Friday, May 29, 2015

Electric Glide in Blue

Ultimate Motorcycling reports that more than 50 police departments have adopted Zero battery-powered motorcycles for some of their patrol officers.

As the write-up notes, one advantage the Zero gives patrol officers is the absence of engine noise.  They are agile and fast.  I disagree with the view that they are better for the environment given a) that I do not consider carbon dioxide a pollutant and b) that the electricity to charge the battery comes most often from coal-burning power plants and c) that battery building is a dirty business.  Politically correct BS aside, however, I can see that electric bikes have a future in our urban jungles.  I think they are a beneficial application of the technology -- more so than electric cars in my opinion.

Off point, I also think, once they become popular, they will be stolen and chopped at very high rates because the components will be so valuable and easily traded.   

I can't imagine a scenario where I would buy an electric bike, but I do not have the (admittedly) irrational and visceral antagonism toward electric two-wheelers that I feel for electric four-wheelers.  I don't know what my problem is.  I even hate Cooper Minis, and I consider the Smart Car an automotive armadillo.  

Some day, if battery and charging technology continue to improve, it might be possible to "fill up" a plug-in bike with a range of a couple of hundred miles in ten minutes or so. Until that day comes, electrics will continue to impress with their acceleration and maneuverability under limited functional conditions. Municipal police patrols are a good current use.



  1. Nice post title.

    I like that Zero FX but $8,500 could buy a lot of other stuff. Is that high for a bike or is that just what things cost?

  2. They are pretty expensive anymore. I bought my first DT175 for $750. I think I paid right at $1000 for my SR500 in '77-78.

    Contrast: the Vision was something over $20,000 in 2011. My FJ-09 has around a $10,000 price tag. The SR400 from Yamaha -- a hundred CCs less (but about the same horsepower) than my '78 runs about $6000. You can get a beginner Ninja 300 for under $5000.

    Of course, the real bargains are used bikes. My grandson just bought himself a little 2003 Honda 80 (I haven't seen it yet -- so I'm not sure exactly what it is) with his own money. I'd guess under a grand. Some bikes hold their resale value better than others, but beginner bikes tend to get "out-grown" and so there are quite a few to be found. Plus, a lot of people go through a bike "phase" and that adds a lot of gently used two-wheelers to the market.

  3. I can see where being quiet would be an advantage. Doubtful it would be useful in a high speed chase though.
    And you are right, these will definitely be stolen if thieves get the opportunity.
    Or, in the case of Baltimore, easily destroyed.

    I was a bit surprised at the cost of motorcycles nowadays.

    Ha ha! When I see those mini cars I always think 'speed bump.'
    Those things are death traps. A big bike could probably total one. And airbags ain't much use when the entire car can be crushed like a soda can.