What, exactly, is the Zero FXE?
It's Zero’s new affordable electric commuter motorcycle. Developed in collaboration with San Francisco’s renowned Huge Design, the Zero FXE is billed as “the motorcycle of tomorrow, available today.” Granted, this dirtbike-looking street bike bears a strong resemblance to the dirtbike-looking FXS that came before; however, this model boasts significant aesthetic, ergonomic and performance advantages over that one. Those upgrades are reflected in the pricing: the FXE starts at $11,795, or $1,850 more than the FXS.
Is the FXE new?
Relatively. The Zero FXE rolled out to dealers in late July.
What makes this Zero special?
The aforementioned team-up with Huge Design brought this concept vehicle to life with uncommon panache. The FXE boasts custom LED headlights and a bonded TFT display, plus a surprisingly functional, comfortable and frankly dope-looking form factor that makes it super-easy to handle, even with a seat height (32.9 inches) that could be tricky for a beginning rider...or a 29-inch-inseamer like yours truly.
The prime reason: this bike weighs just 298 pounds, making it quite easy to stay upright with just one foot on the ground.
Another standout feature is what lies under the proverbial hood. The FXE boasts a Z-Force 75.5 air-cooled brushless electric motor that produces 78 ft-lbs of torque and 46 horsepower. That may not seem impressive, until you factor in the poundage — and contemplate the resulting (and pretty compelling) power-to-weight ratio. Meanwhile, the 7.2-kWh lithium ion battery is good for a century of mileage in the city. For context, that's twice the range the FXS offers — which alone might make the price difference a pittance.
Additionally, the FXE boasts a pretty seamless interface with the bike's integrated technology. The Cypher II operating system, together with a Bluetooth connection, enables the rider to tweak the torque, top speed, regenerative braking and other preferences with the touch of a button. You can also quickly toggle the ride mode from the energy-efficient Eco to the blacktop-slashing Sport right from the handlebars.
How does it ride?
When I wrote about Indian's caveman-ish Scout Bobber Sixty nearly a year ago, I mentioned I was itching to get to this section. And I feel similarly with the FXE, but for totally different reasons. While the Sixty was great for easy-breezy city cruising, the FXE is virtually unmatched when you need to get from one end of town to the other...fast.
Like Teslas on two wheels, every Zero bike boasts acceleration that will quietly leave pretty much any of its gas-powered brethren in the dust. This particular one is quick enough that, even on the West Side Highway, where the traffic lights are fairly spaced out, I could ease to the front of the line, twist the throttle when the light changed — and be on the back bumper of cars up ahead while they were still seeing red.
Another anecdote to prove the point, perhaps? During a jaunt up Sixth Avenue, I waited several seconds after the light had turned green, then shot past everyone as the lights changed just in time for my future-cycle to dip under them. And yet, what really impressed me about the FXE was not just the torque, but how the combination of pickup and maneuverability enabled me to dart in and out of traffic in incredibly efficient, satisfying (and probably illegal) ways.
One Friday evening, riding from the west side of Manhattan to a birthday party at a downtown Brooklyn lounge, I intentionally left a bit late just to see how much time I could make up. Thanks to the FXE's streamlined profile and nimble handling, I truly felt like a video game character as I silently diagonaled Bleecker and sped down Chrystie Street toward the Manhattan Bridge. I flew over the water, zigzagged through countless cars on Flatbush Avenue...and pulled up to the party before the birthday girl had even arrived.
While the advertised top speed (85 mph) and highway range (40 miles at 70 mph) make this bike a dodgy long-distance proposition, experiences like that nearly supersonic borough-to-borough frolic convince me that in the urban commuting game, the FXE is a world-class contender.
Anything else stand out about the FXE?
Here's the catch, which I hate to say comes up whenever I write about Zeroes. As awesome as electric bikes are, urban apartment dwellers face a real hurdle: charging. This particular model comes with a cable that stashes conveniently into a little slot under the passenger pegs, plugs into any standard 110-volt or 220-volt outlet and charges the bike to 95 percent in 9.2 hours. That makes it just about perfect for overnight replenishing...for anyone with a garage.
Someone like me — who lives in an apartment — has to take it to a city parking structure. With the bike's range being pretty much as advertised, I only took it for charging once, on a Sunday morning — and paid $36 to park on 19th Street for three hours, plus $5 per hour for charging (which the attendant simply pocketed). That's a total of $51, or more than a dollar per mile. Considering I can fill my ol' Triumph Bonneville T100's little tank with premium gas for about 12 bucks and go something like 150 miles, the math here is...bleak.
In fairness, this conundrum is not Zero's fault; Manhattan is one of the most expensive places to park in the whole country, and one of the worst places to own any type of EV. If I actually owned a Zero and had a monthly parking pass at a garage, I imagine I could arrange a pretty cozy charging situation. There's also a decent chance that a decade from now, we'll all be in or on electric vehicles — and the motorcycle of tomorrow will not only be available, but easily chargeable.
What’s it cost?
The Zero FXE starts at $11,795. Adding the optional quick charger, which cuts the 95 percent charging time considerably — from 9.2 hours to 3.6 hours — increases the price by $600 to $12,395.
2022 Zero FXE
Base Price: $11,795
Powertrain: 78 ft-lbs of torque, 46 hp
Battery: 7.2 kWh
Range: 100 miles (city)/40 miles (highway, 70 mph)
Standard charge time: 9.2 hours
Curb weight: 298 pounds