Riding a Zero FX in Israel



Yuval lives in southern Israel and commutes to work on a Zero FX. He shares with us his experience and thoughts on green living. (Editor)

It starts with an idea. The horrid smell of the bus exhaust standing at the traffic light, while being enveloped in the shimmering heat emanating from the vehicles all around, and the one between my knees. The wait for the light to change from red to amber becomes intolerable, and as soon as it does the bike engine screams in protest as I twist the throttle in quick bouts while my foot kicks up the gears, and the left hand works the clutch. All those other behemoths emitting smoke and heat are left behind, then catch up with me at the next traffic light. Thus year after year, inhaling smoke exhaust aromatic carcinogens and wondering about the new information that links childhood autism to the concentration of vehicle emissions.

One day it all came to an end, one shift of the tranny too few, one truck turning left too many, and I was splashed on the road with the truck all over my bike, but fortunately not over me. The busy intersection came to a stop and the heat, combination of the hot southern sun and millions of metal parts all combusting old rendered dinosaur fat into fumes toxins and heat, was unbearable. I made it out of that mess and vowed that future transportation should be different.

Four years later and I am in the very same intersection, waiting for the traffic light to change from red to amber. The trucks, buses and cars around me are pretty much the same – stinky monsters. The beast between my knees is utterly silent, emitting no heat, no fan waking up to cool the idling pistons, no tailpipe to add more noxious fumes to the surroundings. Even the headlight is cool. As the light changes I twist the throttle to be rewarded by a cool rush of seamless acceleration, the distant whine of the motor somewhere below drowned in the shrieking wind, the acceleration unpunctuated by gears or clutch or any other primitive relics of the past, limited only by the 110 km/h (68 mph) electronic limit. I lean slightly forward so the front wheel stays earthbound, I am no stunt-man, merely a doctor making it on time to the clinic. This is after all not a race bike. It’s a gangly tall jet-black Zero FX trail-bike, wide handlebars and knobby tires. The image of the lumbering fume emitters in the rear-view mirrors is crystal-clear, no piston-buzz to shake them. As I slow for third traffic light (I got the previous two in the nick of time due to the silent acceleration) I refrain from using the brakes, its too much fun watching the bars on the display indicating electric regeneration. Regretfully I must touch the brake lever just so to wring as much energy as possible from the action which usually means a total waste of energy.

Renault Fluence ZE (electric)

Renault Fluence ZE (electric)

At the office I rigged up a simple three prong out the window, by the time I am done with clinic the bike is up to 99% and off we go to the home call on a baby in the near-by village of Omer. At home the same, I can choose between the three-prong 220 V in the garage, or the weather-proof one I rigged outside, for the visiting electric cars or bikes. The cord is neatly stashed in a metal cylinder which forms the hub of the aluminum magnets-don’t-stick aluminum.

Zero Motorcycles has been in Israel for about a year. It took 8 months to get through the sticky Israeli bureaucracy, scarred by the Better Place debacle, and I have been riding the FX since May. It’s the most enjoyable motorbike I have had since the XT 500 with which I crossed Australia and North America all those years ago. The FX real terrain is the trail, and now that the heat of summer is waning away I shall go back to the local forest, named the Lahav forest (as in 95% of Israel’s trees, the Lahav is planted by the Jewish National Fund) with my 12 year old son riding pillion. It’s not much of a pillion, but then he is still a skinny kid. He loves it.

So how far can it go? Well that depends. At 240 LB and just short of six foot yours truly is a serious wind obstacle. So, sixty km (37 miles) out on the open road at 95-110 km/h (59-68 mph). But on the trail the distance is far far longer, the uphill runs effortless, and downhill regenerative. My commute is approximately 20 km (12.5 miles), I charge at the office with what looks like a computer plug so that extra miles easily accrete. Having logged 2000 miles I really have no idea how much it cost me. Running the air conditioner is probably far far more costly.

The importer is one Marc Harel. He is a green-energy entrepreneur, and a true nice guy. I keep in contact and he refers to me prospective customers. It’s not an easy sell, because the 12K machine in the States becomes a 16K machine after taxes. This is a tax hungry country, and with the neighbors we have (Hamas, Fattah, Hezzbullah, Syria, and various Salafi scimitar-and-rocket wielding crazies) we better pay them. The Better Place fiasco finished off the quick-charging infra-structure, bur Marc is upbeat, because once you get a motorcyclist on the machine, and once he-she feels the pure rush of electric acceleration, the simplicity of just enjoying the ride, they start scheming how to scare up the funds.

Israel is an incredibly dense country. Dense in sights and scenery and roads begging for the open throttle. Hopefully soon it can be the quiet throttle that leaves the environment un-tampered and allows the birds to sing. Its also very sunny, and yes, my roof-top photovoltaics produce more power than the needs of the Zero FX and the Fluence ZE sedan that is our air-conditioned automotive solution.

I look forward to the next generation of batteries that will extend range by 30 to 100%. But even now the machine Zero makes is practical, useable, and great fun.

Yuval Brandstetter MD

Lehavim Israel

Look for my Kindle page http://www.amazon.com/Witches-West-Bend-Yuval-Brandstetter-ebook/dp/B00GLBA1D8

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3 comments for this post
  1. Albert wrote the 19/10/2014

    Great story! A doctor doing his house calls on a Zero FX!

  2. yuval Brandstetter MD wrote the 19/10/2014

    Thank you Albert. Especially on Saturday morning its nice to come and see a baby patient without the ruckus of your typical single-cylinder. And slip away just as civily.

  3. Adam wrote the 15/02/2015

    Why do you think Israel hasn’t made greater tax incentives for EVs Yuval?

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