What did you do this weekend? Wrenching? Riding? All of the above? Me, I test-rode a 2022 Zero SR at a nearby demo event and, surprisingly, it was even more fun than I expected. Why was that surprising? I can find something to enjoy about most bikes (after all, riding any bike is always more fun than not riding, right?), but this experience was a bit special, and I’ll tell you why in a moment.
Like many OEMs in 2022, Zero’s demo events have an online, advance signup process where you can submit your information and even sign your safety waiver online. When you get to the event, you’ll still need to check in with a person, of course—and they’ll want to see your driver’s license. However, doing things online versus in person streamlines the process in the ways that you’d hope, so you’re basically good to go as long as you’ve brought the appropriate gear the OEM requires for its demos.
For this event, Zero didn’t have riders specify which model we wanted to ride when we signed up. So, when I checked in, I was asked which bike I wanted to ride. Since some of them are pretty heavy, I went in thinking about an FX or FXE (which are comparatively lightweight, although they’re pretty tall). The event didn’t specify which bikes would be there, so I didn’t know that only the new SR, SR/F, and SR/S fleet was flying in for people to check out.
Ah, but here’s the cool part. I showed up, in all my shortness (I’m between 5’3” and 5’4”), and the Zero employee asked, “hey, do you want to try our low seat SR?”
My face (probably) lit up. “You guys do low seats now?” I asked excitedly.
“We do, and it lowers the seat height by a good inch or so,” she told me. “Makes a huge difference.”
“Yes, absolutely!” I said, and she wrapped my wristband around my wrist and sent me off to find my new two-wheeled friend for the next half-hour or so. I found my assigned bike, carefully threw a leg over, and stood it up straight, off the side stand. Sure enough, everything was perfectly comfortable and confidence-inspiring. The seat is narrow, and as I later observed when I was actually on the ride, you can really tuck your knees around the frunk (it has one of those where the fuel tank would be on a combustion bike) in a very comfortable way.
I got off the bike, and our little demo group had a pre-ride safety briefing where we were either reminded or informed (depending on your previous riding experience) that there’s no clutch on these bikes, and also no shifter. Front and rear brakes are where you expect if you’re coming from a modern combustion bike, and there are ride modes which we’d get to play with later. To start, they sent us out in Eco mode so we could experience regen braking through a bunch of stop-and-go riding, as would be common if you were to commute on one of these bikes.
We got underway, and started getting a feel for our bikes through a winding route with a bunch of stop-signs and sleepy Saturday-morning light pedestrian, cyclist, and occasional vehicular traffic. It became clear pretty quickly that although the SR tips the scales at a claimed 489 pounds at the curb, the fact that it carries that weight pretty low down makes it much easier to negotiate than you might expect. Balancing the bike and keeping my feet on the pegs in a hover at stops, prior to putting my feet on the ground, was instantly easy.
That low seat was perfectly comfortable and kept me planted exactly where I wanted to be, even when we did a brief blast of highway riding and were experiencing more of that effortless feeling of torque and power that electric bikes, as a class, are so good at. When we came to stops, I had no problems putting my feet down and easily balancing, ready to roll on the throttle again when it was time. (This must be what it feels like to not have to always slide around and plan to land on one foot, or else use both feet and stand on my tippy-toes to reach! Amazing.)
2022 Zero SR Facts
The 2022 Zero SR features greater power and range (and even more of both unlockable via the Cypher Store as DLC) as compared to the old SR. Equipped with the ZF14.4+ electric motor, it makes claims of 74 horsepower at 6,255 rpm, as well as 122 pound-feet of torque. Top speed is 104 mph (both max and sustained, according to Zero).
Charge time out of the box is 4.5 hours to 100 percent charged, or 4 hours to 95 percent charged. Combined city and highway range on a full charge is 103 miles, unless you perform any power upgrades. Choose to install the Extended Range Cypher Upgrade (which unlocks 17.3kWh instead of the 14.4kWh the SR boasts from the factory) and combine range bumps up to 124 miles. Add both the Extended Range Cypher Upgrade and Zero’s Power Tank (which will be available later in 2022) for 20.9kWh and combined range of 151 miles. Zero’s figures boast a 227-mile range with these two upgrades, but that’s city only—highways not included. That’s still impressive if it’s anywhere close to being accurate, but clarification is key.
What kind of storage can you expect in the frunk? Unfortunately, not enough to stash a full-face helmet. The area under the flap that sits just above the electric charging port is fairly small. There’s a helmet lock located under the pillion seat, which could be useful if you like using helmet locks. Naturally, there’s a full range of OEM accessories available to expand your storage space options, should you buy a 2022 Zero SR.
I’m always excited to ride a new bike, any time I get the opportunity—but there’s also a certain anxiety that comes with being a shorter rider. Sure, depending on our levels of experience and comfort, we can make taller bikes work for us. Over time, short riders have developed a number of strategies, constantly sliding around and mastering the one-foot balance, doing funky acrobatics to mount taller bikes, and so on.
The thing is, there’s a lot of both mental and physical effort (and coordination) that goes into the kind of workarounds that make taller bikes work for us. When taller riders can just show up, throw a leg over, and not ever have to worry about it, it’s enough to make you wonder why it has to be so hard when there are an awful lot of us short folks around who’d like to ride, too. That’s why it’s really nice that Zero doesn’t only offer both low and tall seat options for this bike—but it actually also brought some to a public demo event.
It isn’t just women riders who are short, either. I’ve met plenty of short male riders, too—as well as riders in general who are even shorter than me. While OEMs may compete with one another for sales, they’re all unified in wanting to grow the industry and get more new riders into riding, because then they can sell more bikes. Surprising and delighting short folks who may not expect there to be anything for them certainly seems like it should tap into an underexplored market. It’s my opinion that more OEMs need to do this at their demo events, and I will keep saying that until they all do.