Good at A Bit of Everything

The all-electric 2022 Zero FX is a jack-of-all-trades. While I’m not a fan of that oft-repeated phrase, the addition I’ve heard recently adds something that I think makes it work: a jack-of-all-trades, a master of none, but still better than a master of one. This is because I think we lose sight of the overall ability when we talk about all masters of one.

Think of all the one trick ponies available today. You have the Aston Martin Valkyrie, the Ducati Panigale Superleggera V4, the Alpinestars GP Pro Race Suit v2, Barrett’s MRAD, a Red Dragon, a B2 Spirit, or a pair of Christian Louboutin. They’re all fantastic, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anything better suited to their intended tasks. But take them outside of those limits, and they just won’t work. The Zero FX is just the opposite and better for it.

Do you want to run on a single track and crawl over rocks? The Zero is ready, although knobby tires would be beneficial. How about blazing mountain roads, dropping a knee and scratching the kickstand and foot pegs? “Let’s go!” says the Zero, but it won’t be as exciting as a sport bike. Do you need to just cruise around town and skip the sidewalks? Yes and yes, but battery life will be a consideration.

It may not have a specific discipline, but the scope of what it is capable of is far better than any specialized weapon.

2022 Zero FX ZF7.2 Specifications

  • base price: $11,995
  • Powertrain: Z-Force 75-5 passive air-cooled, high efficiency, radial flux, interior permanent magnet, brushless motor (7.2 kWh)
  • Conduct: Belt
  • Powerful: 46
  • Couple: 78 lb-ft
  • Brakes: Bosch J-Juan twin-piston floating caliper, 240 x 4.5mm disc (front) | J-Juan single piston floating caliper, 240 x 4.5 mm disc (rear)
  • Suspension: Showa 41 mm adjustable inverted forks (front) | 40mm Showa piston, piggyback reservoir shock (rear)
  • Seat height: 34.7 inches
  • Tires: Pirelli Scorpion MT90 AT
  • Unloaded weight: 289 pounds
  • Interval: 60 to 90 miles (somewhere in between for real world conditions)
  • Quick setting: A fantastic all-rounder.
  • Score: 8/10

Founded in 2006 by ex-NASA engineer Neil Saiki, Zero’s (get it?) has made a name for itself in the motorcycle industry. In addition to the FX, it also makes a handful of sport and naked electric motorcycles, with the FX occupying the lightweight dual-sport/motocross portion of the company’s lineup.

The most talked about electric vehicle statistic is, of course, range. The Zero is pretty average. Factory specs say the 7.2 kWh battery (there’s a cheaper 3.6 kWh option) is good for 91 mpge city, 39 highway (at 70 mph) and 54 combined. Actual miles are between 60 and 80 per charge, which is comparable to motorcycles of similar size and weight (Husqvarna Vitpilen 401, Honda CRF450). I consistently got around 70-80 miles per charge, although I’m not exactly a nimble test rider.

If you live somewhere near fun roads and trails or can load it into the bed of a truck like a dirt bike – as I’ve done a few times – you have more than enough autonomy to have fun. That said, it was hard for me to see its license plate and not feel like a turkey loading it into the back of a pickup truck.

Loading the FX is easy, even if it takes some time. Zero dropped the FX with the standard 120-volt charging cord, and it was slow to fully charge. I really didn’t feel too bothered by its slower grip as I often ride in the afternoon and leave it charging overnight. An optional fast charger is available for an additional $640 and cuts charging time in half. I would buy it just to start having fun again sooner.

Zero’s FX is designed to be a dual-sport motorcycle, which means it’s supposed to be able to have fun on both pavement and dirt. The company’s engineers had to listen to Tay Money, because he understood the assignment.

I like it. Jonathan Klein

As for appearance, there is not much to say as an electric motorcycle. It looks like a nice dirt bike. The only giveaway, aside from the lack of exhaust and noise, are the golden engine fins between the frame of the bike. I will say its lightweight design is interesting and I’m not sure that’s the route I would go for, but it’s certainly eye-catching.

The FX comes with Showa adjustable forks (8.6 inches of travel) combined with a Showa adjustable shock (8.9 inches of travel) in the rear. I don’t know how they did it, but the damping and rebound are perfectly tuned for either discipline. On the trails, the shock absorbs large rocks and rutted paths, reducing the strain felt in the arms and legs. And while it’s softer than some on pavement, it doesn’t feel spongy like some ADVs, likely helped by its featherweight 289 pounds. You can easily follow all your sportbike friends, even those who have Ducati Streetfighters.

The bike’s brushless motor, which develops 46 horsepower and 78 pound-feet of torque through a belt drive, contributes to the FX’s capabilities. An optional chain drive is available for better off-road durability and is a necessity if you’re going to use it as a true dual-sport. At low and high revs, it’s a delight and extremely manageable. You have nanometer precision in its throttle delivery. Just above the low-end entry, however, there’s that swell of torque that can startle you if you’re not careful. There’s also no traction control, so when running on trails, you might end up in the dirt at some point. You get used to it, but a more linear powerband would be beneficial.

Twisted. Jacques Richmond

The brakes are managed by Bosch and the bike comes with ABS. Front bite is strong but not too grippy, while you can slide the rear brakes to keep you upright and in line downhill in the dirt.

The Zero’s front and rear brakes are also regenerative, but they’re not as aggressive as some car-based systems. They feel closer to the Porsche Taycan than the more pedal-oriented BMW i3. Regenerative braking is tuned to be more aggressive in the bike’s Eco mode, and less in Sport, but is fully adjustable in the bike’s custom setting via its app.

Running through canyons or on tree-lined trails in complete silence is both eerie and truly charming. You can hear the rustle of leaves swaying in the wind and better feel what the bike is doing under you. There is no noise or vibration interference, and this silence allows you to choose your lines perfectly. Also makes it easier to set up jumps.

Screenshot of sick jump. Jonathan Klein

With no clutch or rev counter, you’re free to focus on the fundamentals and concentrate on the road ahead of you more than you would on a gas-powered motorcycle. (And honestly, I didn’t miss the shifter or shifter, other than grabbing it a few times at first.) This makes the Zero a great tool for beginners and seasoned riders alike. When I went riding with a friend who was a stuntman, he said to me, “I love following you on this thing because your lines are impeccable. I can just stick to your cock, and it’s so much better than mine if I was riding solo.

That same focus goes for dirt, too, as I could pick my lines through gnarly trails without fear of stalling an engine. And that’s with Pirelli Scorpion MT90 dual-sport tires, not knobby tires like on the Multistrada V4 S or CRF450RX. The trails weren’t Erzberg or Romaniacs courses, but for something with such road-focused tires, the Zero should have been more of a fish out of water.

And in a stroke of bad luck/good luck, I had the opportunity to experience the ease of maintenance of the Zero. During an outing, I dived to walk trails. But before I could reach the promised land, a two-inch screw found the rear tire. I was only a few minutes from home, so I limped back to safety, but the screw meant a new tube and that meant removing the rear wheel.

Very easy. Jonathan Klein

The disassembly included a single bolt, and because you’re working with a belt drive instead of a chain, removing the wheel took five minutes. My local store threw in a new tube in the time it took Alli, the kids, and me to grab some snow cones. Getting the tire back on the bike took another 10 minutes, tops. I also broke the Zero’s belt. Luckily I wasn’t on a distant trail with no reception or beacon and my friend, Jake, was with me who then called his partner to pick us up. A new belt is the same process as above, so no sweat. Get the chain kit.

However, there are a few master issues of nothing to point out. The handlebars are too low for my six-foot-four frame when standing on dirt. An inch longer set would make it look better. The front fairing does an admirable job of deflecting wind away from your chest, but the shape of this bike is a glorified dirt bike, so wind protection isn’t much of a thing. There is also the matter of taking a passenger for a ride. Can’t really do it unless they are under 5 as the seats are tight.

There is also a security issue that I encountered. The Zero needs an audible chime to remind you that the bike is still on after you fall.

Using the bike’s throttle to help me, I lost my footing while loading the FX into the back of my truck and dropped it. (It happens!) But when I went to pick it up I grabbed the throttle thinking it was off, twisted it, burned out the back of the truck and I pinned my middle finger to the wall of the bed. I’m fine, but a simple chime would greatly reduce the risk of the whiskey speeding up.

Zero has priced the FX ZF7.2 at $11,995, which includes the company’s standard two-year motorcycle warranty, as well as a five-year/unlimited-mileage power unit warranty and the standard socket. I don’t think that price is unreasonable. You get a fun and simple Swiss army knife of an electric motorcycle. It’s a recipe, and the Zero’s fit and finish is as good as any other motorcycle manufacturer.

I think I fall within Zero FX’s target demographic. I’m not super bothered having to load it into the back of my truck. I also have access to nearby canyon roads and miles of dirt trails that ease range anxiety. And I greatly appreciate the silence and user-friendliness of electric vehicles.

But this bike can easily be used by just about anyone. And everyone who uses it will have a blast, no matter what terrain you decide to enjoy it on. It also made something like trail riding, an event usually punctuated by the sound of a loud two-stroke, all the more enjoyable. I hope to see more makers parrot Zero’s capabilities soon.

Rider equipment

Do you have any advice? Email [email protected]

About Frances R. Smith

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