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Author Topic: Yet Another Zero S 6.5 Review  (Read 2040 times)

JBC444

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Re: Yet Another Zero S 6.5 Review
« Reply #15 on: January 31, 2017, 12:32:11 AM »

Lots of great points being made.  I will try to make time to reply to as many as possible later.  For now, a couple quick points:  Early adopters don't tend to make up enough of a market, necessitating penetration to the "average" consumer.  Many posters list the numerous modifications that they immediately made to the bike.  Hopefully, many will come to understand that a product that needs so many "out of the box" modifications is not ready for the mass market.

As we evaluate business models, our group has noted that the primary profit center for Zero likely isn't sales, but rather government incentives.  As an owner, my concern is that their lack of after-sales support is indicative of an intention to exit the market when incentives expire.

One other quick point:  The very first thing our marketing director noted was the abject failure of Zero to utilize even the most basic marketing efforts.  For example, both this forum and the Facebook page have no actual company presence.  I can't emphasize enough how basic a failure that is.

Here's one more quickie:  Many of you, as advocates, seem to have done more to advance the consumer understanding of this product.  There's one person in particular that our group noted and we are at a loss to determine why, after years of pushing their product, Zero hasn't hired BrianTRice...
« Last Edit: January 31, 2017, 12:37:30 AM by JBC444 »
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MajorMajor

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Re: Yet Another Zero S 6.5 Review
« Reply #16 on: January 31, 2017, 12:55:56 AM »

They probably can't afford him  8)
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Doug S

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Re: Yet Another Zero S 6.5 Review
« Reply #17 on: January 31, 2017, 01:15:06 AM »

I have to admit to being a little bit baffled about peoples' buying habits sometimes. In particular, why would anybody make a large purchase like a vehicle without having done enough research to have a very good idea what it is (and is not) that they're purchasing?

The Zero is not entirely like other bikes, and EVs in general are not exactly like other vehicles, ICE vehicles in particular. If you don't have a fairly good understanding of the differences, well enough to have a good idea whether an EV will or will not suit your needs, you should pretty seriously consider staying on the beaten path. I'm sometimes shocked how many people seem to have purchased Zeros without so much as a test ride.

The Zero is not a fire-breathing superbike, so if you're looking to carve up the canyons at triple-digit speeds, it's not a good fit for your needs. It's not a 1000-mile-per-day tourer, Terry's grit and determination notwithstanding. It's not a "high image" machine like a Harley. It's subject to range and charge time limitations, like most EVs, which get worse as speeds increase. That needs to be factored in if you do plan on high-speed fun rides or blast down the Autobahn.

But what the Zero is, it's world-class at. There's almost literally no way for me to complete my commute cheaper day in, day out...even San Diego's light rail would cost me more. Its torque delivery at low speed more than makes up for its relatively short legs on the high end, in 90%+ of use cases. If you're even slightly concerned about the environment, EVs are an essential part of our future stewardship, and some of us are going to have to step up as early adopters to bring solutions to the mainstream. Maintenance is infrequent, cheap and easy, though reliability isn't quite where it could be due to Zero still being a relatively young vehicle manufacturer.

But there are other rewards, too, perhaps not as tangible, but a simple test ride will reveal many of them. The torque is awesome, the silence is amazing, but to me the very best feature of the bike is its pure responsiveness. No other bike can jump as quickly on the freeway without the need for shifting down a couple of times or fanning the clutch to bring the RPMs up. Zero has kept the weight down and the geometry quick so it positively seems to read your mind sometimes. The sheer fun quotient is higher on my bike than any other bike I've ever ridden.

I don't claim the Zero is the perfect bike, but neither is any other. The Zero fits almost all of my needs very well, and although I'd love to be able to ride it farther and charge faster, on balance it's still made me happier than any other bike, and the proof is that I've got 30,000 miles on it, far more than I've ever put on any other bike.
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Shadow

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Re: Yet Another Zero S 6.5 Review
« Reply #18 on: January 31, 2017, 01:29:45 AM »

Employees of Zero Motorcycles read most of these forums but do rarely comment on them.

Tesla Motors does no advertising, either, it is all advocacy. When the Model 3 is deliverable the thing sells itself because it will be both familiar mid-level pricing and cutting-edge technology. You are not competing with ICE instead it is a long game to win consumer adoption, after which the best product at its price will be the leader.

People who want a 2-wheeled EV will want a Zero or not, but what other manufacturer sells them?
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JaimeC

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Re: Yet Another Zero S 6.5 Review
« Reply #19 on: January 31, 2017, 08:56:16 PM »

I'm going to agree with Doug S. comments above.  I didn't buy my S model to replace any of my existing ICE PTWs.  I bought it solely as a commuter and errand-runner and it is absolutely unbeatable in that role.  Almost 90% of my riding is commuting and running errands; I still have a full time job and can't just take off for days at a time on my bikes like I'd prefer (maybe one day I'll hit the Powerball or Megamillions, but until that time I have to work).

Using the Zero for day-to-day riding also saves wear and tear (and the not insignificant maintenance costs) on my two ICE bikes.  So far this month, here on Long Island (where we're enjoying a warmer than usual January) I've already logged 400 miles on the Zero compared to just over 100 miles on my C650GT and just over 80 miles on my K1200LT (the only ride I've done on that bike is a "Round Manhattan" ride on New Year's Day).

The Zero is enough fun that I will take it out on pure "joy rides" on the weekends too... as long as the ride is local and under 100 miles.  Surprisingly, I have quite a few of those in the summer, too.  The C650GT gets used when it's too cold to take the Zero.  Besides the built-in heated saddle and hand grips it also has enough electrical reserve to power my heated vest or jacket liner without having to worry if I'll make it home or not.  With it's cavernous underseat storage it also serves as a decent grocery runner too.  Finally, it makes a great "backup" bike to the K1200LT if I have a trip scheduled and the K1200LT is out of commission for one reason or another (doesn't happen often, but it HAS happened).

So yes, I did my homework before buying my S.  I even took a test ride on an SR and although I LOVED the sheer acceleration of that bike I wasn't ready to pay several thousand dollars OVER the cost of the S combined with triple the insurance premium.  The 2016 S is zippy enough and the 2017 S is even zippier.

Do I have any complaints?  Just one BIG one (and it's been mentioned here as well):  I'd love to be able to get a shop manual but one doesn't seem to exist; even for the servicing dealers!  I don't plan on doing any of my own work but I WOULD like to know basic torque figures, wiring diagrams and part numbers.  I really don't think that is too much to ask.
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2016 Zero S: Short trips in traffic
2013 BMW C650GT: Long trips in traffic
1999 BMW K1200LT: For everything else

Adan

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Re: Yet Another Zero S 6.5 Review
« Reply #20 on: January 31, 2017, 09:56:30 PM »

I had my S 6.5 mostly in eco mode for the first week just to make sure I had enough range for my daily rounds (I do, easily).  Yesterday put it in sport mode in the city.  What a blast this bike is as a streetfighter.  A teeny bit sluggish off the line compared to my erstwhile Empulse.  But so light and flickable, and acceleration from 20 to 40 makes carving up traffic so easy and an absolute joy.
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JBC444

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Re: Yet Another Zero S 6.5 Review
« Reply #21 on: January 31, 2017, 11:07:18 PM »

I continue to appreciate all the advocacy this site does for Zero.  Just imagine what could be accomplished for the company, if they actually did some of their own marketing.  By the way, marketing is not "advertising".  A company that doesn't effectively market isn't likely to succeed in the long run.  If the company is "watching" the forum, what do you suppose is their reason for no longer interacting, as they were doing some years back??  What success will that strategy lead to?

It looks like the thread has devolved into the typical defense-of-purchase approach.  I'm curious as to what, if any, reaction there might have been to the idea that the business model isn't sales, but government incentive, driven, but I think the initial points about the forum largely being populated by engineers and advocates is more significant than initially estimated.

Our group isn't likely to seek an investment in Zero, but rather, might consider the opportunities left on the table by Zero, which seem to be adding up.
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Adan

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Re: Yet Another Zero S 6.5 Review
« Reply #22 on: January 31, 2017, 11:27:29 PM »

If the original poster came here for fact checking, I hope he accomplished some of that.  His estimate that the range is 20-30% less than represented is clearly wrong, though we can't rule out that there is something wrong with his particular bike.

I don't really get the "advocacy," and "defense of purchase" comments.  I think the Zero is a great product.  I'm happy to tell anyone why.  If someone who doesn't even have a motorcycle license and just bought one pops up on the internet with a few obvious criticisms (the seat is thin, etc . . .), am i suddenly "defending my purchase"?  I don't think so.  I think I'm just continuing to describe a great product. 

Is it an unfair ad hominem attack to bring up the motorcycle license?  I don't think so.  If I was a potential investor, I'd want a review from an experienced motorcyclist, someone who has logged tens of thousands of miles on many different bike.  I'm making an assumption here, but my guess anyone like that has an M license.

Should anyone invest in an electric motorcycle company?  I have no idea.  They obviously haven't caught on to any great extent.  It's a shame, because having owned 3 of them I think they're the greatest thing since sliced bread.  I've spent a lot of my own money on them because in my mind there is no better way to commute.  I tell people this all the time because it's the truth.  And they're just getting better.  what's not to be excited about?
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domingo3

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Re: Yet Another Zero S 6.5 Review
« Reply #23 on: February 01, 2017, 12:43:15 AM »

JBC444,

  I wouldn't consider myself to be an advocate for Zero, but I do like to think that I've made a good purchase (2016 FXS).  Here are some comments.

  I find it strange that nobody has pointed out that you've picked what most would consider to be the least desirable model (neglecting consideration for price) out of the lineup.  This is not an attack against you, but you really don't sound like a motorcycle rider when I read your review.  Read through reviews of other bikes, and you'll see that people with 6 foot frames frequently complain about the bikes feeling small.  The windscreen and seat aren't that important to me for comfort.  The short range of the bike prevents anyone from being on the bike long enough to get fatigued.  There are tons of "naked" bikes that don't have screens fitted on them, and this fits that styling.  I feel that people are more often getting windscreens to try to improve range, which is reported to be effective.  Lots of bikes sell with pretty crappy OEM seats and mirrors.  I'd almost consider it somewhat of a standard for motorcycles.  I find the side stand plenty adequate and center stands are rare for bikes this small.
  I agree with you on the lack of desire to use the app while riding.  I don't have any suggestions to make it better, I just don't have a use for it.  I also share your disappointment with Zero's lack of marketing/customer care.  I fear having to go through a warranty issue or major repair with this bike.  Thankfully, it has been dead reliable in the 6 months that I've owned it, but that fear was the biggest factor that held me back from making a purchase for quite some time.
  I find your suggestion that Zero is positioned to exit the market when government incentives dry up very interesting.  I don't have enough basis to agree or disagree with you, but would like to hear more.  Is there precedent for this kind of business practice?  What predictions do you have?
  Given how small the market is, and the relatively poor success of other electric motorcycle manufacturers, do you really think there are viable opportunities left of the table by Zero?  If so, what are they?  I had assumed that the next step would be one of the established motorcycle brands bringing an electric to market, either through their own engineering or by acquiring Zero.  We all saw how that worked out with Brammo/Polaris, so I'm not holding my breath.  Again, I'm curious what you predict will happen on this front.
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gingerjet

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Re: Yet Another Zero S 6.5 Review
« Reply #24 on: February 01, 2017, 01:17:05 AM »

I live in San Diego and own a 2016 S 6.5.  I couldn't make it through the entire interview because I saw it going off the rails (no pun intended).   Two points:

>> motorcycle endorsement

We can argue about the usefulness of this and many other CA laws but its not relevant to a motorcycle review.  But the law -is- clear.   I didn't have a motorcycle endorsement on my CA drivers license so I went through a third party training program that ate up about 16 hours of my time.  I actually found it kind of fun (if you enjoy 16 hours of sarcasm by the instructor).  I then walked into the CA DMV and had the endorsement in about 15 minutes.  And yes you can get through a CA DMV in no time if you actually plan ahead).

>>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.

My commute is 23.5 miles garage to garage all highways speeds.  If I go 75 MPH (1 mile lower than where the highway patrols will start picking you off on HW15) I show up at the office with 51% on the battery.  I've managed to do this exactly once on a sunday morning.  But as highway speeds vary due to traffic I usually show up at the office around 60% to 65% on the battery (going between 30 and 80MPH).  I've exceeded the Zero speced "city" mileage of 81 miles a couple of times on one charge so I actually think their specs are on the low side. 

Lastly ... I'm not a guy who goes on long motorcycle weekend trips (I actually spend most of my time on a peddle bike in my spare time) so that already makes me not your standard motorcycle owner.  I bought the bike for one purpose.  To commute to work and it fits the need perfectly. 
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Doug S

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Re: Yet Another Zero S 6.5 Review
« Reply #25 on: February 01, 2017, 02:13:23 AM »

I continue to appreciate all the advocacy this site does for Zero.


Advocacy? Is a person an "advocate" who likes a product and reports that? You're making it sound like we're a bunch of sheep with no independent thought processes. In reality, my evaluation is that we're a bunch of highly intelligent, motivated, independent, passionate motorcyclists who really love the product Zero has created. We're very well aware of the shortcomings as well as the advantages, and on balance we're very impressed. Don't trivialize that by lumping us together as "advocates".

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Just imagine what could be accomplished for the company, if they actually did some of their own marketing.  By the way, marketing is not "advertising".  A company that doesn't effectively market isn't likely to succeed in the long run.  If the company is "watching" the forum, what do you suppose is their reason for no longer interacting, as they were doing some years back??  What success will that strategy lead to?

Marketing is a tool that's used to generate sales, which is very often a concern for companies in general, but may not be the roadblock Zero is currently facing. Tesla doesn't bother with marketing or advertising because they're already selling every single vehicle they can build. Their current struggle is ramping up production to the point where they NEED to generate sales. I suspect Zero is in the same situation. There's no need for marketing if you're selling out every production run.

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It looks like the thread has devolved into the typical defense-of-purchase approach.

Wow. I haven't seen anybody do that. We're simply trying to explain to someone who doesn't seem to want to understand what we do and don't like about the product. Interpret that as you wish, but if that's what you think you've seen, I'm really beginning to question your judgment.

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I'm curious as to what, if any, reaction there might have been to the idea that the business model isn't sales, but government incentive, driven...

Ah. Second time you've tried to make that point, so now we're getting down to it, aren't we? I'm not going to actually call you a troll like I have some people, your comments to date fall far short of that, but that is a pretty "trollish" thing to say, especially on an EV forum, don't you think? If you really think Zero is in business to chase those delicious government dollars, I consider my suspicions about your judgment pretty much confirmed. I'm 100% convinced that's not why they're in business, especially given that they don't seem to have any particular financial problems --they're bringing prices down every year, and selling more and more vehicles every year, even through some fairly tough times for vehicle manufacturers.

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Our group isn't likely to seek an investment in Zero, but rather, might consider the opportunities left on the table by Zero, which seem to be adding up.

Why? If you're not going to invest, why do you care? Do you just want to sit back and throw stones or is there some other purpose to watching on the sidelines?
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gyrocyclist

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Re: Yet Another Zero S 6.5 Review
« Reply #26 on: February 01, 2017, 06:51:31 AM »


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Our group isn't likely to seek an investment in Zero, but rather, might consider the opportunities left on the table by Zero, which seem to be adding up.
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Why? If you're not going to invest, why do you care? Do you just want to sit back and throw stones or is there some other purpose to watching on the sidelines?

Scratching my head ... is Zero at all interested in "investments" by groups like yours? They seem to be doing pretty darn O.K. in the ten years they've been producing bikes.

I've no idea what "opportunities left on the table by Zero" means. Could you elaborate?
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grmarks

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Re: Yet Another Zero S 6.5 Review
« Reply #27 on: February 02, 2017, 08:27:37 AM »

JBC444 I am in Australia and I have no idea about US government incentive, do they get incentives for US sales or for each bike manufactured?

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ticobrahe

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Re: Yet Another Zero S 6.5 Review
« Reply #28 on: February 02, 2017, 09:54:25 AM »

Since this has transitioned into a "why we like or dislike our zeros", here's my opinion from an 16 SR owner of just over a year...

I have been riding Suzuki and Triumph ICE cruisers and various dirt bikes for many years. I, on a whim, went to test ride a zero. Sales guy put me on both a DSR and SR. Loved both. Would've gone with the DSR for the dual-purpose capability but it was a couple inches too tall (as most dual purposes seem to be for me; don't get me started about KTMs or Kawasakis) and I didn't want to mess with a lowering link or the suspension or forks. I had wood when I dismounted both bikes after those first test rides.

I've got just over 1K miles on the SR in the past year and all of them have been for the purpose of joy. I thought I would use it for commuting, but quickly found that my other bikes do a better job at that based on my requirements.

I used to surf Orange County beaches growing up and haven't been able since an injury to my knee while serving in Iraq. But I can still ride. And I ride the shit out of my SR, often testing the 102 governor and taking corners in the mountains like I would when attacking a wave on my board. It genuinely reminds me of the body mechanics used while surfing. Balance, body coordination timed with environmental indicators, etc. My other ICE bikes don't make me feel that. When folks ask what it is like to ride (and they ask often), I tell them, "you ever see the movie Tron? I'm the blue dude on the light cycle with this thing".

Granted, I am absolutely an outlier from the mass market that will need be penetrated for Zero to become Tesla-like; cult-followed and lusted after by just about every motorist out there. But for me, my SR is like a third child in that it brings out emotions in me that I don't feel while riding the other bikes or participating in other activities. Perhaps it's the instant torque on demand, or how I can flick it around like it's a broomstick between my legs, or who knows why.

I had/have reservations about buying a $17K toy from a start-up in an unproven market that is still trying to figure itself out. But as of this moment, I've had very few problems, feel good about taking some Co2s out of the atmosphere, and still get wood each and every time I ride. Like half a Cialis type wood.

Zero has certainly not matured (as one would hope for a 10+ year old business) on a pace that many business experts would have liked to observe, but from what I hear, the folks in Scotts Valley feel great about their prospects in a growing (albeit, slowly) industry and they are aware that folks like me exist. And the staff, from two different engineers I've spoken with, to the regional sales guy, to Dave who travels the country selling the idea, to the lady who answers the phone ... they all buy-in. In my book, that means that at least they give a damn about their individual missions within the overall org.

Agreed, the dealer arrangements, parts-ordering, warranty-confusion and marketing efforts could be improved/expanded. But, as far as I'm concerned, I'm good with having one of the only ones in the region and feeling somewhat special that I lucked into it on a lark.

One thing that strikes me as odd from the OP is that if he is a vc that is genuinely potentially interested in putting a substantial amount of capital into zero, aren't all the shortcomings brought up pretty easily addressable. Moreover, doesn't OP have folks in his group whose sole job is to go in and redirect outfits that are missing out on potential opportunities for growth and maturation? Like the dudes who put fires out so the org accomplishes what it is capable of?

I dunno. Maybe I just have no idea how all that works.
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Doug S

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Re: Yet Another Zero S 6.5 Review
« Reply #29 on: February 02, 2017, 11:38:06 AM »

JBC444 I am in Australia and I have no idea about US government incentive, do they get incentives for US sales or for each bike manufactured?

Politically right-wing people in our country often say things like that, implying or outright stating that companies like Tesla and Zero are getting rich off of government subsidies. In reality, neither Tesla nor Zero receive a dime from the government subsidy of electric vehicles. It's the PURCHASER of the vehicle that receives a tax credit for some portion of the purchase price of the vehicle. It varies a bit from year to year, and some states also kick in a few dollars, but a typical tax credit has been 10% of the price of the vehicle, subject to a $7,500 maximum. It seems very unlikely that any form of subsidy will be renewed under our new administration.

Again, Zero doesn't receive any of that money. It is true that it makes purchasing an EV somewhat easier, driving up sales a bit, which is (of course) the point of a subsidy. There are also occasionally grants and/or loans given to companies of all sorts, such as the loan given to Tesla early on in its development (which they paid back early), but those aren't based on production numbers, and I'm not aware of any major grants and/or loans being given to Zero, Brammo, or any of the other electric motorcycle manufacturers.
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