The rider position on the Enertia vs. the Zero S is significantly different, and rider position may be the single most subjective thing about experiencing a bike. Depending on the ride position you prefer, you may love, or hate, a particular bike or even class of bikes. Personally I prefer a cafe-style ride- low bars, pegs centered under my butt- and the big cruiser/chopper extreme-recline living-room-chair position seems nothing but comical to me.
My first impression of the Enertia was about the pegs. I couldn’t find them. I’m used to my daily ride, a light sport bike with pegs in line with my butt, and my Vf500F conversion- also with a similar layout. To me, this is where you want your feet- they are directly under your body’s center of gravity, and you easily can move from a sitting position, where your weight is high in the seat, to weighting the pegs- lowering your center of gravity significantly. Indeed- many trail-bike riders spend 90% of their time on the pegs, and the seat is almost there for show.
Beyond the handling of the bike, riding in this position allows you to use your legs to absorb shocks. Often cruising the potholes of Boston I’ll be almost standing on the pegs. In a seated-chair position, you have a direct line from the bike to your spine.
Back to the Enertia- the pegs sit low, and very far forward… so much so that it feels completely unnatural to me.
You can get a feel for the rider position of a bike by making the rider “triangle”- drawing a simple line between your butt, the grips and the pegs, as I’ve shown above. In that diagram you can see the Enertia triangle is tilting towards the back- thus, so is your weight. Rather than being supported by your legs, most of your weight is on your butt. The Zero is more conventional for a street-sport bike, and almost approaches the geometry of a trail bike- no surprise considering it’s design heritage.
You have to guess that a big part of this was an effort to get the Enertia to feel comfortable- as comfortable as a scooter perhaps- to potential buyers in the showroom. Just for kicks I threw this comparison together- a Vespa scooter compared to a Yamaha trail bike.
My first reaction to that was kind of a flinch looking at the Vespa compared to the Enertia. It’s so close as to be almost identical… The Zero isn’t as much as an upright position as the trail bike, but then, it’s a street bike. The pegs, though, are almost exactly in the same relation to the rider- directly under the rider’s center of gravity. To be fair, the forward-peg position isn’t just a scooter thing- also common on the “Cruiser” class of bikes- factory built bikes that cater to folks who like that look and ride.
After some lengthy rides in the commuter context I actually chilled out a bit on the Enertia footpeg position- sitting in traffic, or going along at 30mph in a straight line I actually enjoyed sitting back a bit and reaching forward with my feet- however, call me a purist or a snob, the one thing I’d change immediately on the Enertia is the pegs- and just in front of the swing-arm pivots is a nice spot for some rear-set brackets.
Again, I think you have to put this into the context of the target market, and the subjectiveness of personal preference, but you do have to be aware of the significant differences between the two bikes. If you’re a new rider looking for a comfortable bike- maybe you have a scooter, maybe not- you may like the Enertia better. If you’re an experienced rider, or someone who wants to become a serious rider and wants to start off with a bike that you can learn more about how bikes handle, and how to handle them, the Zero geometry will give you that.
EDIT: After a ride discussing this with my teenage son, returning the Enertia (>sniff<) he brought up the point that many entry consumer bikes like the Honda Nighthawk 250 (a bike that is arguably in the same market as the Enertia) have pegs very far forward. OK, fair enough… let’s have a look.
(I don’t have to tell him he’s right, do I? Please say no… I beg you.)
Kidding aside, this just proves my point- it’s a matter of taste and preference. If you measured up any big Harley or Harley derivation, I suspect you’d get a similar rider triangle, and I’m not sure but they may be the most popular style on the road right now- probably exactly why Brammo opted for this geometry. It’s unfair to leave you with the impression the Brammo is pointed at the scooter market because of this- it’s really simply pointed at the biggest market.
It’s always difficult when you get two products that are very similar. It’s hard to really point out one over another, but in this case it’s a clear difference and a clear choice- once you know what you prefer.