Archive for the ‘Bike Reviews’ Category

Electric Motorcycle Encounter

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

Brammo Enertia Electric Motorcycle

Zero Motorcycles DS Model Electric Motorcycle

March 26, 2010: Friday evening I stopped by the Portland Expo Center to discover the meaning of ‘better living’. Among the many offerings of low environmental impact cosmetics and devices to convert pedal power to a yard irrigation system were a couple exhibits more down my boulevard. One was the Zero S series of electric motorcycles and the other the made-in-Oregon Brammo.

I sat on the Zero S. Compared to my regular rides it felt like a cigarette paper that had undergone extensive origami. I could almost have picked it up and walked off with it. Of the two competing machines, the Zero is the more aggressively styled and the only one I was ready to be seen throwing a leg over. The seat is slim in profile and less than generously padded. I have a sawing horse in my garage that I’d rate a little more comfortable and the seat height comes in at 35″. I am not convinced the front suspension was road ready. It felt like a Shenzhen special: looked the part but didn’t behave like it. For a 55 mph machine however, it was probably more than adequate and the promo video inspires with scenes of desert dirt riding that I’ll bet was fun and more than eco friendly.

Green is good, don’t get me wrong. Sniggering at the beginning efforts of a new industry is uncharitable at best and as manly as laughing at a toddler trying to stand up and run across the room. Conventional fossil fuel machinery is still so much more pulse quickening and pleasing to the senses, but it’s hard to ignore the appeal of clean and silent operation of electric motors and their fabulous torque.

The Zero comes in street and offroad / dual sport versions and the price tag is a hefty $9,995. The Brammo lands at a more affordable $7,995. Recently introduced federal tax credits apply and total cost of ownership might be a big plus for either of them. Oil and gas go away and the claimed cost per mile is right around 1 cent for the Zero. Claimed ranges are 42 miles for the Brammo and 50 for the Zero.

I didn’t take the time to get astride the Brammo.  I wondered if riding it might be easier than looking at it. It reminded me of bicycles brown brogued schoolmarms would ride to work in the 50’s, complete with pleated polythene wheelcovers to prevent the lady’s windblown skirt tangling with the spokes. The Brammo has no such accoutrements, but it kinda looks like they wouldn’t go amiss. Still – early days – give the kid a chance !

Read more about Zero Motorcycles at and Brammo at