After 15 years working in the bike industry, it took just one ride on a Zero to convince Abe Askenazi electric bikes are the future. In an exclusive interview with MCN, the firm’s Chief Technology Officer gives us the inside line on Zero’s goals, the joy of electric and why it’s time to make the change.
What’s the goal for Zero?
“To make the bike go away! If the bike just went away, and it was just you flying along the road as if you’re in a dream... wouldn’t that be just perfect?
“With a bike you get a sense of the character; the vibes, the noise, the feel, so I used to think if you do away with that on electric bike, won’t it be bland? No. When you ride electric it’s like a veil has been pulled off.”
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What opportunities does ditching petrol offer?
“Many people think of motorcyclists as rebels but we’re not really, we’re very conservative. Anything that doesn’t look like a motorcycle tends to be discounted.
“Electric powertrains will get smaller while internal combustion bikes will get heavier and more complex. So over time the design opportunities get really exciting. A motorcycle will still be a motorcycle, but it’ll evolve into something cleaner and more practical.”
How do you convince people to adopt now?
“We say ‘if it fits your usage case then now is the time’. For what many people use bikes for, ie short trips to work and quick journeys in the evening, the range is more than enough. Yes, we’ll continue to evolve and battery technology will get better, but that stuff will be more like the icing on the cake.”
What’s the sticking point for mass adoption?
“I think it’s people just knowing about it. The more people we can get on electric bikes, the faster people adopt. Most customers commute and either charge while at work or while sleep. Very few are using public infrastructure to charge.
“Every month this year we’ve broken sales records. We now sell more bikes than all our competitors combined. Next year really feels like it’s the one where it will take off.”
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