The Lockheed SR-71 "Blackbird" is one of the most iconic aircraft in American history. From the sleek shape to the blacked-out livery, the Mach 3-capable reconnaissance aircraft’s image outlasted its technology.
The last thing anyone thinks of when they see a Zero FX electric dirt bike is an SR-71 Blackbird. Yet, Christian Moretti of Italy’s Plan B Motorcycles turned to the retired recon aircraft for inspiration when a customer rolled a 2019 Zero FX into his custom shop. The brief called for a lightweight, modern café racer, and the Blackbird’s blend of nostalgia and futurism fit the bill.
Gallery: Blackbird: 2019 Zero FX
Transforming the electric motocrosser into a road ripper wasn’t an easy feat, however. Moretti adapted the chassis to street use by ditching the stock 41mm Showa fork in favor of a 50mm Marzocchi front end. Brand new CNC-machined triple trees clamp the new fork legs to the aircraft-grade aluminum frame while a fully-adjustable Gears Racing monoshock lowers the rear.
Lightweight, 17-inch Grimeca wheels improve the FX’s on-road handling, and supermoto-style slicks provide more than enough grip on the asphalt. Dual Beringer six-piston calipers mated to twin 340mm ceramic rotors bring the Zero to a halt in no time.
Moretti didn’t just morph the FX’s chassis, though, he also overhauled the aesthetics for proper sportbike styling. The builder fashioned the faux gas tank, custom tail section, and fairings out of aluminum, and the special ink-coated paint job prioritizes stealth while still letting the metalwork shine through.
Of course, the form also follows function, with Moretti integrating additional fans to amplify airflow over the air-cooled Z-Force 75-5 brushless motor. Plan B takes that feature to the Nth degree with two air ducts that actuate with every startup, and fully open under braking.
“The fan speed is controlled by the throttle,” revealed Moretti. “The more ‘gas’ you give to the bike, the more air is channeled through the fairing, cooling the battery, motor, and regulator assembly.”
Moretti brings that same level of creativity to the cockpit. Featuring a cheeky infrared rear-view camera, a top-mounted steering damper (that the FX probably doesn’t need), non-functioning “aircraft” switches, and an attitude indicator, the dash is “super busy, as a proper aircraft one should be!”
The FX electric dirt bike may be the furthest thing from an iconic aircraft in Zero’s lineup, but that’s just a testament to Christian Moretti’s artistic vision and custom-building skills.