Machine Design

All Quiet on the . . . Motocross track?

Remember when motocross was a loud, dirty sport?

It still is. But a quieter, gentler motocross may lie just over the next hill, thanks to the Zero X motorcyle and its highpower lithium-ion battery.

“At first, customers are interested in our motorcycle because it’s silent and clean,” says Neal Saiki, inventor and founder of Zero Motorcycles, Santa Cruz, Calif. “But after a test ride, it’s the power and torque of the battery and motor.”

Saiki’s aerospace-engineering degree and 15 years spent designing mountain bikes helped him develop the 18-lb aircraft-aluminum frame of the Zero X. More than 300 custom-fabricated parts resulted in a total weight of 140 lb, less than half the weight of a gas-powered motorcycle. The company claims the battery, which fully recharges in under 2 hr, delivers up to 2 hr of riding with no noticeable loss of performance. The electric motor delivers over 20 hp. Performance, according to the company, is similar to a 250-cc gas-powered dirtbike. And the battery is recyclable and landfill approved.

The Zero X retails for $7,500, and life expectancy of the li-ion battery is five to six years with normal use. Replacement cost for the battery, if necessary, is $2,950. To see a demonstration of the Zero X, visit

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Zero Motorcycles,

The power pack of the Zero X contains no cobalt, nickel, lead, or mercury.

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