Electric motorbike purveyor Zero wants more people to consider electric motorcycles, and to make that happen it's introducing a new rental program in partnership with EagleRider, the world's largest motorcycle rental company. Launching in five cities, the initiative means anyone (over the requisite age in the state in question and with a license) can rent one of Zero's SR/F electric motorbikes. We had the pleasure of riding one last year, and you can read all about how it converted us into devotees over here.
Pricing starts at $99 per day, but to sweeten the deal, anyone who rents a Zero through EagleRider and then decides to purchase one will see the cost of their purchase discounted by up to $300. In other words, if you decide after three days you want one, send it back and pull the trigger immediately to optimize your savings. Sure, the Zero SR/F starts at $19,495, but every bit helps. That extra $300 could be used to buy a decent helmet... and you're going to want a helmet.
More cities are set to come soon, but the SR/F is available to rent from today in Las Vegas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Miami.
The history — Zero has been around since 2006 and makes some of the most exciting electric motorcycles available. Its SR/F is a distinctly modern-looking bike with a "naked sport" design. It's clean, but not as sterile or boring as, say, a Tesla.
Inside, the bike packs a large 14.4 kWh battery that gives it 161 miles of range in a city, or 200 miles with an additional battery pack. The bike's electric powertrain provides for a huge 140 ft-lbs of torque and 110 horsepower, all of which is available instantly from 0 RPM — and the ride is dead silent... those are the perks of electric, baby. In our review we said that riding the SR/F is "like sitting on top of a silent, efficient, gorgeous rocket engine."
Electric benefits — Zero says a multi-day test ride can have a significant impact on how people experience electric bikes. They have certain benefits over gas-powered bikes that might take time to sink in. Electric bikes are easier to ride because they do away with the gears and clutch, for one. Then there's the convenience of charging at home rather than finding a gas station, of course. A common refrain from riders of gas-powered bikes is that a silent bike might be less safe because other drivers may be less apt to notice you... but we'd recommend you just learn where the horn button is fast, or, you know, learn to whistle loudly.
Electric motorcycles are all the rage, these days with new models dropping seemingly every week. But they're still a bit niche and haven't yet found the same acceptance as electric cars. Because while, like cars, electric motorcycles tend to be more expensive than their internal-combustion counterparts, they're not as practical. Expensive motorcycles aren't much use for carrying home a big haul of groceries like a Tesla is, they're more about tearing down empty roads with the wind in your face. That can make them a tougher sell.
But, moreover, for electric bike makers, the biggest challenge to adoption by bike fans may not be the prices (those will drop eventually) or practicalities, but worries that losing gas will also mean losing some of the fun. We'd argue electric motors can actually improve a ride, not detract from it. Skeptics just need to take a test ride. Hopefully, this new rental program will get them to do precisely that.