Trouble with a Zero FX in Israel

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Our friend Yuval, the electric motorcycle pioneer in Israel, shares his latest misadventure with his Zero FX. All is well that ends well…

It started with the bike, the 2014 Zero FX showing less than 100% charge after a full overnight. But then my three year old Renault Fluence ZE with 100K kilometers does that and still rides as well as it did on day one, though the range has dropped.

Then I had this frightening loss of power on accelerating past a truck on the highway, my 10 mile commute from my clinic in Beer Sheva to my home town of Lehavim. It was momentary and almost mirage-like. Maybe my hold on the throttle had loosened.

Then that loss of power occurred, then stayed. Then the power came back after switching off, (rebooting?)

I called on Marc Harel, Zero’s rep in Israel. After sending the motor and battery files by mail (a wonder unto itself, try that with a gas bike) He suggested one of the batteries was loose, or somehow partially disconnected and asked me to pull them out and replace them. I did and it seemed to have corrected the problem.

Then it happened again. Out on the highway, in the right lane, at a steady speed of 60 the bike quit on me. Do you know that sinking feeling? We, old hands at motorcycling know that sinking feeling all too well. I switched off while running, coasted to the shoulder, a wide shoulder thankfully, and switched on. The bike obliged – for another mile or so, then quit.

So there I was on a traffic island, stranded, three miles from town, seven from home, with a a silent gangly black machine. It least it was not spewing heat around.

The cell-phone obliged me by sorting through a few cycle-tow and car tow truck companies. Turned out the car carry-on was less expensive than the cycle tow. I placated my wife who was was all ready to run out and save me, called the clinic to re-schedule patients and used the time in the early AM to look through my Zero’s troubles.

It appeared as if this was no singular happenstance. The finger was pointing at the Sevcon controller. I was berated myself again. There I go again buying into the E trend, despite the abject failure of Better Place, which aggrandized itself as the inevitable switch to electric transportation – then crashed.

Back in the garage at night I re-transmitted the battery log to marc, and he replied that the Sevcon business is irrelevant, it’s batt trouble and that I should bring the bike in. It was time for scheduled maintenance anyway.

Marc’s store-cum workshop is 80 miles away so I rented a trailer for the week-end. Marc opened the shop on a Saturday night and having proved to his own satisfaction the batteries were fixed in place, he connected his lap-top to the port I had nothing to do with till then.

It showed up immediately on the jumble of code. That’s what Marc said. One of the batteries control module was disconnecting it, for its own protection.

Marc downloaded a patch from Zero, uploaded it to the bike, and voila, charged up to 100% and was back to its new perky, roaring to go. Marc waived the maintenance fee, went over the bolt and belt tightening and helped me secure the bike on the trailer.

Actually, it took longer than voila. It was a learning experience for Marc too, but he never let up or looked at his watch for those precious Saturday night hours.

All that was three months ago. Two thousand kilometers later I can attest to the fact that the bike is better, quicker, more responsive than when I got it. I am sorry every day when I must choose the car due to passengers, or the need to carry some gear.

Whenever I can when returning from work I stray off the highway, take to the track, make for the pass under the railway, and ride the dirt around the township to the overlooking hills, just for the heck of it. The sound of silence on top of the hill is blessed. The Holy land never looks better than with an eco-friendly Zero FX.

Y Brandstetter MD

Lehavim, Israel

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5 comments for this post
  1. JP wrote the 09/06/2015

    Nice to see that Zero has a great dealer in Israel! It reminds me of how Tesla is updating their cars via an internet connection. Maybe Zero can do the updates before the bikes breaks down..

  2. Albert wrote the 09/06/2015

    I was thinking the same thing. Thanks for sharing your story Yuval!

    • yuval wrote the 10/06/2015

      Thanks. The ill-effects of the internal combustion engine are so pervasive so complex, and so overlooked, we must do our part to eliminate the beast from our lives. Zero and Tesla are certainly a step in the correct direction.

  3. Slawomir Kortas wrote the 11/06/2015

    Really nice to see customer service department step it up and fix the bike on a weekend. I think this kind of customer care is necessary to alleviate any stress of current and future electric vehicle owners. The less people worry about this “new” tech, the more they’re going to want to try it.

  4. AMIT BARLEV wrote the 24/06/2017

    It sounds that electric bike is still premature.
    Not only the FX can ride about 50KM with 2 batteries it also has these power loses, you are not the first nor second I heard with this issue. Imagine this happens to a Honda owner or KTM…
    I have a friend that also had 2014 FX bike that had the same issue. Marc never fixed it. It ended up with the guy selling his bike to Marc and buy the new model ..and after 2 days it’s on sale again but this is not the issue here…
    Also, how much did you pay for this patch code repair and renting the traileright to go 80km to the shop? Just curious…

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