I just turned over 4,000 miles riding back from coffee in Malibu this morning on my Zero SR/F, so I thought I’d write up my impressions of the bike so far. I think everyone who rides motorcycles, ICE or electric, appreciates acceleration more than any single aspect of riding. On this score, the SR/F is equal to, or better than virtually all other bikes. Whether squirting through tight spaces between lanes, launching from a green light, or powering out of a turn on the Angeles Crest Hwy., the SR/F never fails to impress. I encounter lots of bikes on Pacific Coast Hwy. (PCH), and often one or more of them will be at the front of the line at a traffic light. As an e-bike advocate, I feel obligated to demonstrate what an electric motorcycle can do, so I usually open it up on the green light. I always win those little contests, and those bikers who experience being dusted by this silent motorcycle learn to have a bit more respect for the technology.
I wonder what they think about the lack of sound when I accelerate like that? When they do it, they maximize the noise their bikes make, sometimes attracting the attention of law enforcement. One of the benefits of riding Zeros is that you get to play with the acceleration without drawing undue attention. It’s a small thing, but helpful. My second favorite aspect of the bike is its handling. After a series of Zeros in the 400 pound range, the SR/F at just under 500 pounds was slightly worrisome. The pegs also seemed problematic due to a leg cramp I got on my first test ride. Both issues went away within the first long ride. The leg cramps never happened again, and the weight of the bike “disappears” as soon as you begin rolling. Even at 2-3 mph, the bike is easily controlled, and the tighter turning radius is helpful when going very slow. But the handling on the mountain roads is where this bike shines. My body position with the slight lean forward and my legs up tighter makes the bike feel like an extension of my body. I’m 5’10”, so a taller rider might not have the same experience, but it’s as perfect a ride as I’ve ever had. I’m not the guy to review the various computer modes because I just put it in sport with traction control on and that’s how I ride. I’m sure someone in a rainy climate will find the less robust modes helpful, and hopefully they will report on them. I do like the additional info on battery temp and charging rate, plus the Bluetooth capability. Highest battery temp so far is 99 degrees. That was yesterday after the bike had been sitting in the hot sun for hours in downtown LA. Not charging or riding, but the battery got to 99 just because of the ambient temp. Within a minute of riding, it dropped 15 degrees. Seems the fins on the battery do a decent job of wicking away the heat. I got the Premium SR/F so I get 6 kW charging, actually it’s more like 5.7 kW, but that’s so much faster than the 3 kW I was used to that it feels plenty fast. Since I ride where there are lots of Level 2 chargers, most of them free, it’s not a problem, but I can easily see a future with lots of Level 3 infrastructure built out so a quick charge in 20 minutes will be in our future hopefully within another 5 years. For now, I’ve contacted The Rock Store, Newcomb’s Ranch, and Neptune’s Net about installing some L2 stations and got a good response from all three. I hope to help them install something over the next year. Having a Level 2 charger at those distant biker hangouts will allow even longer-distance riding in the mountains.
Speaking of those biker spots. I used to go there on my 2017 SR, and while everyone was friendly, they never really asked about the bike. It was a curiosity, no more. When I pull up on the SR/F, it’s a totally different experience. Immediately several people surround the bike and start asking questions. I attribute this to the appearance of the SR/F. It looks powerful. Zero was smart to make the motor that copper color, not too flashy, but it stands out enough to draw attention. I always tell other bikers to touch the motor. They can’t begin to touch their engine or pipes, and we all know why. The wasted heat energy from their inefficient IC engine can inflict third degree burns, and some riders have the burn scars to prove it. I just reach down and put my hand on my SR/F’s motor to demonstrate the lack of wasted heat energy. Again, just putting ideas into their heads. The storage compartment is pretty roomy. I like being able to plug my phone in to charge it. And sometimes I'll stop at the local Whole Foods, plug into their free Volta charger, and get a few things. Even if I don’t have my pack, I can fit quite a lot of things, including a half gallon of milk and a couple frozen entrees. Very helpful! What I don’t like about the bike is a short list, but number one is the seat. It does not fit snug to the body and those exposed corners snag my pants a lot. Also, because I have a skinny little butt, the seat gets uncomfortable after an hour and a half. That coincides pretty well with the range anyway, but I’d still like a better seat. It’s not a huge thing, but I’m going to get a custom seat as soon as someone makes a better one. I’ve had a handful of minor computer glitches, just error codes, nothing important, but the computer seems to interpret some things as having gone wrong when there is no problem. I was told by Hollywood Electrics' tech guy that they are tweaking the software so that this does not happen so often. Anyone who wants the finest motorcycling experience possible needs to buy the Zero SR/F. In my opinion, it’s the best bike on the market, all things considered. Paul Scott