Traveling with the Zero SR / F: the electric challenge on two wheels

After an eccentric Birò, and a much more structured VolksWagen ID.3, we decided to face a new electric challenge and move on two wheels with one of the most interesting bikes in the new panorama: the Zero SR / F. The muscular Californian is one of those that stand out around for its aggressive lines and the full-bodied hiss that distinguishes electric motors of a certain power.

The challenge was real (here you can find the live drums), the goal is in fact to bring these new generation means to the limit and thus share limits and merits, without too many preconceptions which, at the dawn of any revolution, are always of little use for constructive purposes. So clear your mind of previous ideas and clarify (once again) the context: as with every transition, the news always comes “from above” and new technologies cost money; this is the case for computers, smartphones, TVs, cars, scooters and even motorcycles.

I expect that in a few years the prices will therefore be more affordable, a greater offer and therefore more competition, but already now the market can count on several models that, I remember, we have put together in this article. Zero Motorcycle boasts the most complete line up and it is certainly not surprising that it is particularly demanding from an economic point of view, aims high and does not hide it at all.

THE DRIVING EXPERIENCE

Having traveled over 300 km in one day gave me a precise idea of ​​comfort in the medium distance: wide handlebars, pleasant attack position and high footpegs which I found adequate for my height (173 cm), however they could be uncomfortable for a tall driver, perhaps forced to bend his legs too much.

The saddle is wide and boasts modern and pleasant lines, very aggressive; I found it a bit hard after a whole day and it doesn’t surprise me that much, we are still talking about a naked that, by definition, is not made to deal with certain long journeys. The windshield protects what it has to at high speed, it moves a lot of the wind from the torso but cannot do much else, as just said we are talking about a “naked” which is inevitably more exposed than its elder SR / S faired sister.

The handlebar controls are well positioned and easy to reach even while racing, but I would certainly have appreciated a more intuitive (and faster) mechanism for managing the on-board computer. With the lever – positioned on the left – you can also activate the heating of the knobs and navigate the menu shown on the display, or, more importantly, change the driving mode that I explain in more detail below.

Agile on the road despite the weight of 226 kg, the “tonnage” inevitably makes itself felt when cornering even though the SR / F is very precise. I was surprised by the ease of driving right from the start, despite the first few kilometers you have to “accept” it lack of clutch or any other lever on the left. Excellent front suspension (43mm Showa) which manages to drastically reduce jolts when encountering rough pavement, but I found the rear shock absorber less sweet and incisive (again Showa 40mm piston).

I would also like to underline the almost total lack of vibrations, the powerful Z-Force 75-10 engine manages to release a maximum torque of up to 190 Nm without creating particular imbalances, except those derived from the force of gravity. It is the beauty of the electric that glides smoothly with a progression capable of making any endothermic go pale.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

  • Engine: Z-Force 75-10 internal permanent magnet AC (air-cooled)
  • Maximum torque: 190Nm
  • Maximum power: 110 cv (82 kW)
  • Full speed: 200 km/h
  • Battery pack: 14.4 kWh Z-Force Li-Ion + 3.6 kWh Power Tank (6 kW integrated charger)
  • Wheels: Pirelli Diablo Rosso III 120 / 70-17 (front) and 180 / 55-17 (rear)
  • Suspensions:
    • Front – 43mm Showa fork, and 120mm travel
    • Rear – Showa 40mm piston shock with 140mm stroke
  • Brakes::
    • Front – advanced Bosch MSC system, dual 4-piston J. Juan radial calipers and 320 x 5mm discs
    • Rear – advanced Bosch MSC system, J. Juan single piston floating caliper, 240 x 4.5mm disc
  • Saddle height: 787 mm
  • Weight: 226 kg
  • Price: da 21.320€ (Standard) e 23.570€ (Premium)

DRIVING MODES THAT CHANGE THE EXPERIENCE

Even electric scooters and scooters boast different driving modes, this is nothing new, but on a motorcycle everything changes and evolves into a form of customization capable of making a difference. There are three plus a “Custom” which allows you to choose between the main parameters and adapt them to your needs, including maximum speed, power, maximum torque, regeneration (neutral) and braking regeneration.

Going from “Eco” to “Street”, for example, opens up to a better progression and less regenerative deceleration which leads to more contact with the brake. Even more evident is the transition to “Sport” which provides all 82 kW of power and a very mild “engine brake”, these steps completely change the bike and the type of riding.

It is therefore fun to be able to decide, vary according to the route and even do it while you are on the move (with your left thumb), although you are advised to do it while stationary to avoid any distraction. Before moving on to personalizing the “Custom” mode, you need to familiarize yourself with the bike and understand the advantages and disadvantages of using certain parameters, including consumption which is certainly not low.

So much technology on board, the protagonist is obviously the advanced Bosch MSC system which helps us to reduce risks, therefore traction control, braking distribution even when cornering, ABS and much more. You have the sensation of absolute control of the vehicle and a decisive, clean braking, although I must admit that in the city – in eco or rain mode – it can happen to “forget” about the levers and you can make great use of the regenerative deceleration.

REAL AUTONOMY

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Incredible but true, the consumption trend of an electric motorcycle is exactly opposite to that of the endothermic ones: they are in fact greater on the motorway or suburban than in the city, where continuous acceleration and deceleration allow a lot of regeneration. And then you don’t consume anything at the traffic lights and you stay cool (which is particularly popular in summer). Similar behavior even in the mixed out of town.

The route I took during the challenge saw me take the A7 starting from the editorial office (south Milan) to Ovada (Alessandria) and then Mornese, where I made a complete recharge to over 6.9 kW in about 1 hour and half. Of course I wasn’t completely dry and could still count on an 18% charge, which means I had to add “only” 10.5 kWh to get back to 100%. The accounts do not add up, but we must also consider an approximately 20% “reserve” which is not visible and the house guarantees for the good health of the battery pack.

In a nutshell, an (almost) full from € 4.22 to an Enel X column (€ 0.40 / kWh) after almost 140 km traveled, which means a real range of 170 km in a similar context who saw me for over four-fifths of the way on a high-speed road. However, it should be noted that I traveled between 100 and 110 km / h, if I had pushed a little more I would have reached the charging point with difficulty.

In the days before the challenge, I used it mostly in the city and found an autonomy of over 200 km, testifying to what is written above.

CONCLUSIONS

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My first goal was Genoa but when I arrived halfway I had to change my mind because I would have come to the Ligurian capital at an end and I certainly could not risk so much, moreover it made sense to deviate and take a bit of a road in the mix between Ovada and Mornese, a few tens of km between climbs and descents that allowed me to regenerate a lot and completely change consumption.

On the other hand, electric motorcycles are not yet suitable for traveling beyond a certain radius, in fact consumption rises dramatically and loses some sense compared to endothermic ones. But those who have to do many kilometers, today, know well that this segment is not yet an option, for all the others who, like me, instead travel a few tens of kilometers a day (mostly in the city or in the immediate vicinity) then everything changes. The electric motorcycle already represents a credible, fun and above all affordable reality in the long run.

Net of the refills to the columns – certainly not so cheap now – we must in fact put on the balance the many incentives that the government and regions have put on the plate, effectively cutting the final purchase price by several thousand euros (varies from region to region, increases in case of scrapping). To this they add up lower maintenance costs, lack of road tax and lighter-than-normal insurance policies, in short, the “usual” and pleasant advantages of the electric.

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However, the Zero SR / F remains a particularly expensive bike, certainly refined and also very powerful, it is certainly not just any one, it stands out around and even when driving, with an uncommon grit and very aggressive lines. I would certainly have preferred more attention to certain details: for over 21 thousand euros I expect a fully functional App (which was not the case with the Android version), better navigability within the settings and a housing for the charging socket. in the finest material.

Driving it is an experience, so before judging I suggest you try to take a ride and slowly enter this world which, we hope, will quickly become more accessible even without incentives.

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