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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

View gallery - 13 images