This is a Zero SR/S, an electric motorcycle. No really, it is. And here it is in blue. Cuts quite a dash doesn't it. Seems we've finally seen the end of mass production e-bikes being such an unhappy marriage of engineering and styling. Sure, Energica's naked and sports offerings achieved this to some degree but to me those still look a bit like a two wheeled kit car. deBolex did a great job of hiding the monster battery cell beneath figure hugging aluminium fairings but that's not what you're going to get from the showroom. This Zero SR/S however is a different deal. It's svelte, neat, really well proportioned and to my mind - finished. Stick a dummy exhaust on it and it'd fool many into thinking it was the latest Kawazuki 1000 RR-R/R. I'm not usually a fan of cutting edge sportsbike design but I'm struggling to pick holes in the way the SR/S presents itself. I even like the Tron meets Panigale front lights. That's not always been the case with Zero's bikes. Look at this unsightly contraption from 2011. Yes, before a desk job and testosterone wreaked havoc on my body this is what I looked like. After testing this Zero DS I half contemplated going into business with the gent on the left to pedal the things to Londinium's tree huggers and early adopters. A few reasons made up the reticent half but mainly it just felt too early. People simply weren't ready to give up clutch levers, burbling overruns and a cheeky line of benzine up the nostrils. Especially when it cost the earth for the privilege. Nearly a decade on and our collective hand is about to be forced. You can wank on about range, charge times, shit soundtrack and kamikaze pedestrians all you like - electric motorcycles are here, get used to it. Don't get me wrong, my soul weeps when I imagine a future without screaming, flame spitting internal combustion engines and I'll definitely be burying a bottle of two stroke in the garden for my retirement so I can burn spoonfuls under the cover of darkness and inhale the fond memories. But planet earth is broken and those who think they know what they're talking about make the rules, not you or I, and they think batteries are the silver bullet. For me, it's a bit of a herring rouge but that's a globally heated debate for another day. So if we have to take a cautious step over to the darkside it may as well be on something that looks good and is properly built. You may disagree with the former but there's zero room for negotiation with the latter - the SR/S feels classy and as well put together as gas guzzlers from Bologna or Bavaria. Zero's designers were tasked with ensuring the fairings would be attached without fasteners being on show and the bolts used throughout the rest of the bike are a hex-head on the outer with a Torx centre. A small detail but something worth pointing out. Shame the same can't be said for the switchgear, that's plain cheap and plasticky. Which is annoying. If I'm riding the future I want it to feel that way before I've even twisted the key. Not the end of the world and probably being a bit picky. The rest of the bike is quality.
Suspension is from Showa and to the uninitiated here's proof that there is an alternative to Brembo and Nissin brakes, J. Juan from Spain. Jonny Rea runs this combo of suspenders and stoppers, so spec list pub stool brayers can pipe down - it's good gear, and all the better for not being anodised gaudy gold.
In fact mechanically the SR/S is essentially a naked SR/F with sporty bodywork. At it's heart is the same air-cooled AC motor but with the slippery clothing range is 13% greater. There'll be full specs and numbers at the end, as quite frankly I find writing them don quite boring so it must be even worse to read. I'll endeavour to put across what this bike actually feels like to ride.
For starters the Zero's motor is packing some serious heat. Crazy power figures just aren't real world usable, torque is where it's at if you enjoy being shoved to the back of your seat and have your arms stretched. To put the SR/S into some context, it's got about the same torques as a new Shiftcamed BMW R1250 GS. More than a Kawasaki ZZR1400 and about the only things with more newton metres of the stuff are things like Triumph's Rocket 3. Heck, even Harley-Davidson's colossal 117 cubic inch Milwaukee 8 range only has a few more than the Zero.
But the thing that knocks all of those bikes into a cocked hat is that they need to be spooled up to give these figures whereas the SR/S dishes out all of it, every last bit, from well, zero. Select Sport Mode on the dash and twist the throttle, POW! All of that thrust is delivered instantaneously.
I had been warned about this and turned up knowing I'd glue my right foot to the brake pedal to make up for the lack of clutch but it simply isn't needed. Slight caveat.... cold tyres and damp roads are not your friend if you're partial to a bit of whisky throttle. For once I'm not talking about me here. I might know someone who knows someone who spat an SR/F up the road on last year. If you've ever squeezed a moist apple seed between your finger and thumb, and been amazed at how far it'll go with so little effort, well that's what the video of the chap's disembarkment looked like. What actually happens is that you surge forward with a smooth, warp speed waft. And each time you do this your mouth curls up at the corners while your brain is computing the change of momentum combined with near silence. Once you've got the gist the smiles turn to fits of giggles, the SR/S is simply good fun.
And I say simply because that's exactly it. Sure, the lack of booming acoustics dulls the experience on a visceral level but the faff of coercing spinning mechanical components into forward momentum is gone, leaving your brain free to enjoy the purity of the rush of speed. No thinking about being in the right gear or being smooth with the clutch, just twist and
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