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Electric Motorcycle Competition Revs Up: Zero S Streets Alongside Brammo Enertia

Just last week, we reported that the Brammo Enertia officially went on sale at a Best Buy store in Portland, but the Zero S Electric Motorcycle—also for urban commuters—wasn't going to be left out. The electric street bike is officially available as well. We took it for a quasi test drive.

Lynne Riding Zero S

Unlike our recent Enertia drive, where we got to go out for a full ride, we merely took a spin around a Chelsea Piers parking lot. What did we learn during our short time on the bike?

Easy to handle and comparable to a 250cc, it's a pretty light bike—225 pounds to be exact, of which 80 pounds is taken up by its battery. Though it's light, you never have to worry about flying off the thing because its suspension is pretty solid. "Its configuration is what's called a supermoto style. It's got very long travel suspension, and our idea there is for an urban motorcycle you may need to climb stairs or jump curbs. It's got the kind of suspension that can handle that kind of rough riding," says Zero's CEO Gene Banman.

Granted the test ride didn't offer the opportunity to really get a sense of this, but I can say that I barely felt the one speed bump I went over in the parking lot.

Given all of its tech wizadry though, I couldn't help feeling that something was amiss in its design. If a comparison had to be made, the Brammo is a beautifully designed piece of machinery, while the Zero S left something to be desired. But there's an explanation for this.

Zero S Electric Motorcycle Zero S Electric Motorcycle

The bike appears unfinished. But where it lacks body and design the rider is given easy access to its battery and charger. The zero-emission, 100% pure electric motorcycle charges off of a 110V plug for four hours for about 50 miles of driving. "This type of battery loves being topped off. There's no memory in the battery so the more you keep it charged the better." says Banman.

Zero S Electric Motorcycle

When asked whether he saw Brammo as competition, Banman said: "It's great for the market. You need competition to create a market, and the time is absolutely right for this kind of vehicle. The technology is to the state where we can build fully functional motorcycles that are very competitive with gasoline motorcycles. The advantages of electric: You don't have oil changes or tune ups—basically no service required on the drive train at all. It's very inexpensive to run, about a penny a mile. And the motor and the battery last the life of the motorcycle. So we think having multiple players in the market is good for everybody. Their bike is built to a different configuration than ours so it'll appeal to a different kind of customer."

In that case, I guess I'm a Brammo girl then. Don't get me wrong, it's a fine bike sure, but overall it didn't feel quite as comfortable, and you already know I'm hung up on its design.

Zero S Electric Motorcycle

The Zero S sells for $9,950 with a 10% tax credit, which brings the price down to approximately $8,950. It can be ordered directly from the Zero S Web site or by phone, with a shipping charge of $500. There are local representatives where you can take the S for a test drive before purchase.

Related Stories:
Electric Motorcycles Go Mainstream: Best Buy's Selling the Brammo
Worldwide Debut of Brammo Enertia Electric Motorcycle
Zero X Electric Motorcycle Test Drive [pics]