2014 Zero SR Review

Love or hate the idea of an electric moto, you have to love the beauty of progress. When Zero Motorcycles of Santa Cruz, Calif., (yeah – American made!) came out with their S model in 2011, it was ground-breaking.

Fast forward to 2014, and Zero’s SR has taken things to an all-new level. Top speed reaches 102 mph versus 67 mph on the previous generation; horsepower rises to 67 from 25; and the modest range of 43 miles on a charge is now a useable 171 miles. Progress? I’d say so.

After riding Zero’s 2013 S mode, my main complaint was a fairly weak suspension. But other than that, I was blown away by the linear torque it provided and its lightweight flickability.

For 2014, Zero’s flagship naked streetfighter  – dubbed the SR (yes, R for racing) – arrives with updated suspension and a host of other upgrades.

After riding the previous year’s model, this change was immediately noticeable and greatly appreciated. That linear torque also improved, allowing 0 to 60 mph in under 4 seconds.

Impressive, especially when you can do that with barely any sound emanating from the moto save for a slight whine from the belt drive. To be honest, though, that aspect of an electric moto can be a bit daunting at times.

At night on side streets you realize that the only real warning a pedestrian or animal might have of your approach is your headlight. After having a jogger run directly in front of me causing me to have an unexpected off-road adventure, I experienced the concern and consequences of a relatively silent ride, up close. Therefore it’s important to mention that heightened attention to your riding environs is a definite requirement if you choose to mount an electric bike.

In general, the most noticeable thing about riding an electric moto versus an internal combustion machine is that it just feels totally counter intuitive and fresh. You feel like you should not be able to do it. The silence, the all-out performance and the effect of flying through space sans any vibration, heat or exhaust smell is simply surreal and transformative. Although I love my current ride – a Yamaha FJR – when my budget allows for it, I will definitely be buying a Zero SR.

Speaking of budgets, the 2014 SR retails for $16,995 for the 11.4 kWh version and $19,490 with the power tank, which is essentially a large, additional battery placed where a gas tank would normally go or in Zero’s case, a storage compartment.

When you only have tires and brake pads to consider as far as servicing, that’s a huge incentive. It’s also fun to use the smartphone App that Zero offers for free, to set up your top speed, torque as well as brake and engine regeneration when you’re in Custom ride mode (there is also an Economy and a Sport mode).

Clearly the value for the money is there in the opinion of over 30 international, national and local law enforcement, security and military agencies. In fact, The Burbank Police Department in California recently purchased police motorcycles from Zero to add to the department’s patrol fleet.

Zero had developed the Zero SP, Zero DSP and all-new Zero FXP models to meet the specific requirements of law enforcement and security agencies. Powered by the 100-percent electric Z-Force motor, the Burbank Police Department selected the Zero DSP motorcycle for its stealth, versatility, low cost of operation, hassle-free maintenance, and minimal environmental impact.

“The integration of the dual purpose electric motorcycles will provide the Burbank Police Department with the ability to expand our existing enforcement efforts, which we believe will improve the level of service we provide to our community,” said Lieutenant Jay Hawver of the Burbank Police Department Traffic Bureau.

“We continuously look for opportunities to introduce new technology when practical and applicable. The addition of the new electric motorcycles will put the City of Burbank out in front of our partner law enforcement agencies as a pioneer in the implementation of this new and exciting technology.”

“Zero Motorcycles designed and engineered the police motorcycles based upon direct feedback from patrol officers. We are honored to have the continued support of law enforcement and security agencies and are thrilled that the Burbank Police Department will be using Zero police motorcycles in their fleet,” said Kevin Hartman, Zero Motorcycles fleet sales director.

For detailed information regarding Zero’s Police line-up, including video testimonial, please visit www.zeromotorcycles.com/fleet.

Every year Zero sets the bar higher and 2015 looks to bring more of that same, amazing progress. Stay tuned for that but in the meantime, if you want to recapture the feeling you got the very first time you threw a leg over a moto, you must find a way to get your butt in the saddle of a Zero SR.

It brings back the indescribable experience of your first ride every time you twist the throttle. Progress is indeed a beautiful thing and Zero is living proof of that beauty.