A few days ago I spent the day with the guys at Major Powersports in Las Vegas, the Zero Motorcycle dealer in town.
There was no one from Zero Corporate around, so it was interesting to get a real conversation going with them. They sell numerous brands of motorcycles, and I wanted to get their feelings (and mine) on how the new Zeros compare.
Two bikes were wheeled out of the showroom, the SR/F and the DSR (MSRP $18,990)
We jumped on and took off through some urban sprawl. I was riding the SR/F, and I had it set to ‘street’ (not the full power mode which is ‘sport’).
Having ridden the H-D LiveWire a few weeks earlier, I knew what to expect. But I was equally interested to see if the bike felt the same.
Its power delivery was smooth and instant, its weight (498lbs) wasn’t noticeable because its mass is so low.
To the outskirts of the city, we hit the freeway for a few miles and I got a chance to open it up. Riding down the entry ramp onto the freeway and twisting the throttle to accelerate is an experience you need to feel for yourself.
It is sportbike quality and equal to the sensation, but I didn’t have to concern myself with shifting gears. In a matter of just over a couple of seconds, I was over 100 mph before traffic stopped the spirited fun.
Away from the city onto quiet back roads with plenty of curves, the Zero handled everything with perfection. Hard braking into sharp bends, strong acceleration on exit, leaning into curves, it felt good and well balanced in all scenarios.
Stopping to have a chat with Brandon, the salesman who was riding with me, I asked him a few questions.
What other bikes do you own?
“H-D Dyna and a 1000cc sportbike with 150+hp.”
How does this, to you, compare with your sportbike?
“It’s right there, seat of the pants judgment, the acceleration feels the same and will be the same 100% of the time. The problem with the sportbike maybe one out of a hundred or a thousand times I might miss a shift and the Zero would roast me.”
And that’s how it feels, perfect smooth riding, no shifting, amazing acceleration, great braking and deceleration due to the assist of the regeneration.
Who is buying these Zero Motorcycles?
“This is going to go against all the opinions you hear on the internet but I can only tell you the facts of the sales we’ve made. I know you expect the answer to be Millenials, but mostly it’s not. It’s been riders 50+ in age, mostly male, quite a few already own EV’s, work in the technology sector, and almost every Zero is paid for in full right then, not financed.”
If I wanted to buy a Zero motorcycle, how long would it take to get it?
“If we didn’t have the model built with the options you wanted in the showroom, then we would place an order to the factory and it would be here at the store in 5-7 days built to your exact specifications.”
Riding an electric motorcycle, one inmate described it perfectly –
“like being sucked into a vacuum”
I’m 6’1″ and sportbikes have never felt like a comfortable fit for me. The Zero SR/F layout for me was a little tight but over a few miles, it became familiar and okay. Urban riding on the SR/F I could say, I would be happy with this for sure, and it’s exactly what it’s designed for.
The controls on the bars were a pretty standard affair, with the mode switch on the left side, so you can adjust your riding setting without stopping. You just need to release the throttle as you do it.
The control panel between the bars was clear and concise, easy to read (it has delivery plastic on the screen BTW, to be removed by the buyer) and understand while riding, showing you all the information you need and nothing more. It can be adjusted to suit your needs and hidden in the menus was a full array of options to play with.
Official specs on the SR/F
TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONSPremium200 MILE RANGE100% ELECTRIC POWERTRAINCYPHER III161 MILESCLUTCHLESS DIRECT DRIVE485 LBBOSCH31.0 IN5 YEARS/UNLIMITED MILES
Range City? 161 miles Highway, 55 mph (89 km/h)? 99 miles Combined? 123 miles Highway, 70 mph (113 km/h)? 82 miles Combined? 109 miles
Motor Peak torque 140 ft-lb Peak power? 110 hp (82 kW) @ 5,000 rpm Top speed (max)? 124 mph Top speed (sustained)? 110 mph Type Z-Force 75-10 enhanced thermal efficiency, passively air-cooled, interior permanent magnet AC motor Controller? High efficiency and power dense, 900 Amp, 3-phase AC controller with regenerative deceleration
Power system Power pack Z-Force® Li-Ion intelligent integrated Max capacity? 14.4 kWh Nominal capacity? 12.6 kWh Charger type 6.0 kW, integrated Charge time (standard)? 2.5 hours (100% charged) / 2.0 hours (95% charged) With 6 kW Rapid Charge option? 1.5 hours (100% charged) / 1.0 hour (95% charged)
Drivetrain Transmission Clutchless direct drive Final drive 90T / 20T, Poly Chain® HTD® Carbon™ belt
Chassis / Suspension / Brakes Front suspension Showa 43 mm Big Piston Separate Function forks, with adjustable spring preload, compression and rebound damping Rear suspension Showa 40 mm piston, piggy-back reservoir shock with adjustable spring preload, compression and rebound damping Front suspension travel? 4.72 in Rear suspension travel? 5.51 in Front brakes Bosch Advanced MSC, dual J-Juan radial 4-piston calipers with radial master cylinder, 320 x 5 mm discs Rear brakes Bosch Advanced MSC, J-Juan single piston floating caliper, 240 x 4.5 mm disc Front tire Pirelli Diablo Rosso III 120/70-17 Rear tire Pirelli Diablo Rosso III 180/55-17 Front wheel 3.50 x 17 Rear wheel 5.50 x 17
Dimensions Wheelbase? 57.1 in Seat height? 31.0 in Accessory, low 30.3 in Accessory, tall 31.9 in Rake? 24.5° Trail? 3.7 in
Weight Curb weight 498 lb Carrying capacity 502 lb
Economy Equivalent fuel economy (city)? 430 MPGe Equivalent fuel economy (highway)? 219 MPGe Typical cost to recharge? $1.61
Pricing MSRP $21,495 Does not include government incentives. Does not include local shipping, applicable taxes, PDI, or road registration fees.
Warranty Standard motorcycle warranty* 2 years Power pack warranty* 5 years/unlimited miles
On the ride back, I had the SR/F in sport mode, all I will tell you is go for a test ride to experience this for yourself, it will change your opinion of EV’s. Just WOW!
As a final note on the SR/F when I left the dealership it was showing a range of 82 miles, I rode a total of 29 miles, but only used 19 miles of range. So when you look at range figures take them with a pinch of salt because they do vary greatly depending on how and where you ride.
We swapped bikes and I jumped on the DSR, DS for dual-sport, ‘R’ for range. The initial feeling was similar to a stock Suzuki DRZ400 in size and stature.
This Zero, in my opinion, felt much more cheaply made compared to the SR/F. Acceleration and all the other riding felt as good, just the appearance was the downside.
The reason I say this is the alloy wheels and the tiny belt are two things I would never want on a dual-sport motorcycle, and the price $18,990
The belts, for reference, on these bikes are mounted from the swing pivot to the axle, so tension is always correct.
Looking at the Zero Range the ZERO FX ZF7.2 should be considered more of a dual sport with its spoke rims, and the MSRP in the $12,000 range. But a measly 54 mile combined range makes for a short day out. That is the huge downside.
For 2020, Zero is releasing a new model called DSR Black Forest Edition. On their website, they write –
It is the most capable adventure-ready electric motorcycle on the planet. Explore new roads without all the noise.
The estimated MSRP of the Black Forest is $22,490 with all the options added, from the Zero website –
ZERO DSR BLACK FOREST
Distinctive styling. Geared for adventure.
The Zero DSR Black Forest comes decked out with a set of premium integrated luggage and a host of adventure-oriented gear, including touring windscreen and seat, and dual sport drop bars. LED auxiliary lights and headlight protector for off-road use and our game-changing Charge Tank are available to buy separately.
Range (mi): 157 city / 64 highway
Color: Black Effect
One thing that Zero does show on their website is this graphic, they expect you to buy and keep your Zero
Their explanation is-
A Long Term Perspective
As a premium brand, Zero designs each motorcycle with the sort of quality and integrity that inspires an exceptional riding experience. Beyond that, the upfront cost of a Zero is not what it appears to be when compared against its traditional internal combustion counterparts. Each mile ridden on a Zero is considerably less expensive, making it considerably more enjoyable, due to the elimination of routine powertrain maintenance and no gas expenses. As it turns out, when compared to other premium brands, a Zero starts saving the owner money on gas and maintenance from day one. In fact, over the life of their motorcycle many Zero owners actually save more than they would have if they had purchased a comparable internal combustion model.
and what that equates to is this
TOP 15 THINGS YOU’LL NEVER DO AGAIN
- BUY GAS
- REPLACE CLUTCH
- SYNC THROTTLE AND IDLE SPEED
- CHANGE ENGINE OIL FILTER
- LUBRICATE CHOKE CABLES
- CHANGE ENGINE OIL
- CHECK ENGINE OIL
- ADJUST VALVE CLEARANCE
- CHANGE AIR FILTER
- REPLACE TIMING BELT
- CHECK EXTERNAL FUEL HOSES
- REPLACE SPARK PLUGS
- CHANGE FUEL FILTER
- ADJUST CLUTCH CABLES
- CHECK CLUTCH FLUID LEVEL
If you are in Las Vegas drop into Major Power Sports have a chat with Brandon, Roy, and the guys, do a test ride, no-obligation at all. The customer’s service is top-notch and they really do know the product well, just a few blocks off the strip.
They personally offer test rides to all of their customers if they are buying any other brand of motorcycle, or waiting on a service to be completed, just so customers know what riding an electric motorcycle feels like.
If a Vegas trip isn’t an option for you, stop in any Zero dealer and ask for a test ride, or go on the ZERO website to get one set up. Everybody who has ever ridden a motorcycle needs to experience riding an electric motorcycle for themselves and not cast or listen to opinions until they do.
images – rtwPaul/ Brandon Nash/ Zero Motorcycles