2012 Zero XU: Ride Report

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The Electric Option: 2012 Zero XU. Note use of belt for final drive instead of a chain.

Although the focus of Motorcycle Classics is yesterday’s motorcycles, every so often we like to dip a toe in the present. Witness our coverage of bikes in the retro classics category, which includes machines like the iconic Royal Enfield Bullet, the revived Triumph Bonneville range and Moto Guzzi’s tres cool V7 models. Thanks to a long heritage, we think the retro classics fit in naturally with our focus. So how do we end up testing a 2012 Zero XU all-electric motorcycle? That takes a bit more explaining.

Actually, we can explain how we came to test a new Zero in one word; serendipity. How so? Well, one of our sister publications is none other than Mother Earth News, a title that bills itself as “The Original Guide to Living Wisely.” With roots that go back to the environmental movement of the early 1970s, Mother Earth News champions sustainable life-style issues, focusing on, among other things, renewable energy and green transportation. So when the editors at Mother Earth News told us they might get a Zero to test, we were all ears.

Collecting our Zero
Thanks to the fact Motorcycle Classics has a trailer, I pulled duty to make the short trip to the local Zero dealer, Letko Cycles in Shawnee, Kan., to pick up the XU. Upon arrival, Letko’s Andrew Hammer gave me a comprehensive run down on the Zero before handing me the key and helping me load it up.

As it turned out, our pickup day happened to be a Thursday, which over the last few years has turned into the unofficial motorcycle day at my house, wherein several pals including Motorcycle Classics Q&A tech guy Keith Fellenstein ride over after dinner to wrench and generally talk motorcycles for a few hours. Good beer helps. As if we needed any encouragement.

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