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Electric motorcycles intrigue Vail Valley dirt riders

Scott Miller/Vail DailyLocal off-road rider Patrick Herbert checks out the drive system of a Zero Motorcycle. A handful of local dirt riders took some quick demonstration rides on the bikes recently when a factory representatives stopped in Edwards on his way through the valley.
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VAIL VALLEY, Colorado – Electric motorcycles are weird. It’s the sound – or, more accurately, the lack thereof.

Derek Ford, a factory representative from Zero Motorcycles, recently stopped in the Vail Valley on a cross-country trip between New York and California. His company van was packed with four bikes – two pure off-roaders, a street-legal dirt bike and a full street machine. Waiting at the Berry Creek trailhead near the Shaw Cancer Center was a handful of local dirt riders, members of the Eagle County 4X4 Association. One by one, those riders twisted the throttles on the bikes as they took off on demo rides.

As they rode away, there was only the sound of tires crunching dirt, the rattle of chains between sprockets and a slight whine of electric motors. If you ride for the noise, you won’t like an electric motorcycle. If you ride for thrills, though, the local riders thought the electric bikes could be a new way to zip through the backcountry.



“It’s really agile,” rider Dave Taylor said of the lightest of the bikes. “It’s more like a mountain bike.”

Considering things like range (about 60 miles), speed and pulling power, rider Doug Wilson said he might consider buying one of the bikes, but only with a big “If.”



At the moment, these electric motorcycles are eligible for hefty tax credits if they’re street-legal. In fact, those tax credits could drop the price of a Zero almost in half. That would make the price competitive with street-legal dirtbikes with engines of about 250 cubic centimeters.

Otherwise, though, prices for Zeroes hover around $10,000, a price that’s probably out of range of all but the most well-heeled riders.

But, Taylor said, the idea of electric motorcycles may become mainstream sooner than later.



“It’s more than a novelty,” Taylor said. “It has all the merit of a dirt bike without the noise or the pollution.”

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or smiller@vaildaily.com.

http://www.zeromotorcycles.com


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