I tested the best electric motorcycle on the market: revolution or dead end?

I tested the best electric motorcycle on the market: revolution or dead end?

Having spent 90% of my motorcycling life on a 1200cc Indian Scout Bobberit is easy to say that my opinion could be biased by the omnipotence of this thermal model, as torquey as it is noisy.

Only the American brand Zero Motorcycles sparked a keen interest in me, by offering models of electric motorcycles with absurd performances, all with an interesting autonomy. It is therefore with the aim of living the daily life of an electric motorcyclist that I tested the Zero SR/F for a week.

A premium design for an imposing machine

At first glance, The Zero SR/F seduces with its resolutely modern lookIts sleek design, combining fluid lines and aggressive angles, gives it the futuristic aesthetic of a high-end roadster.

The finishes are neat and demonstrate a desire to position the product on the premium segment of the market. Visually, the machine is impressive, despite its lack of engine, replaced here by a large battery.

A look that will not have failed to turn many heads during my passage in all acoustic discretion.

It is especially at the start that the surprise operates with almost total silenceonly broken by a slight electrical whistle. A disconcerting absence of noise given the appearance of the SR/F could indicate the powerful roar of thermal engines.

A very relative notion of comfort

Who says high-end roadster says roadster all the same. So, you shouldn’t count on saddle comfortwhich becomes as flat as a flounder after 30 minutes of piloting.

Test Zero SF/R

As for the riding position, I found it a little too forward. With its exceptional performance, Zero’s bike requires powerful braking here, which in this position quickly makes the wrists suffer.

Ideal for anyone wishing to do some SR/F the perfect bike, will therefore be to possibly change the handlebars to adopt a less sporty position, but also to adopt the touring saddle offered by the brand.

Fortunately, the Showa suspension and fork provide a good compromise between handling and shock absorption. It should also be noted that as standard, The bike features heated grips particularly useful for extending the season.

I also noticed here a very pleasant aspect specific to the electric motorcycle. Not needing space to place the gas tank, Zero’s SR/F has the luxury of offering a “frunk”, this 3.6-litre front trunk in which it will be possible to store the charging cable, as well as a pair of gloves and other small items.

A high-tech motorcycle, but still incomplete

In this tank trunk are also located two USB ports which will be useful for charging smartphones. Now let’s talk about the user interface, centered around 5” color TFT display and Cypher III+ system.

Test Zero SF/R

The Zero Next Gen App allows you to calculate the savings made compared to a petrol model, to check the remaining autonomy, but also to program the charge so that it only takes place during off-peak hours.

Test Zero SF/R

Strangely, Zero has decided to block certain features behind a store where you will have to pay again to take advantage of them.. With a motorcycle at a very high price, it is regrettable to have to pay even more to benefit for example from extended charging, which allows the SR/F to be recharged to 110%, and thus benefit from greater autonomy.

However, we would like the possibility of customize driving modes with great precision. Below is a screenshot of our custom mode called “Lemon”

Test Zero SF/R

Considering the high-tech aspect and premium price of the SR/F, the most disturbing point here is the absence of Android Auto and Apple Carplay. A completely missed opportunity, when we know that this integration has been available for more than 4 years now on certain models of thermal motorcycles. Too bad, we will have to be satisfied with the purchase of a smartphone holder, or even concentrate on the exceptional performances of the SR / F.

Outstanding performance for perfectly healthy behavior

On the road, the 110 horsepower delivered by the electric motor gives me an exhilarating experience. The acceleration is dazzling, almost violent, with no latency at all.. The instant torque of 190 Nm (90 more than my Scout Bobber) requires hold on to the handlebarsoffering fast starts and lightning recoveries.

Test Zero SF/R

This is where the performance delivered by an electric motorcycle takes on its full meaning.. With power available immediately and without delay, It is easy to get out of any potentially dangerous situationThe belt drive and the absence of a gearbox provide linear and smooth progression, a real pleasure to drive.

Not having a deafening exhaust noise during long journeys was also pleasant for me. A finding that underlines the importance of having a helmet with optimal sound insulation, in order to reduce wind noise.

The electric motor is flexible, the motorcycle’s chassis and its behavior perfectly healthy. It must be said that the distribution of the weight of the motorcycle concentrated on the battery gives it a low center of gravity. The SR/F from Zero, despite its 235 kg on the scale, offers excellent balance and unbeatable handling.

We will also appreciate his reverse gear for parking maneuvers, even if it requires a good adaptation time, this being very quick.

Test Zero SF/R

The power of the machine requires efficient braking, here provided by J. Juan calipers that are up to the task. I also liked relying on one of the specific features of a model with no polluting emissions: electrical regeneration. Adjustable on several levels, it simulates an effective engine brake when the “throttle” is released. Electric vehicle enthusiasts will be aware of the concept, which also helps to recover energy in order to optimize the autonomy of the machine.

A pretty good autonomy for an electric mount

For bikers who are used to taking long road trips, autonomy will be the major weak point of an electric motorcycle model. The Zero SR/F nevertheless offers a large battery of 17.3 kWh with an average consumption according to our data of 146 Wh/km during mixed use.According to the American brand, the motorcycle offers a range of 283 km in the city, and 183 km in mixed use.

While this is more than enough range for everyday commutes, it is difficult to consider long journeys without careful planning. Charging will not help change this, the fast charge option (paid) takes 1h30, and the standard charge takes 2h40. As saying that the bike is clearly not designed for long rides from sunrise to sunsetotherwise you will have to wait for it to recharge as long as frequently.

Test Zero SF/R

The SR/F shines in its urban use/short trips or for commuting. Here, autonomy is no longer a problem, and its driving energy is a truly comfortable choice. Indeed, no more stops at the pump where you have to remove your equipment, risk getting your tank dirty and, even worse, almost fall because of the puddles of petrol left by careless drivers.

When using an electric motorcycle, you plug it in at night to find it 100% charged the next morning. A real pleasure in using the machine on a daily basis.

A completely prohibitive price

Motorcyclists will obviously be even harder to convince than car drivers when it comes to electric motorcycles. Clearly, It’s not the cost of Zero’s SR/F that will prompt them to take the plunge immediately. The 2024 edition of the machine is priced at an exorbitant €23,190not to mention the various paid features offered in the manufacturer’s application.

Of course, we should not forget the reduced costs of use, whether in terms of electricity or maintenance at a much lower rate. However, it will take many years and tens of thousands of kilometers before such a significant purchase amount can be recouped.. If we had to find a thermal equivalent, the Kawasaki Z1000 would be a very relevant competitor.

With a price starting at 12,799 euros for the Japanese, the Californian company is asking almost double for its electric roadster. Suffice to say that you would have to be extremely wealthy or have a strong ecological conscience to choose electrification here.

Our opinion on the Zero SR/F and the viability of the electric motorcycle concept

The Zero SR/F demonstrates the mind-blowing potential of electric motorcycle performances. Zero’s motorcycle provides a different and particularly exhilarating driving pleasure, offering significant comfort in its daily use. However, it also highlights the challenges that remain to be met with regard to the electrification of motorcycles.

Its impressive performance and driving comfort make it a credible alternative to thermal motorcycles for certain uses, particularly urban and peri-urban. However, the limited autonomy and the excessive price can only slow down the adoption of this type of machine.

Too big and too expensive, batteries and their technology are not yet sufficiently advanced to produce models at acceptable prices. However, the rapid evolution of battery technologies suggests significant progress in terms of autonomy and charging time in the years to come. Technologies such as solid batteries or supercapacitors could revolutionize the sector, removing the main current obstacles to the mass adoption of electric motorcycles.

Test Zero SF/R

The autonomy and the price will have to evolve significantly so that the concept removes all doubts from motorcyclists ready to take the plunge. The development of the charging infrastructure will also be decisive in the adoption of this type of machine.

It must also be said that the electric motorcycle is only in its infancy, and that This SR/F already offers a good overview of the wonders that this new technology can offer. One thing is for sure: it opens up exciting new perspectives for the future of mobility on two wheels. It remains to be seen whether tomorrow’s progress will be enough to overtake motorcyclists’ passion for the roar of combustion engines, which is not the case here for the moment, due to the prohibitive price.

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