Are electric motorcycles going to be part of the Los Angeles Police Department fleet?
Zero Motorcycles hope so. The electric motorcycle company based in Scotts Valley, Calif., has placed a couple of its Zero DS Police models with the LAPD, which is currently testing them for practicality on the force.
From the company's booth at this weekend's Progressive International Motorcycle Show in Long Beach, Zero's vice president of global marketing, Scot Harden (who's also an American Motorcycle Assn. Hall of Fame rider), said Zero has already made deals with police forces around the state and around the world.
The company has placed 70 of its super-fast, super-clean, zero-emission road bikes with the Hong Kong police department, and 129 with the cops in Bogota, Colombia. Police in the company's hometown of Scotts Valley are using a pair of Zeros, as are those in the nearby communities of Monterey and Santa Cruz. So are several university security departments around the state.
Zero came to Long Beach for a first local display of its new Zero SR model and its new "Z Force Power Tank" option, which the company has previously told The Times pushes the range on the 67 horsepower SR up to 171 miles of city riding and 100 miles of highway riding.
In a review last May, I was dubious about the Zero (and electric motorcycles in general) until about five seconds after I started riding a Zero DS. I found the combination of instant-on horsepower and total silence completely exhilarating, and have been hankering to get on another Zero ever since.
Harden said the company was relying on fleet sales to add some zeroes to its bank accounts while a still-wary general public makes up its mind about electric motorcycles.
"The fleet sales can give us volume while the consumer market comes around," said Harden, who predicts Zero will sell more than 2,000 units in 2014.
He said he understands some of the rider reluctance, particularly when it comes to range, but insisted that the Zero does everything most riders would want it to do, most of the time.
"We have a great product that satisfies all our riders 90% of the time," he said. "For the other 10%, you can ride your BMW. But get a Zero!"