Just because you ace the emissions check doesn't mean you can pass a gut check. That's the problem for electric rides, which often feel like neutered creations with no growl or oomph - more Al Gore than James Dean. Motorcycle maker Zero has a prescription for that gastro-intestinal disorder. The company’s electric bikes are as thrilling to ride as they are powerful as they are silent (police departments use them in hopes of stealthily sneaking up on perps). These motorcycles are easy to ride but dripping performance (the transmission is clutch-less, making them one of the most beginner-friendly bikes on the market) and practically maintenance-free. There's an app that lets you customize riding characteristics with the swipe of a screen. It's unapologetic tech
But however forward thinking and futuristic, the bikes always had their drawbacks: they're pricey and, until recently, lacked some of the features found on non-electric competitors, namely high-powered suspension and brakes.
The new Zero SR 2015 is their best yet. Equipped with an increased power pack and paired with the optional Power Tank, the all-electric ride travel 10-percent further per charge than Zero’s previous offerings, topping out at a range of 185 miles in the city, and 115 miles on the highway if you’re averaging 55 mph. It’s also equipped with a much-needed adjustable Showa Suspension and Bosch anti-lock brakes. Even the stock tires were upgraded: a set of sticky Pirellis helps keep the bike grounded during even the most knee-scraping terms.
You’ll need that grip: On the road, this electric ride hits 60 mph in 3.3 seconds (faster than the Ferrari 458, if you’re wondering). All that power is leveled out by the Zero’s electric motor that delivers constant, smooth torque, something today’s high-tech, petrol-powered sport bikes try to accomplish, but fall short. Oh, and about that app: Download Zero’s smartphone program and you can adjust acceleration time, top speed and regenerative braking from your phone (it’s all based on a Bluetooth connection). The process is addictive.
As is the silence: We regularly spooked a few morning walkers unnoticed when while tooling around on the near noise-less ride. They did see us, however, when we turned up the power and shot down the neighborhood streets. It might not be noisy, but it’s still appears loud as hell. [$17,345 (add $2,495 for Power Tank); zeromotorcycles.com]