The Auto Trader expert verdict:
Available new from £19,645
The naked SR/F was already one of the most convincing electric bikes available. This faired version adds extra style and versatility.
Reasons to buy:
- Decent 110bhp performance
- Fairing’s extra sports style and protection
- Pleasing spec and handling
Introduced at the same time as a naked, roadster version, the SR/F, the faired SR/S is the new range-topping machine from leading electric bike manufacturer, California-based Zero, and as such combines all their advances to date. As such, both bikes are the most credible electric offerings yet, both sharing a new electric motor that is the current benchmark in electric performance, a stylish and fine-handling Ducati-style tubular steel trellis frame, decent quality cycle parts such as Sachs suspension that are on a par with most ICE machines, a new TFT dash that mirrors those of most petrol rivals and a style and all-round ability that raises the electric bike bar to (almost) that of conventional machines. This SR/S version, meanwhile, adds a stylish, protective full fairing and extra sporty style. It’s not perfect, but it’s probably the best and most credible electric bike so far.
No extreme sports machine, think of the SR/S instead as a middleweight sports tourer such as BMW’s F800GT with all the comfort and practicality that goes with it. It’s based on the more roadster SR/F but with slightly higher and wider handlebars and has a pleasingly protective screen to hide behind. As such it’s perfectly comfortable up to the limits of its battery range. But this is also no pure, extreme sportster. Although its proportions remind of the 800GT and it’s also similarly slim, the SR/S’s extra weight due to its battery means it also feel more substantial and hefty.
This is where the faired SR/S has an advantage, albeit slight, over its naked SR/F sibling – although the practicality of both, being electric, still conjures up a whole debate about range, cost per mile, ease of recharging and so on. Being mechanically the same as the roadster means the SR/S has a similar range, although improved aerodynamics may help a tad. That means up to a claimed 130 miles on one charge, in the ‘real world’ that means a more likely 80-90 and, if you take up Zero’s extra cost ‘fast charger’ option, a recharge time of under an hour. Like it’s brother the SR/S also boasts clever connectivity via a smartphone app that offers also sorts of useful, modern convenience, such as security, charger finding, charging notifications and so on. Overall, if you’re after a short-haul commuter, especially for places like London and can conveniently recharge overnight, the SR/S can make a lot of practical (and economic) sense.
Performance & braking
Again, like it’s naked SR/F brother, this is where Zero’s SR/S has raised the electric bike bar. Both bikes’ new ZF75-10 motor delivers a decent 110bhp plus, more importantly, 190Nm of torque – all of which is available from the merest turn of the throttle. The result is 0-60mph acceleration that’s blistering, thrilling and simply makes a mockery of the abilities of conventional ICE bikes – and all without recourse to a gearbox. Also, as with the SR/F, if you hold on the Zero will top out at about 125mph with 80mph cruising comfortable, although as the faired SR/S is claimed to be 13% more aerodynamically efficient both of these are more comfortable and less buffeted. Ride like that, however, and your battery range will quickly dwindle to under 60 miles. Braking is decent, too. Although the SR/S is fairly heavy, twin front discs each grasped by radially-mounted, four-piston J-Juan calipers deliver braking power and feel on a par with most comparable petrol machines.
Ride & handling
As with the naked SR/F this is another area where the faired, more sporty SR/S impresses. Although heavier than a comparable petrol-powered machine, the Zero’s chassis spec and performance is closely matched comprising as it does a neat, tubular steel trellis frame, similar to the type used for eons by Ducati, and reasonable quality, fully-adjustable suspension front and rear by Sachs, namely USD front forks and a monoshock rear which have actually been soften a tad. As a result the ride is pleasingly plush yet controlled and thanks to the riding position tweak is actually more comfortable. The SR/S’s pillion seat is longer and more comfortable, too.
This is the real ‘meat and potatoes’ of electric bike ownership and can be somewhat debatable. As with all electric bikes the basics sound tempting: there’s no road tax and its exempt from emissions charge fees in some areas. On top of that a full 80+ mile recharge will cost pennies as opposed to the likely £20 of a petrol bike. Add that up over whatever mileage or years you like and it sounds irresistible. But it’s also not the whole story. Despite Government contributions the SR/S’s new price is still nudging £20K when an equivalent petrol bike is about £10K. Practicality probably means opting for a fast charger which is extra while you’re still going to be paying for consumables such as tyres and brake pads (the SR/S is belt drive) as you would a petrol bike. On top of that there’s the issue of residual values. Whether that all that adds up to an economically tempting buying proposition is up to you.
Zero are among the longest established and most reputable of the electric bike manufacturers, its wares are generally high quality and reliable and the SR/S is its range-topping, highest quality and spec machine, so there should be little to fear. What’s more, the SR/S boasts a conventional, tubular steel trellis frame and proven cycle parts from the likes of Sachs and J-Juan. On the slight downside, the SR/S’s ZF75-10 motor is new, there remain doubts about battery life and few Zeros (or any other electric bikes) have yet done massive mileages.
Warranty & servicing
As with its sister bike, the SR/F, and indeed the whole Zero range, the SR/S benefits from the industry standard two-year, unlimited mileage, manufacturer backed warranty covering all parts and labour. Better still, the SR/S’s battery, which is the same ZF14.4 lithium-ion unit found across most of Zero’s range, gets a full five-year warranty so you should have few concerns as that’s likely to outlive your ownership of the bike. Servicing is simple and cheap, too. As the motor has so few moving parts and the rest of the bike is utterly conventional, annual servicing requires little more than an expert annual visual check.
As Zero’s top-of-the-range machine you’d expect a decent level of spec with the SR/S and you get it – up to a point. Apart from the previously mentioned decent cycle parts such as Sachs suspension and J-Juan brakes, there’s a slick new five-inch colour TFT display which displays range, speed etc and through which you can also select which of the three riding modes – Sport, Street and Eco – you prefer. There’s also cornering ABS and traction control while heated grips are also an option along with the fast charger. The fairing, meanwhile, is stylish, effective at protecting the rider from the elements and well made.
Although green issues now dominate the news and electric or hybrid cars are commonplace, electric motorcycling remains in its infancy and is likely to remain so until leading manufacturers such as Honda, BMW, Ducati and more fully get on board – but that time is approaching. Fast. In the meantimes, although Energica’s £30K Ego is an impressive sports machine and Harley-Davidson’s LiveWire are commendable, Zero’s more affordable, versatile and desirable SR/S is about as good as electric bikes currently get. Whether its performance, price and running costs convince are up to you. Our judgement is that, though good, its numbers and practicality doesn’t quite yet justify it.