Everywhere I harvest success. All along the road from Belgium up to Istanbul, no one has ever seen a motorcycle like this. Custom officers, truckers, parents with kids, travellers, imams, cyclists – everybody questions me.
HOW FAR? 250 km at very moderate speeds; 150 if you want to go fast. HOW FAST? This Zero with full luggage reaches 115 km/h; without 130-140 km/h. HOW LONG TO CHARGE? 12-13 hours, depending on the strength of the local electricity network, say one overnight. Charging on the road, say during a lunch, is of course also possible. Each hour adds some 10 percent or 20 km. HOW TO CHARGE? In every normal house hold plug. If there's electricity, she can charge, i.e. almost all over the world except for remote areas. Dreaming of which, Tajikistan electric will have to wait.
Can't you add a dynamo? Nope, despite centuries of attempts, the perpetuum mobile hasn't been invented yet. But she regenerates electricity on power and torque. Refuelling while riding, as it were. More or less can be adjusted via the smartphone app. Three options: Sport, Eco or Custom. Granny or Rossi, it's up to you. And when at full power, I beat the guys on petrol monsters at the traffic lights. The tiny macha smile of an e-rider.
Another advantage, and not the slightest: at every fuel station I shout a cheerful “ciao!” in my helmet. Upon returning home I have spent 23 euro for 7.719 km. Only in camping sites I needed to pay. The real cost is a bit over 1 euro per 100 km, depending on the energy prices of each country.
WELL, I EXAGGERATED
Not everywhere I collect applause. The motorcyclists, except for three, want none of it. They ask the standard questions and raise shoulders at answer number one. “Come back when they ride double that distance and charge within one hour.” And: “No gears, how dull!” Another killer: “So dangerous without sound! Besides, you need to hear an engine, that's real motorbiking.” That ‘loud pipes save lives’ argument and the macho image again. Don't take my word for it and I have no shares in the company. Do go and test them at large though, any of the e-motorcycles, and let's have a coffee afterwards.
The journey had started off as a marvel: wonderful weather and a new friend at my first night over in Sedan, France. Emilien becomes one of my new friends and the impoverished city fascinates at once. The next morning we chat so long that it's late when I arrive in the hamlet beyond Nancy, in a camping site appearing to consist of residential inhabitants. During the summer, people from the region leave their cold concrete apartment blocks behind, and spend the summer in a caravan, tending their vegetable gardens and living outside all the time. From here they go to their jobs or spend the holidays. Patrick and Isabelle is such an epicurean couple. In their fifties, working class and 'bon vivants'. I'm still at the poles of the tent, as the warm hearted frenchy hands over a hammer and an aperitif. If I already ate, he asks. Well, no actually. ”Et bien venez diner avec nous. On est à l’apéro. Faites à l’aise; on a le temps.” [“Come and dine with us, we're at the aperitif. Take it easy, we have time.”]
Before dining, I plug Xena in. Weird, no electricity. Another socket, ditto. To cut a long story of jumping fuses, several extension cords, volt meters and a surly camping owner short: the Zero short circuits all of it. I can ride, nothing wrong with the bike, but she cannot charge. Follows a series of phone calls to the travel insurance and in the end to Patrick, the real owner of 'my' DS. It's official, I have a break down. On the second day.
[ NOTE: all images in my articles have captions, giving more details about the story. In the upper left corner you can click show/hide. Unfortunately setting the captions on 'show', then hides the top of the image. Oh well... ]