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New electric bikes offer big savings

April 22, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Riding a motorcycle is already a way to save gas. But you can take it even further with an electric bike. Automotive Specialist Dave Kunz shows you what electric motorcycles have to offer.The new Zero S looks like most two-wheeled vehicles, except where you'd expect to find a gasoline engine there's a big battery.

"It's not some sort of a bicycle. This is a high-performance electric motorcycle," said Chris Heimbuck, Zero Motorcycles.

Crude electric bikes have come and gone in the past, but their batteries limited their potential.

"Now we're seeing high-capacity lithium-ion cells that are conducive to creating a high-performance electric motorcycle that's gonna be fast, fun, efficient, and somewhat affordable," said Heimbuck.

Affordability is helped by government incentives. Base price for a Zero S is about $10,000, but the feds will give you a tax credit of a $1,000. And California is now offering a $1,500 rebate, so the final cost is just under $7,500.

They say the Zero is a commuter's dream. You can ride 50 to 60 miles on a battery charge. And when it's time to plug in, any household outlet will do.

The Zero recharges in three to four hours and the cost works out to about a penny per mile.

Is there a future in emissions-free electric motorcycles? Well, there must be, as Hollywood Electrics on Fairfax only sells electric bikes. They have several brands, but none uses gasoline.

There's other competition for the Zero too. The Brammo Enertia, also an electric motorcycle, is actually more substantial and has more of a conventional motorcycle look compared to the Zero. The final price after incentives is about $6,000.

It drives conventionally, but isn't sold conventionally.

The Enertia is carried at select Best Buy stores. Yes, the big technology retailer has added this high-tech electric motorcycle to its inventory.

Technology also means less cost to operate any of these bikes.

"You don't have to worry about oil changes, spark plugs replacements, nothing," said Heimbuck.

Eventually we should see quite a few Zeros, Entertias and other electric motorcycles out on the road. We just won't necessarily hear them.


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