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Reviewed: Zero SR/F

Zero SR F

There’s no denying that electric vehicles are here, and they’re here to stay. Just look at the four wheeled world; where the transition to hybrid and electric is happening at an incredible rate, with brands like Tesla not just creating incredible machinery, but creating aspirational models that are selling quicker than they can be produced – even with their premium price tags.

And like with a lot of things, the two-wheeled industry sits a number of years behind the car world. Electric motorcycles, especially higher performance ones, are still a rarity but sales are increasing massively year on year, as from small scooters to big bikes, more people are switching to electric. And Zero’s updated SR/F sits in that later category – a proper, roadster, with a proper spec sheet to back it up.

Zero SR F

The SR/F was introduced a few years ago and although the 2022 version looks identical (barring some new paint schemes) there’s some important new tech under the skin – most notably a next generation battery that promises up to 20% more range than previous models – going some way to address one of the traditional biker’s qualms about going electric.

The model we tested will set you back a snip over £21,000, but it comes packed with heavy hitting numbers and the tech to complete the package: 190Nm torque, delivered instantly, a top speed of 124mph and a range that’s now over 100 miles in ‘regular’ riding.

You then get Showa suspension, Bosch electronics, Pirelli rubber and a two year warranty as well. In addition, the battery carries a five year unlimited mileage warranty, which is more piece of mind for those thinking of swapping to electric for the first time. 

Talking of batteries, for 2022, this model also gets a whole host of improvements that include the latest generation Z-Force lithium-ion batteries with increased capacity.

As standard, the SR/F Premium model we rode holds 15.6kWh (or units) of electricity in the battery. That’s up from 14.4kWh on the outgoing model, despite the new gen battery pack being around 3kg lighter than before.

That extra capacity results in a corresponding increase in range, which can be further increased to 17.3kWh through Zero’s Cypher Store portal. which allows you to upgrade your software, just like in the car world. Although considering the standard cost, that is a pretty tough pill to swallow. The extra capacity, called ‘Extended Range Charging, is a £1075 option and was installed on our test bike. When using the extra capacity the bike charges up to 110%, which is novel.

Other software upgrades include Parking Mode (reverse), turn by turn navigation and a charging upgrade. That costs £495 and improves charging times by 17% when using a dedicated EV charging point. There’s an optional adaptor to allow the Zero to be plugged into a regular three-pin socket, which will take about four hours to charge, but the standard charger is rated at 6kw, allowing a recharge in around two hours at a suitable charging point.

Zero SR F

There are also some hardware upgrades that can also be made, which occupy the handy storage bin in what would generally be considered the tank area on a petrol bike. The ‘Quick Charger’ takes charge capacity up to almost 13kw and charging time down to under an hour, while the Power Tank is an extended range battery which adds another 3.6kWh of capacity and gives a claimed range of 227 miles around town or 151 miles of mixed riding.

In the flesh, the SR/F is a pretty machine. It’s got that roadster edge with the bare frame and minimal plastics, and that smart, contained battery pack as well.

Although it’s sitting reasonably hefty at 227kg ready to roll, thanks to the fairly low 787mm seat height and a low centre of gravity, it’s easily manageable and everything feels perfectly placed, from the switchgears to the handlebar and footpeg position.

The only thing missing is of course, the clutch. It’s worth mentioning as well that although it’s a bit of a niggle to get used to, the dash is easy to navigate after a bit of use and there’s a load of tech to sift through from rider aids to rider modes, which is exactly what I’d expect on a roadster of this price.

But the real proof comes from the riding experience, and just like with many Zeros I’ve had the fortune to swing a leg over, it really does reinvigorate the senses in a strange way.

It’s like having a palate cleanser between meals, and then eating something completely different to what you’ve been used to.

Honestly, the thrust from that 190Nm torque is generally staggering each time the throttle is pulled, but thanks to the nature of an electric powertrain, it’s insanely smooth in its delivery, with no moving parts like in an internal combustion engine to create any sense of friction, vibration or especially, noise.

It’s something that every rider should try, and I guarantee it will leave a smile on your face. Thanks to the lack of any clutch or gears, it’s also incredibly easy to navigate at slow speeds, and means you can focus purely on your riding, rather than the intricacies of not stalling, or finding yourself in the wrong gear.

Zero SR F

As far as the riding experience goes, the SR/F is a fairly pliant machine, albeit suited to more of a bimble than a really hard, aggressive ride. The SR/F’s chassis, combined with the Showa suspension offer a pleasant, albeit softer feeling in terms of pitch on the throttle and brakes, and do well to soak up the imperfect roads in the UK It’s also worth mentioning that although the J.Juan brakes offer a fair amount of pull they are stopping quite a lot of machinery, and the ABS does kick in quite heavily too.

But let’s not forget, this isn’t marketed as some sort of electric supernaked machine and it doesn’t act like one in that sense.

Although it powers to 70mph with incredible ferocity, it will start to let off steam when you get above that, and when you do, the range will start to drop slightly quicker.

Saying that, we did a day of riding fairly steadily and did manage well over 70 miles with ‘juice’ still left in the tank, and a recharge cost of well under a fiver, which is impressive considering the cost of fuel at the moment. Zero also make the mechanically similar SR/S, which is faired version which should give more range on the motorway and a little bit more relaxed riding position.

Conclusion

Let’s get this straight – this isn’t simply the electric answer to a supernaked, nor is it pretending to be one, but it is a genuinely good machine if you can look past the hefty price tag. There’s a reason that electric machines like the SR/F, Harley-Davidson LiveWire and Energica Eva are becoming more and more common, and that’s because with every upgrade they become better and better, and although there’s still work to be done to appeal to the mainstream, they’re heading in the right direction.

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