The electric match.

The electric motorcycle industry is growing with new players added almost every day. In the U.S., the most popular company in the segment is undeniably Zero Motorcycles. After years thriving in the off-road segment, the California-based manufacturer recently entered the sportbike segment with the addition of the performance-oriented SR/F in 2019. Zero isn't the only player in the American-built electric streetfighter game, however. 

After years of development, Harley-Davidson finally launched the LiveWire, also in 2019. While marketed differently, the two models are direct competitors but how do they compare? We decided to break it down for you in this spec showdown between the 2020 Zero SR/F and the 2020 Harley-Davidson LiveWire. 

Overview

Zero SR/F
2019 Harley-Davidson LiveWire
          Zero SR/F  (Standard)

 

Harley-Davidson LiveWire (Vivid Black)

Battery and Motor

14.4 kWh battery with Z-Force 75-10 electric motor

  15.5 kWh battery with Revolution electric motor
Performance           110 hp/140 lb-ft   105 hp/86 lb-ft
Top Speed                124 mph (110 mph sustained)   110 mph
Range (city/highway miles)         161/82 (@70 mph)   146/70
Charging Time 4.5 hours (100%, Level 1 charger)   1 hour (100%, DC fast charger)
Weight                 485 lbs   549 lbs
Price   $19,495    $29,799
It's hard not to want to compare the two models considering their looks and their role on the market, despite the manufacturers different approach with their marketing. Zero markets the SR/F as its first performance bike and banks on its inherent Californian coolness to spread the message while Harley sticks to its "premium product" guns and targets a more elevated audience with its $30k bike.
Looking at what the two bikes have to offer side by side, we immediately notice who has the advantage in what field. Let's break it down.

Performance

2020 Zero SR/F
2019 Harley-Davidson LiveWire

This is where the SR/F classification as a "performance electric motorcycle" gets a chance to shine. The Zero beats the LiveWire in every performance aspect from output, to top speed, to power-to-weight ratio.   

Not only is the SR/F more powerful (140 hp and 110 lb-ft vs. 105 hp and 86 lb-ft), it's also lighter than the Harley which results in a more interesting behavior if you belong to the school of thought that green doesn't have to be boring.

Don't be fooled, however: while it's not as powerful as the Zero, the Harley can still pull its weight and be exciting enough not to be entirely dismissed from the category. It's all about the ride mode you choose and the way you ride. 

According to our own tests on the SR/F, the 0-to-100 kph (0-to-62 mph) was achieved in roughly 4 seconds. Cycle World was able to reach 60 mph from standstill in 3.7 seconds. As for the LiveWire, we don't have any real world data but Harley estimates that the bike is able to do the 0-to-60 run in 3 to 3.5 seconds. 

 

Range and Charging

Right off the bat, the Harley-Davidson is more interesting than the Zero in terms of charging capacity for the simple reason that it's DC fast charging compatible. Zero doesn't offer the technology which is a shame. The expression "quick charge" doesn't have the same meaning for the two brands and that's something to keep in mind especially if you travel long distances.

That being said, it also means that to take full advantage of the LiveWire's perk, you have to have a DC fast charger installed at home and/or have to find one out in the wild and that's where the problem is: they aren't as widespread as Level 2 chargers. 

If all you have access to are Level 1 or 2 chargers, then Harley's advantage completely disappears. 

2020 Zero SR/F
2020 Harley-Davidson LiveWire
Regular Outlet (110V) 8.5 hours (100%), 8 hours (95%)   -
Level 1 Charger (120-220V) 4.5 hours (100%), 4 hours (95%)   12.5 hours (100%)
Level 2 Charger (240V) 1.8 hour (100%), 1.3 hours (95%)   12.5 hours (100%)
DC Fast Charger (480V+) -   1 hour (100%), 40 minutes (80%)

Also note that the SR/F offers a better range than the LiveWire which means it doesn't have to be charged as often, especially if you mainly use the bike to commute. Zero rates the SR/F's electric range at 146 miles in the city, 99 miles on the highway (at 55 mph, 82 miles at 70 mph), and 123 miles city and highway combined (at 55 mph, 190 miles combined at 70 mph). 

Harley-Davidson lists the LiveWire's range at 146 miles in the city and 95 miles combined, an 70 miles on the highway, as confirmed by the Harley-Davidson representative. 

The bottom line is that you will technically travel further with the Zero but that it will also take longer to charge.  

 

Price

Price-wise, there's a very obvious gap between the two models—a $10,300 gap to be precise. Of course, that makes the Zero look more appealing from the onset but consider this: the SR/F is also of inferior quality. When looking at how the saddle is treated and how the components fit together, you notice immediately that Zero doesn't quite offer the same quality of finish as Harley. The plastic controls and the top case cover are the most obvious examples of where Zero could improve in its assembly work. 

Also keep in mind that the entry-level Zero gets you the slowest charger and that the upgrade to the 6 kW rapid charger costs $2,300. The LiveWire comes with a standard DC fast-charger and is also Level 1 and 2 charger compatible. On the flip side, the Zero does get you better performance and a longer range.

 

In Conclusion

So, which one will be your pick? Ultimately, it should all come down to what your priorities are. The 2020 Zero SR/F gets you better performance, a better range, at a smaller price while the 2020 Harley-Davidson LiveWire plays up the premium card with better quality materials, and a DC faster charger. 

Other Features 

Wheelbase 57.1 inches   58.7 inches
Seat Height 31 inches   30 inches
Suspension Showa 43mm fork, Showa 40mm preload adjustable mono-shock with piggyback reservoir   Showa SFF-BP fork, Showa BFRC mono-shock
Brakes 320mm discs w. J-Juan four-piston calipers front, 240mm disc w. J-Juan single-piston caliper back   Brembo monoblock, four piston caliper front, single piston caliper back
Wheels and Tires Pirelli Diablo Rosso III 120/70-17 front, 180/55-17 back   H-D®/Michelin® Scorcher® "Sport" 120/70 ZR17 58W front, 80/55 ZR17 73W back
Warranty 2 years, 5 years for Power Packs   5 years for battery
Features Bosch Advanced MSC, cornering ABS, available additional Power Tank, four ride modes + 10 customizable modes   Standard Cornering ABS, Reflexe Defensive Rider System, Security System, Cruise Control, Premium Radio

 

 

Wheelbase 57.1 inches  

Seat Height

31 inches  
Suspension    
Brakes    
Wheels and Tires    
Warranty    
Features