An electric motorcycle company named Zero Motorcycles in Scotts Valley, California has a development contract to supply blacked out and quiet dirt bikes for the United States Special Operations Command.
The motorcycles produce much less heat than gasoline powered bikes so they are more difficult to identify with infrared sensors. The company also calls the bikes “nearly silent.” The Special Operations model is called the “MMX.”
According to a Zero press release, “an undisclosed number of MMX motorcycles are currently undergoing full operational testing.”
Zero claims the MMX produces 54 horsepower and 68 foot pounds of torque. Both numbers are higher than unofficial measurements for Harley-Davidson’s 883 Sportster with a stock exhaust. The little Sportster produces about 53 horsepower at 6000 RPM and 49 foot pounds of torque at 4100 RPM. The MMX will also operate in three feet of water.
The MMX has a keyless ignition and uses battery packs that each allow the bike to operate for up to two hours. The manufacturer says the battery packs can be replaced in about 60 seconds and recharged in “around an hour.”
The Special Operations motorcycle also features a “specialized military dash for quick and centralized mainline controls,” a headlight switch for “night-time stealth,” “integrated wiring to accommodate quick installation of front and rear infrared systems” and “aggressive foot pegs and hand guards for optimal control.”
Zero Motorcycles was founded in 2006 and appears to be the current top dog in the emerging market for electric bikes. The company’s motorcycles are built around a lightweight aluminum frame and it calls its electric motor “revolutionary.” Zero’s public relations are at least professional.
According to Abe Askenazi, Chief Technology Officer for Zero Motorcycles, “The military needed a very specific set of core features on the MMX, and we were incredibly thankful to work side-by-side with them to deliver such a unique product. The great news for our civilian customers is that we made the decision to incorporate into our 2013 MX, FX and XU retail motorcycles virtually all of the powertrain enhancements associated with satisfying this project’s stringent military requirements. Our 2013 product is truly ‘military grade.’”
Zero also sold 59 motorcycles to the government of Hong Kong in May.