We ran a story last month 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!
As I get the keys from Kyle, I am excited to ride to the YMCA for "lunch." The attendant at the parking garage there always had something positive to say when I was riding into late November. I wonder what he will say now?
I see him as I am leaving the garage and his reaction does not disappoint.
"Right On! First bike of the New Year."
"Watch for it...all winter!" I say.
"What kind of bike is that? Those tires are interesting."
"It's a Zero Electric."
"All electric, listen. Bye." Whrrrrrrrr.
Some things I noticed on my first ride:
- The studs are a little slipperier than my street/sport set up on the mostly dry pavement.
- Road spray is everywhere; my boots are caked with salt/grime. I need to remember to pull out my boot covers next time.
- The throttle response of the Zero was smooth, much to my relief. I was worried that the electric motor might be abrupt.
- On my way back to Aerostich I give it some "gas". Nothing crazy, just enough to get a taste of what the Zero can do. Suddenly I'm doing 50mph without knowing it. It's so quiet!
Thursday evening. Overcast, upper teens.
Time to go home. For the ride home, I add a few more layers than I had for my previous outing. In addtion to my Roadcrafter Light and boot covers (I remembered them), I add an electric Warmbib and a fleecy Shellaclava. I feel confident enough after my first ride to take the highway home. The Zero has no trouble getting up to speed and I am able to easily merge with the traffic. At highway speed and with no fairing, the ride is much colder. It takes about 10 minutes and I'm not sure how much longer I would like to go, even at 20°F.
Near home I have about 2 blocks of minimaly maintained gravel alley to navigate. But now the gravel is under a layer of hard-pack snow and ice. Traction on the front tire is no issue, but the back tire breaks free a couple times.
After dinner I have another errand downtown. Time for another ride!
Getting started from a standstill on the hard-pack snow is an exercise in throttle control. It is very easy for the back tire to break loose and spin. My Minnesota driver's training (both formal and informal) comes in handy. As I come into the downtown area, the cobblestones on 1st St. look wet and slick. Duluth is one of the few remaining cities in America that uses cobblestones. I have had some incidents on the cobbles with my bicycle, so I am extra cautious. I arrive at my destination without any trouble.
On the way home I did get a little slipping turning on to 3rd Ave. The combination of a slight hill and frosty cobblestones was too much to maintain traction. Smooth on the throttle and home I go. Traffic is light and I find myself alone at most intersections. Sitting, waiting at lights is utter silence. It's almost meditation. Nothing quite like it on a clear, dark night.
Friday morning. Overcast, low to mid teens.
>10 Things They Never Tell You About Becoming A Biker | RideApart
After charging overnight, the Zero batteries are showing 100%.
It is colder this morning and I can feel the wind at my neck and chin. The fleece may not be enough, maybe a wind triangle or neoprene mask would help. I take the highway again. After gingerly executing the 'S' to get on the highway, I'm on my way. The wind-chill at downtown speeds last night were no problem, but I can really feel the bite of the cold this morning at highway speeds. Again, I'm on the highway for about 10 minutes and wouldn't want to do much more.
Friday afternoon. Overcast, upper 20's
One more ride to the gym before I turn the keys over to Randy. It actually feels too warm for the electrics. Duluth is a very progressive city when it comes to bicycles and alternative transportation (it has even been in the news recently). The YMCA has a bike rack right inside the front lobby. Following the tips from some of our customers, I fold my Roadcrafter and "park" it right next to the fat bikes and "winter-beater" Surly's in the rack. People may think it strange to see this Road Grimed Astronaut walking down the sidewalk, but I would rather not come back to put on an icy-cold suit.
I would like to say more about this trip, but it is getting just so...normal. Yeah, I could get used to this!
By Bruce - Aerostich Website Development. Rides approximately 3000 miles annually on a 2007 Yamaha FZ6.
Rider factoid: Is a ‘totally boring commuter’ recently hitting 20K transportational riding miles (racked up 6 exciting miles at a time...). Sometimes bicycles to work, too.
All text and photos courtesy of Aerostich's Zero Below Zero blog.