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2011 Zero S Review: The Electric Motorcycle Grows Up... Sorta

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Introduction
Zero Electric Motorcycles

The 2011 Zero S.

Photo © Zero
I had a mixed experience when I tested my first electric motorcycle back in 2009: the Zero X was a fun little dirtbike to throw around a hiking trail, but it was also an expensive toy with limited suspension travel and, more crucially, a rather short cruising range. In essence, my quip that it was a "glorified mountainbike" was offset by the fact that it wheelied hard enough to backflip end over end; poetic justice for this particular name-caller.

For 2011, Zero has made far reaching mechanical upgrades to their lineup, which includes the S (street), $10,495 DS (dual sport), $7,995 X (trail), $9,495 MX (motocross), and $7,995 XU (urban cross) models. During a recent visit to Zero's home town of Santa Cruz, California, I rode each of their bikes on surfaces ranging from dirt trails to country roads, to experience firsthand whether or not their improvements made them ready for primetime.

What has Zero done to upgrade their machines, and do the company's improvements make this a good time to go electric? Let's single out the Zero S street bike, which I'm reviewing here: priced at $9,995, the S is eligible for a 10% Federal tax credit which brings the grand total to $8,995. Let's ride!

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