Neal Saiki is the founder of Zero Motorcycles . After designing designing world-class mountain bikes for Santa Cruz, Mountain Cycle, he is bringing his new all electric "dirt" bike to the London Motorcycle Show Jan 29th - Feb 1st 2009. Fox video of it in action.
Earlier in his career, Neal worked as a project manager at NASA developing high altitude research vehicles. While he was in college, Neal set a World Aviation Record by creating the first successful human-powered helicopter. He holds masters degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.
As lightweight motors became available, Neil realised “All I needed was a battery, and I could make an electric motorcycle.” It wasn’t really that simple, as the lithium-ion batteries that power things like your laptop generate a lot of heat. Saiki knew his battery would have to dump about 300 amps of power at peak load which currently gives 50lbs ft torque and they say (eventually - er...real soon now) upwards of 150 ft-lbs.
Saiki developed and (more important) patented a way of packing the cells and controlling them that makes his ‘Zenergy’ battery the smallest, lightest, most powerful - 2 hours to full charge and gives some 2 hours of action.
Whilst 20 horses power doesn't sound much the beauty of electric motors is they deliver peak torque at all revs.
The Zero X weighs 140 pounds – it’s geared for a top speed of about 55 mph.
It’s set up like a twist-and-go scooter, with footpegs but no foot controls. There’s a rear brake on the left ’bar, and front brake on the right one, as well as a “throttle” on the right twistgrip. There’s no gearbox.
Turn the key, (they call it "arming" the bike) a row of LEDs lights up to indicate the amount of time you have left on the battery. The bike doesn’t make any sound at all . If you reflexively blip the throttle, it’ll take off. That’s been a problem when one person hands the bike off to another.
Snagette to using one - it's designed only as an off roader. and the list price is .... US$7,450 (ish) spare battery US $2,950.
A street version (ZeroS) good for 70 mph and a range of 60 miles for eco-celebs to tool up Rodeo Drive is due this month - sticker price of US$9,000.
Silent off roader - handy for the SAS in Afghanistan ?
The first NSU motorcycle rolled out of a sewing machine factory / bicycle factory / motorcycle factory in Neckarsulm Germany, in 1901. This used a Swiss motor petrol engine from Zedal - 234 cc engine which put out 1.75 horse power, and had a top speed of 48 km/hr, or 31 mph.
In 1964 NSU offered the first Wankel rotary internal combustion engine car in the world , the twin rotor 115hp NSU Ro 80- NSU has been part of Audi since acqusition by Volkswagen in 1969. The Mazda RX 8 is the only production car using Wankel technology.