Event Reports

Zero Test Ride - Friday 23rd September 2022

Rep Steve and Deputy Rep Chas went to the Zero electric motorcycle test ride event at Not Your Average Bikes in Ossett on Friday 23rd September. Zero motorcycles bring along their fleet of demo bikes to their network of dealers in a kind of a roadshow, which can then be taken on escorted test rides (although NYA bikes do have their own demonstrators available for test rides, and to be fair, you would get a longer test ride if you went through them). However, the test ride event was the perfect excuse to try a Zero electric bike, something that I had been planning to do for ages.

The bikes myself and Chas were given to test ride was the Zero SR/S. This is a fully faired 600cc 'equivalent' bike.

Zero SR/S

Zero SR/S

We were given a bit of instruction on how they worked and once a previous group returned from their test ride, we were able to have a go ourselves.

Zero SR/S

Zero SR/S

Standard set-up for the brakes i.e. right handlebar lever for the front brake, and right brake pedal for the rear brake, but no clutch lever nor gear shift pedal on the LHS. Lots of different riding modes, which included Eco, Normal and Sport. We started out in Normal until we got used to it.

I was actually slightly nervous before the test ride thinking if I hiccupped I'd be thrown off the back of the bike as it accelerated away at warp speed. However, I need not have worried because the bike was very easy to ride and completely unintimidating. The riding position is good, bike is nicely balanced and handles well. It's not silent on the move as the electric motor makes a muted whirring noise, but when you pull up at a junction it is completely silent, which seems very strange, and has you reaching for the non-existent clutch lever thinking you have stalled it. But then you simply open the throttle and away it effortlessly goes. Also notable is that you do get engine braking which I didn't really expect you would, shut the throttle off and it does start to brake just like a petrol engined bike. In fact, you start to time to perfection slowing down for junctions without having to use the brakes.

It wasn't long before I put it into Sport mode and wound the throttle on, and yes, you do leave your stomach behind as it accelerates at warp speed. What is quite noticable when you are a bit heavy handed on the throttle though is how fast the available range drops off - a couple of spirited accelerations in Sport mode saw 10 miles dropped in the space of a minute. According to James at NYA bikes, if you do use it's performance a lot, the range drops to about 80 miles. I can't help thinking you would be plagued with range anxiety if you were on unfamiliar roads and had a distance to cover. In Eco mode (which is not sluggish), you do get a re-charge when you brake , but I still think you'd still be fixated on how long you had left.

We both really enjoyed the test ride and it was a very nice bike to ride. The seat is a little bit on the hard side and my bike rattled a bit over potholes (don't know whether that was because it was a demo bike and had seen a bit of 'action', or whether they all do it). The back brake didn't seem that powerful although the front was more than adequate.

Technical Specs

Peak torque: 140 ft-lb (190 Nm)
Peak power: 110 hp (82 kW)
Continuous power: 54 hp (40 kW)
Top speed (max): 124 mph (200 km/h)
Top speed (sustained): 110 mph (177 km/h)
Required licence: Full A licence
Range: City - 187 miles (301 km); Highway, 55 mph (89 km/h) - 114 miles (183 km); Highway, 70 mph (113 km/h) - 93 miles (150 km)
Charge time (standard): 2.7 hours (110% charged) / 2.0 hours (95% charged)
Charge time (With 6 kW Rapid Charger): 1.6 hours (110% charged) / 1.0 hours (95% charged)
Seat height: 31.0 in (787 mm); Accessory, low: 30.3 in (770 mm); Accessory, tall: 31.9 in (810 mm)
Curb weight: 518 lb (235 kg)
Carrying capacity: 482 lb (219 kg)
Standard motorcycle warranty: 2 years
Power pack warranty: 5 years/unlimited miles
MSRP: £23,995 (yes, you read that right, nearly 24 thousand pounds !!!!)

Overall Conclusion

Good Points

Good looking bike (beauty is in the eye of the beholder obviously, but I thought it's a looker)
Effortless and confidence inspiring to ride
Be a great commuter bike (especially if you can bag a free charge everyday in your works car park)
Nice riding position, bike is nicely balanced and handles very well
Phenominal acceleration when you want it
Self charging when braking in Eco mode may help with range anxiety
Less parts which need maintenance and servicing than a petrol bike, so in theory, should be cheaper in terms of maintenance and running costs
Quality cycle parts

Bad Points

It's not really an all rounder type of bike, I wouldn't want to tour on one out in the sticks, or go to a rally on one (unless it's very local)
The lack of engine noise will not appeal to petrol heads who like blipping the throttle in tunnels and like the vibration and 'soul' that a petrol engine can give to a bike. Something I hadn't thought of, but a horse riding MAG member said the lack of engine noise is a serious concern when you're sat on half a ton of horse that can move sideways at 54mph and something electric powered silently speeds past from behind
Range and charge time means it's not an improvement over a petrol bike that will have the same (or more range) but a refuel time of 5 minutes
Cost - 24 thousand pounds is a phenominal amount of money, for a bike that is not an all rounder. The price isn't coming down either, it's been consistently increasing every year since they were introduced to the UK market
There are lot's of features / upgrades on the bike that are all pre-installed but only usable for an additional fee, which simply triggers a software upgrade. This seems a bit mean when you are already paying a premium, but I believe electric cars are exactly the same.

Electric bikes do have a role in the transport mix, but at the moment at least, I can't help feeling it's a backwards step from a petrol engined bike, which has far more flexibility. Let's hope the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) ban doesn't come into force until the battery technology develops to give the genuine equivalence and convenience to a petrol engine, or other alternative and greener fuels are available.

But it was a lot of fun to ride ;-)

Zero SR/S