power source, but it will all come down
to battery technology. I think electric
bikes make especially good sense for
a bike used around town. For sure, it
would be good to see the prices come
down for them to gain more mass
appeal. I’m also interested in what
kind of potential that tuning by the
rider can have. Things like program-
ming the front- and rear-wheel speed
bias and power output could have a
real performance impact. To me, the
guys that make these things should be
less inclined to give the rider what they
want them to have and, instead, let
the rider figure it out. The fact that an
electric bike now has the fastest motor-
cycle time recorded for the Pikes Peak
hill-climb tells you something about
their future potential. I bet that 50 years
from now no one will ever believe that
we relied so heavily on internal com-
EBA: What comes next?
Preston: Well, Greg and I are going
to keep working on the bike to see
what we can do to make it a better race
bike. The thing has so much torque.
You know I love doing wheelies, but
they don’t help you when you’re trying
to win a race! ■
EBA: How did the experience go
when getting back on a bike?
Preston: Yeah, it had been a while
since I’d raced, and I have to say that
it didn’t take long to realize how rusty I
was. At 72 years old, the body definitely
slows down more than the mind. In my
brain, the one thing that hadn’t changed
was me always asking myself, “How
fast can I go?” But now it’s up to the
limits of the bike.
One thing I liked about the Zero was
how small it was. I raced a lot of bikes
growing up—from the big Triumphs to
the smaller DKWs and Hodakas—and
I always liked racing the smaller bikes
the most. When I first got on the Zero,
I thought back to how fast I used to go
at Ascot Raceway, and then I crashed
pretty bad on it. I realized that after all
these years I would have to change my
approach. It wasn’t a matter of how fast I
could go; it was more about how fast the
motorcycle could go, and I would have
to adjust to it. See, back in the ’70s, you
could always outride the equipment, but
that’s not the case anymore.
EBA: What changes did you make
to the bike to make it a racer?
Preston: We haven’t done anything
with the motor or the gearing. We called
Zero and asked a few questions about
programming the motor, but we couldn’t
get much information, so the motor is
still stock. We lowered the front and rear
suspension by about half, ditched the
stock wheels and put on some 19-inch
Buchanan wheels with Goodyear dirt-track tires, and relocated the handlebars
with some Rox Speed risers.
EBA: And how have you found it
as a race bike?
Preston: It works good for me, and
so far I’ve won about half the races that
I’ve entered. The thing has incredible
torque, and since our races are pretty
short, we only run one battery, which
also saves us about 45 pounds. The
biggest problem we’ve had is how little
inertia there is to the power train, so
that when the rear wheel breaks loose,
it goes sideways. I’d like to see some
kind of auto-traction system to help
prevent the rear wheel slipping.
EBA: You’re a guy who spent
practically your whole life on bikes
with internal combustion engines.
What are your thoughts on the future
of electric-powered bikes?
Preston: I have enormous confidence in the technology and what it
will look like in the next 5 to 10 years.
Electricity really is hard to beat as a
The fender that