Before turning over the keys, Zero Below Zero's Kyle finds himself in brief competition, but doesn't lose his composure, or his smile.
Back in January, we ran a story about Aerostich's wild plan to test the Zero FX in freezing Duluth, Minnesota. With their permission, we will be sharing the blogged thoughts of their select group of testers. Stay warm and enjoy!
Gearing up with extra layers under the Roadcrafter for the ride home has become pretty routine now, Warmbib, balaclava, silk scarf, insulated gloves or mittens, etc. The extra time it takes to add a few layers usually makes for a much more comfortable ride home. After walking out to the Zero, unplugging the charging cord and stashing it in the mouse-hole opening in the garage door, I eagerly threw a leg over and twisted throttle to begin my trip up the hill. With ‘warm’ 25ºF afternoon temps, I didn’t even feel the need for plugging in the heated gear.
The roads were dry and I was looking forward to a nice ride home. Increasing speed (and wind-chill) to merge onto the two-lane road that leads up the hill toward my house, it suddenly hit me. I had been so anxious to zip into my riding gear and get on the road that I neglected to use the restroom before leaving...and the large bottle of Gatorade I drank this afternoon, combined with some bumpy patches in the road, wasn’t helping matters. New plan: find the shortest, fastest route home. The normal route is about 5.5 miles, often stretched out to add an extra 3-5 miles to change the scenery. Today...4.5 miles, and very thankful that the Roadcrafter zipper design is so fast and easy to use. 10, maybe 12 seconds to zip out of my hi-viz one piece. Yes, today it was good to get home quickly.
After riding the Zero for the last few days it will be time to turn over the keys to the next test-rider today. Other than the remaining build up of hard-pack snow and ice in my driveway, after a recent warm-up last weekend, the roads are clear and dry. Pulling onto the dry road today, the temptation to twist the throttle for a little more speed was too hard to resist. Not having to stop riding this ‘season’ has meant none of the typical learning curves to reacquaint myself with riding fluency for Spring. This might create a slightly false feeling of confidence, but doesn’t prevent me from rolling a little harder on the throttle to pull into, and in front of, the rest of the traffic stream, creating a car-free buffer-space around me...at least until reaching the first of 3 stoplights along the way.
As I approach, the light turns yellow, so I roll off the throttle and apply the brakes as it switches to red. A jacked-up 4x4 pickup truck pulls along side me in the left lane. The light turns green and I silently accelerate forward, pulling away smoothly as the other vehicles get smaller in my rear-view mirrors...until the next light changes and I find myself waiting next to the same pickup truck again. The light changes and again I swiftly roll through the intersection and begin heading down the hill, this time noticing the truck is accelerating to stay about a vehicle length behind me in his lane. The third light stops us both again and this time as soon as it changes I hear him rev his engine and begin to accelerate more quickly.
I never had any intention to race (or speed...), but something about the ride today did have me enjoying the feeling of the smooth, quick and easy acceleration offered by twisting the Zero’s throttle. Also, I’m not sure what was going through the mind of the pickup driver, maybe he was feeling a need to compensate for his big truck being out-run by a silent little motorcycle, I don’t know. Either way, as we both accelerate through the intersection, the competitive side of my personality shows itself just enough to quickly pull ahead of the truck, switch lanes to pass a slower moving car in front of me and then pull off on my exit to head to work. Nothing quite like fresh cool air streaming through my slightly open visor and a touch of extra acceleration to start the morning off feeling energized and ready for the day.
I wonder if the pickup driver waved to me when he passed by as I leaned the bike onto the exit ramp? I know I was wearing a big smile under my helmet as I plugged in the bike and prepared to turn over the keys to Gail. Sure do like the smooth and zippy throttle response of the Zero FX. It’s going to be quite a shift (literally) when I start riding my own combustion powered moto again...though I’m sure I’ll adapt quickly to rowing through the gears and the noise of the engine. It’s a pretty zippy bike too, so I’ll still be wearing the same, big smile inside my helmet... How can a smile not be part of my ATGATT set up on every ride?! Good riding!
Kyle - Aerostich Marketing and Graphics. Everyday ride is an ‘08 Kawasaki Versys, used to commute about 4500 miles per year.
Rider factoid: Enjoys riding in the rain and the jealous looks of youth soccer players (and a few mom’s) when dropping off his daughter on the bike for soccer practices and games.