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ADV News2022 Zero FXE Electric Motorcycle First Ride Review

2022 Zero FXE Electric Motorcycle First Ride Review

Zero’s newest entry-level e-bike promises the future, but delivers a familiar ride.

Published on 07.15.2021

Concept designs — whether we’re talking bikes, cars, you name it — rarely make it past that phase in a lifecycle. They either never make it off the page or live for eternity as static eye candy. They’re meant to be glimpses of future possibilities. What we usually end up seeing in dealerships are watered-down versions of the concept, borrowing only a few aesthetic details here and there, or whatever the designers, engineers, and marketing could all agree on. The 2022 Zero FXE is one of those rare exceptions. 

Back in 2019, Zero collaborated with Bill Webb and Huge Design and came up with the Zero SM concept for that year’s One Moto Show in Portland, Oregon. The bike’s design leaned on the advantages gained by using an electric powerplant. It essentially eliminated any resemblance of a faux fuel tank and simplified the bodywork with a one-piece appearance. Reception of the minimalist motorcycle was overwhelmingly positive and given how relatively practical the SM’s details were, Zero would have been remiss not to start production. 

2022 Zero FXE Supermoto

Considering the Zero SM made its debut in February of 2019 at One Moto Show, and the pandemic flipped the world upside down exactly one year later, the FXE endured a choppy ride before it ever hit the road. At the presentation during the official press ride in Santa Cruz, California, Zero Motorcycles CEO Sam Pachel said “an emphasis was put on 3D modeling and 3D printing for the FXE.” While Zero already had planned to dedicate more energy to the new-age approaches, Pachel credited the pandemic with accelerating those plans. With that in mind, the FXE is also billed as “The bike of the future. Available today,” by Zero. What that means, exactly seems to be up for interpretation.

A New Era? Or Just A Glimpse of the Future?

2022 Zero FXE Supermoto

Zero is very adamant the FXE is “the bike of the future,” but a quick look at the hardware, underneath the sleek new design and you’ll find a smaller version of an already-in-production motor. The 7.2 kWh battery in the FXE is simply a halved version of what is in the range-topping SR/S. The passively air-cooled, brushless motor is good for 78 lb-ft of torque and 46 horsepower, and a top speed of 85 mph, according to Zero.


In the range department, the FXE earns 100/60 miles city/highway, and a full charge is taken care of in 9.7 hours using a standard 110V or 220V outlet, but that can be trimmed to 1.8 hours if you’re willing to use four accessory chargers to help it along. If you find yourself on the road and running low, Zero’s mobile app will help you find charging stations and you can add roughly 10% charge per hour. Just keep in mind that 10% gets used much quicker on the highway, so slower back roads and city streets might be the safer route if you have the choice. And unfortunately, you can’t add a power tank to increase range and charge efficiency like you can the more up-market Zeros. What you see is what you get.

2022 Zero FXE Supermoto

On the software side of things, the FXE uses the Cypher 2 operating system, which gives you control of three standard riding modes and a fourth Custom mode, but no bluetooth connectivity like the more advanced Cypher III on the bigger Zeros. Eco gives you the most simulated engine braking and the most aggressive regen under braking while keeping the power delivery and usage the most conservative. Sport gives you the maximum power possible with the sharpest throttle response, while easing up the most on regen to keep off-throttle transitions the smoothest in corners. Normal is simply a happy medium between the two others. 

2022 Zero FXE Supermoto
2022 Zero FXE Supermoto

All the instrumentation however is now transmitted via a full-color TFT display. Underneath all of that is the same Showa suspension components as the rest of the Zero lineup. An inverted 41mm fork with seven inches of freedom sits up front and a Showa piggyback shock has nearly nine inches of play at the rear, which translates into a 32.9 inch seat height. Stopping power comes from a 320mm disc and dual-piston floating caliper up front, 240mm disc, and a single-piston in the rear, and it’s all managed by the Bosch Gen 9 ABS system. For grip, zero fits 17-inch Pirelli Diablo Rosso II front and rear (110/70 fronts, 140/70 rears). 

If all of those facts and figures don’t seem to add up to the electric motorcycle revolution Zero is touting, you’re not alone. Simply put, the FXE comes off more as a stylistically updated FXS, Zero’s less powerful, more rudimentary supermoto. To be fair, that’s not a negative. Like the entire Zero lineup, the FXE is nimble and power-rich, but the physical design language should be enough to get you excited about what’s possible down the road. 

2022 Zero FXE Review

The FXE is, of course, road-focused. When asked about where we can expect to see the new design language next, the Zero executives were coy, but hinted the DS and DSR Dual Sport/Adventure models were due for a refresh. Imagine a mid-to full-sized ADV with a triple-tree-to-tail-length seat, since there’s no practical reason to engineer a false fuel tank, other than extra storage. It has the possibility to be a game-changer as far as weight distribution. As far as range, this is where Zero needs to address things when it comes to any riding outside of urban settings. Seeing “200 miles” on your range meter on the TFT gauge display is nice, but having that type of endurance is more vital in the wild.

Road Manners Are As Excellent As Ever

At only 298 lbs, the FXE is on par with competitors like the Kawasaki KLX300SM (304 lbs) weight-wise, and range-wise in the city. At 46 hp, it can hang with bikes a few CCs bigger, but when it comes to torque, the Zero’s 78 lb-ft even towers over the KTM 690 SMC R with only 54.2 lb-ft. All of this combined with Zero’s expert ability to maintain an incredibly low center of gravity makes the FXE a beast of a canyon carver. 

2022 Zero FXE Review

On long, fast sweepers in the hills above Santa Cruz, the FXE felt balanced but the lack of weight doesn’t do the bike favors traveling over imperfections in the road. The suspension probably could have used a little more attention, dialing it in to compensate better, but for an out-of-the-box setup, it wasn’t a deal-breaker. Heading into the tighter turns, the brakes bite nicely and with the engine braking and energy regen setting on the electric motor cranked up, scrubbing speed wasn’t a hassle at all. Where the FXE is most at home is tipping in and then powering out of those hairpins. How much the FXE likes to be thrown around at lower speeds is addictive.

2022 Zero FXE Review

Acceleration on an electric bike, especially a full-throttle pin, takes getting used to. You feel the physical thrust from the motor, the front going light, and the sensation of moving quickly through space, but that’s it. It’s drama free. There’s no vibrations from the engine rapidly increasing in frequency, there’s no exhaust note singing intandem, and there are no gear changes to slow you down. Because, well, those don’t exist on an EV. All you hear is a slight whine from the motor, similar to a supercharger and the air rushing by your helmet. Then, while you’re stupified by how quick the bike actually feels, before you realize it, you’re going 100 mph. Other bikes like to warn you with extra sounds when you push the engine hard and pick up speed. The Zero just surprises, you each and every time.

Like all electric motorcycles, lower speeds are where the FXE thrives. Zero claims the FXE has a highway range of 60 miles, but only if you keep it at or below 55 mph. Any faster than that and you run out of charge faster than range anxiety has a chance to kick in. I have no doubt you can see 100 miles of range if you stick to just city streets — I saw 202 miles of range when I tested the bigger SR/S in NYC late last year. The highway just isn’t an environment meant for electric motorcycles right now, given the current state of the technology. 

2022 Zero FXE Electric Motorcycle

I’m not entirely sure I would want to test the FXE on longer rides anyway. At six foot one inch tall, I was a little cramped in the saddle. The seat stretches forward far enough to allow some maneuverability when threading a few tight turns together. However, when I tried to relax on the long straights and slide back, the slope in the padding forced me to stay mid-seat. 

The Bottom Line

Once again, Zero built a wonderful city bike. It’s light, has all its power from zero RPM, and it manicures like nothing else in its class. Like other Zero’s, the FXE falters the minute it leaves the concrete jungle if the destination is a set of mountain roads. At least the bigger Zeros will get you to the mountain and let you have some fun. Attempt to ride the FXE out of the city, hit your favorite strip of alpine asphalt, and ride it hard, you better time when you get to the highest point because gravity will be your only power source on the way back down. That is of course if there isn’t a charging station at the top and you have several hours to kill.

2022 Zero FXE Electric Motorcycle

On the plus side, the Zero’s is relatively maintenance free in the long term since there’s no fluids to swap and so few moving parts. The fact that it only costs $0.81 to “fill up” might also offset the downside of the range limitations. Zero’s warranty does cover up to five years and unlimited miles, but keep in mind, those batteries can also go the distance and log 200,000 miles before needing a swap. And when you do need a new one, it’ll run you $2,250.

Zero calls the FXE, “the bike of the future.” It’s a bold claim backed up only by a moderately progressive design. That tagline had me hoping the brand’s latest and greatest entry-level bike would come with a ground-breaking range from a new motor or a price tag lower than the $11,795 they gave it. Which, at that price point puts it in the same bracket as the KTM 690 when in reality it’s competing more realistically against smaller bikes. Either would’ve been a serious step forward: A sizable advancement in battery technology that addresses a critical concern, or an affordable offering that undercuts an increasingly populated and relatively expensive category. 

2022 Zero FXE Electric Motorcycle

The savior the EV space as a whole needs is a bike like the FXE but with dirt cheap pricing. Although with today’s technology and manufacturing, it’s just not possible. The FXE is a wonderful improvement on the FXS, but it’s not the bike of tomorrow. It’s merely a glimpse at what Zero’s bikes will look like in the near future. 

Gear Used

2022 Zero FXE Specs

Range City100 miles (161 km)
Range Highway, 55 mph (89 km/h) 60 miles (97 km)
Range Highway, 70 mph (113 km/h) 40 miles (64 km)
Peak torque78 ft-lb (106 Nm)
Peak power 46 hp (34 kW) @ 4,300 rpm
Top speed (max) 85 mph (137 km/h)
Top speed (sustained) 75 mph (121 km/h)
Motor TypeZ-Force 75-5 passively air-cooled, high efficiency, radial flux, interior permanent magnet, brushless motor
Controller High efficiency, 550 amp, 3-phase brushless controller with regenerative deceleration
Power packZ-Force Li-Ion intelligent integrated
Max capacity 7.2kWh
Nominal capacity 6.3 kWh
Charger type650 W, integrated
Charge time (standard) 9.7 hours (100% charged) / 9.2 hours (95% charged)
With one accessory charger 4.1 hours (100% charged) / 3.6 hours (95% charged)
With max accessory chargers 1.8 hours (100% charged) / 1.3 hours (95% charged)
InputStandard 110 V or 220 V
TransmissionClutchless direct drive
Final drive90T / 18T, Poly Chain HTD Carbon belt
Front suspensionShowa 41 mm inverted cartridge forks, with adjustable spring preload, compression and rebound damping
Rear suspensionShowa 40 mm piston, piggy-back reservoir shock with adjustable spring preload, compression and rebound damping
Front suspension travel 7.00 in (178 mm)
Rear suspension travel 8.94 in (227 mm)
Front brakesBosch Gen 9 ABS, J-Juan asymmetric dual piston floating caliper, 320 x 5 mm disc
Rear brakesBosch Gen 9 ABS, J-Juan single piston floating caliper, 240 x 4.5 mm disc
Front tirePirelli Diablo Rosso II 110/70-17
Rear tirePirelli Diablo Rosso II 140/70-17
Front wheel3.00 x 17
Rear wheel3.50 x 17
Wheelbase 56.0 in (1,422 mm)
Seat height 32.9 in (836 mm)
Rake 24.4°
Trail 2.8 in (71 mm)
Curb weight298 lb (135 kg)
Carrying capacity332 lb (151 kg)
Equivalent fuel economy (city) 533 MPGe (0.44 l/100 km)
Equivalent fuel economy (highway) 213 MPGe (1.10 l/100 km)
Typical cost to recharge $USD$0.81                      
MSRP $USD$11,795                                                               
Standard Warranty2 years
Power pack warranty5 years/unlimited miles

Photos by Kevin Wing

Author: Bryan Campbell

Bryan has been a motorcycle journalist for the better part of a decade. Some of his most epic adventure rides include crossing Chile, going from Santiago to Valparaiso and back, on a leaky BMW R1200GS and riding from Seattle to Anchorage on a Triumph Scrambler and hitting the Denali highway along the way. He started out on sport bikes when he was 18, but from the moment he got a taste of dirt riding, it’s been his preferred terrain. Ask him and he’ll tell you why, “Because off-road, the only speed limit is your own stupidity.”

Author: Bryan Campbell

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July 15, 2021 9:47 am

[…] post 2022 Zero FXE First Ride Review appeared first on ADV […]

Joe John
Joe John
July 15, 2021 11:04 am

I would love to have one of these for around town and a tenere 700 for some dual sport adventuring but I think I would have to wait until the price is closer to 8k to justify the expense of a bike that is a little limited in scope. If I was rich I would go out and get one tomorrow haha.


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