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Review: Zero Electric Motorcycle In A Rural Environment

  Posted at 06:00:00 PM
  File under  Electrical Product Review Zero Motorcycles
  Author: Mike Werner
  Location: Normandy, France

Zero logo
This is part of a multi-part article
reviewing the Zero electric motorcycle
in a rural environment.

Click here to read the next article
For the next 10 days or so I will be riding a Zero Open link in a new window electric motorcycle in my neck of the woods (Upper Normandy). The DS model (Dual-Sport) is probably the best suited for here since I've got loads of small roads and tractor tracks to go through.

Zero Motorcycle France Open Zero Motorcycle France link in a new window and their Parisian dealer ATS Open ATS link in a new window have been very helpful in getting this "long" review & test in place. It's not easy to give some nutty journalist an electric motorcycle for 2 weeks, but they did it anyway. Thanks guys.

Click for bigger version of Zero DS Electric Motorcycle 2013
Open image in a new window  The Zero DS at my home in Normandy, France

But why is a rural environment different? Electric motorcycle are ideally suited for cities, since the motorcycles stop frequently for red lights or intersections, and every time you hit the brakes, it generates electricity, charging the batteries and thereby giving the rider more range. Speeds are lower in the city, so the battery consumption is not enormous. On the other hand, riding on motorways, usually what commuters do, drains batteries, and therefore the range is lower.

Rural riding is a bit in between both types. The closest town for my bread & croissants to where I live (I live in the "deep" country") is 5 kilometers from my house (including a steep hill). The closest small city is 30 kilometers away and the closest big city is 70 kilometers (note: I make a distinction between small city and big city by the number of McDonalds they have: 1 = a small city, 1+ = big city).

Here's a map of my area (called Normandy Pays de Caux). #1 is where I live, #2 is where my closest food shops are, #3 small cities (Fecamp, Dieppe and Yvetot - where my railway station is), #4 the big cities (Le Havre and Rouen).

Click for bigger version of Pays de Caux Area
Open image in a new window

The roads are very rural; a few long roads, but almost always single lane, and for the rest, the roads are twisties going over hills, alongside cliffs and next to lots of small rivers and woods. In other words, biker paradise. On the downside, the area is very agricultural, meaning there are a lot of tractors on the small roads, which on their own are enormous and dangerously slow moving obstacles, but if they don't block the road, their deposits make it "interesting" - mud, stones and diesel/oil. So far I've crashed 3 times.

So over the next few days, I'll be logging my daily trips and publishing them here. I'll be starting with a view on how much electricity/battery charge I've got, then how many kilometers I'd done and how much battery is left. Of course I'll show a few nice photos of an incredibly beautiful and unknown region of France.

At one stage I'll have a video team coming with me, so expect a few videos as well. I'll start the videos by showing you this small video of what is my typical bike trip to get my daily bread. It was the first time I used a GoPro camera, and after a few minutes, bug hits made it impossible to see anything else on the video (I've cut that bit out of the video), but you'll get an idea what I'll be facing on the Zero. The bike in the video is a BMW R1150GS. The first 4 minutes, though you can barely see it is first steep downhill, then steep uphill (you will hear the engine working overtime). You'll notice I slow down for blind curves, experience has taught me that Murphy was an optimist, and you'll find mud or oil inside the curve.

: Keep in mind this video, since I will compare the ride with the Zero once I got my hands on it.

So keep a look out over the next few days for the reviews on the Zero. I hope you'll enjoy them.

Click here to read the next review article

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