over the trees flecked with the afternoon sun.

On the longer down-hill slopes the front wheel brake shows some auditory inadequacy. In fact it screams. Using the rear brake reduces some of the strain applied to the front but the sensation is uncomfortable. However the function remains unperturbed, and the engine-brake-recharge set to the max in Custom mode allows for minimal use of the brakes. I am told the new 2016 FX is far better in the brake department.

Yuval's FX in Goral hills

Yuval’s FX in Goral hills

In the end the bike is mainly used as a reliable commuter. I bypass the long line of cars waiting at the stop-light to join the main road and zip out as soon as the amber changes to green. The acceleration still elicits pleasure, even with two-up driving which is uncommon due to the hard seat.

Marc Harel of Zero Israel is celebrating 100 bikes sold. That is quite an achievement for a small country, for a lone entrepreneur. The failure of better Place has turned the country sour on electric transportation. Harel’s success means there is already a used-bike market. A 2015 SR with all the trimmings with 27K KM is asking for 14K$. The price here reflects about 25% of taxes levied, which is lenient compared with gas bikes, but still drives up the final price.

As the owner of an electric car, a Renault Fluence ZE, whose battery pack is slightly smaller than the Nissan Leaf, I can appreciate the performance and longevity of the Zero batteries. The Renault 22KwH battery lost 20 percent capacity in 6 months. This is a certified refurbished battery swapped in once the original lost 40% of its original capacity. The Zero’s range is identical to the day I drove it to the office with 50Km on the odometer. The SR owner attests to 130 KM range on the open road and up to 170 KM in general use.

Being on the mature and heavy side I probably should sell my FX and go for a road-going vehicle, an S, or SR or even a DSR. But I will not. Placing aside the 20K$ cost I will stay with my FX till Zero comes up with a quick charge socket. Motorcycles are not just commuters, they are freedom machines. Freedom cannot be limited to a range of 130 km or a radius of 65 KM. Freedom, or lack thereof, is the reason the SR guy is selling his machine and regrettably going back to obnoxious gas. While his friends go on week-end trips he is stuck with a forty mile radius.

2017 is expected to deliver an avalanche of 200 mile, 60 KwH electric cars. Tesla 3, Chevy Bolt, Qoros, Ford, BYD. All equipped with quick-charge sockets. Its time Zero ups the ante and delivers a true freedom machine as standard. Only then will my FX be retained for off-road for my gangly son while his father goes back on the open road fearless of range anxiety.”

Yuval Brandstetter MD, Lehavim Israel

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2 comments for this post
  1. Albert wrote the 22/05/2016

    I wish Zero was listening: with limited range, we need fast charging!

  2. Walter wrote the 22/04/2017

    Hey JP,

    I agree with what you said “The FX is very comfortable off the pavement, and occasionally” very well, you made a very good point.


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