11-22-2009 - 2009 Zero S review blog...

Discussion in 'Street and Performance Bikes' started by xcel, Nov 22, 2009.

  1. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi All:

    ___Been out on the Zero S this morning and so far, pretty impressed with a few caveats. I have to get back out to Highwood, IL to take it out for the afternoon for a final range ride and charging detail.

    Zero S just before first ride


    2009 Zero S - Manual stuff...

    ___When stopped on an incline, do not use the motor to hold position, use the brakes or motor damage may occur.

    ___Should be plugged in for long term period of inactivity. If you store the Zero S, charge it at least every 90-days.

    ___Like any battery, the Zero S does not tolerate deep discharges. Always plug in and charge after a ride. The shallower the discharge, the longer the life. Leaving the Zero S in a discharged state will damage the pack.

    ___This one I did not like... “Only operate your Zero S in good weather; using you Zero S in rain, snow or other precipitation may result in damage to your motorcycle.”

    ___Packing from the factory is almost ready to ride. It comes in a box and all you do is unpack, attach mirrors, check that everything works and it even comes charged! There is a procedure but it is completed at the factory without having to do much at all.

    ___I have a Kill A Watt attached to the Zero S right now and it was pushing out just a touch under 9 amps on a 120 V circuit. Indicated and calculated are just a touch over 1,000 W to the bike.

    ___There is an energy reserve beep that tells you when you are down to “Reserve”. You have a few miles and she’s out for the count with you looking for an outlet or walking with a bike :) A number of Power-On self test cycles that are beyond this blog write-up...


    ___General tighten everything up at 600, 4,000, 8,000, 12,000 miles. Lube chain every 600 miles or after any wash. Replace brake hoses at 4 years. Repack steering head and Swing arm pivot bearings every 2-years or 16,000 miles.

    ___If you ride in dusty conditions, blow dust out whenever possible.

    ___Pack does have a range of fault codes just in case. I will try and get a copy from the manual to post.

    ___Very few spec additions vs. the website. I will post one with the review.


    YMMV of course. 40-miles of average range under normal stop and go according to the manual. Much more from my limited time behind the bars so far. Most reach the 50-mile spec. 60-miles at a steady 25 mph. 30-miles on the highway running flat out.


    ___Zero S uses no gasoline of course.

    ___And here is where the 455 mpg rating we posted last month comes from.

    ___EPA estimates there is 33.705 kWh/gallon of gasoline. When operating a Zero S from Full to Discharged (not sure if this is a true 20% at 0 bars or actually near 0%???), the Zero S should consume 3.7 kWh. Based on EPA estimates, 3.7 kWh is .10978 gallons and with a 50-mile range, 50/.10978 = 455 mpg equivalent.


    ___Std. is a 2-year warranty. First is everything, second is you pay Shipping and labor. Not including wheels.

    ___Extended is 2-years including shipping and labor.

    ___No-Fault covers almost everything for 2-years out including wheels at 50% of retail. Chain, sprockets, fork seals, tire wear, brake pads, brake rotors, grips, foot pegs and seat are not included.

    Initial Impressions

    ___A few nice attention to detail items.

    ___Welds on the aluminum frame and swing arm are gorgeous. No spit welds here.

    ___There is an excellent addition I have been screaming for from the manufacturers and is std. on the Zero S. That being a Headlight High/Low beam toggle lever above the left hand control module. With release, it’s back to low beams. I will try and take a pic as it is not listed in the manual?

    ___Handling is sharp. Probably to much so but with its limited top end, no need for a longer wheelbase or more rake and trail.

    ___Tip-in or initial roll on is smooth. From 0 – 48 mph, the throttle is linear with decreasing performance as the little motor begins to peak. Right about 48 mph she is running out of steam. Very much like a bike that has burst through its Torque range and the tremendous fall-off after so many R’s. It does not fall off but it simply not much left. Two teeth on the front sprocket and a dial down of the controller addition for a given rotation would probably fix this. Expect it in 2010.

    ___Seat is hard as a rock :(

    ___From the factory for my weight, the rear shock rebound damping was too aggressive and the front end compression damping is too light. There are supposedly adjustments but nothing is listed in the manual?

    ___The Zero S does not include any LED’s (yet) but for the front light, it has a DRL based off a small bulb. The switch can shut down the head and tail lights, tail lights with DRL and front headlight and rear tail lights like normal.

    ___Horn is about average for a bike. A bit underpowered for what I would really like but nothing different than most other manufacturers.

    ___SoC gauge is 12 bars along the right hand side of the instrument cluster. I rode 25 miles from 8 bars to 5 bars of SoC but until the range test is done, who knows?

    ___Kickstand down is a lockout to the controller so it does not move even when booted up. Without that or the Off-switch in the off position, anyone coming up to the bike and turning the throttle is in for a rude surprise as it takes off. That kickstand interlock was a good idea...

    ___Silent as all get out! I expected a lot of chain lash but Zero has a very well built “mylar?” chain guide that really quiets that thing down. From 0 – 2 mph, there is a slight whine but after that, you will basically only hear wind past your helmet. I am riding without ear plugs in my Aria XD-3 so I can hear everything going on too!

    ___Mirrors are too small and in a horrible position. You do not look around your arms; you look between your body and your arms to see what is behind. Zero needs to work on this :(

    ___Cord can be wrapped up in the open frame tube above the swing arm pivot. The plug to the onboard charger itself is open to the elements. A plug cap is definitely needed.

    ___Rear rim is a 16x4.0 unit with a 140/70-16 Duro Street tire. 36 psi max sidewall and Zero specs 36 psi. Someone gets it :D

    ___Front Rim is a 16x3.0” unit with a 110/70x16 M/C 53P Duro. Again, 36 psi max sidewall and Zero specs it for that.

    ___She will only allow about 52 mph on the Interstate. Rumor is the 2010 may have more power, longer range and higher speed so that one should be taken care of with the 2010’s release imminent.

    ___There is a charging profile but I do not have the ability to watch the charge near top off :( I suspect it does the Voltage hold at 1,000 W for most of the charge, shuts down for a minute or two, charges on a low current profile for a few minutes and shuts down and than back to a voltage profile for a few minutes to finish up but again, it is charging at the Midwest Zero Motorcycle dist. Mike Mastangelo’s home right now.

    Zero S at the Bike meet this morning


    ___Ok, got to run and get some more seat time and charging stats over a given number of miles...

    ___Good Luck

    Last edited: Nov 23, 2009
  2. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi All:

    ___Finished up tonight’s ride after placing a full charge on the Zero S at Mike's home. I arrived in time to see the charging profile in action and it was not anything really unusual other than a slow drop from 9 A down to about 1 A (like watching paint dry so I did not catch the exact transition) and then a trickle charge at 5W and .13A afterwards. I was expecting the falloff to 0 A, a locked down current charge, a fall off and than another slow voltage charge for the final cycle which did not happen.

    Zero S after full SoC reached – Trickle Charge


    ___Charging from Mikes and my morning ride at 5-Bars of Soc back up to an apparent 12 bars. She consumed 3.25 kWh according to the Kill A Watt.

    ___For the trip back, it was city suburban from Highwood, IL to Wadsworth, IL with PSL’s of 20 to 50 mph in 39 to 45 degree temps. It was cold but I had the right gear ;)

    23.1 miles with a loss of 4-Bars SoC


    ___This one is the last time we hopefully see a Zero at a gas station... I took it for posterity’s sake and the reason I am excited for the Make and our future :D


    ___Tomorrow morning I will check and verify the Duro's are at 36 psi, run her down for a total range then perform a full charge from whatever 0% indicated SoC means to what ever 100% indicated SoC means. With the manual stating 3.7 kWh of useful energy from the EPA calculations and a possibly 4 kWh sized pack, Zero is possibly allowing the Li-Ion’s to be pulled way down leaving only 10% non-useable. I suspect there is a bit more than 4 kWh and possibly 10% to 90% actual from full to empty SoC?

    ___Good Luck

    Last edited: Nov 23, 2009
  3. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi All:

    ___Had a very interesting and tiring morning ;) Temperatures on the chilly side in the low to mid 40’s and overcast.

    2009 Zero S Right Rear Profile

    Just riding by with my son snapping a few pics before he went to school.​

    ___Wearing and Riding the very latest in fashion gear including an Arai XD-3 Helmet, Aerostich Darien Jacket and Pants and BMW Rallye (that is Rallye with an e) GS2 boots while on a 2009 Zero S BEM.

    ___Rode to my parents house on the back country roads and arrived at 41.7 miles and 5-Bars of SoC still left.


    ___15 miles to go, 5-bars of SoC plus a bit of Emergency reserve... Sure, no problem :rolleyes:

    ___Blinking 2-Bars of SoC at 49.5 miles and still almost 7-miles from home... Yeah, no problem. Slow her way down and begin to ride the edge or paved shoulder just to make sure.

    ___Blinking 1-Bar of SoC at 51.0 miles. Still 5.7 miles out... Pucker factor time :D

    ___Blinking gas mimic with 0-Bars of SoC at 53.8 miles... WTF happened to the SoC over the past 4 miles :confused: Really back it down to < 15 mph and coast on any small downhill.

    ___Emergency Reserve beeps begin at 54.6 miles... I think there is a few miles from this point according to the manual, right?

    ___55.2 miles... Oh #$(&, she just ran out of juice and I am 1.5 miles from home. #$( !@($ )!@#. Whoops, did not make it and with a long walk with a 270 pound bike ahead of me :D :D :D


    ___Walk into the drive panting away, pull off my gear, snap some pics and immediately begin the charging process.

    8.34 Amps – 1003 W - .03 kWh less than a minute after charging commenced.


    Lessons learned?

    ___In high 30 to high 40 degree temps, the Zero S is good for 55.2 miles in city/suburban stop light to stop light or sign type driving. Should be a bit more range in warmer temps but "You play your hand as they were dealt" in this case.

    ___When you see 2-Blinking Bars of SoC, you had better be close to an outlet because those last 2-Bars go a lot quicker than you would have thought.

    ___When you hear the high pitched tone of the battery on E-Reserve, be close to home, begin the super slow-mo ride and get your walking shoes ready.

    ___Finally, the BMW Rallye GS2 boots I was wearing are really comfortable to walk in while pushing a Zero S over at least 1.5 miles ;)

    ___Good Luck

    Last edited: Nov 23, 2009
  4. Right Lane Cruiser

    Right Lane Cruiser Penguin of Notagascar

    Too bad you don't have time to drive the SoC down again -- sounds like the software needed to have its idea of SoC recalibrated?
  5. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi All:

    ___The final installment with a few corrections. There are a total of 11-bars of SoC displayed on the instrument cluster, not 10 OR 12.

    Zero S Instrument Cluster

    55.2 miles and 11-Bars of SoC after charging.​

    The Charging event...

    ___I started taking these pics within 30 seconds of the last portion of the charging profile and there was a charging profile. I saw the initial fall from 1,000 W to ~ 140 W begin at about 3:40 into the charging event from 0% SoC. Around the 04:00 mark, the fall off from ~ 9 Amps to 1.25 Amps at 4.1 kWh input into the Zero S’ charger appeared. For the next ~ 10-minutes, the charging profile continued to hold at ~ 1.25 A or 140 W. After said 10-minutes, the std. trickle charge appeared just as I saw at Mike’s home yesterday w/ 5W and .11 A (my home’s V is a bit stronger than Mike’s). The Final kWh in according to the Kill A Watt was 4.15 kWh over 4 hours and 9-minutes.

    Final Trickle Charge with .11 A - 5 W and 4.15 kWh in over 4 hours 9 minutes.​

    Did the Zero S meets its specs?

    ___One is the penny per mile claim. My local electricity rate is ~ $0.12/kWh after all the delivery charges, taxes, service and supply fees:

    (4.15 kWh * $0.12/kWh)/55.2 miles = $0.00902/mile

    ___It certainly did. Consider a vehicle like the 2008 Honda CRF230L we tested last fall. Even with its 128 mpg Review FE, it would cost ($2.70/gallon)/(128 miles/gallon) = $0.02109/mile and this is the most fuel efficient vehicle we have ever reviewed! And the Zero S did not consume a single ounce of foreign oil!!!

    ___Did it meet the Full charge in under 4-hours?

    ___I would say it also met this target as the last 10-minutes of the 4 hours and 9 minute charge time was the charging profile topping off the pack in as gentle a manner as the onboard charger could be programmed.

    Left hand Control module

    ___Remember I mentioned that wonderful little Hi/Lo beam toggle lever? Boy do I love that thing :)

    Upper red lever is the Hi/Lo beam toggle.​

    ___However, the DRL headlight off (pos 0), DRL headlight on (pos 1) and full headlight on (pos 2) switch does not perform as I was originally told. The lower two toggles showed the DRL headlight and tail light lit. The last position showed the std. headlight lit and the rear tail lamp lit. I will have to call CA again to find out what the difference between Headlight switch position 0 (the position it is in now) and switch position 2 is?

    The working end of the Zero S up close and personal...

    Left and right sides of its high RPM motor.​

    No rain riding?

    ___Some clarification about the manual’s no inclement weather riding... You can but just do not blast through puddles and such. When you get home, pull the compressor out and blow out the motor internals just in case. I will speak with CA about this one a bit more as well.


    Really sharp as described above but I encountered its somewhat limited front wheel turning angle of just 35 degrees in each direction. While doing some slow speed turns in the street, I went to full lock and had to do a tap to stay upright. Not a big deal but just a note about it being a little tight is all.

    High Speed run

    ___Sort of a high speed run anyway ;) I took State Route 41 from Wadsworth all the way to Half Day road. About 15-miles of 45 – 55 mph PSL roadway with a few Stop Lights sprinkled along the way. As mentioned in the first post, she pulls strong up to about 48 mph and than it acts like “pushing on a string”. Amongst all the heavy Rush Hour traffic this afternoon however, there was a enough traffic side with everyone doing the std. Chicago Slice and Dice that I was able to hold a steady 55 without being in that soft and nothing left area. Once the vehicle packs cleared, the bike would drop back down to 45 + to hold that same level of confidence that there was a little left to deal with the tailgaters. If this bike had just another 10 mph, it would certainly be all that most would need. Even now, anything below 45 and you will have a blast. It is the stuff above 45 mph that limits its versatility. Although Bars of SoC do not give an accurate rep of what is left (it is a simple Terminal voltage conversion by all appearances), over 18-miles of this “ON IT” riding, she fell from 11 to 7 bars.

    ___About all for now.

    ___Good Luck


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