I conducted a very scientific experiment.
Mea culpa. I originally published this article a few weeks ago along with a video that showed acceleration tests in non-optimal conditions. By that, I mean the bike wasn’t in Sport mode as it should have been. You guys weren’t very happy with the result and frankly, I wasn’t either. I had set high standards for my Zero Chronicles series and this wasn’t meeting them. My first round of tests didn’t do the bike justice, so I decided to pull the article and redo the test.
On my way to Montreal on a cool but sunny Friday afternoon—this time on a non-electric motorcycle—I did a detour through Peterborough, Ontario, located two hours outside of Toronto. There, I met Josh at Classy Chassis and Cycles, one of the only Zero dealers in the area (and where I also met the Harley-Davidson XR1200). I had spoken with Josh on the phone about my predicament and he had kindly agreed to let me take the SR/F for a spin.
The Very Scientific Method
I did three runs up and down the road, starting from a standstill, and twisting the throttle to the max until I reached 100 km/h. The bike Classy Chassis and Cycles had in stock was understandably set in kilometers because Canada.
For the record, 100 km/h is 62 mph, which is the measurement I based the results on. Note that the times would be slightly faster when recorded on a 0-to-60 basis.
I borrowed a friend’s GoPro camera to record the runs, pointed at the speedometer which would allow me to pinpoint the moment I reached the 100 mark. Then, using very scientific calculations (read: the magic of video editing), I timed the three runs to get an idea of just how much juice the bike has.
The accuracy of the results is slightly skewed due to the fact that the digital speedometer skips numbers during enthusiastic accelerations. Obviously, putting the bike on a dyno and hooking it up to a computer would be the ideal method to get specific numbers but RideApart never budgeted for a dynamometer, so I had to make do with the tools I had.
On round number 1, according to my first-person footage, the speedometer flipped to 107 km/h at the 4.15-second mark. On round number 2, I reached 102 km/h at 4.03 seconds. On round number 3, the counter flipped to 101 km/h in 4.02 seconds.
The average of the three runs is therefore 4.07 seconds to reach an average speed of 103 km/h or 64 mph (again, because the speedometer doesn’t run through every number during vivid accelerations—I know, I desperately looked for that 100 during editing.)
With those results in mind, had I been able to get a proper 0-to-60 reading, I suspect the result would have been closer to 4 seconds, possibly even a few milliseconds below.
Still, 4 seconds, that’s hella fast...
Sport Mode, More Like Ludicrous Mode
Do you know what it feels like to reach 60 mph from a standstill in 4 seconds?
I had tested the theory of electric acceleration in a number of cars, including a Tesla Model S but I had yet to do it (properly) on an electric motorcycle. Holy bonkers. It’s an entirely different experience when you’re holding on to a handlebar.
It's exhilarating and unlike anything else I've experienced. Don't get me wrong: I've been on really cool bikes and have taken full advantage of their abilities. The difference here is how direct the torque from the electric powertrain is. There's no delay from the whole gear-changing process which makes even the fastest acceleration feel more gradual, if that makes any sense. No, the Zero gets you there in one simple step, an experience that's as brutal as it is smooth.
The entire time I had the Zero I had no reason to put it in sport mode. I either rode it about town in heavy traffic or tried my best to save as much energy as possible on an 800-mile roadtrip. Plus, the guy who delivered the bike told me he almost crashed the bike the first time he twisted the throttle and that he couldn’t imagine what the sport mode was like. I didn’t want to pull a Director Jason with the LiveWire move and send the Zero flying into a bush.
Out of over-cautiousness, I didn’t try the mythical sport mode. After a month with the motorcycle, I fell into a bit of a routine. It was easy to forget that the Zero could give me a whole lot more than what I was asking of it. To be fair, even in normal road mode, the bike was still a complete hoot and accelerations, while not ludicrious, were still wildly entrertaining. I didn’t miss the sport mode. But the test didn't feel complete without having a chance to test it at least once, and I'm glad I was given the opportunity to try it.
This is the second to last story in my Zero Chronicles. I will get back to you with the overall conclusion of my experience of the 2020 Zero SR/F—it did teach me a few things along the way and I look forward to sharing them with you. Stay tuned, I promised it won’t take a month for the next story to come up.
Thanks to Josh and the team at Calssy Chassis and Cycles for their hospitality and for allowing me to redo my test on the SR/F!