It was a cool summer morning in front of the Santa Cruz pier when I first saw Zero CEO Sam Paschal pulling cover off the company’s latest electric motorcycle. I immediately fell in love with the design of the Zero FXE. But I also knew that building a good bike required much more than a sleek body. Only by throwing my foot on the shiny new metal horse and hitting the open road can I know if the FXE really deserves attention.
Luckily I was doing the exact same thing an hour later.
The Xero FXE is built largely on the same platform as the Xero FXS, a street-oriented supermoto-style electric motorcycle that introduced me to Xero’s bikes several years ago.
The FXE now replaces the FXS, but fans of the latter will be happy to know that they share similar components.
The 7.2 kWh battery is still there (though it actually packs a 6.3 kWh when measured using industry standards).
There is the same ZForce ZF75-5 motor that makes 34 kW of power. And performance specs are basically the same, including an 85 mph (136 km/h) top speed and a maximum range of 100 miles (161 km) in the city or close to half that on the highway.
During my test ride through the redwood-filled mountains above Santa Cruz, I put the bike through everything from canyon carving-style pleasure to urban commuter-style daily rider use.
Watch it all in my first ride video below!
same same but different
Despite the FXE sharing the same premise over the previous FXS, the bike gets a slew of new updates that are more than just skin deep.
FXE has benefited from Xero’s many technical developments over the years. The dated displays on the FXS have now been replaced with color screens from the SR/F and SR/S which provide a more elegant interface for riders. This connects to the Cypher II operating system of the bike and gives the FXE a much needed fast track into the 2020s.
The dual bug-eyed headlights of the FXS have now been replaced with a more decent light cluster which gives a better look to the bike.
But the biggest update of all is definitely the new design. You can count me in the ‘Fan’ column, and I think it really helps solidify the FX line’s urban capabilities. The FXS always looked like a dirt bike with street tyres, but the FXE’s new body fits the city perfectly.
Whether you find it ‘affordable’ or not is a matter of opinion. At $11,795 before state and federal tax incentives, it’s worth slightly more than the FXS for those new updates. But it is one of the lowest-cost highway-capable electric motorcycles in America. It may face competition from the influx of new models, but for now it is one of the best deals in town.
And ‘in town’ is exactly where I think the beauty of this motorcycle lies. It is best used as an urban commuter bike which can hop on the highway as well.
Its top speed of 85 mph is actually quite useful for hitting any road at legal speed, though it won’t want to spin around at its top speed for very long.
Still, a typical commute of 10-15 minutes in the suburbs followed by 20 minutes on the highway and then another 10-15 minutes in the city is perfect for a small, nimble and cost-effective electric motorcycle. FXE.
If you live in a situation that allows filtering or lane splitting, you can deduct several minutes of each of that time. And even if you are forced to ride the alley inside the cave, you’ll enjoy the benefits of easier and cheaper parking, lower fuel costs, and a more pleasant commute.
Plus there’s the added benefit of your daily commuter vehicle. There also happens to be a powerful, fun electric motorcycle. Now we’re not talking about the SR/F-level of power here. But the bike weighs under 300 pounds and still sports 46 hp combined with grin-inducing levels of torque.
Being able to give it a twist of the wrist and being able to launch so powerfully that seems like an ordinary bike so small made me happy almost every time I did it. And then working your way into carving turns on a bike that feels like it doesn’t weigh too much under you which adds to the amazing sensation.
It’s certainly not an electric bicycle, but it doesn’t feel particularly heavy either. To be honest, this would probably be the best starter or beginner motorcycle for anyone who is electric motorcycle curious but doesn’t feel like jumping in with a heavy or powerful flagship bike like the SR/F, SR/S or Livewire. Those bikes are fun, don’t get me wrong. I’ve ridden all three and would rather replay them than type on my computer right now. But those bikes are also heavy powerhouses that can easily get you in trouble.
If you’re looking for trouble you can certainly find it on the FXE as well, but the bike is more balanced and appropriate for most types of riders. And again, that’s what makes it such a great everyday e-moto in my opinion. It’s fast and fun without being over the top or excessive. The limited range will put some riders off, but if you’re looking for a commuter and don’t need to go more than 50-100 miles to the office, it can still do everything you need. I won’t take it on a touring ride, but I ride it to work every day and enjoy it on the weekends.
Now I just have to convince my wife that this is a good idea for me.
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