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Author Topic: 2014 Zero DS(P) Long Term Review  (Read 735 times)

MostlyBonkers

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2014 Zero DS(P) Long Term Review
« on: June 30, 2017, 11:42:05 PM »

Part 1 of 2

Summary

This is my review based on being an electric motorcycle enthusiast for four years, owning one for over 16 months and riding it for 12,500 miles at the time of writing (June 2017).

Good: Ride, refinement, low running costs.

Bad: Customer service, rear wheel.

Terminology

ICE - Internal Combustion Engine  (traditional bike engine that runs on petrol/gasoline)


Introduction

I started this journey with electric motocycles in the Spring of 2013 when Motor Cycle Monthly (UK bike paper) ran an article on the 2013 Zero S.  I was captivated, not just by the relatively advanced development of that particular model, but simply by the fact that an electric motorcycle even existed!  I wouldn't be surprised if many bikers are in the same boat today.

I test rode a 2013 S, joined the Electric Motorcycle Forum, tested a 2012 S and later a 2014 S.  Each time I test rode a different model I was extremely tempted to buy one.  I couldn't quite justify it though, until an opportunity too good to miss came up towards the end of 2015.  Streetbike in Birmingham had a few Police specification 2014 DS bikes to sell at a discounted price.  I was able to get hold of one and took delivery towards the end of January 2016.


Riding Experience

The width of the handlebars is one of the first things that's noticeable.  That and not having any kind of audible cue that the bike is switched on.  Twisting the throttle is a hint at how refined a Zero is.  The power feeds in as slowly and smoothly as you like and gives the feeling of total control.  I don't know how much effort went into tuning the way the throttle works, but it is highly comendable.  There's none of the snatchiness that you might associate with many modern fuel injected engines.

The bike isn't the fastest off the line for the first couple of feet but picks up very nicely thereafter.  There is no lag at all. With no gears to change it may surprise a new rider when they look at the speedo.  The acceleration feels strong right up to motorway speeds with enough to overtake most traffic.  There is no interruption in acceleration due to having to change gears and the enjoyment doesn't get old.  For me, one of the nicest aspects of the electric riding experience is the effortless torque.  It's just there when needed and just as much as you want at any speed.  When you want to go, you just go.  No messing around, no song and a dance from an engine under load.  It puts all but the most powerful ICE bikes to shame.  There is very little noise from the electric motor at all.  Above 40 miles per hour, I'm hard pushed to hear anything other than wind noise.  I rate the experience similar to flying a glider as opposed to a Cessna.

The motor is capable of regenerative braking and I leave it at the maximum setting in custom mode all the time.  It behaves like engine breaking a v-twin in third gear.  It isn't as strong as in my electric car, but certainly reduces how much I have to use the disc brakes.  Often I'll just use the brakes to come to a stop or hold on a hill.

All this combines to create a sense of tranquility and calm whilst also being pleasureable and fun.  An experience that's difficult to do justice in writing.  I urge you to take a test ride as it's really quite different to any ICE bike I've ridden.  I'm convinced my riding is influenced for the better as it is so unlike the noise from a traditional engine.  Pistons, bangs, induction and exhaust noises simulate a jungle drum beat goading me on.  I'm sure it works at the subconscious level as well, constantly challenging me to open the taps and see what it's got.  I find that particularly with high revving sports bikes.  It's like they want to be ridden hard and I do find it exhilarating.  I'm not always in the mood for it though (especially on my commute) and I'll take the peace and quiet of my Zero over that most of the time.  I'm not saying I can't ride an ICE bike without ringing its neck of course, just that riding my Zero encourages a riding style more akin to its own levels of refinement.

Range

This is almost always the first thing that I get asked when people find out that I ride an electric motorcycle.

I soon discovered that I could count on 65 miles of mixed riding from a full charge.  On my first decent ride I got home with 65 miles on the trip counter and 5% charge remaining.  Mixed riding for me means fast A roads, riding at 40-60 on B roads, a little bit of dual carriageway or motorway at 70mph or so and a small amount of town riding.  It's the kind of riding I do for pleasure and I would describe my riding style as spirited; I like opening the throttle but I don't qualify for the hooligan league. 

Over 12,000 miles later, 65 miles is a number I can still rely on when planning a ride for fun.  Call it a baseline if you will.  The vast majority of my riding is done on my commute to work.  It's a fifty mile round trip and I usually get home with at least 22% charge, which is mostly dependent on the route I take home and the traffic.  If I take the M1 home it adds a few more miles to the trip and those are at high speed, so I may only end up with 10-15% .  On an average day I'll get to work with 66% charge remaining and I could easily get home with 30% left on a regular basis if I wanted to.

The biggest factor affecting range is speed and is due to the drag generated by air resistance.  The power required to push through the air increases as the cube of velocity.  There is an interesting table at the bottom of the following web page which illustrates how this works:

http://phors.locost7.info/phors06.htm

You will soon learn this in practice when riding an electric vehichle.  Riding above 70mph really gobbles up the power.  I generally avoid motorways when riding for pleasure, but I also run a Kia Soul EV.  It has the aerodynamic qualities of a brick and yet many car journeys involve fast roads and the national speed limit of 70mph.  I notice a significant difference in range if I drive at 65 rather than 70.  You wouldn't think that 5mph would make such a difference, but it does.  Wind direction can also make a big difference. 

Ride and Handling

I'm no expert in this area but I will say that I think that the bike handles confidently, with one very important caveat:  change the stock tyres as soon as you can afford to.  Those Kendra tyres might seem alright at first, but they are hopeless in the cold and wet.  I rode them throughout winter and found myself riding the bike as though it was on ice.  The rear would lose grip at the slightest provocation and it really began to dent my confidence and spoil my enjoyment.  At 10,000 miles the rear had worn enough for me to replace it and I put a pair of Metzler Touranes on.  What a transformation!  It was like a different bike and it felt like a second honeymoon but with a new wife!  The Metzler tyres are also quieter and there is no vibration with the front.  The grip is in a different league entirely and the bike feels planted and stable in corners.  I recently test rode a BMW GS and I'll go as far as saying that my Zero does imitate the handling characteristics of the GS a little.  Before anyone gets upset by that statement, a current Zero couldn't possibly be the same as a GS but there is a flavour of it, which is no bad thing.  I'd like to get a few seasoned GS riders to try my Zero and test that theory.

The seat is pretty comfortable for an hour or so and the suspension is responsive but not harsh.  The 2014 DS tracks well and doesn't wallow in corners.  Smoothness is the keyword here with no gears to change and the low centre of gravity makes cornering a pleasure.  The bike is an absolute joy to ride on country roads.

Off-Road

I've taken my Zero off road a number of times and have really enjoyed the experience.  Riding off road doesn't use up much power, so it's possible to have many hours of fun on a charge.  The lack of engine noise means the sounds of the countryside can be enjoyed.  It also means that others can enjoy the countryside without being disturbed, so you get smiles rather than scowls from people walking their dogs.  I'd say the DS is fine for green lanes, fire roads and that kind of thing.  It can do more but you should consider the FX if you want to take it seriously.  The DS is a bit heavy and the belt drive is susceptable to stones or sticks causing problems. 

Performance

If I had to describe performance in one word, it would be: Effortless.  People go out and spend lots of money on big bikes to get effortless performance from high capacity engines which tend to make quite a song and dance about it.  I just love the way that my Zero just glides away from the lights leaving all the cars (and many bikes) behind.  The initial pull from a standing start isn't as good as your average ICE bike that has the benefit of 1st gear, although it isn't bad.  Once rolling, acceleration is strong and continuous.  I'm so used to it that I find getting back on an ICE bike mildly frustrating; no sooner do I set off and I run out of revs!  I like changing gear as much as the next guy, but sometimes it can feel like an inconvenience.  Not having to keep an ear on the engine note is rather liberating too.  I don't miss a manual transmisison even though I find using one quite rewarding.

This is all made possible by the amount of torque the electric motor generates and the fact that it can provide maximum torque throughout the entire rev range.  I think it probably tails off a bit over 80mph, but it matters less to me at that speed.  The characteristic of being able to provide maximum torque instantly is what makes riding an electric motorcycle such a pleasure.  It is worth pondering for a while.  On a traditional motorcycle you really have to work the engine to get maximum torque and it will only last for an instant before you have to change gear again to keep in the best rev range for torque and power.  Being able to twist the throttle at any speed and have instant strong acceleration is safer, easier and fun.


Energy and the Battery

The 2014 DS has a Z-Force 11.4 battery pack which has a nominal capacity of 10kWh.  I used to think that was about three times the average daily household consumption in the UK, but I was wrong.  I happens to be about three times the amount we use at home in our three bed semi with gas central heating.  It seems that 3,800kWh per annum is a reasonable figure to use according to this document:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/295244/Revisions_to_DECC_domestic_energy_bill_estimates.pdf

So that's a little over 10kWh for the average household per day.

It sounds like quite a lot and it is, I suppose.  Perhaps a more biker friendly way of putting it, is that it is about the same energy than is given off by burning quarter of an imperial gallon of petrol. A U.S. gallon contains about 33kWh of energy, so more like a third of a U.S. gallon.  That's where these 200mpg(e) figures come from.  The 'e' standing for equivalent.

You may also be interested to learn that it takes over 4kWh of electricity to refine a gallon of petrol.  See Robert Llewellyn's great Fully Charged episode here:



Elon Musk estimated it higher at 5kWh and said this:  "You have enough electricity to power all the cars in the country if you stop refining gasoline. You take an average of 5 kilowatt hours to refine one gallon of gasoline, something like the Model S can go 20 miles on 5 kilowatt hours."

I pay about 17p/kWh for electricity via Ecotricity.  It's a bit higher than a lot of suppliers but they buy their energy from renewable sources and generate a lot themselves.  They also make it cheaper to use their rapid chargers at service stations, so it balances out a bit when I charge my car.  Anyhow, using those figures it costs 8 x .17 = £1.36 for my daily commute.  My wife pays half of our electricity bill through our joint account and it's rather nice not having to pay for petrol out of my own pocket twice a week.  All being well they'll be installing electric sockets where I park my bike at work soon, so I'll make the most of that too.

The battery is Li-ion and uses a Nickel, Managanese, Cobalt chemistry.  It comes with a five year warranty and Zero expect it to last well in excess of 200,000 miles before its capacity drops to 80% of its original.  Being the most expensive component of the bike, you might want to read more about it here:

http://zeromanual.com/index.php/Unofficial_Service_Manual#Battery

In a nutshell, it is designed to outlive the service life of the bike.  You just charge it when you can and if you aren't going to use it for a long time, it might be worth storing it at about 50% charge.  Don't leave it at a low state of charge for a long time and don't feel you need to run the battery down before recharging it.  Don't compare it to the battery in your phone or laptop.  It uses a different cell chemistry which is designed to last a long time.

Cold Weather and Low Charge Levels

Battery performance is affected by both of the above.  The bike's systems limit the amount of power that can be drawn from the battery pack at lower states of charge in order to protect it.  During temperate weather and normal riding it isn't noticeable until the charge drops below 30%.  However, during cold weather it becomes more noticeable.  The vast majority of the time it isn't a problem for me.  I'll often find that I'm limited to around 70mph on the last leg of my journey home along the M25.  Acceleration isn't as lively as usual.  It becomes more of a problem when the temperature drops to 5C or below, which doesn't happen too often in the UK. The worst case I've had is having my speed limited to 55mph on the motorway but it has only happened once.  Usually the bike will maintain 60-70mph even when it's cold.  Below 10% charge the power will reduce no matter how good the weather is.  At very low charge levels I've only managed 30mph.  I don't recommend riding or driving an EV below 10%.

If you buy a more recent model, especially a 2016 or above, the power restrictions are less intrusive. I wouldn't let it put you off unless you often ride to the limit of your bike's range in cold weather conditions.

Display

I find the display to be perfectly adequate and easy to read.  There are options to show things like estimated range, trip distance, current and average energy consumption.  I like to display the trip counter and the motor temperature.  More on this below.

Motor Temperature

The 2014 DS uses a surface mounted permanent magnet motor (SPM) which has a tendency to overheat when ridden hard.  Once the motor gets above 100C an amber warning light flashes.  At 110C and above the light goes steady to indicate that power will be reduced to protect the motor from any damage.  I rarely get the flashing light either on my daily commute or when riding for recreation.  I'd expect it to be more of a problem if I lived in a hilly area or insisted on keeping the throttle wide open at every opportunity.  If I find the temperature is high while on the motorway, I can keep my speed at 70mph and the temperature will drop slowly.  I can maintain 75mph on the motorway for a good while.  80mph will get the motor up to 100C in just a few miles.  Anything over 80mph and the motor gets hot very quickly.  A headwind or tail wind can make a bid difference here too.  I find the motor temperature a good indication of how much power I'm using without getting hung up on average Wh figures.  Conversley, it also acts a little like one of those Nitro guages in a driving game.  If the motor temp is quite low, I know I can ride fast for a while if I want to.  I have performance in reserve, if you like.

For most people, most of the time, motor temperature isn't going to be a problem.  However, if you like short blasts of riding fast on mountain roads, then it will be.  Fortunately Zero have a solution in the form of their internal mounted permanent magnet motors (IPM).  These don't suffer from the currents that can build up within the magnets in an SMP motor and therefore don't overheat.  I know they are fitted to the SR and DSR models from 2016 onwards.
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MostlyBonkers

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Re: 2014 Zero DS(P) Long Term Review
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2017, 11:43:09 PM »

Part 2 of 2

Commuting

Despite the wide handlebars, the Zero DS makes an excellent commuter.  Filtering would be a little easier with narrower handlebars, but it doesn't hold me up much.  I would moan about it here if it did.  I think commuting is the best use of a Zero S or DS really.  As long as you've got enough range to get to work and back on one charge, then there's no anxiety about charging as you just plug the bike in when you get home and it's full the next morning.  If you can guarantee a charge at work, then that's nice to have.  Sometimes I get an opportunity to go for a ride after work and then it's nice to start from a full charge.

The cost savings from fuel and very little maintenance mount up quickly.  My commute costs over £80 per month in petrol or less than £30 per month in electricity.  People on cheaper electricity tariffs could easily drop that to £20 per month.  The convenience of no chain maintenance is wonderful.  Tyres last much longer than they do on ICE bikes as do brake pads.  I'm also convinced that knobbly dual sport tyres are less prone to punctures.

Riding in the city is a dream on my Zero compared to having gears and a clutch.  I actually find the sound of other motorcycles mildly annoying these days, especially at traffic lights when otherwise there are a few moments of peace and quiet before the rush hour continues.

I commute all year round in all the weather that the UK can throw at it; rain, salted roads etc.  It's fair to say that the bike has a hard life.  I don't bother washing it unless I've been off-road and has mud caked everywhere and it seems fine.  No matter how hard the rain, it has never let me down.  The only time I've had any kind of isolation errors from water intrusion was after washing it.  I only used a hosepipe but I did give it a thorough soaking.  The isolation errors didn't stop me riding it and cleared after about 10 miles.

Bearings and the Real Wheel

Unfortunately I have to report that there is a design issue with the rear wheel and bearings.  My bearings failed at 8,000 miles.  I got them replaced and they failed again less than 3,000 miles later.  This time quite catastrophically and they lathed out the inside of the wheel axle.  A new rear wheel was the only solution.  One or two people have had some success with using different bearings and it is worth checking the forum and zeromanual site for info.

Customer Service

For one reason or another it took Zero 9 weeks to supply my dealer with a new rear wheel.  I was without my bike for two calendar months.  Communication was appaling as was Zero's incompetence.  It took a lot of chasing, a lot of hassle and far too much of my time.  It was a deeply unpleasant experience which has unfortunately been shared by many other Zero customers.  Apparently a lot of the issues stem from Zero setting up a new distribution centre in Europe.

Until this experience, I didn't realise just how important customer service would be.  It needs to be top notch for a commuter bike.  At least I was given a courtesy bike for the duration, but it's not the same.  Courtesy bikes also come with a £1,000 insurance excess if there are any problems.  I don't think my dealer was too pleased about having one of their bikes tied up by one customer for two months either.

There is some good news though.  In the end, the lightbulb went on at Zero HQ, the matter was expedited and the wheel was shipped directly via air freight.  It's important to note that Zero did come good in the end and set things right.  They are also making progress with the European distribution centre so we can expect the supply of parts to improve dramatically in future.  It's the same model that other manufacturers use so that parts can be delivered to dealers throughout Europe within 2-3 days.

I hope Zero manage to get on top of this problem soon.  If nothing else, they are acutely aware of it now!  My advice to anyone considering buying a Zero in Europe is to make sure your local dealer is happy to provide you with a courtesy bike when an issue can't be fixed the same day.  Make sure that the dealer has good contacts at Zero and make sure you always ask for lots of details about any parts that need ordering;  expected delivery date, where they're getting shipped from, tracking number and so on.

Having been through this experience, I've learnt that Zero do mean well even though it might not come across that way when you're in the middle of it.  Knowing this,  I would buy another bike from them in the future.  That might surprise some of you, but I can honestly say Zero's heart is in the right place when all is said and done.  That's what really counts to me.  If I have trouble with my bike again, I know that Zero will get it fixed and they are not a bunch of charlatans.  For any of you going through customer support issues, please take some faith from this. Always treat Zero's staff with respect, be patient and ultimately you will get looked after.  They are bikers, after all! :-)

Reliability

The on-board chargers in 2014 model year (MY) bikes are notoriously unreliable.  If you happen to get your hands on a 2014 MY bike that's still new, expect the charger to fail within the first 1,000 miles.  Mine failed at 500 miles. You'll find plenty of information about this on the Electric Motorcycle Forum, where you're probably reading this now.  The replacement has been faultless for 12,000 miles now and I have confidence it will remain so.

The original drive belt snapped at 1,500 miles.  It's a bit of a mystery why as I know the tension was correct and I hadn't been off-road for some weeks.  The replacement was fine for about 10,500 miles but I accidentally rode off a kerb with the throttle open recently and it made a terrible noise as the rear wheel span up quickly and then suddenly gained traction. It's the kind of thing that can snap a belt, but on this occasion the belt slipped.  Even though the belt tension is within limits, the belt has started slipping more and more.  I had a look at it the other night and there are quite a few teeth missing, so a new belt is on order and I'm in Eco mode and pulling away as gently as I can.  I call it riding Miss Daisy!  ;-)  I'm now much more aware of bumps that might set my rear wheel spinning and do my best to come off the throttle.  It's another reason to get an FX with a traditional chain if you want to go off-road or hoon around the streets.

Aside from those two issues and the rear wheel/bearings, the bike has performed well.  I'm planning to keep it for the forseable future.  If it can prove reliable for the next year or so I'm likely to keep it for a long time if I carry on commuting.  I'm quite tempted to see how long it lasts actually!

I see that reliability is improving with each new model year.  There's every reason to believe a Zero could become the most reliable motorcycle in the market in the not-too-distant future.  There are very few moving parts after all.

Wishlist

If I was buying a brand new Zero, these are some improvements I'd like to see:

Range:  Done - A 2016/7 model should easily manage 80 miles in comparison to my 65 and we can expect 2018 models to go further still.
A stronger belt:  Done - 2017 model bikes have a thicker belt.
Aerodynamics & weather protection:  There is a touring screen already but reducing drag with decent fairings would improve range and reduce overheating.


Conclusion

I feel privileged to own a Zero motorcycle.  I can't say it's been without its problems, but I think it comes with the territory to an extent.  Tesla have issues with their cars which sit firmly in the premium end of the market and their resources are on a whole different scale.  I don't want to make excuses for Zero, it's just my observation that creating a new product is never easy and teething troubles are inevitable.

Overall, I'm happy with my 2014 DS. I love riding it and I'm proud to part of the community of early adopters.  This is still only the beginning for Zero; they've got a great product already with lots of potential for the future.  Take one for a spin!  :-)

I hope you've enjoyed reading this and found it useful.  Do please comment and let me know.
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Doug S

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Re: 2014 Zero DS(P) Long Term Review
« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2017, 12:14:22 AM »

Very nice read, Bonkers! It's fair, unbiased either way, and discusses the benefits and shortcomings of the motorcycle very well. The overall tone speaks volumes -- you've ridden the bike for several years now, and you're obviously still a huge fan in spite of some quite "real world" experiences. That's about as ringing of an endorsement as you can get. I'm an outstanding proofreader (both for grammar and writing), and I really enjoyed reading your piece.
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maggot

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Re: 2014 Zero DS(P) Long Term Review
« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2017, 12:29:15 AM »

Very well written MostlyBonkers! I can say that I share most of your thoughts and experiences with Zero (both in good and in bad).
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MostlyBonkers

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Re: 2014 Zero DS(P) Long Term Review
« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2017, 06:17:12 AM »

Thanks Doug & maggot, I'm really pleased you enjoyed it.  I've been writing it for a couple of months now and I had to keep updating the mileage figures!

Just to clarify, I've had the bike since January 2016.  It was a couple of years old when I got it and was supposed to have been sold to the South African Police, apparently. Budget cuts, a long stint in a warehouse and I finally got my opportunity to buy one. Much to everyone's relief on this forum, I should imagine!  ;-)
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MostlyBonkers

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Re: 2014 Zero DS(P) Long Term Review
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2017, 04:09:23 AM »

I'm giving this a little bump in case anyone missed it or there are any further comments. I hope it doesn't fall into the 'too long; didn't read' (tl;dr) category.
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rayivers

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Re: 2014 Zero DS(P) Long Term Review
« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2017, 04:28:18 AM »

+1 on the great review, MB.  I should probably do one on my FX's, but the dirt one is so far from stock and the stock one so rarely ridden, I really don't know how helpful it would be.  They've both been extremely reliable for the most part, and Zero stepped up & replaced a motor when it was needed.

Ray
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'14 Zero FX 5.7 (now 2.8, MX), '14 Zero FX 2.8 (street), '08 YZ250F, '82 RM250Z, '75 MR175, '74 CR125M (175cc)

MostlyBonkers

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Re: 2014 Zero DS(P) Long Term Review
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2017, 01:20:49 PM »

Thanks Ray. It sounds like you're enjoying your FX! :-)
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Hansi

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Re: 2014 Zero DS(P) Long Term Review
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2017, 04:28:45 PM »

Nicely written review MostlyBonkers, I wasn't aware of the issues you mention.

I'm surprised you didn't mention faster charging ability on your wish list, especially seeing that you have an electric car with fast/rapid charging? This is what's holding me back from buying one. I would never buy an electric car without it, nor will I buy an electric motorcycle without it (yes, I know there are aftermarket options not supported by Zero).
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Opel Ampera-e ordered 16.09.16, delivered 08.06.17    Tesla Model 3 reserved 01.04.16
2013 Nissan Leaf Tekna     2011 Mitsubishi i-MiEV

MostlyBonkers

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Re: 2014 Zero DS(P) Long Term Review
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2017, 10:28:38 PM »

Nicely written review MostlyBonkers, I wasn't aware of the issues you mention.

I'm surprised you didn't mention faster charging ability on your wish list, especially seeing that you have an electric car with fast/rapid charging? This is what's holding me back from buying one. I would never buy an electric car without it, nor will I buy an electric motorcycle without it (yes, I know there are aftermarket options not supported by Zero).

I'm surprised too Hansi! I put the wishlist in at the end and that is a serious emission. I knew there must be some holes in it, but that is a deep dark gaping cavern.

I'll add it before I publish anywhere else.  Many thanks for your comments.
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Doug S

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Re: 2014 Zero DS(P) Long Term Review
« Reply #10 on: July 10, 2017, 12:02:31 AM »

I'm surprised too Hansi! I put the wishlist in at the end and that is a serious emission. I knew there must be some holes in it, but that is a deep dark gaping cavern.

I wonder if that is a glaring omission or an unintentional sage observation. Us EV owners know that "range anxiety" is very badly overvalued by most of the driving public, but we do still buy into it to some degree. We all want fast-charging options, and hail the providers of fast-charging equipment as heroes of our field. I've tried -- pretty hard -- to achieve fast charging on my bike, hopefully will succeed in the next week or two, but haven't experienced it yet....but I've already got 32,000 miles on my bike in 3-1/2 years. Sure, I'm hoping to open up further options, trips and travel that I can't do now, but that hasn't slowed me down much so far.

Then Bonkers neglects to even put fast-charging on his wish list. Is that just a simple oversight? Could be, but he clearly spent a lot of time and thought on his overall review. Fast-charging obviously wasn't in the foremost of his thoughts, or even in his thoughts at all. Are even WE falling victim to the "not enough range, doesn't charge fast enough" argument?

Yes, more range is better, and yes, faster charging is better. The question is how MUCH better, and how necessary they are. We spend a lot of time as EV owners trying to put those questions in perspective, but I wonder if even we're placing too much importance on those things.
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MostlyBonkers

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Re: 2014 Zero DS(P) Long Term Review
« Reply #11 on: July 10, 2017, 02:50:00 AM »

That's a very interesting point, Doug.  I was going to mention that the vast majority of my riding is my commute and perhaps that is why I omitted fast charging from my wishlist.  However, I didn't want to feel like I was making an excuse.

Ideally I would have made a point about how fast charging isn't a requirement for a commuter bike, providing you can do the whole trip on one charge.

My Zero is my only motorcycle and I would love to be able to take it on longer trips.  I also run a Kia  Soul EV which has a range of 90 miles on a full charge and can charge up to 83% in half an hour with CHAdeMO.  This year we were thinking of going on holiday to Wales but have decided to go to the Peak District instead. The main reason is that Wales would require at least two rapid charges on the way.  Charging anxiety is much more of an issue than range anxiety, I've found.  Especially when relying on rapid chargers that are still quite scarce.  In most cases you need the charger to work because there are no alternatives.  We've experienced problems at least three times when even once is more than most will tolerate.

Having sufficient range to cover your biking needs for a day with the ability to charge overnight has to be the goal. I'd rather stop for lunch somewhere I want to, rather than a service station just because it has a rapid charger.

I'm inclined to agree that we do obsess about range, but for good reason. I have to make a number of compromises with my Zero due to range. Even if I had fast charging, I couldn't join  group rides because having to stop every 60 miles to charge for an hour or so would be too disruptive.  I would need 150 miles of range and the ability to fully charge in an hour at lunch. Even then I'd still be relying on us stopping somewhere with adequate charging facilities. Guys like Terry and Ben are mostly riding alone with a route they're planning themselves.

I think you have to look at the riding you do and consider what ambitions you have. The fact that I don't have the range to go on long rides is offset with having three kids which severely limits my opportunities to disappear for a whole day or so.

In my circumstances, having a range of 100 miles would make a big difference and that is pretty much covered by 2015 bikes and above, especially with a powertank.

A Zero can cover a lot of peoples motorcycling requirements without fast charging. The more range, the less it's needed.  Fast charging isn't going to be convenient until the infrastructure improves a lot.

How many miles a day do you need to do? That's the sensible question. How many miles do I want to ride a day? That's the one that can often be answered by: As many as I can. Fast chargers mean more freedom, at least until our bikes can comfortably do 300 miles on a charge.

I can appreciate both arguments. There could be people holding back from getting an electric motorcycle when a Zero might cater for all their needs and that would be a shame.
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mrwilsn

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Re: 2014 Zero DS(P) Long Term Review
« Reply #12 on: July 10, 2017, 08:15:16 AM »

I'm surprised too Hansi! I put the wishlist in at the end and that is a serious emission. I knew there must be some holes in it, but that is a deep dark gaping cavern.

I wonder if that is a glaring omission or an unintentional sage observation. Us EV owners know that "range anxiety" is very badly overvalued by most of the driving public, but we do still buy into it to some degree. We all want fast-charging options, and hail the providers of fast-charging equipment as heroes of our field. I've tried -- pretty hard -- to achieve fast charging on my bike, hopefully will succeed in the next week or two, but haven't experienced it yet....but I've already got 32,000 miles on my bike in 3-1/2 years. Sure, I'm hoping to open up further options, trips and travel that I can't do now, but that hasn't slowed me down much so far.

Then Bonkers neglects to even put fast-charging on his wish list. Is that just a simple oversight? Could be, but he clearly spent a lot of time and thought on his overall review. Fast-charging obviously wasn't in the foremost of his thoughts, or even in his thoughts at all. Are even WE falling victim to the "not enough range, doesn't charge fast enough" argument?

Yes, more range is better, and yes, faster charging is better. The question is how MUCH better, and how necessary they are. We spend a lot of time as EV owners trying to put those questions in perspective, but I wonder if even we're placing too much importance on those things.

I think fast charging falls into the category of "you don't realize how useful it is until you have it".  Like before you had a smart phone you didn't realize what you were missing.  Once you have it you could never go back.

Just yesterday I did a ride that would be impossible without fast charging.  The ride is 100 miles round trip from my house.  I can do it fine.  ZeroPointZero rides his Zero SR to my house and he has 65% when he gets here but I am already at 100%.  I use my DigiNow plugged into the NEMA 14-50 outlet in my garage to give him 6.6kW into the AUX charge port and he also plugs in Snickers for another 1.3kW to get 7.9kW and he is back at 100% in 20 minutes instead of 2.75 hours.  We do the ride and when we get back to my house he has 12% left.  Now I use the DigiNow again plus his Snickers and he charges at 7.9kW to get charged up in just over an hour while we get pizza from the restaurant within walking distance of my house.  He didn't need 100% to get home so if he was in a hurry could have been back on the road to get home in 20-30 minutes.  And I was able to charge from my Snickers plugged into a separate outlet while I charged him up at 7.9kW.  It was a fun day that would have been MUCH longer without fast charging.  As it was, it was about perfect.  Even with faster charging the day probably wouldn't have been much shorter but without it the day becomes a lot harder to find time for in people's schedules.

Not convinced.  Here's an application that fits more into your commuter use case.

I do not have a car.  I have a Zero.  I rely on my Zero, public transportation, and on very rare occasion a rental car for my transportation needs.  When it takes 8 hours (or more if you really drained the battery) to get a full charge my mindset was to ALWAYS plug in the second I get home so that I make sure I always have a full charge.....because "you never know" when you might want to just go out on a long ride.  Even if I went on a ride and had more than 90% when I got home I would plug in to get back to 100%.  My commute is only 22 miles round trip and I can do it with just 18% without even trying...less if I put some effort into it.  Now that I have fast charging I'm not so concerned with plugging in right away the second I get home.  I have started to only charge if I am at 40% or less when I get home unless I am actually planning to go somewhere that will need a full charge.  And I will only charge to 80%.  So during the work week I might go several days without charging, even with a few errands thrown in that are on the way or not too far out of the way from home.  And the battery stays in the 40%-80% range which is better for the battery over the long term plus fast charging means the battery spends less time heated up from the charging process.  So overall my battery will spend less time charging and it will spend less time at 100% since I will only give it a full charge when it's actually needed.

Of course, it's fine to give the battery a full charge every day (a 'full charge' is already just 4.15V per cell which is what allows the battery to be warranty to be so good) and it will still be covered by Zero under warranty.  And it will still provide hundreds of thousands of miles if you can manage to put that many on it.  But spending less overall time at 100% will just make sure that the battery gets the absolute maximum life possible.  I won't keep the bike for a long time (my first Zero has 20k, new Zero has 6k miles so far) so by doing this I will likely see no degradation to the battery capacity during the time that I own it.

So maybe it wasn't an omission by unintentional sage observation but more because you don't realize what you are missing.  The thing about fast charging is that, unlike the battery chemistry that gives a Zero a 250 mile range on one charge at 70 mph, there is NOTHING we are missing from a technology point of view to implement it today.  We could have DC fast chargers that could charge a Zero in 30 minutes tomorrow if everyone decided to get behind one standard and install them all over the place.

But with 2017 infrastructure (in the USA) I think the stock 2018 Zero should have 6.6kW charging in the location of Snickers.  The J-inlet can be at the tail which keeps cords away from your tank paint job and also keeps the tank available for locking storage or a power tank or more fast chargers.  Of course you could still plug in to 110V outlet and get 1.3kW (or more...possibly also programmable in the app) if you need it for at home charging.

Zero should also make it possible to set charging to stop at a programmed %SOC.  The Zero app could be used to manage your desired charge % SOC.  So if you only need 60% or 80% you can set it to stop when it gets there but if you need 100% of course that's possible too.  Could be put on a separate "Charge Mode" switch similar to the current ride mode switch.  The current default (100%) can be one setting.  Then provide a second 60% "storage" setting and a third setting programmable in the app just like custom ride mode.  Then a new spot on display to tell you which setting you are in and use the switch to cycle through the settings....just like ride mode switch.

I hope that as more people get after market fast charging they will talk about how great it is to have fast charging (because it is) and maybe eventually Zero will decide to provide it stock....or at a minimum as an upgrade direct from Zero without losing locking storage tank....current charge tank hardly qualifies as fast charging with just 3.8kW including Snickers and of course you lose the locking storage tank.

Fast charging FTW!!
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MostlyBonkers

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Re: 2014 Zero DS(P) Long Term Review
« Reply #13 on: July 11, 2017, 04:16:24 AM »

Whether we're looking at the S, DS, SR or DSR, I think we're looking at a commuter bike first and foremost.  A bike built for the street, rather than the highway. Range has always been the limiting factor.  Getting a full tank of juice in a short space of time is still a problem.  Getting a Zero to charge quickly is expensive and let's face it, inconvenient.  The thing that drives people to do it is how much they love the experience of riding electric.  Getting back on an ICE bike feels like going back to the steam age.

I think you're right, mrwilsn. I have no doubt that I'd love fast charging and would never look back.  I can't justify the cost though.

Doug is right in saying that you can cover a lot of miles a year without fast charging.

If I spent £2,500 - £3,000 on a Diginow, I wouldn't get enough use out of it to justify the cost. I'd rather but another Fazer 1000 for £2,000 and take that on the long rides. I don't have the time to justify either purchase. Or the money, quite frankly.

If there is a right answer, it has to be: Take a good, hard look at how you use a motorcycle and what your ambitions are. I wish fast charging was built in as standard, like it is with cars, but we could be a few years from that.

Thanks for all your comments. All great points made from lots of combined experience. Nobody is wrong, really. The only right answer is what suits the individual, until the freedom of fast charging comes as standard. Then everyone's a winner!

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Hansi

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Re: 2014 Zero DS(P) Long Term Review
« Reply #14 on: July 11, 2017, 07:25:40 AM »

I'm very interested to hear your thoughts after you install faster charging Doug S (if you do) :)
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Norway
Opel Ampera-e ordered 16.09.16, delivered 08.06.17    Tesla Model 3 reserved 01.04.16
2013 Nissan Leaf Tekna     2011 Mitsubishi i-MiEV
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