First Ride: 2020 Zero SR/F

Jul 25, 2019 at 3:06pm

Here are my first impressions on Zero's flagship electric motorcycle.

It’s finally here! I’ve been looking forward to getting on the all-new Zero SR/F and it finally found its way to my driveway. I have the bike for about a month, which will allow me to test and document a number of real-life situations including the impact of a passenger, actual long-distance range, etc. For now, though, I wanted to start things off by sharing my first impressions of the bike. 

I’ve driven several electric cars in my life, from the iconic Nissan Leaf up to the luxurious Jaguar I-Pace and Tesla Model S. All these vehicles have one thing in common (aside from being electric of course): they are incredibly fun to drive. This is something I have touched on before: while the limited range might be anxiety-inducing, an electric powertrain is also extremely responsive. Until I got to take the Zero out for a spin, I had yet to experience how well the concept of an electric powertrain translated to a two-wheel vehicle. Good news everyone: it’s just as fun, if not more. Especially when you have an electric motorcycle that’s been designed to perform and that’s exactly what Zero is aiming to accomplish with the SR/F. 

The good

Holy smokes is this bike fun to ride! I know that's a little, well, vague so let me elaborate. Let’s have a look at the numbers: the Zero SR/F was introduced in February as a new flagship for the brand. It uses an amped-up electric motor (I see what you did there -JM) called the Z-Force 75-10—currently the biggest the manufacturer has to offer—teamed up with a 14.4 kWh battery. This allows the SR/F to produce 110 horsepower, 140 lb-ft of torque, and reach a top speed of 124 mph. You’re starting to understand what I mean, right? 

Zero doesn’t advertise a 0-60 time for the SR/F, but I can tell you this: it’s fast. The acceleration is bonkers and doing it all in complete silence is the weirdest experience. Whether you’re taking off from a stop or accelerating on the highway, all the power is available instantly at a twist of the throttle and it’s mind-blowing. I knew it was to be expected, yet I'm still enthusing about it.  

It’s also extremely steady and smooth. There’s a good weight in the handlebar which means it doesn’t shimmy or vibrate. Riding on the leprous streets of Toronto can be a rocky experience depending on the set up you have, but the Zero takes the bumps like a champ. The Showa suspension smooth things out efficiently. Combine that with the fact that no vibration or roughness is coming from the engine and this is likely one of the smoothest rides I’ve ever had. 

I commented in a previous article that the bike was a bit on the heavier side (498 lb to be specific). That being said, I find it extremely easy to get in an out of the backyard. Because there’s no friction point to give me the little push I need to move the bike forward and because I share the driveway with other vehicles, I end up walking the bike in and out of the yard. It's super easy to do. In all honesty, the bike doesn’t feel as heavy as the number on the scale. 

The bad

Ok, now, as awesome as the bike is, it does have some flaws. The quality of the materials and the assembly are a little wonky. When you look at the overall bike, it looks fantastic, but if you step up close, the plastic switches and clusters look a bit flimsy. The seam of the top storage compartment that replaces the gas tank isn’t quite even everywhere either. A bit of a let down in that regards considering the price. 

The display also becomes unreadable in direct sunlight which makes it hard to track your speed and your range. It’s not nearly as clear and bright as Zero shows in pictures.

Another note about the display: while you can customize the information displayed, the look of it is bland. I get it, as long as you’re able to have all the information you need or want, the look of the display doesn’t really matter, but I thought I’d throw it out there in case you’re an interface junky. 

Lastly, the sound, or lack-there-of. Don’t get me wrong: riding in complete silence is pretty cathartic. That being said, because I tend to partly rely on the sound of the engine to make my presence known to other road users, zipping around in complete silence like a ninja can be a bit daunting. Keep in mind that you need to adapt to the fact that you’re now truly invisible. Not only do drivers not see you, now they also don’t hear you. This is something you need to be aware of. 

And the pretty

Gallery: 2020 Zero SR/F First Ride

2020 Zero SR/F
2020 Zero SR/F
2020 Zero SR/F
2020 Zero SR/F
2020 Zero SR/F
2020 Zero SR/F
2020 Zero SR/F
2020 Zero SR/F

Seriously, if you think the new SR/F is pretty in pictures, it looks even better in person! It is a gorgeous design—the best-looking electric bike out there at the moment if you ask me. The best part is that it’s not meant to look like an electric bike. No blue-and-white color gimmick or overly-modern lines to suggest that this isn’t a regular bike, it’s an electric bike. The SR/F looks like a legit streetfighter—and let’s be honest here, also acts like one. 

I haven’t had a chance to go through a full battery cycle yet, but it won’t be long before I do and I’m able to provide some more thorough insight on the matter. To be honest, I’ve also been riding the Zero like I stole it because it’s irresistibly fast and zippy, which also tends to drain the battery. I promise to give you more feedback about real-life usage shortly. To give you an early idea of what the bike can do, it was delivered to me with a 95-percent charge and an estimated range of 168 miles—which is pretty darn close to the average range of a comparable combustion engine—and that’s without the additional Power Pack. However, my first ride drained over 60 miles off that range and that's despite covering only roughly 20 miles. But as I said… I was also throttle happy. More on that later.

In the meantime, my first impression of the bike is overall very positive. I’d like to see a little more attention paid to the finish and fits, especially considering the $20k price point. That being said, everything works fine and is pretty easy to use so it’s mainly a comment from an aesthetic standpoint rather than a functional one. Now, time to start putting the bike through its paces!