Central organ: The 63 hp electric motor sits directly on the swing arm. This enables a constant tension of the toothed belt.
… It takes eight hours to charge the battery. With an additional charger only half.
Hour zero: …
The upper bars show the consumption when accelerating, the lower bars the energy recovery when decelerating.
The storage space can also be used for an additional battery (2.8 kWh, 2380 euros). Nevertheless: never forget the charging cable!
The brake light switches activate the second, stronger level of energy recovery (recuperation) when braking.
Expensive to buy, cheap to run – this calculation may only work at first glance with electric motorcycles.
Even if the NC 700 S with 3.5 liters / 100 km is one of the most economical motorcycles, the e-bike is still cheaper. With 7.3 kWh / 100 km (eco mode) at a price of 1.82 euros, the kilometer with the Zero costs only around a third of that with the Honda.
Zero SR in the test
Always maximum acceleration
Do you necessarily need combustion engines and exhaust sounds for emotions on the motorcycle? The American Zero SR proves that an electric motorcycle can be more than just a commercial vehicle.
Elvis Presley on the left, Pink on the right, the news a few meters further on – scraps of music and words from the car radios change quickly as they meander silently between the tin cans. Then the light turns green. Watch out, cock. Accompanied by moderate singing, the storms Zero SR to the front, distances the line of cars in no time. What a feeling! Like a ride on a noiselessly fired cannonball.
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Zero SR in the test
Always maximum acceleration
SR is the name of the machine that suddenly transforms electrified motorcycling, pushing any thought of electrically powered, rational commercial vehicles into the background. The SR model is the flagship of the four models from the Santa Cruz / California-based manufacturer of electric motorcycles. Measured 63 hp at 4000 rpm as well as a highly potent 119 Newton meters at only 3600 tours, 159 km / h fast, weighed 186 kilograms light, acceleration from 0 to 100 km / h in 5.0 seconds – with these parameters the Zero SR scores.
Switching, coupling? Nothing.
The view that was initially glued to the charge level indicator has long since broken away from the Zero SR display. The contrast between extremely quiet locomotion and good to fast driving performance is euphoric and recalibrates the senses. Switching, coupling? Nothing. The design-related constant torque of an electric motor makes the clutch and gearbox superfluous even with the air-cooled drive of the US manufacturer Motenergy. Power is enough. Almost like a scooter. Just much, much faster.
From a standing start, the thrust starts gently, probably to protect the rear tires and drive. But what follows is true fortissimo: the Zero SR shakes intermediate sprints from 60 to 100 km / h in a spectacular 2.2 seconds from the wrist. Every combustion engine has to fit. Because the electric drive does not deliver torque in the last gear, but always maximum acceleration, it goes on rapidly: from 100 to 140 km / h in four seconds. After all, this is still big bike level.
It is amazing how much more intense the undisturbed, silent acceleration is when it is not accompanied by the exhaust sound. Especially since the electric vehicle is also fun in winding curves. Responsiveness? Problem-free. Load change reactions at the apex? Completely nil. The electric motor sitting directly on the swing arm keeps the toothed belt taut at all times. And thereby completely eliminates the play in the drive train that is only marginally possible without the primary drive, clutch and gearbox. The pleasantly restrained soundscape lets the driving experience focus on the essentials. Open the gas, close the gas, bend, straighten up – rarely has an asphalt twist been more undisturbed and more enjoyable. Its narrow tires make the Zero SR really handy and bustling. The fact that it comes up with the conventional when it comes to chassis is hardly noticeable with these unusual impressions. The aluminum bridge frame, swing arm and the plastic parts look properly processed.
Electric motorcycle Zero FX ZF 5.7 in the test
Dynamic driving fun with a 126 kg enduro
Budgeting is also the top priority at Zero SR
The upside-down fork and the directly hinged shock absorber respond more dry and wooden on pitted mogul slopes. With a slightly front-wheel-oriented seating position, slim knee and moderate seat height, the Zero SR is ergonomically reminiscent of the air-cooled Ducati Monster models. Unfortunately, there is no ABS.
Only now does the glimpse of euphoria fall back on the cockpit. The charge level display shows 20 percent. How far is it home It shouldn’t be more than 30 kilometers, otherwise it’ll be tight. Because the Zero SR is also confronted with the fundamental problem of all mobile electric drives: the question of energy storage. Even if the SR’s lithium-ion battery with a capacity of 11.4 kWh is one of the largest batteries currently used in two-wheelers, the energetic equivalent is only that of 1.3 liters of petrol. Comforting: a conventional combustion engine works with 37 percent efficiency, an electric motor, on the other hand, with around 90 percent. Although this increases the imaginary gasoline supply to 3.2 liters of fuel, in traditional internal combustion terminology this means nothing else than: Every journey begins with the fuel tap on reserve position.
So budgeting is also the top priority at Zero SR. If the 50 kW were permanently called up, the 11.4 kWh battery would be purely arithmetically drained after 13.7 minutes. The electronics ensure that this does not happen. If the internal temperature of the air-cooled engine rises to over 110 degrees Celsius after repeated violent accelerations, the control reduces the available power by up to 50 percent. This does not happen at constant speed. The Zero SR can handle a constant speed of 130 on the autobahn without any thermal problems.
E-motorcycle with a range of 159 kilometers
Full power is only available in the “Sport” version of the three driving modes. There is still fine-tuning and a flood of information via smartphone via the “app”. Bend quickly, enjoy the swift start from the bends, let the driving fun run free – the battery charge is enough for verified 91 kilometers. But: If you turn the e-gas too ambitiously, you will occasionally be slowed down in this gear. But if you want to drive longer, you still have to get used to the eco set-up. The electronics allow 30 HP peak power and 109 km / h top speed in this drive level. What sounds modest in itself is enough in practice to streak from bend to bend and to overtake safely.
Such frugality is worth it. The measured range of 159 kilometers sets the current record for an e-bike – the recuperation, i.e. energy supply to the motor when decelerating, helps you get further. This two-stage recharging of the batteries is more pronounced in Eco mode than in Sport mode, and feels like a noticeable engine braking torque.
A charging cycle takes eight hours with completely empty batteries, half as long with an additional charger for 649 euros. Passers-by admire and greet the brisk, quiet step. At night you can accelerate fully in the urban canyons and everyone can go back to sleep. Important for the eco-balance: only just under a quarter of electricity in Germany currently comes from renewable sources. But the price overshadows all of these aspects. With a hefty 16,990 euros, the Zero is reserved for well-heeled enthusiasts and idealists. It would be a shame, because with a strong start and her quite decent range, the American definitely gives the electric motorcycle a further boost. Who knows, maybe at some point in the future driving fun on a two-wheeler will really be described with E-Motion.
Comparison of Zero SR and Honda NC 700 S.
Expensive to buy, inexpensive to run – this calculation may only work at first glance with electric motorcycles.
Drive electrically and save?
A look at the energy costs (table) makes e-bike enthusiasts shine too soon. Because the financially decisive comparison is already being fought out by the concepts at the time of purchase. The Zero SR costs just under 17,000 euros, a corresponding conventionally powered mid-range model such as the Honda NC 700 S or the Yamaha MT-07 is just 6,000 euros. In purely mathematical terms, the difference only pays for itself after a proud 300,000 kilometers. A disadvantage that even the generally lower maintenance electrical engineering can hardly make up for. Inspections of the electric motor, controller and battery are not necessary – assuming there are no defects. Wear parts such as spark plugs, air filters and clutch linings are no longer necessary, and missing oil changes protect the environment. Road tax is not due and even a new electric motor only costs 1309 euros.
The financial Achilles heel of the electrical concept remains the battery alongside the purchase price. The 11.4 kWh battery block consisting of 112 individual cells from the Zero SR costs 8654 euros. The US company guarantees 160,000 kilometers of mileage and five years of full functionality before the battery capacity can drop by a maximum of 20 percent. Longer idle times, short charging strokes and aging also affect the performance of modern lithium-ion batteries. A fact that could influence the retention of value of electric motorcycles: while a conventional motorcycle still costs almost half its purchase price after five years, the resale value of e-bikes of this age is still an unknown quantity today. An aspect that ultimately has a say in the overall financial balance of electric mobility concepts. Also that of the fast-paced Zero SR, which can be driven with an A2 driver’s license due to lower continuous performance.
Reach country road
Zero (Eco mode, Ø 60 km / h): 156 km
Zero (sport mode, Ø 70 km / h): 91 km
A range of 156 kilometers in Eco mode marks the current top value among electric motorcycles currently in series. The most careful driving style in the city could crack the 200 kilometer mark. Brisk driving in sport mode quickly drains the battery. But then the Zero SR is one of the fast ones on the highway.
Zero SR: Air-cooled permanent magnet, brushless AC synchronous motor with recuperation function, 50 kW (68 HP) at 4000 rpm, 144 Nm, lithium-ion battery, 11.4 kWh, aluminum bridge frame, upside-down fork, Ø 43 mm, Front disc brake, rear disc brake, Ø 313/240 mm, cast aluminum wheels 3.00 x 17; 3.50 x 17, tires 110 / 70-17; 140 / 70-17, wheelbase 1410 mm, steering head angle 66.0 degrees, caster 80 mm, spring travel f / r 159/161 mm, seat height * 810 mm, ready-to-drive weight * 186 kg, payload * 161 kg, price 16,990 euros.
Honda NC 700 S.: Two-cylinder four-stroke in-line engine, 670 cm³, 35 kW (48 PS) at 6250 / min, 60 Nm at 4750 / min, tubular steel frame, telescopic fork, front disc brake, rear disc brake, Ø 320/240 mm, ABS, seat height * 800 mm, weight with a full tank * 220 kg, payload * 205 kg, tank capacity 14.1 liters, price 5730 euros, additional costs 285 euros (model 2013).
0-100 km / h
Zero (Eco mode / Sport mode): 9.6 / 5.0 sec
Honda NC 700 S: 5.5 sec
0-140 km / h
Zero (sport mode): 9.1 sec
Honda NC 700 S: 12.0 sec
Draft 60-100 km / h / 100-140 km / h
Zero (sport mode): 2.2 / 4.0 sec
Honda NC 700 S: 7.6 / 10.3 sec
Zero (Eco mode / Sport mode): 109/159 km / h
Honda NC 700 S: 160 km / h
In sport mode, the compact powerhouse Zero SR downright outclasses a mid-range motorcycle like the Honda NC 700 S. The e-bike even keeps big bikes at a distance during intermediate sprints. However, the considerable driving performance can only be called up for a short time. When accelerating repeatedly, the engine heats up quickly and reduces power. In everyday use, the greatly reduced Eco mode with a peak output of 30 hp and a top speed of 109 km / h is therefore an advantage.
Energy costs per 100 km of country road
Energy costs per 100 km of country road.
Even if the NC 700 S is one of the most economical motorcycles with 3.5 liters / 100 km, the Zero SR is still cheaper. With 7.3 kWh / 100 km (eco mode) at a price of 1.82 euros, the kilometer with the Zero costs only around a third of that with the Honda.
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