My New 2015 Zero SR

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LeftieBiker
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I got a modest but still significant inheritance when my Dad passed last year, and decided - perhaps foolishly - to spent it on something I've wanted for years, but never expected to actually own: a Zero. I was originally considering a DS, because I started riding with dual-purpose bikes, but when I rode a DS and an FX in 2014, both bikes, while a blast to ride, were a little too tall for my legs, even though I'm 5'9". I was looking for an S with the larger battery pack, but at the end of 2015 a bunch of SR demo bikes went up for sale, and I ended up buying this one, from Elk Grove Powersports in CA. It was hard to pass up a bike that was both faster (0-60MPH in 3.3 seconds) and less expensive than a comparable S!

I had to have the bike trailer-shipped to me, and I was, as people familiar with my past experiences with a ZEV can imagine, sweating blood for weeks as it was in transit. The bike arrived in one piece, though, albeit surprisingly dirty. I guess I should have let the shipper unload it half a block from my house in the pouring rain, but I somehow didn't want it to get soaked with water before I even started it once. The bike did boot up ok, though, warning me only that the side stand was down. I'll be adjusting the bars upwards and washing it this weekend, and hopefully taking my first ride (DMV gods permitting) on Sunday. I'll post regular updates on my experiences here, if there is interest.

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MEroller
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Re: My New 2015 Zero SR

Of course there is interest :-) That is one mean machine! You might want to train your hands' grip power, and do your first rides in Eco mode - I know what I am talking about from first-hand experience...

__________________

My rides:
QvR vR one: a Swiss package of pure understatement - innocent and to some eyes (from some angles) exceedingly ugly looks, but with raw and hardly containable electron power up to real 95 to 100km/h! And a literally rock-hard suspension due to a carrying capacity of twice it's unladen weight... Now converted to more controllable and efficient brushless motor and vector-contoller.

E-Sprit Fury (basis is the Erider Thunder 5000) since May 03, 2011. Highly moded - but now in active retirement

PJD
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Re: My New 2015 Zero SR

I guess the weather has been pretty mild (until the last couple days) up there? I hope the bike did not get a road-salt bath anywhere on the way from California.

LeftieBiker
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Re: My New 2015 Zero SR

The bike was trailered in an enclosed trailer, with a blanket over it, so either the trailer is very permeable to road dust, or...something. I had to literally beg the guy to not unload it 150' away from my garage with rain pouring down. The weather has just turned Cold again, but Sunday is supposed to be in the fifties, the bike is now registered, so here's hoping I get it clean and the bars adjusted tomorrow. I'll be ordering a Slipstreamer "Turbo" windshield for the colder months, and then a Slipstreamer Spitfire for Summer riding. For now I'll have to make do with my lithium-heated gloves and lots of clothing.

Yes, I'll definitely be riding in Eco mode to start, and plan to adjust the Custom Mode to roughly halfway between Eco (which approximates the power of the S model) and Sport, maybe a bit closer to Sport. I remember how my Madura 1200 accelerated, and will be using Sport Mode sparingly and not soon.

LeftieBiker
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Re: My New 2015 Zero SR

I got the bike washed this evening (something I hadn't planned to do, but it was too dirty in the wrong areas, like the seat and handgrips) and got the handlebars adjusted to full upright, in preparation for tomorrow's ride. I also got the license plate mounted. I already have one criticism for Zero, before I even ride the first time: the sidestand. There is no center stand, and so the sidestand should be designed for maximum stability under most circumstances. Instead, it leans the bike *way* over when parked, even on level pavement, and has nothing resembling a mechanism to try to keep it fully engaged until pushed up. So the bike makes me nervous just sitting in my garage, for crying out loud. I'll probably glue a piece of 2x4 to the floor to raise the bike about an inch, and will probably also carry a similar piece. I acquired a set of unused Zero-branded bags for the bike, but won't mount them until I'm sure the bike is ok. Now I have to dig out my XL helmet so I can for a thick balaclava under it...

PJD
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Re: My New 2015 Zero SR

Something I never understood is why any motorcycle would not have a center stand. Not being much of MC enthusiast, is this common on gas motorcycles?

The side stand on my Current scooter was originally too long - the scooter would threaten to tip over on the right side. So one of the first things I had to do was take it off the bike and have a welder cut and shorten it. The smaller electric scooter (old e-max) scooter my wife uses had the opposite problem. When I put larger tires on it it needed to have a wooden block attached to the foot of the side stand. Both came with center stands - so the job was easy.

Another problem with e-scooters is parking them on a hill. The rear wheel cannot be locked by putting it in first gear. Pointing downhill is always a no-no unless the the front tire is turned into the curb - but there is always the danger of a curious kid turning the handlebars. Uphill only works up to a point. There are a goodly number of streets in my hilly area where it simply is not possible to park the scooter. The "reverse" feature on my scooter has definitely been needed to back out of some parking spots.

LeftieBiker
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Re: My New 2015 Zero SR

I tend to park with the back tire against the curb.

I took my first ride today, and it went very well. I had used the Zero app to set the Custom mode as follows: top speed 80MPH, maximum torque: 75%, throttle off regen: 6%, braking regen: 100%.

I started the ride in Eco mode, and man, this isn't your Dad's Eco mode! Aside from a very soft start, useful for loose dirt and most city riding, the bike still accelerates harder than any electric bike I've ridden, and about as hard as my Leaf at low speeds - harder at higher speeds. Needless to say, there is just no comparison with the ZEV 5000, even with the Zero in Eco and the ZEV in, er, "3." I did about 20 miles of country highways in Eco, then on the beginning of the last leg of my 32 mile ride I switched to Custom.

Wheee!!! I've only ridden one or two ICE bikes that would leap forward like that when the throttle is opened at 60MPH, and they had roughly 100HP. I didn't run it all the way to 80 (it was mild but not warm outside, and I'm now old and feeble) but the bike seemed happy to just keep accelerating hard past 75MPH. Those Custom settings seem like the perfect "Sport" mode for public roads, with the actual "Sport" mode (which I didn't use, as I promised myself) best reserved for Special Situations, just like Tesla's "Insane Mode."

Ergonomically, the SR isn't the best bike for me. I have trouble with pain in my arms and hands, and supporting my weight on the bars with my arms isn't fun. However, above 40MPH I noticed that the force of the wind on my body actually relieved the strain on my arms. Only going down hills at low speeds actually hurt much. I'm going to adjust the bars once more, so I'm as upright as possible. The seat is about what I expected: on my fairly short ride it was fine, but on a long ride my butt would be hurting without an extra cushion. Most of the controls work fine, but the turn signal which isn't auto-canceling (despite what one might expect on a $16000 bike) is easy to activate but hard to turn off - it wants to switch from signaling a turn in one direction right to signaling the other way, especially for a rider wearing gloves.

The suspension works very well to absorb harsh bumps and keep the tires planted on the road. Since I only ride fast on smooth roads, though, I'll likely adjust the damping toward softer, for a more comfortable ride over small imperfections in the road.

I started the ride with 100% charge, and a range estimate of 61 miles. I finished it, 32 miles, later with 65% charge and a range estimate of about 55 miles. I didn't reset the efficiency reading, but I think it resets for every ride, and mine was 94.5 watt-hours per mile at the end of my ride. This means that for my riding style and roads, I expect the warm weather range to be between 90 and 100 miles for me. I'm finally starting to believe that it's the 21st Century!

LeftieBiker
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Re: My New 2015 Zero SR

My bad luck seems to be reasserting itself. What I thought was a "motor temp high" indicator flickering at the end of the ride has turned out to be an error code. The bike recharged normally to 97% (when I stopped it) but with that light flickering. It seems to be 5 flashes quickly repeating. The 5-5 error code is "miscellaneous error - contact Zero or your dealer"...

MEroller
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Re: My New 2015 Zero SR

Well, such is the risk when buying a used bike...
About full acceleration "Eco" Mode, that is why I was warning you to train your hands for a good grip on the handle bar :-) I gripp the bar rather firmyl and had a feeling of slightly dimming vision during my "Eco" acceleration test, possibly caused by the blood temporarily draining back out of my eyes... I do not want to immagine what would happen while accelerating in custom, let alone Sport on an SR :-) This is one beast of bike, and light as a feather!

__________________

My rides:
QvR vR one: a Swiss package of pure understatement - innocent and to some eyes (from some angles) exceedingly ugly looks, but with raw and hardly containable electron power up to real 95 to 100km/h! And a literally rock-hard suspension due to a carrying capacity of twice it's unladen weight... Now converted to more controllable and efficient brushless motor and vector-contoller.

E-Sprit Fury (basis is the Erider Thunder 5000) since May 03, 2011. Highly moded - but now in active retirement

Kocho
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Re: My New 2015 Zero SR

On the other hand, one soon becomes accustomed to having the power and "eco" mode will eventually begin to feel underwhelming at times. Especially for heavier riders. But yes, the first time I demoed a Zero coming off my Vectrix I did not dare use full throttle. By the third 15 minute test ride (Zero event, all models to be tried!) I preferred the "sport" mode. Not that it is needed in normal street riding, but was fun to play with.

LeftieBiker
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Re: My New 2015 Zero SR

The bike is considered "new" and has a full factory warranty. I don't have a dealer nearby, however. I actually looked for a demo, not just for price, but because there is an issue with chargers failing and I had hoped to avoid that with a "proven" bike.

LeftieBiker
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Re: My New 2015 Zero SR

I retrieved the error codes today, and I have a "BMS Isolation Fault" and "BMS Low Isolation" showing. I haven't even gotten the bike registered with Zero yet, because the label with the battery serial # was incorrectly applied at the factory and is half-buried under the fake "gas tank." I begged the dealer to check the bike over before they shipped it, they claim they did, and the fault only showed up after 31 miles of riding. History seems to be repeating itself.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10aJnWkGWdI

It appears the motor in my bike may be starting to go bad after about 500 miles.

Kocho
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Re: My New 2015 Zero SR

I don't know if I would rely myself on this logic. I bought my Vectrix "new" as well, as in never been registered and with only 136 miles on it. With supposedly recently rebuilt battery, which is considered good. All was good for a few hundred miles, then a cell blew in the battery (sort of expected, I had factored a failed battery in my future costs). Upgraded the battery to Li (Nissan leaf cells), and then a thousand miles or so later the charger blew. Replaced that and a few hundred miles later the new charger stopped working. The fuse and fuse holder failed (thanks to RadioShack and Amazon, repair costs were like $8 total). The rear tire was not very well mounted from the factory, replaced that. So far that's been all my troubles, knock on wood and the last couple of thousand miles have been problem-free. With the Vectrix I kind of know what is likely to fail and I know there is little support. But Zeros are frustrating because there is supposed to be support, yet dealers are more often than not clueless, Zero is generally unhelpful, and it sometimes takes months for simple fixes...

Demos I think often come with more issues than it's worth it. I know the particular problem you've been trying to avoid with the Zero charger, but unless the demo has a couple of thousand miles on it, the charger can still fail. If it does have a few K miles, I feel likely it has more potential other problems due to wear and tear from test rides and dealers not really taking care of it inbetween...

I wonder if your BMS errors are due to some moisture or perhaps you need to let it charge fully, wait for the equalization to finish, and see if that fixes it. Can you check on the display what the min and max cell voltage is at near full charge and at near low SoC? Near full charge should be very small difference b/w the higwst and lowest cells. Like 0.005V. Near "empty" it could be as much as 50 times more. Some folks keep it plugged-in and let it equalize for days, others do it over the course of several full charge cycles even if equalization is not fully finished. I don't know which approach is better (or should we say less harmful to the bike).

LeftieBiker wrote:

The bike is considered "new" and has a full factory warranty. I don't have a dealer nearby, however. I actually looked for a demo, not just for price, but because there is an issue with chargers failing and I had hoped to avoid that with a "proven" bike.

LeftieBiker
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Re: My New 2015 Zero SR

I don't think I can check cell EQ with the app, and know I can't with the dash. I still have some faint hope it's just moisture, but that should have presented itself at the beginning of the ride, not the end - the ambient air was dry enough to dry the inside of the bike out. Did you look at the YouTube link?

We want to present EVs as a real alternative to ICE vehicles, but at least in the case of two-wheeled EVs, they are just toys. Some are cheap (or in the case of ZEV, moderately expensive) Chinese toys, some are over-priced ones assembled and even partially built in the US, but in the final analysis none of them are reliable enough to be anyone's sole transportation. At this point it probably makes more sense to spend a couple of thousand on a cheap new Chinese scooter than to blow $13k+ on a Zero, unless you can just write that money off, and consider the bike a toy. You'd also better live within a few miles of a Zero dealership. I wasn't going to rely on the SR for transportation, but I was hoping to get at least get a year out of it, sell it at a substantial loss, and have fairly fond memories of having it. I'm not likely to live much longer at this point, and having loads of money in the bank doesn't appeal to me. Having almost no money and a big negative dollar sign sitting useless in my garage, though, that appeals a lot less.

Kocho
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Re: My New 2015 Zero SR

Doesn't sound good! Hopefully you'll get it fixed under warranty. Given how soon after delivery the error appeared, it seems it had been there all along. Hopefully the dealer will do the right thing and cover your bike's shipping costs to them and back to you after thy fix it under warranty. Show them the video.

LeftieBiker
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Re: My New 2015 Zero SR

Heh. The dealer will, presumably re-ship me parts that Zero sends them. They will not pay to have the bike shipped twice more, and about 6000 miles total. The person at the dealership I am in touch with responded to my heads up email with 'I'm glad the bike ran perfectly for you.' The closest Zero dealer to me is about 90 miles away. That's *theoretically* within the bike's range, but only at lower speeds, meaning a 5 hour ride each way, with a bike that could fail before I arrive. I'll most likely have to do any work on it myself, or hire a motorcycle mechanic.

prensel
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Re: My New 2015 Zero SR

Nice bikes these Zero's. !

I'd like to get one too someday and dig in this can system it has to see what mystery is inside :-)

Good luck and have fun with your bike !

__________________

===================================
My contribution to EV in The Netherlands
- Vectrix VX-1 NiMh my2007 #307
- Vectrix VX-1 NiMh my2008 #2327 converted to 36S30P Li-Ion
- Vectrix VX-1 NiMh my2011 #3243
- Vectrix VX-1 Li my2011 #3228
- CityEl FactFour Targa
- MiniEl Basic my1991 converted to 14S36P Li-ion
- MiniEl Cabrio my1991
- Novox C20 electric moped
- Novox C50 electric moped
- Citroen Saxo Electrique my1998 2-doors
- Peugeot 106 Electrique my1997 2-doors
- Peugeot 106 Electrique my2001 4-doors converted to 40S30P Li-ion
- Porsche Spyder 550 Electric Conversion (still in progress)

LeftieBiker
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Re: My New 2015 Zero SR

I won't be riding the bike again for more than a few miles until I get a better idea of how likely it is to stop accepting charges. At least the weather isn't good for riding now, and likely won't be for at least a few more weeks.

LeftieBiker
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Re: My New 2015 Zero SR

An update to this unhappy situation: the two error codes related to BMS Isolation won't clear, and the dealer in California (or at least their Zero Tech) has told me the bike will have to be 'brought in' to be checked. I had begged the sales rep to make sure the bike was mechanically perfect before shipping it, but the Tech told me that they essentially just add accessories and adjust belts there. The next step is to contact Zero. This all too damned familiar...

PJD
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Re: My New 2015 Zero SR

Terrible luck.

What is it with 2 wheel EV's? It isn't rocket science!

LeftieBiker
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Re: My New 2015 Zero SR

I think there are several factors at play. First, Zero has been increasing performance and capacity virtually every year, when perhaps they should have been working on nailing down quality control. (Think of PCs, where vast increases in CPU and memory performance have been almost offset by bloated, buggy software that always seems designed for a faster machine with more RAM.) Second, tacked tight onto QC, is the usual Chinese supplier problem. One would think that a $15,000.00 motorcycle could come with a Japanese onboard charger, and Zero has probably burned through their savings just replacing bad units. Finally, Zero is by necessity using existing ICE motorcycle dealers to a big extent, and ICE tech skills don't seem to translate at all to electric bikes. I bought my SR from a large multi-brand dealer located right near the Zero factory, and they don't seem to know sh*t about the bikes.

So now, unless the problem proves to be just a little water in the "monolith" (battery module) that goes away with a little help from me, I will have to somehow transport this bike 120 miles, to another Zero dealer who may well also know nothing beyond checking tire pressure and belt tightness. Assuming I get it back intact and working properly, it will go up for sale immediately, and I will never again buy an electric bike that costs more than a couple of thousand dollars. Even more likely, I'll just ride my old Suzuki GS450 (30 years old and it still has all its OEM major components working fine) on the increasingly rare occasions when I can tolerate exhaust fumes, and I'll
forget about electric "motorcycles."

Kocho
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Re: My New 2015 Zero SR

I would suggest you call/email Harlan from Hollywood Electrics - his support and knowledge are a level above most any other Zero dealers. They might be able to remotely help you diagnose the issue.

I hope you'll get this resolved soon and easy!

LCJUTILA
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Re: My New 2015 Zero SR

I like my Current Motor Co C-130 but it did have a number of teething problems when I first got it.
The general public would definitely not tolerate such things.
Electric motorcycles seem way more complex than necessary and way less robust.
Chargers, controllers and electric motors are really not new technology by a long shot and should be reliable and thoroughly debugged.
The frame, brakes, suspension and body parts do not need to be reinvented.
Lithium batteries and BMS seem to be the only new items.
I agree with PJD. "This is not rocket science."
And yet, the bikes do not meet expectations and are very expensive compared to equivalent ICE bikes.
I feel for you LeftieBiker.

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LCJUTILA

LeftieBiker
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Re: My New 2015 Zero SR

I took the bike out for a ride today, with fingers crossed, hoping it was just a little moisture that needed to dry inside the "monolith." Temps were in the mid seventies, dry and warm. By about 9 miles out the 028 code was gone from the dash, leaving the 020 and 051 codes. The 020 became occasional instead of constant, so I stopped, let the bike sit a few minutes, and reset the BMS again. No flashing red BMS light, and after a minute of riding the dash also stopped showing errors. Greatly relieved, I rode another 25 gentle miles or so, in Eco. When I got home I let the bike sit for 15 minutes, plugged it in to charge...and got the 020 and 028 errs, now joined by 029, which is "BMS Isolation Danger". I unplugged the bike and left it in the garage.

LeftieBiker
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Re: My New 2015 Zero SR

Sorry, Kocho, I didn't mean to not respond to your suggestion. I'm going to do just that, as it beats the other immediate options. probably tomorrow night...

Man what an effing roller coaster ride. I did decide, while I thought that the bike was now ok, that I would put it up for sale anyway. It just isn't worth the risk of keeping it, and I'm sure it would take me a long time to sell it in any case. I occasionally start to think "Why didn't you buy a DS, or an S, you idiot???" but the fact is that the DS and S have the same issues, and I actually tried to buy a 12.5kwr S, but they were $2k more expensive than the demo SRs. I literally couldn't afford the difference.

Solar Steve
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Re: My New 2015 Zero SR

I have a 2013 Zero S. Handlebars don't move up at any good angle. A local Yamaha dealer has 2 inch riser blocks that are independent on each bolt, so work with any spacing of the mount bolts. Worked great. Also I fitted a larger windshields to make cruising on errands better, more comfortable, no face shield needed on helmet. Same brand as zero uses for that little custom windshield they sell as accessory. But I am on the road now and don't have the brand name or website available.

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Solar Steve
Off Grid Photovoltaics
in North Idaho

LeftieBiker
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Re: My New 2015 Zero SR

Thanks for the suggestion about the risers. I had thought of that, but have been sidetracked by not being able to ride, or even safely charge the bike.

It's been a full week since I emailed Zero the bike logs, and despite that and restarting a trouble ticket on the site around Wednesday, they haven't deigned to reply. The Electicmotorcycleforum has a Zero 2013+ Forum that is fairly active, but after some initial help with log translation it's now a chorus of "Bring it back to the dealer!" and 'There's something wrong with you.' Taking it back to the dealer would indeed be my course of action, if I had a dealer near me, or knew which distant one was worth the expense of shipping the bike. I'll see what I can do about that this week. It's now looking like I may have to ship the bike to New Hampshire, and then back when, in the distant future, it's "fixed." (Have I mentioned that defective Zeros seem to have a tendency to not stay fixed?) Given my experience with this business, there truly must *BE* something wrong with me, to have bought another electric bike. I now have the title for it, and will entertain cash offers from people who enjoy pain, but not actually riding electric motorcycles much.

PJD
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Re: My New 2015 Zero SR

Is there anything physically defective with the MC? Does it charge? Maybe you can just ignore the flashing light?

LeftieBiker
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Re: My New 2015 Zero SR

I believe that it either didn't start charging, or stopped immediately, when the 0029 "BMS Isolation Danger" error showed. I wouldn't want to mess with a warning of that ("Danger") nature. When I parked the bike 20 minutes earlier, it was acting fine. 59% charge is enough that I don't have to worry about it, but not enough that even if I dared ride it, I'd much want to run it down more.

Solar Steve
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Re: My New 2015 Zero SR

Perhaps the Battery management system, which assures that individual cells cannot be ruined by overcharging, has lost connection with one or more cells. Often, with several other brands, connectors and terminals have pulled off crimped-in wires. That has never happened on my Zero S but several times on current motors scooter. I would advise calling Zero customer service about this. They should assure you get it fixed as warranted. My own Zero S was possibly a demo as well, a 2013 bought in 2014 from a dealer who was pulling out and selling off inventory at cost. I have had it 2 years with absolutely no service problems. I added beeper to indicate turn lights are on. By the way, did you know the turn-light switch pushed inward to cancel turnlights, not back toward other direction?

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Solar Steve
Off Grid Photovoltaics
in North Idaho

LeftieBiker
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Re: My New 2015 Zero SR

I think that "isolation fault" in this context refers to unintended grounding - aka a short. An open connection probably wouldn't result in a "danger" message with no other issues. I didn't know that about the turn signal switch, and it explains why it's a PITA? I hope I get to use it regularly.

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