Motorcycles

Zero unveils its next-generation SR/F electric sportsbike, with a crazy 190 Nm of torque

Zero unveils its next-generati...
The Zero SR/F looks like a seriously grown-up, high performance beast
The Zero SR/F looks like a seriously grown-up, high performance beast
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New 5-inch full color dash looks terrific
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New 5-inch full color dash looks terrific
Off-road riding should be more manageable thanks to Bosch traction and stability control
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Off-road riding should be more manageable thanks to Bosch traction and stability control
The Zero SR/F looks like a seriously grown-up, high performance beast
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The Zero SR/F looks like a seriously grown-up, high performance beast
A top speed of 120 mph is terrific for an electric nakedbike
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A top speed of 120 mph is terrific for an electric nakedbike
New Showa Big Piston forks and piggyback shock will make this thing handle the bends beautifully
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New Showa Big Piston forks and piggyback shock will make this thing handle the bends beautifully
Fast charging rates allow you to top up a fully specced out SR/F from 0-95 percent in just one hour
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Fast charging rates allow you to top up a fully specced out SR/F from 0-95 percent in just one hour
Bosch MSC system handles cornering ABS, as well as lean angle sensitive traction control
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Bosch MSC system handles cornering ABS, as well as lean angle sensitive traction control
Urban ranges up to 200 miles are possible with an additional Power Tank accessory; the standard range is closer to 160 miles
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Urban ranges up to 200 miles are possible with an additional Power Tank accessory; the standard range is closer to 160 miles
190 Nm of torque is pretty much unheard of in the gasoline world, unless you start talking about Boss Hoss V8s.
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190 Nm of torque is pretty much unheard of in the gasoline world, unless you start talking about Boss Hoss V8s.
Available in red and blue-grey
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Available in red and blue-grey
The swingarm pivots around the new 110-horsepower motor
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The swingarm pivots around the new 110-horsepower motor
14.4 kWh battery pack as standard
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14.4 kWh battery pack as standard
Don't be surprised if we see a faired model coming out soon.
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Don't be surprised if we see a faired model coming out soon.

The new SR/F is here, and it's the biggest thing that's happened at Zero Motorcycles since the SR sent us into hysterics back in 2014. Built from the ground up with significant leaps in torque, horsepower, charge speed and connected tech, this 120-mph monster will be a wild ride.

Of all the electric motorcycle companies on the market today, none have been fighting it out in the trenches longer than California's Zero Motorcycles, which opened its doors way back in 2006. Many brands – Brammo, Alta, Mission and others – have come and gone as the harsh reality of battery pricing has made them a tough sell commercially. Zero, and its financial backers, have stood fast, beloved of early adopters and EV nerds and always ready to give petrolheads their first mind-blowing experience of electric riding.

It's been five years since the barnstorming SR hit the streets, and Zero has been working away on a new flagship for some time now. And here it is: the Zero SR/F.

Available in red and blue-grey
Available in red and blue-grey

Pity about the dry name – all Zero's models are simple letter denominations. But this thing represents a ground-up build of a totally new platform, and it looks like an absolute beast. Where the SR dropped our jaws with its 70 horsepower and 144 Nm (106 lb-ft) of torque, the SR/F's brand new ZF75-10 motor is ready to hurl you into the future with 110 horsepower and 190 Nm (140 lb-ft) of torque.

110-horsepower motorcycles are a dime a dozen in the 600 supersport class and above. But there's nothing you can buy in the gasoline class (shy of a Boss Hoss V8 or something similar) that'll give you the kind of torque the SR/F puts out. If the SR's acceleration felt effortless at just about any speed, this one is going to take off like a rocket.

The motor is air-cooled, so while this bike will certainly hit 120 mph (193 km/h) in bursts, it'll still overheat if you flog it wide open for a long time. Holding the throttle wide open past the point of overheating will engage the thermal limiter, cut the horsepower in half and give you a top all-day speed of 110 mph (177 kmh). There are folks for whom this will be a deal breaker, and that's fine – nobody's coming to take your Hayabusas, guys. But in almost all situations shy of light speed hypertouring, the SR/F is going to be stompingly fast with a huge rush of acceleration any time you ask for it.

A top speed of 120 mph is terrific for an electric nakedbike
A top speed of 120 mph is terrific for an electric nakedbike

Joining the new motor is a new 'Cypher III' operating system with Bosch's lean angle-sensitive Motorcycle Stability Control built in. The old SR had so much grunt that it really needed traction control – as one moto-journo found out on a launch I attended in 2015 – so it's wise of Zero to include it here.

Range is still a bugaboo for EV buyers. The SR/F carries a 14.4-kWh Z-force battery pack that gives the bike a range of around 160 miles (260 km) in low-speed urban riding. Put it on the highway at 70 mph (113 kmh) and that range will drop closer to 80 miles (132 km), and your real world range will be somewhere between those two figures depending on how you ride it. I know how I'd be planning to ride it.

Range can be boosted with an additional Power Tank accessory that takes urban range up as high as 200 miles (320 km) – or, you can use that space to beef up your charging with a Charge Tank accessory. Standard charging is an integrated 3-kW system on the standard bike, and 6-kW on the Premium model, equating to 4.5-hour or 2.5-hour 0-100 percent charge times respectively. The Charge Tank adds an extra 6 kW of charging, bringing 0-100 percent charge times down to 1.8 hours for the standard bike and 1.5 hours for the Premium - but the last 5 percent of the charge is slow going. If you're happy just to charge to 95 percent, you can top the Premium bike up in an hour flat, and the standard in 1.3 hours.

So in reality you're now looking at a bike you can jump on, go flat out in just about any company for about an hour, then charge for an hour, rinse and repeat.

Fast charging rates allow you to top up a fully specced out SR/F from 0-95 percent in just one hour
Fast charging rates allow you to top up a fully specced out SR/F from 0-95 percent in just one hour

The all-new chassis features a blacked-out trellis frame that leads the eye from the headstock back to the swingarm pivot, highlighting the fact that the swingarm pivots right around the motor, which has a direct belt drive to a large sprocket on the rear wheel. The "tank" bodywork pays homage to the look of the S and SR, but it's a decidedly more grown-up looking design with broader shoulders, a nice looking LED headlight/driving light setup and a proper stacked two-seat tailpiece.

It's the best looking Zero bike yet. It weighs about as much as a fully fuelled 1000cc nakedbike at 220 kg (485 lbs), and Zero has upped the ante significantly with the suspension, opting for Big Piston, separate function 43 mm forks and a piggyback reservoir shock, all from Showa and fully adjustable for preload, rebound and compression damping. That's nice gear.

Brakes are still by Spanish company J-Juan, who showed an early willingness to work with Zero and develop tailored braking systems when other OEM manufacturers saw Zero as too small a manufacturer. For the SR/F, though, they're chunky looking twin radial 4-piston calipers on 320 mm discs. That's a huge leap forward from the meek but decently effective single-disc setup on the SR. The brake system integrates with the Bosch Motorcycle Stability Control unit to give you full lean angle-sensitive ABS, and naturally there's adjustable regen braking to keep the battery topped up and make your brake pads last a lot longer.

New 5-inch full color dash looks terrific
New 5-inch full color dash looks terrific

The SR/F gets a whole new dash based around a full color 5-inch TFT LCD display that looks terrific. There are multiple ride modes to balance your range needs with your hunger for power, as well as the first cruise control system we've seen on an electric motorcycle and heated grips on the Premium model.

Furthermore, the bike has its own connection to cellular networks. That enables over-the-air system upgrades, plus the ability to pinpoint the location and status of the bike at any time. You can dial in through the Zero app on your phone to change the bike's charging parameters or check how much the battery's got in it as required, and there's a new Ride Data Sharing system that lets you export maps of your ride along with juicy information like speed, telemetry and lean angle readouts that you can put online if you like asking for trouble, or share only among close friends if you're wise. This kind of thing also lets Zero technicians perform remote diagnostics, and potentially even fixes, should any problems arise.

This looks to us like an awesome bike, but it comes at a price. US$18,995 is your base price for the standard bike, US$20,995 for the Premium model with its flyscreen, heated grips, aluminum bar ends and 6-kW charging system. Adding an extra rapid charge system will set you back a further US$2,300 and can be done at any time. That doesn't include any state or federal incentives wherever it is you live, but it's still the kind of dough that buys you a Panigale V4, even if that Ducati will cost you a bunch more in maintenance and fuel over its lifetime.

190 Nm of torque is pretty much unheard of in the gasoline world, unless you start talking about Boss Hoss V8s.
190 Nm of torque is pretty much unheard of in the gasoline world, unless you start talking about Boss Hoss V8s.

We're excited for Zero. The SR/F looks like a brilliant machine. If a first ride on the SR was a shocking introduction to electric acceleration, this thing is going to blow people's minds. It wouldn't surprise us to see Zero go the whole hog on this one and release a version with a full sports fairing, which would boost both the top speed and the highway efficiency significantly. But this company has paid its dues and put together what looks like a seriously fast and fun electric nakedbike that we can't wait to get our hands on.

Your move, Lightning!

Check out a video below.

Source: Zero Motorcycles

Zero Motorcycles SR/F Tech

7 comments
Daishi
I used to have an Aprilia RS50 (50cc 2 stroke) that would probably do about 60 MPH with me on it. All it had was a slip on exhaust but the stock specs are probably only about 15 HP and 10 ft lbs of torque. A business needs expensive high margin flagship products for many good reasons but I'd also argue that 140 lbs or torque makes more sense for towing a trailer than it does powering a motorcycle. An 80 mile highway range at 70 MPH means I'd be unlikely to attempt more than 50 or 60 miles on a charge. That means I could only travel 25-30 miles from home before turning around or go somewhere 60 miles away and plan to charge it there before returning home. It limits the use for recreational riding and puts it into the territory of commuter vehicle. I think they should take a page out of the book of 300cc sport bikes and experiment in the other direction. A 300 Ninja is 40 HP an 14 lbs of torque and will do 0-60 in 5.6 seconds. Even that's a little overkill if you are maximizing around efficiency like my RS50 with high gearing. A Hummer H2 has a 10 second 0-60 and that's perfectly fine for normal traffic conditions. Targeting something closer to the RS50 what kind of range would they get out of a 20 HP motorcycle with a full fairing that has ~10 second 0-60? It would meet the needs of a commuting and because most the people I meet who ride casually on weekends are usually in no kind of hurry to get anywhere it would keep up with them just fine. There is a lot of demand for motorcycles that optimize for power but it's strange to see that electric motorcycle companies aren't interested in optimizing for range even in the face of so many people saying the range is their biggest hangup. If I want to travel 80 miles for recreation my electric bicycle can do that. It's no accident that electric bicycles are finding mainstream success in a way that electric motorcycles are not. There is high demand/growth for high-end electric bicycles in part because they are cannibalizing motorcycles as a hobby for many people. I'm having far more fun on my 1,600 watt (2 HP) electric fat bike than I would be stuck in traffic on a $20k motorcycle that can't last an hour because it was designed with enough torque to pull a horse trailer. Maybe it's time for some reflection.
Daishi
I want to add that recreational riding is often a group activity which compounds the problem for electric motorcycles breaking into the market. I've ridden with lots of different people on different machines. You can take a group of people out on every kind of motorcycle and stop at the same gas station. Anything capable of doing the speed limit could keep up with the group. A low power (20 HP) electric motorcycle that could do the speed limit but not much more but have the range to avoid a long charge time could keep up with the group. A high powered electric motorcycle that needs to charge for 1-2 hours every 60 miles could not ride with a group of combustion motorcycles traveling the speed limit. Because recreational motorcycling is a very social activity I think they are underestimating the significance of the problem. I've driven highway 17 near Zero HQ (Scotts Valley) and I can say keeping up with the faster traffic on it tested the limits of my rental car. With the hills that's definitely one road where I wouldn't be passing many people on a 15 HP RS50. Most roads are thankfully more forgiving of a low power motorcycle than that one and something like a 250 Ninja would handle it fine.
guzmanchinky
It's still all about the range, and the charging time. SUCH a great bike for popping around town, but for a weekend ride it's just not far enough...
Loz Blain
@Daishi: there's no performance/efficiency tradeoff with electrics. You can pop this thing in eco mode, limit the power - or just even give them less throttle - and get the same kind of range from the battery as you would from a smaller motor. They're not like petrol bikes in that way.
Joshua Tulberg
Oh man! That's nuts. What are the 0-60 and 1/4 mile times?
bhtooefr
Ultimately, the problem is the aerodynamic drag of typical motorcycle form factors. The only motorcycle I'm aware of with anything resembling long range is the Tacita T-Cruise, at 300 km/187 mi claimed range... using Tacita's own range testing method, which never gets above 90 km/h or 56 mph. And, that thing just brute forces it with battery. If you want good range in a motorcycle, you need to either throw lots of battery at the problem (adding cost and weight), or you need to get the rider down and into a more recumbent position, and use extensive fairing (which will greatly change the character of the motorcycle). Or you could do both, too.
ljaques
@LozBlain @Daishi I'm paralleling Daishi, Loz, in wanting a smaller bike with longer range, but I also want offroad capabilities for exploring. Zero is the perfect company to come out with an intermediate bike between the FX and an Ebike. Nobody, but NOBODY is going to plop down $21k for a bike and then neuter it for long. And nobody wants a 500# bike offroad. I'm sure that a 5'3" woman has enough trouble with the weight of an FX as it is, so Zero is missing a whole niche. My 1kW ebike just isn't cutting it, so I want a little more, but not at that cost. Give me a '70s Yamaha 250 Enduro power and range, Zero, and I'll go into hock to buy one right now. (Keep the price down. I'm on SS.)