With the SR / F, the American manufacturer Zero is attacking the combustion establishment with a sporty naked bike at eye level.
For the first time, a top test should clarify how well a modern electric vehicle drives – and also for how long.
The charging cable (price: 520 euros) can be found in the luggage compartment.
The big wheel turned: Without a gear, it has to set the secondary transmission – the toothed belt wheel has 90 teeth.
Compact class: The currently largest battery (14.4 kWh) in motorcycle construction fits harmoniously between the tubes of the tubular space frame.
Comfort, no thanks: Zero should urgently rethink the spring selection and damping adjustment on the monoshock.
J. Juan? The little-known Spanish manufacturer supports the Kawasaki Superbike factory team. And the brake in the Zero also works perfectly.
The most important information is presented centrally in the TFT display – the circle (blue) shows the charge status of the battery.
Heated grips: Don’t worry, even at the highest heating level, the heated grips reduce the range of the Zero by just one kilometer.
Smart concept: the drive pinion sits coaxially on the swing arm axis. As a result, the tension of the toothed belt remains constant. There are practically no load change reactions.
A while before the rush: It takes two hours for the 14.4 kWh battery at the fast charging station to be fully charged again.
Like a power moped: without a clutch or gearbox, a quick start is child’s play. Open the gas – and the Zero is gone.
Peter Mayer, test editor of Zero.
The SR / F feels stable and calm.
While Showa’s big-piston fork is working properly, the rear end hacks at the driver mercilessly.
The Zero runs a measured 194 km / h.
The Zero loses seconds on the KTM 790 Duke – a small world.
Dirty rear: When it rains, the airy frame rear lets a lot of road dirt up. Not uncommon on modern naked bikes.
Charging sockets: USB sockets are standard today. By the way: the engine settings can be changed using a smartphone app.
Slippery footrests: Despite the corrugation, the aluminum footrests are relatively smooth when wet. On top of that, they are attached very high.
Zero SR / F Premium in the top test
Electric motorcycle in an intensive check
With the SR / F, Zero is attacking the combustion establishment with a sporty naked bike at eye level. For the first time, a top test should clarify how well a modern electric vehicle drives – and also for how long. An exciting encounter.
This top test could begin like this: All e-mails are checked, all phone calls are dealt with. Before Karsten Schwers waves for the waiter, the test operations boss walks to the fast charging station next door. In the display of the Zero flashes the remaining charging time: 30 minutes. Annoyed, the hip colleague orders a cappuccino. The third since he plugged in the electric motorcycle an hour and a half ago. The text could also begin like this: As soon as the Zero rolls to the charging station, passers-by stop and ask questions. How fast, how far, how expensive? The SR / F is sure to be admired. Great bike! Especially no noise. In the sympathy rating, the Elektro-Zero beats every Ducati Panigale. At least for non-motorcyclists. Which brings us to the middle of the world of electric mobility. And the discussion about their performance, ecological balance and development potential.
Handling course, circular path, braking measurements
However, this top test is only supposed to revolve around the currently so intense dispute about the fundamental issues. After all, the Zero SR / F is the flagship of the currently very manageable two-wheeled Stromer vanguard. With 105 PS it is one of the most powerful of all electric motorcycles, has the largest battery with 14.4 kWh and proclaims rapid performance. And that’s why it is the first e-motorcycle to go through MOTORRAD’s top test. With handling course, circular path, braking measurements.
How do you feel about the electric motorcycle??
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Out of the question for me.
The future of the two-wheeler for urban traffic.
There is no getting around the electric motorcycle.
Everything that goes with it to lure a motorcycle from its reserve. Without puppy protection and Zeitgeist bonus. And yet in the knowledge that the curve swing on the last groove in an electrical concept is still allowed to take a back seat to the crucial questions as a secondary virtue: How big is the range? How long does the battery take to charge? And what does the motorcycle cost? Sequentially.
In sport mode
Flashback. A few hours before the involuntary caffeine excess, the Zero is on the test area. The SR / F was presented only a few weeks ago. The American manufacturer has been working on motorcycles with electric drives since 2006, but with the latest creation it is virtually opening a new page in the model portfolio. Trellis frame instead of aluminum bridge frame, 105 HP electric motor, traction control and cornering ABS from Bosch and Showa spring elements. No doubt the Californians mean business. The bike looks tidy. The air cooling saves radiators and hoses, the appearance is reminiscent of a Ducati Monster. Colleague Schwers does not hesitate long. On the test bench, the SR / F put 105 hp on the roller in sport mode. Good cards for the most archaic of all tests: Acceleration from a standing start. The drag race is foolproof. No clutch that has to be metered at the start, no transmission to step through the gears. The SR / F whistles ahead in a flash. The 100 km / h mark falls after 3.8 seconds and 140 km / h is reached after 6.2 seconds. The values are impressive. The KTM 790 Duke from the MOTORRAD long-term test fleet, which is conceptually a naked bike and with 105 PS also in terms of performance comparable to the SR / F, hardly stands out in the direct duel (3.3 / 5.5 seconds). The difference is essentially due to the difference in weight.
The Duke weighs 187 kilograms and the Zero weighs 231 kilograms. The battery block contributes 85 kilograms of this. It is understandable that the rapid sprint only succeeds in the aforementioned sport mode. In the other three speed levels (Eco, Rain, Street), the Zero holds back and thus already indicates the central theme in an electric vehicle: Saving energy. But more on that later. Nevertheless, the focus remains on the energy storage system on the test course. The massive box is already noticeable when maneuvering. It feels like there is a lot of weight on the front wheel. But when weighed, the distribution is hardly out of line at almost 53 percent. In the case of super athletes, for example, this is not an unusual value. In the tight curves of the test course, the US bike demands a decisive hand and wags stiffly through the slalom despite the steep steering head angle (65.5 degrees). However: At the tightly circled turning point, the Zero shines with its drive concept. Because the electric motor sitting on the swing arm enables a constant tight tension of the toothed belt and also the control of the electric motor responds very smoothly, the SR / F cuts precisely around the corner without any load change jerk. An aspect that rehabilitates the Zero, ultimately forming the opposite pole to the somewhat sedate handling. Especially since the quick stroke is only limited by the grip of the sticky Pirelli Diablo Rosso III. Or from the draining battery. The vehement sprint marathon sucked a lot of electricity. After 44 kilometers, the TFT display only shows 18 kilometers remaining. The electricity provider’s app locates the next fast charging station at a distance of 13 kilometers.
1 hour and 50 minutes
An E-Golf and a BMW i3 are already occupying the two parking spaces. We are lucky. Only the VW is on the power cord. We squeeze the Zero between the cars. We are proud of the fact that the e-pillar accepts our payment chip. The fact that the type 2 plug then pumps the flood of electrons into the starving battery, completes the feeling of success. Neither of us remembers being so happy about a working gasoline pump. Heralds of an e-mobilized change in consciousness? Maybe – until the charging time levels off on the display: 1:50 hours. After that, only the café owner is happy about the order for a total of six cappuccini and two banana splits. That may sound sarcastic. Because in e-mobile relationships, two hours of charging is a common value. The SR / F only manages this time thanks to the two chargers built into the tested premium version (surcharge: 2,200 euros). The rush hour traffic clogs the streets until we can continue driving. Annoying?
On the contrary. Because the maximum torque – with the Zero at least 190 Nm – is due to the design of an electric motor almost from the first rotation. With that she executes at the traffic light. Gas on, and in the blink of an eye the motorcade in the rearview mirror shrinks to the size of a fingernail. The fact that the 790 Duke can stand up to the Zero on the test site in the sprint to 50 km / h may be objectively measurable, but in practice it is hardly of any importance. By the time the rest of the motorized environment can still use the clutch to reconcile the gearbox and speed, the e-biker is gone. Literally in no time at all. But not only the triumph in the power sprint compensates for the waiting loop when refueling. As soon as we roll through the first small villages after the city limits, the enthusiasm for victory turns into an electro-mildness. Driving past people with their after-work beer on the terrace, virtually noiseless, and not bothering anyone with the side effects of your own hobby, that doesn’t leave you unaffected. That may sound sentimental and on top of that it excludes the exhaust gas emissions shifted to the power plant. But one thing is clear: If there were only electric motorcycles, the term route closure would probably not have been invented yet.
Back to the real world. We swing from curve to curve. The sluggish handling in the pointed art world of the top test area can only be felt in a weakened manner on the country road. The SR / F feels stable and calm. Like a down-to-earth motorcycle, type Suzuki GSX-S 1000. Only less comfortable. At least in the back. While the Showa Big Piston fork is working properly, the rear end hacks at the driver mercilessly. According to the sag measurements by MOTORRAD, what feels as hard as a rock is probably the combination of an unfortunate damping setting and a spring that is too soft. This allows the shock absorber to work too deep in the progressive area and ignore even moderate edges. The SR / F only flatters itself on smooth asphalt and pushes forward with this easy-to-use pressure. Whereby the impressive thump can by no means only be experienced in the 105 hp sport mode. It feels like you miss a bit of steam with the SR / F on the country road in the 38 HP Eco mode at most, subjectively draws from the full in Rain or Street mode (65 HP each) – at least as long as the battery provides enough power.
Which brings us to the final and yet most important point of an electric bike: the range. With five consumption measurements, this top test shows the entire range of uses of a motorcycle. You can’t do that in a hurry with an e-bike. Despite fixed charging times, the minimum mandatory break of the SR / F Premium between the driving cycles at a fast charging station is two hours, at a 220 volt socket it is just under four hours for the MOTORCYCLE measurements. The option of an additional retrofit charger (6 kW Rapid Charger) housed in the overhead compartment would reduce the charging time to an enticing and credible 60 minutes, but would cost a further 2,690 euros. In order to extend the service life, the 14.4 kWh battery only bunkers 13.2 kWh per charge (MOTORCYCLE measurement). This corresponds to the amount of energy required for 1.6 liters of gasoline. If you consider the higher efficiency of an electric motor, you start with the equivalent of 3.9 liters of gasoline in the tank.
The battery test
First test, the maximum load: Autobahn, full throttle. The Zero runs a measured 194 km / h. But the temperature warning lamp glows after just four kilometers. The engine management reduces the speed to 170 km / h. The Zero pulls this speed through up to kilometer 36. Then it slows down, dropping below 140 km / h at 40 km. We break off. The juice is just enough for a ten kilometer return trip on the country road. Second test: this time closer to everyday life. Back on the highway. 130 km / h continuous speed. In terms of performance, a ride for the Zero. But after 65 kilometers the display reports only eight percent remaining capacity, the electronics regulate down, 130 km / h can no longer be maintained. We break off again, this time at four kilometers remaining. Hope rests on the country road mission. Eco mode with recuperation, leisurely speed (maximum 90 km / h), moderate accelerations.
The distances are getting longer. Nevertheless, it’s already over after 138 kilometers. When driving a fast lap of the country road in street mode, the power supply is only sufficient for 110 kilometers. Again we are confused. Five years ago (issue 12/2014) MOTORRAD drove the Zero SR (11.4 kWh battery) already 156 kilometers. The tight radius of action cannot be due to the outside temperature of 15 degrees. The charging time, the amount of electricity fed in and the display also always matched. The disillusioned mood can only polish up the city tour. The SR / F covers 228 kilometers in stop-and-go traffic. That is considerable, but for a fully-fledged motorcycle ultimately designed for the country road, it is rather poor consolation. Especially because the price justifies higher claims. The basic version costs 20,490 euros, the premium version 22,690 euros. Not counting the money for cappuccini and banana split.
Commentary by Peter Mayer, test editor
Ultimately, the top test of the Zero proved one thing above all: The physics also apply to electric vehicles. This fact is often ignored in the emotionally heated public discussion about electric mobility. In this respect, the Zero does its job well. No combustion engine can do a brisk 100-kilometer lap of the country road with the energy of 1.5 liters of gasoline.
The horse’s foot: The SR / F’s battery, which is currently the largest power storage in electric motorcycle construction, can only bunker the energetic equivalent of 1.6 liters of gasoline. It is only the battery technology that sets the limits for electric vehicles. As soon as there are more powerful batteries, all debates will fall silent. In any case, I’m already looking forward to a brisk and yet whisper-quiet round of work after work. It just has to be longer than currently possible.
The SR / F looks like a conventional motorcycle – and the bottom line is that it drives that way. But ultimately this Zero defines itself with the strengths typical of an electric motorcycle: the impressive sprint and pulling qualities as well as the easy handling. However, also with the weaknesses of the E concept: the range that is too small for the sporty concept and the handsome price.
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