Test Rode a Zero SR 14.4 kWh Today

Discussion in 'Electric Motorcycles' started by CBRider, Mar 20, 2018.

  1. CBRider

    CBRider Between a rock and a weird place.

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    I test rode a 2018 Zero SR 14.4 kWh bike today. Wow! I am impressed!

    I have never ridden an electric bike before, so wasn’t sure what to expect. The Zero has an “eco” mode, and “sport” mode. There is also a “custom” mode, but it had not been programed yet on this bike.

    I rode about 35 miles, some in stop and go traffic, some highway, and a little 2 lane road with curves.

    I started out in eco mode. It is very smooth starting from a stop and the response to throttle is very good and easily controllable. The eco mode has some regenerative braking, but the engine braking was way less than on my Moto Guzzi V7. I think the custom mode would allow for more aggressive regenerative braking. Acceleration in eco mode feels very linear, and seems a good deal faster than my V7.

    The sport mode is a hoot! It is still easy to modulate at slow speeds, but has a real rush of acceleration with not a lot of throttle twist. It’s very easy to be going 80 mph plus before you even think about it. And absolutely no vibration.

    The absence of engine noise is really nice, and this is coming from a guy who has ridden ICE bikes for around 45 years. It sounds like a jet engine spooling up, but is not loud at all. My left hand reached for a non existent clutch lever only once at a red light. Just twisting the throttle and going without shifting feels very natural. I wasn’t sure how I would like it since I have never ridden a bike with no clutch and shift levers. I could get used to this!

    The range with the 14.4 kWh battery is supposed to be a minimum of 100 miles even with aggressive riding. Based on the battery meter readout in the 35 miles I rode, I think that is probably realistic. Ridden the way I normally ride my V7, I suspect I would get close to 150 miles.

    I didn’t expect to like it as much as I do. They are expensive, but I am seriously considering trading my V7 for one.
    #1
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  2. ex250mike

    ex250mike Long timer

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    How is the fit n finish, ergonomics, handling, etc?
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  3. CBRider

    CBRider Between a rock and a weird place.

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    Fit and finish was good. The suspension felt a little stiff, but that could be sorted out. I would probably have to change the handlebars.

    I've been really thinking about how I use my V7, and The Zero would do most of it, but I do take occasional trips that just wouldn't work with the range and charge times of the Zero.

    I would really love to have a Zero but have decided it couldn't be my only bike. It's just too expensive for me to keep my V7 and buy the Zero. I'm going to have to wait for the range to improve or the price to come down. When it comes down to it, the Zero is still an eight-thousand dollar bike with a ten-thousand dollar battery.
    #3
  4. CreatureCore

    CreatureCore Been here awhile

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    All the new battery tech should be releasing in about 3-5 years. Wait until then. Companies have created new battery tech such as graphene batteries that hold more power for its size then lithium batteries and can be charged very quickly. The tesla trucks and roadster that where showed off a few months ago will be using similar tech. Its how you can charge a 500 mile range battery in 1 hour. Cell phones will be fully charged in 15 minutes.
    #4
  5. DC2wheels

    DC2wheels Castle Anthrax troll Supporter

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    I would think that these bikes, while very interesting, will be a hard sell.

    First there is the price.

    Then there are those that would hold off, waiting until battery technology improves further and possibly at a lower price. So when does a person "jump in"?

    I wouldn't want to buy and have the new and improved technology come out a few months later.
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  6. ctromley

    ctromley Long timer

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    History can teach us something here.

    Around 1990 I got a desktop computer to assist with a job search. It cost me $3000 (in 1990 dollars) and it had all of 10M (as in ten megabytes) of hard drive storage. Two months later there were better models for less money. If that matters to you, you're not going to own a computer until they're basically all the same. You buy in when the product meets your needs, knowing things will get better. You could say all the same stuff about mobile phones.

    Granted, computers and mobile phones did important stuff you couldn't do before. And let's face it, no one needs a motorcycle, no matter how it's powered. But there are a lot of people who mostly just commute, and who prefer the experience of electric power over ICE, and who understand the economics of a high up-front cost and trivial operating cost. Their numbers are growing, which drives tech improvements, which attracts more people. Rinse and repeat.

    So I think you're partly right. For some people EMs will be a hard sell now. But things are changing fast. Maybe not as quickly as computers or phones, but they're looking substantially better every year.

    Just don't wait until you think new and improved technology will stop coming. That's a loser's game.
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  7. Rugby4life

    Rugby4life Been here awhile

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    I bought a demo '17 SR (13kw) for about $4k off list 2 months before the '18s (14.4kw) were announced. It didn't bother me at all because I used the savings to add saddlebags, a Corbin saddle, a few other nick knacks and, in a couple of weeks, I'll be replacing the stock 1.3kwh charger with 9.9kwh of Diginow chargers. After the next round of overtime days at work, I'll be adding a 3.6kw power tank. I'll then have a bike with more battery, faster charging and better ergo+storage for less money than an '18 SR with a charge tank. BTW, right now I'm averaging 1.1 cents/mile over the life of the bike. That math works for me. If you can find a '17 demo for the same $ as me, I would go that route and be riding tomorrow. FWIW that's my $0.02 on the subject (hey look, another 2 miles!)
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  8. HellFishTat

    HellFishTat Been here awhile

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    ctromley,

    “...no one needs an motorcycle...”

    Speak for yourself there. I’ve been riding, if I count dirt bikes, mopeds and motorcycles since I was 10yrs old, and I’m pushing 56.

    “...no one needs a motorcycle...”. I’d be miserable without one
    #8
  9. ex250mike

    ex250mike Long timer

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    We're not there yet but I'd expect the tech advances to slow down some in the future. It may be 10+ years before that happens though. As someone who lives debt free, things need to be a bit cheaper before I jump in. Prices are trending down on the bikes I'm interested in, if it continues I'll buy in 2-3 years.
    #9
  10. BrianTRice

    BrianTRice Nerdy adventurer

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    I maintain an unofficial manual for Zeros and one of the pages is a buyers' guide:
    https://zeromanual.com/index.php/Potential_Buyers_Guide

    My short recommendations:
    • Keep a gas bike if you can at all; sometimes electric motorcycles have problems that require a lot of dealer back and forth work with the manufacturer; these are still relatively new.
    • You can tour on a Zero (see https://zeromanual.com/index.php/Travel) but the charging equipment is an expensive accessory at $1-3k depending on how much power you want. I've toured at 450 miles per day up and down the US West Coast mainly and believe that currently this is the practical limit for the average Zero owner, because of the charging time (expect 30 minutes of charging per hour of highway riding even with the best charging equipment). My current Zero is a 2016 DSR model with 27000 miles on the odometer and climbing. There are touring routes I can only do with my V-Strom, but the Pacific Coastal route is much more enjoyable on my Zero and can be covered easily.
    I am not holding my breath for graphene improvements. If you buy these bikes now and crank on a lot of commuting miles (miles per year commuting translates to saved money and time on maintenance, and reduced stress during the commute because they're easier and more fun as a daily ride), they're already worthwhile, even as a way to reduce your gas bike maintenance and save it for the trips.
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  11. RCmoto

    RCmoto Long timer

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    Nice work! Looks like a wiki page, do you plan it that way or just end up like it ;)
    #11
  12. Goomicoo

    Goomicoo Rubber Cow

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    I love my DS. Put higher bars on. It is stiff though so I have to soften it up some. Going to be just a commuter and traffic slayer for me.
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  13. EIGuy

    EIGuy Committed/Addicted F800GSA, Beta 350RR, HP2E

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    Bought an Empulse TT over a year ago.....over 1500 miles and so far ZERO issues! Just oiled/tightened chain, changed transmission oil. Nothing else for maintenance or issues! Averaging 85-95 mile range depending on my riding style, traffic that day. Quiet, torquey and quick! My favourite for night riding on quiet streets! Great choice for errands, commuting but long distance rides are only downfall. Everything else is Bliss!
    #13
  14. panhead_dan

    panhead_dan This aint jo daddy's Grundle.

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    The difference here is that when the Zero's first came out a few years ago, they were less than half the price they are now. The product has gotten less expensive to produce obviously, so the increase in price is pure profit. Supply and demand is what it is.


    Let's face it, you don't need a motorcycle but I don't need a car. No matter how it's powered.


    I am very interested in an E bike but due to it's shortcomings and inflated price, it can only be considered as a very expensive toy to me that will not be in my budget until it goes back down in price.
    I do not consider any of my bikes as a toy. Motorcycles are my preferred transportation and always have been.
    #14
  15. ctromley

    ctromley Long timer

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    I think you're leaning hard enough on the facts there to have broken some. From the Zero "About Us" page:

    Once a burning idea conceived inside a Santa Cruz, California garage, Zero has rapidly grown into an internationally known motorcycle company. The result is groundbreaking motorcycle innovation that is available for customers to own today. Since 2006, when the first prototypes were produced, Zero has invited motorcyclists to go for a ride. Some things are better experienced than explained.

    12 years isn't a few, especially in a technology that is advancing so rapidly. And note that, while Zeros aren't cheap, they are competitive. What very frequently happens with garage-level startups is that the founders are completely unaware of how voraciously cash-hungry growth is. And Zero has seen some spectacular growth. I'd be interested to see evidence that their prices have more than doubled. Even if they have, adjusting their pricing for sustainable growth could account for it.

    You're not the first person to say that, but I would point out there's a difference between a need and a lifestyle choice. Everyone should use the transport choice that suits them, but needs are something else.

    I don't object to this other than your continued insistence that Zero has arbitrarily jacked up their prices. When the Empulse was available it was Zero's closest competitor and the Zero was cheaper. EMs are going to cost more up-front for some years to come. But even today, lifetime costs should be the same or less than ICE motorcycles. That will only get better. Whether they will ever be the right choice for any individual depends on that individual.

    EDIT: Just did a quick search and found an old test of a 2008 Zero X non-road-legal dirt bike. The thing weighed 140 lbs. (100 lbs. less than many 250s, because Zero came from bicycle roots). Its list price was $7450. That compares to a 2018 street legal FX model (which outperforms it) with a list price of $8495.

    Would you care to retract your claim?
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  16. panhead_dan

    panhead_dan This aint jo daddy's Grundle.

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    They were $9000 a few years ago.
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  17. ctromley

    ctromley Long timer

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    See my edit, which I added as you were responding. What you're saying simply doesn't add up. $9000 for what? You need to compare model to comparable model.
    #17
  18. BrianTRice

    BrianTRice Nerdy adventurer

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    Yeah, it's just a Mediawiki site (software used on Wikipedia). It's a little bare bones right now, but has been pretty handy to make a site that feels somewhat formal while allowing anyone to pitch in.
    #18
  19. longslowdistance

    longslowdistance Long timer Supporter

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    Price has gone up but so has quality and spec, a lot. Better shocks, wheels, tires, battery with longer range.
    Still very expensive for what you get but a ton of fun to drive.
    #19
  20. kojack06

    kojack06 Long timer

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    True. However, advancements often run up in "step" fashion and then have a plateau. I'll try and buy at the start of a plateau where the technology won't be eclipsed overnight. I don't want an electric motorcycle that is 18 months old, depreciating quickly and cannot sell because it cannot be upgraded or no one wants because the new version is literally a quantum leap ahead.
    #20