Zero Motorcycles, manufacturers of the Zero X electric motorcycle, are planning to make history this weekend by hosting the first-ever 24-hour electric motorcycle endurance race, dubbed the 24 Hours of Electricross.
A total of 10 teams from around the globe will line up on the grid early Saturday morning and race in 1-hour shifts for 24 straight hours, potentially setting a world record for longest and largest electric motorcycle endurance race. The Santa Clara Fairgrounds, where the race is being held, typically doesn't allow 24-hour races; there are noise ordinances in place because of the residential areas in close proximity. Thanks to the near-silent operation of the electric bikes, an exception has been made.
We had an opportunity to speak with Zero Motorcycles founder and CTO Neal Saiki, who told us that although Zero invited other electric motorbike manufacturers, the entrants for the inaugural race will exclusively field Zero X bikes.
Saiki gave us a tour of the 2009 Model Zero X motorcycle, the heart of which is the high-output lithium ion cell, which is said to be completely nontoxic and environmentally safe. In fact, Saiki claims that you could literally eat the salt crystals in the battery pack if you wanted. The battery uses a patent-pending process to store enough juice for a 40-mile ride in a package that only weighs 45 pounds. The Zero X bike itself only weighs 151 pounds, about 100 pounds lighter than its gasoline equivalent would be. This is partially because of the all-aluminum frame, but the less-complex electric drivetrain is probably responsible for a few pounds of savings.
Saiki gave us a quick demonstration of the Zero X in action. A quick twist of the throttle caused the bike to launch forward, the only sounds being the mechanical noise of the chain drive and the spray of gravel. The Zero X is no toy, at least not in the conventional sense. The bike's top speed of 40 mph is reached in about 4 seconds.
Along with hourly rider swaps, the bikes will be swapping battery packs to get around the 2-hour charging cycle. Akeena Solar will be on-site to help charge the Zero X batteries during the race, minimizing the environmental impact. According to Saiki, a full charge of the Zero X's lithium ion battery pack costs about 40 cents, putting the bike's running cost at or around a penny per mile, depending on maintenance costs (electric motors require less maintenance than their gasoline counterparts).
The 2009 Zero X is currently available from Zero Motorcycles at an MSRP of $7,450.