Want max speed on your just-purchased motorcycle? With the new Zero SR, no need for refined aerodynamics, weight reduction, a change in final gearing—you can upgrade your brand-new bike with an in-app purchase, paying to unlock hardware you’ve already purchased.

But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. Zero just announced several updates to its 2022 lineup, so let’s start from the top.

New battery design

Zero has all-new ZF14.4+ kWh and ZF15.6+ kWh batteries. Zero’s trend for more power continues, and Zero says these new batteries “not only pack more energy than before, they also have the ability to grow their capacity as your needs as a rider change, as well.” This is thanks to the Cypher III+ store app—more on that later.  The Standard-trim SR/F and SR/S get the ZF14.4, the Premium models get the ZF15.6+. Both batteries can also pair with the Power Tank, and with all upgrades installed, Zero’s top-spec’d bikes can do as many as 227 miles of city riding, and 113 miles of highway riding (at 70 mph).

That’s impressive city mileage, but the highway mileage will still leave many riders wanting more. Recharge times are slightly improved; the Standard models have a 3kW onboard charger, and Premium models have a 6 kW onboard charger. Both can be upgraded with the Zero as well.

Two new batteries extend the range of the SR and other models even further, especially for in-city riding. Photo: Zero Motorcycles

New Zero SR model

The SR is Zero’s entry-level machine, priced at $17,995. The new-for-2022 machine follows Zero’s familiar pattern; it’s a naked bike, with steel trellis frame and “coaxial power pivot chassis,” same as the flashier SR/F and SR/S  models. It uses the ZF 75-10 motor, with “High efficiency and power dense, 750 Amp, 3-phase AC controller with regenerative deceleration.” It’s the first bike equipped with the new ZF14.4+ kWh battery. Depending how you spec the bike, it can recharge in 78 minutes, and comes with 104 mph top speed, 74 horsepower, and 122 pound-feet of torque. Curb weight is 498 pounds.

And, perhaps most significantly, it comes with the Cypher III+ operating system built in, powering Bosch traction control and many other electronic features.

See a full spec sheet for the Zero SR here.

What does Cypher III+ do?

Cypher III+ is the operating system that manages Zero’s on-board electronic systems; it provides your GPS service, but it also sells you that service, and many other features, through the Cypher Store. See the blurb below, from Zero’s website:

The SR offers an arsenal of ride modes which allows riders to customize the bike’s performance through the intuitive next-generation app and dash interface. The SR navigates the road no matter the conditions with Rain, Eco, Standard, Sport, and Canyon modes pre-loaded and a virtually infinite number of custom tuned ride mode adjustments available. Further customizations ranging from accelerated charge speed, higher performance and Bosch Advanced Motorcycle Stability Control, turn-by-turn GPS navigation and so much more, all come in the form of on-demand performance and feature upgrades available through the Zero App with the tap of a finger in the Cypher Store.

And:

The Cypher III+ Operating System is Zero’s latest proprietary OS. It delivers precise performance seamlessly for a consistently superior riding experience. Cypher III+ unlocks performance customization through the Cypher Store on the Zero App where critical performance upgrades that include performance (speed and torque), charging speed and capacity, turn-by-turn navigation and others are all available on-demand.

In other words: When you buy a Zero with the Cypher III+ system, you’re buying a de-tuned, dumbed-down bike, and paying Zero to make it go faster. Basically, motorcycle performance and features can now be turned into a subscription service, something you rent from the OEM. To be clear: This isn’t what Zero says it’s doing, but it also doesn’t say that’s not what it’s doing, and it certainly opens that door.

There are many ways of looking at this idea, but it’s worth noting the Zero SR is an expensive bike without all these bells and whistles turned on. MSRP starts out at $17,995 for the base model, with two-year warranty on the bike and five-year warranty on the battery. But, despite paying just shy of 18 grand, Zero has built-in capability on this bike that you can’t access unless you pay even more. This isn’t a matter of bolting on new parts—much of this capability is already built-in.

With some of this technology, you could make a case for a subscription model, particularly Bosch’s traction control system, and maybe navigation software, although this tech is included in the purchase price with many other bikes. For other features, though, riders may end up irked knowing they’re riding a bike that’s been purposefully limited from the factory, in order to extract more money through the Zero app.

Would you be happy if you bought a motorcycle that was purposefully limited from the factory, requiring a software switch flipped to make more power? Photo: Zero Motorcycles

It’s worth noting that we see similar ideas in the auto world, and some other OEMs do offer similar ideas with current-production bikes. For instance, on some KTM models, you must pay to unlock the quickshifter function, even though the hardware comes built-in when you buy the bike.

However, Zero is the first manufacturer to be this blatant about their plan: “Want speed? Pay up to get the most out of the bike we’ve already sold you.” No doubt many OEMs are watching this closely, to help them make their own future plans. As for riders: In an age where fewer and fewer people like to get their hands dirty, the idea of upgrading your bike via an app will no doubt appeal to some. For others, the Shop Class As Soulcraft crowd—no doubt the idea is giving them all a severe case of the heebie-jeebies.

For more info on the Cypher Store, visit Zero’s website here.

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