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I tested the best electric motorcycle on the market: revolution or dead end ?

© Robin Sabbadini for Lemon Squeezer

Having spent 90% of my motorcycling life on a 1200 cc Indian Scout Bobber, it is easy to say that my opinion could be biased by the omnipotence of this thermal model, as torquey as it is noisy.

However, the American brand Zero Motorcycles has aroused great interest in me, by offering models of electric motorcycles with absurd performances, all with an interesting autonomy. It was therefore with the aim of experiencing the daily life of an electric biker that I tested the Zero SR/F for a week.

A premium design for an imposing machine

At first glance, the Zero SR/F seduces with its resolutely modern look . Its refined design, combining fluid lines and aggressive angles, gives it a futuristic, high-end roadster aesthetic.

I tested the best electric motorcycle on the market: revolution or dead end ?

© Robin Sabbadini for Presse-citron

I tested the best electric motorcycle on the market: revolution or dead end ?

© Robin Sabbadini for Presse-citron

The finishes are neat and demonstrate a desire to position the product in the premium segment of the market. Visually, the machine is imposing, despite its absence of motor, replaced here by a large battery.

A look that will not have failed to turn many heads during my visit in complete acoustic discretion.

It's especially at start-up that the surprise operates with almost total silence, only broken by a slight electric whistle. A disconcerting absence of noise as the appearance of the SR/F could indicate powerful roaring of thermal engines.

A very relative notion of comfort

Who says high-end roadster says roadster all the same. So, you should not count on the comfort of the saddle, it becoming as flat as a flounder in 30 minutes of piloting.

I tested the best electric motorcycle on the market: revolution or dead end ?

© Robin Sabbadini for Presse-citron

As for the driving position, I found this one this a little too forward. With its exceptional performance, Zero's motorcycle requires powerful braking here, which in this position quickly causes pain in the wrists.

Ideal for anyone who would like to ride the SR/F the perfect motorcycle, will therefore eventually be to change handlebars to adopt a less sporty position, but also to adopt the touring saddle offered by the brand .

Fortunately, the Showa suspension and fork provide a good compromise between handling and shock absorption. Note also that as standard, the motorcycle offers heated handles which are particularly useful in extending the season.

I tested the best electric motorcycle on the market: revolution or dead end ?

© Robin Sabbadini for Presse-citron

I tested the best electric motorcycle on the market: revolution or dead end ?

© Robin Sabbadini for Presse-citron

I also noticed here a very pleasant aspect specific to the electric motorcycle. Not needing space to place a fuel tank, the Zero SR/F has the luxury of offering a “frunk”, this 3.6 liter front trunk in which it will be possible to store the charging cable, as well as a pair of gloves and other small items.

A high-tech motorcycle, but still incomplete

In this tank box there are also two USB ports which will be useful for charging smartphones. Now let's talk about the user interface, centered around the 5” color TFT screen and the Cypher III+ system.

I tested the best electric motorcycle on the market: revolution or dead end ?

© Robin Sabbadini for Presse-citron

The Zero Next Gen application allows you to calculate the savings made in comparison with a gasoline model, to check the remaining autonomy, but also to program the charge so that it takes place only during off-peak hours.

I tested the best electric motorcycle on the market: revolution or dead end ?

© Robin Sabbadini for Presse-citron

Strangely, Zero has decided to block certain features behind a blind where you will have to pay again to take advantage of them. With a motorcycle at a very high price, it is regrettable to have to pay even more to take advantage of, for example, the extended charge, which allows you to recharge the SR/F to 110%, and thus benefit from a greater autonomy.

However, we will like the possibility of personalizing the driving modes with great precision. Below is a screenshot of our custom mode called “Lemon”

I tested the best electric motorcycle on the market: revolution or dead end ?

© Robin Sabbadini for Presse-citron

Given the high tech aspect and the premium price of the SR/F, the most disturbing point here is the absence of Android Auto and Apple Carplay. A completely missed opportunity, when we know that this integration has been available for more than 4 years now on certain models of thermal motorcycles. Too bad, you will have to settle for purchasing a smartphone holder, or concentrate on the exceptional performance of the SR/F.

Outstanding performance for perfectly healthy behavior

On the road, the 110 horsepower delivered by the electric motor offers me an exhilarating experience. The acceleration is dazzling, almost violent, with no latency. The instantaneous torque of 190 Nm (90 more than my Scout Bobber) requires hanging on to the handlebars, providing great starts and lightning speeds.

I tested the best electric motorcycle on the market: revolution or dead end ?

© Romain Vitt for Presse-citron

It's where the performance delivered by an electric motorcycle takes on its full meaning. With power available immediately and without delay, it's easy to get out of any potentially dangerous situation. The belt transmission and the absence of a gearbox offer linear and smooth progression, a real pleasure to drive.

No d&amp noise ;#8217;deafening exhaust during long trips was also pleasant for me. An observation which highlights the importance of having headphones with optimal sound insulation, in order to reduce wind noise.

The electric motor is flexible, the chassis of the motorcycle and its behavior perfectly healthy. It must be said that the distribution of the weight of the motorcycle concentrated on the battery gives it a low center of gravity. The Zero SR/F, despite weighing 235 kg, offers excellent balance and tough handling.

I tested the best electric motorcycle on the market: revolution or dead end ?

© Robin Sabbadini for Presse-citron

I tested the best electric motorcycle on the market: revolution or dead end ?

© Robin Sabbadini for Presse-citron

I tested the best electric motorcycle on the market: revolution or dead end ?

© Robin Sabbadini for Presse-citron

We will also appreciate its reverse gearfor parking maneuvers, even if it requires a good time of adaptation, this being very quick.

I tested the best electric motorcycle on the market: revolution or dead end ?

© Robin Sabbadini for Presse-citron

The power of the machine requires effective braking, here ensured by J. Juan calipers showing the height of performance. I also liked to rely on one of the specificities of a model without polluting emissions: electric regeneration. Adjustable on several levels, it simulates an effective engine brake when the “throttle” is released. Electric vehicle enthusiasts will be aware of the concept, which also helps to recover energy in order to optimize the machine’s autonomy.

A rather good autonomy for an electric mount

For bikers who are used to taking long road trips, autonomy will be the major weak point of an electric motorcycle model. Zero’s SR/F nevertheless offers a large 17.3 kWh battery with an average consumption according to our data of 146 Wh/km during mixed use. According to the American brand, the bike offers a range of 283 km in the city, and 183 km in mixed use.

While this represents more than sufficient autonomy for everyday journeys, it is difficult to envisage long crossings without careful planning. Recharging will not help change this state of affairs, the fast charge option (paid) takes 1h30, and the standard charge takes 2h40. Suffice to say that the bike is clearly not designed for long rides from sunrise to sunset, otherwise you will have to wait as long to recharge it frequently.

I tested the best electric motorcycle on the market: revolution or dead end ?

© Robin Sabbadini for Presse-citron

La SR/F shines in its urban use/short walks or for commuting. Here, autonomy is no longer a problem, and its driving energy is a truly comfortable choice. Indeed, no more stops at the pumpwhere you have to remove your equipment, risk dirtying your tank and even worse, almost fall because of the puddles of gasoline left by careless motorists.

When you use an electric motorcycle, you plug it in in the evening to find it 100% charged the next morning. A real pleasure in using the machine on a daily basis.

A completely prohibitive price

Motorcyclists will obviously be even more difficult to convince than motorists when it comes to electric motorcycles. Clearly, it's not the cost of Zero's SR/F that will encourage them to take the plunge immediately. The 2024 edition of the machine is sold at the exorbitant price of 23 190 euros, not counting the various paid features offered in the manufacturer's application.

We must certainly not forget the reduced costs of use, whether in terms of electricity and maintenance at a much lower price. However, it will take many years and tens of thousands of kilometers before such a significant purchase amount can be recouped. If it were necessary to find a thermal equivalent, the Kawasaki Z1000 would be a very relevant competitor.

With a price starting from 12,799 euros for the Japanese, the Californian company is asking almost double for its electric roadster. Suffice to say that you will have to be very wealthy or have a powerful ecological conscience to choose electrification here.

Our opinion on the Zero SR/F and the viability of the electric motorcycle concept

The Zero SR/F demonstrates the incredible performance potential that s electric motorcycles can offer. The Zero motorcycle provides a different and particularly exhilarating driving pleasure, offering significant comfort in daily use. However, it also highlights the challenges that remain regarding the electrification of motorcycles.

Its impressive performance and driving comfort make it an alternative credible to thermal motorcycles for certain uses, particularly urban and peri-urban. However, the limited autonomy and the abusive price can only slow down the adoption of this type of machine.

Too imposing and too expensive, the batteries and their technology are not yet sufficiently advanced to produce models at acceptable prices. However, the rapid evolution of battery technologies suggests significant progress in terms of autonomy and charging time in the years to come. Technologies such as solid batteries or supercapacitors could revolutionize the sector, removing the main current obstacles to the mass adoption of electric motorcycles.

I tested the best electric motorcycle on the market: revolution or dead end ?

© Romain Vitt for Presse-citron

The autonomy and the price must evolve significantly so that the concept removes every doubt from bikers ready to take the plunge. The development of the charging infrastructure will also be decisive in the adoption of this type of machine.

It must also be said that the electric motorcycle is only just beginning, and that this SR/F already offers a great overview of the wonders that this new technology can offer . One thing is certain: it opens up exciting new perspectives for the future of mobility on two wheels. It remains to be seen whether tomorrow's progress will be sufficient to overtake motorcyclists' passion for the roar of thermal engines, which for the moment is not the case here, due to a prohibitive price.

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Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116