The Yamaha Champions Riding School’s message hits students hard, especially riders who have struggled with pace and safety. In our short time together, street riders see a path to becoming an immensely safe and efficient rider while racers see the path to the podium.
Graduates write us notes of thanks and recommend our school to friends, but three days ago a graduate named Bim (his nickname, not his real name) gave me a Zero FXS Supermoto bike with a thank-you note! A truck actually pulled up to my driveway and disgorged a brand-new electric Supermoto bike, Zero’s FXS Z7.2.
Bim had started attending YCRS classes 10 years ago and saw not only what it did for his riding life, but for his friends’ riding and racing. He and I became friends, and he visited Colorado for a few days of lapping racetracks in my area. Later his family spent New Year’s with our gang in a remote area of the world. We don’t talk often, but we are true friends with a shared love of riding.
He’s a quiet guy but his wheels are always turning. He makes a handsome living in the tech and financial industries and his motorcycling passion led him to a Zero electric bike to ride around New York City. My phone rang late one night and Bim asked, “Have you ever ridden a Zero electric bike?”
I told him no but added that I rode Alan Wilzig’s Brammo in New York state and enjoyed it.
“Oh man, you’ve got to ride this Zero. I’m going to send it to you.”
True Story Over the next few weeks Bim got things arranged and on July 3 the truck pulled up. But rather than roll out Bim’s used Zero, the delivery guys uncovered a brand-new FXS, the Supermoto model. It was titled in my name.
“Yeah… I thought I’d just keep mine and get you a new one.”
A new motorcycle! My last new streetbike was in 1991, a Yamaha OW01. My last new racebike was in 1995, a Yamaha TZ250. My last new dirt bike was in 2009, a Yamaha YZ250 two-stroker. Yes, I’ve purchased many more bikes than these three, but all of those were used. The Zero arrived and I didn’t want to ride it because I hated to get it dirty! To me, a new bike is like a brand-new kitten: precious and worthy of protection. Who wants to mar kitten fur?
So far, I’ve ridden up and down my gravel driveway five times. It feels shockingly quick because all 78 pound-feet of torque are available right now, at any rpm. It wants to spin the rear 140/70-17 Pirelli Diablo Rosso II as long as I dare, and I’ve giggled like a schoolgirl every time. And that’s on Eco mode… Can’t wait to try the Sport setting. I couldn’t find any information on breaking in a Zero, so it’s been hammer down in the driveway already.
In the meantime, I’ve taken it apart a few times and checked everything out, adjusting and tweaking and examining. I got on the Zero website as well as the “unofficial Zero website” (thanks to all contributors for the priceless information) to learn more about this bike that has surprised and impressed me with its build level. I’ve programmed my cellphone with the Zero app so I can tweak the settings and keep track of my rides. The gang at Filipacchi Motors in New York City (Chad, Enrico, and Denise) were a great help over the phone because that’s where Bim bought the FXS. I set the clock, and did more research. Didn’t ride it out of my driveway yet…too clean and pure. Like a kitten.
One aspect of this bike that really hit me: There is no maintenance. Sure, you can plan to replace the fork oil, brake fluid, brake pads, belt drive, and battery, but there are no oil changes, valve adjustments, spark-plug swaps, coolant dumps, air-filter changes…zero. If you’re like me and worry about those little valves buzzing around in used oil, can’t sleep at night due to stress about tight valves, and fret about how to get rid of used antifreeze, this maintenance-free aspect is quite relaxing. The Zero’s battery has a five-year warranty while the rest of the bike has a two-year policy. I like that confidence from a manufacturer.
“How’s Your Coal-Powered Bike?”
That’s what my brother Bill asked me. Here in southeast Colorado, much of our electricity comes from coal, but my family has solar power on sunny days, so in fact, my Zero is sun-powered. The Zero site tells me a full (nine-hour) recharge only costs about 81 cents, and a full charge should be good for anywhere from 50 to just over 100 miles, depending upon how hard you stretch the throttle cable—I mean wire.
The FXS has an on-board battery charger so all I have to do is plug the bike into the wall with the supplied cord. There are some quick-charging items available from Zero, but I’ll worry about that once I start riding it. Which should be tomorrow. Man, did I mention I hate getting it dirty? A bike can only be new once and that will end tomorrow—truly the definition of “joyful sorrow.”
End of Part 1. More next Tuesday!