I have been following this forum for about a month. It seems more like an advocacy site than a forum, so I anticipate this review may not be entirely well-received. Many posters appear to be engineers or possess technical backgrounds, and so much of the information posted reflects that. My review is intended to reflect an "average" consumer experience, however, in the interest of full and fair disclosure, I am a mostly-retired venture capitalist. My venture group is considering a range of investments in electric transportation and we wanted a hands-on, from-the-buyer, perspective on both the product and the company as we do research into where and how to place our funds. I was willing to serve as the guinea pig and buy this expensive toy. This review will help me to draft an article for our firm's periodical, which goes out to our principals and limited partners, well as into other industry re-publications.
I purchased my 2017 Zero S on December 27. It was delivered to the dealership within the "7-10 business days" that were quoted to me. Once it arrived, I did DMV paperwork and waited for them to deliver it to me. In California, where I live, one can not drive a motorcycle off the lot without a Motorcycle license endorsement, which I lacked. While this may in fact be the law, it doesn't protect the consumer, but rather, protects the dealer only. Silly, especially as California Highway Code is ambiguous at best on the need for such an endorsement. This practice is not related in any way to Zero and the silliness of the law is just my opinion.
I intend on putting the bike through it's paces "stocK", although many of the wonky modifications are ... interesting and sometimes amusing. Along with the bike, I purchased the "commuter" version of the windscreen and a week after purchase, added the "rain guard" rear fender. Like others, the lack of a rear fender seemed a senseless liability. You may argue style points, but fenders serve a purpose. Duh.
I've now put 250 miles on the bike. The promised range as quoted in sales literature and in the manual seem to be exaggerated on the order of 25-30%. While I have not run the bike completely dry and stranded myself, I am fairly certain that, under any circumstances, it is unlikely to go any further than 60 miles or so. Is this a scientific analysis? Of course not. Don't expect the typical consumer, if you intend to reach that market, to be interested in the scientific details of why the range is not as "promised", but do expect the consumer to hold you to your promises. The company promises 80, although the number of qualifications and exceptions to that promise must have won their lawyer a big bonus. The physics isn't complicated or hard to understand, but the promise is made boldly in many places, while the caveats are downplayed to the bare minimum required to meet fair disclosure tests and only appear in the online manual (another HUGE fail for consumers). So, as a toy, it's a great bike. For transportation, it's a disappointing limitation and less than impressive. I expected better.
Aside from the exaggerated range claims, the bike itself has a lot going for it, so far. It delivers on the promised torque, is relatively quiet, presuming that the sound it makes is not indicative of internal parts harmfully rubbing against each other, that is... It's certainly fast, has more top end than I need even in eco mode, and a gets good marks for low vibrations, which one would expect from a new machine but is certainly nice.
I have yet to determine any meaningful function for the associated "app" other than to program the "custom" mode. That mode seems to function mainly as a way to change the level of brake regeneration. True, you can modify torque and high end as well, but you can do that by the way you twist the throttle, too. I suppose it's a fun distraction, but I'm not an engineer nor am I obsessed with battery statistics, so, meh. The idea that I would mount my phone on the handlebars and then look at it while driving is just completely alien to me. Of course, I'm over fifty and don't walk around holding my phone in front of me, like pedestrians in a crosswalk...
The seat is uncomfortable and poorly engineered, the mirrors are nearly useless in their original configuration and only minimally adjustable. The right mirror assembly is integrated into the brake handle, meaning that if you re-position the mirror, you also re-position the brake handle inaccessibly. The headlight seems inadequate and a poor choice, given how much better and modern LEDs would have been. I find the side stand doesn't inspire confidence and anticipate that, sooner or later, it will fall over if the ground surface isn't perfect. While a center stand might require some thought, some thought would have been a worthwhile investment when it comes to a safe, stable center stand.
Since I am a slim guy, I do like the reduced weight of the bike. However, the ergonomics of the bike are so poor that I wonder what height they imagined their riders to be. I am only 6 ft, and I feel like a giant riding a minibike. A comfortable riding position, based on the distance between seat and handlebars, is difficult to find and maintain. Thus far, the poor ergonomics have elicited to much fatigue to go beyond 30 miles or so.
While I've never owned a bike with a windscreen before, I have ridden plenty. This windscreen is ... just too small to be effective. The other OEM choices seemed either too small or like something that would shimmy, rattle, vibrate or even come apart under road conditions. Like others, I anticipate the need to find one elsewhere that actually does the job.
As for the company, itself, I am seriously underwhelmed. They have no after-sales concept at all, going on my experience. I contacted them with inquiries about the lack of customer contact, failure to produce any sort of warranty card, and failure even to acknowledge the purchase and start date of the warranty. I would categorize their reply as unresponsive and give them a complete "fail" on customer care/service/marketing, which seems to be the consistent experience of most owners. I disclosed our venture group's interest and that we were doing a review article for the industry, but customer and media relations don't seem to be a concept that has registered with this company. The argument that they are "new" is unpersuasive, given their ten year anniversary and the list of market failures is extensive
Our initial review will be updated in six months, once I have more on the road experience with the bike as well as with any other after-market experiences with the company. The biggest question remaining is whether there will truly be any warranty support, how the need will arise, and what process, if any, evolves for handling warranty repairs. All information so far points to this area as another epic fail for the company, and yet, given the claims of "zero" maintenance, may be ingenious from a cost-savings standpoint for the company. Time will tell. The great thing about so many weaknesses in the Zero model is that they do create some genuine opportunities for others to enter or mature the market.
Our group is considering the electric vehicle market and the various opportunities that might arise as the industry reaches a level of competence. We will be paying more attention to the market deficiencies of companies like Zero and determining the best opportunities for advancement of a profitable long0term business model. Pioneers, like Zero, have contributed a lot to that model, both in their successes and in their failings.
Feel free to comment. You can't hurt my feelings.