So, there’s been some drama with my 2016 FJ-09. That’s detailed elsewhere, and is only relevant here as it served to get me to take the plunge on an electric bike. And it’s a whole ‘nother world over here.
I’ve been needing a commuter, as my only personal vehicles since 2015 have been motorcycles. With the FJ down, I was borrowing the wife’s car for my daily commute, and we were both getting tired of that. Since my commute is relatively short, 14 miles of mostly interstate into downtoWn Phoenix, I started to seriously consider electric. There is no “fun” riding nearby Phoenix, not after going to school in Southern California. You’d have to put up with two hours of boredom to get to anything even a fraction as fun as Cali beaches, mountains, or canyons. So I only really ride to commute anymore.
I was looking at the Zero FXS, their super moto with a 7.2 kWh battery. On paper, it would have sufficient range for my commute potentially both way, but barely. My budget was 8k, and there were a few used for that price, but nothing closer than Dallas. And it looked fun.
But then I got a line on a 2018 Zero S with a 13kWh battery in Tucson, WITH the Charge Tank (uses J1772 quick chargers) installed, and 1200 miles on the odometer. Under budget, with a much better range, and a distance I could actually ride it home. Sort of.
Range anxiety is real.
I hopped a bus down to Tucson, and met the guy and did the paperwork. On paper, the bike has a range of about 100 miles. It was 98 miles home. I opted to take a 120 mile route home that had quick chargers at the halfway point, and that saved my bacon. The range is entirely dependent on speed. Going faster than 45 mph drains your battery FAST. After hoping on, I was immediately enjoying shiftless acceleration on par or better than the FJ. Huge smile on my face, until I realized I had used 60% of my battery in 20 of the 60 miles to the charger.
I slowed down, and took my time getting there. “There” was Florence, Arizona, which is basically a prison, and the free quick chargers were between said prison and courthouse I had 10% battery left.
With a quick charger, it’s supposed to take 2 hours to go from 0% to 100%. These chargers were having network problems, and I had to restart every 15 minutes. After 2 hours, I was only up to 60%, and decided I’d head back to Phoenix and hit another charger on the outskirts. I would later learn two prisoners had escaped while I was there. You can read about them in the local news.
Cue me riding 45mph on a 65mph road in the dark. Not fun. I pulled off onto the shoulder anytime I saw headlights in the mirrors. But I made it.
Not a great (or even reasonable) bike for taking trips.
Fast forward 1.5 weeks to today. This is the best commuter ever. I’ve put 300 miles on the bike, and I haven’t even paid for the electricity, never mind gas. I can charge for free at work on a standard outlet, and it’s full when I leave, with plenty of power for the round trip commute. I get back with 25% to 40% charge depending on how traffic was. I ride it just as fast as my FJ whenever the conditions allow. There’s no chain, there’s no gas, there’s no coolant... there no service except air in the tires, break fluid when it needs changed, and a new belt every 24k miles.
It’s tiny. All my previous bikes have been the upright adventure/touring style of the FJ. This thing leans you forward quite bit. It’s much shorter, and much more compact. Couple that with it’s noiseless running, and no shifting, it feels like riding a toy; just a toy that will go 0-100mph without a thought. I’m loving it. The seat is fantastic. The airflow is clean, but I’m still getting used to no windscreen. The braking doesn’t look like much with a single front disc, but with the stainless steel lines and regenerative deceleration, the stopping power is way better than the FJ.
The FJ is back, and I’m starting to dig into it. I’ll probably part out my extras and sell it. But I’ll miss it. For now though, this little electric fits the bill, and is an absolute blast.