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Zero -

Started by Lee337, February 04, 2024, 12:41:21 PM

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Out & about yesterday helping little brother to decide what bike to buy. He's onkly been going on about getting his bike licence for a mere 20 years but last year he finally took his CBT. This is the bit that allows you to ride a 125cc bike on the road. Unfortunately, he failed his Mod 1 (for non UK riders, that's the bit of the bike test taken off road on/in a carpark area they call a 'pad'. It usually takes around 20 minutes & you need to pass this (in the UK) before you can move on to actually taking your bike test on the road.

Anyway, after both me and one of his mates banging on at him to get a bike & get in some hours riding, he finally decided to ask for my help, which is why I found myself in our local bike shop looking at a Zero. Within less than 5 minutes, I was offered a test ride on a nice shiny blue SR/S. Who was I to pass up an opprotunity to take one out for a spin.

The salesman went through the various ride options, Eco, Standard, Sport and something called Canyon. (not including the 'Wet' mode). He described Canyon as 'like Sport but with the regen braking turned on'. He then went on to explain why he was setting it on eco & let me out of the yard. Now, I have this test route I use for both cars & bikes. It included some duel carriageway, some town & some twisties. It's a route that takes in some of the roads the local Advanced Motoring group use when conducting escorted rides at the now defunct Peterborough MCN bike show.

What was it like to ride?

I very tentatively pulled away from the shop & was first struck by the lack of noise. All you could hear was a slight whine from the electric motor. Heading through town I was a little apprehensive, not of the instant torque, or the 3.4 second 0 - 60, no, what concerned me was that no one can hear you coming. Now this is something you would probably be greatful for as a teenager when you bring your girlfriend home for the first time for a 'sleep over' but not great when riding through a city centre where the majority of pedestrians don't believe it's their responsibility to look before crossing the road.

Having said that, I only had to brake once on the way out because someone stepped out in front of me. Once up on the pasrkway (the duel carriageway surrounding the city), I opened the Zero up & frlt that torque for the first time. I have to say I was a little disappointed, until I remembered it was set on Eco mode. a quick stop and changed to Canyon mode I set off again. Now we're talking.

I found it quite difficult to stick to a constant speed. I wopuldn't say the throttle was an on/off affair, but it needed some finesse to maintain 70mph. It was all too easy for the speed to creep up, or for that matter down as you don't have any engine sound to indicate a change of speed.  In a straight line, the wind could be a factor but then it was no different to riding my Trophy. There is some wind protection from the SR/S which I suspect is more of a problem if riding the naked SR/F. Asd a commuter, it's probably fine, but for longer distances, It could be an issue for me.

What about the range?

Speaking of distances, the Zero was charged up to 110% when I set off and in the 40 miles I rode her I was keeping an eye on the range. With 89% remaining when I took it back, the range was still showing 168 miles, although I did notice that the slowrer I went, the less range it seemed to have. For example, at a steady 70mph, the range showed 177 miles, while at 40 and around town at 30mph, it barely went above 110 miles. I assume that whatever speed you're doing, it uses similar electrics, so if you're doing say 40mph and using 40 electrics, you may still be using 40 electrics when douing 70mph. so same power drain but faster equals more miles for the same (or similar) power useage. something like that anyway. If I was riding on my own and didn't have to be anywhere at a specific time, then the range wouldn't really be an issue as I could stop, grab some lunch while feeding the bike. But if I was out with my brother on his new bike, I don't think he'd be so keen to stop while the Zero recharges for 30 - 40 minutes when he can simply top up his tank with dinosaur remains & ride off. With the current (pun intended) price of electricity in the UK, it'd probabky be far cheaper filling up a gas tank than charging in a service station anyway.

What about handling

Well, I hit the twisties having ridden approx 10 miles, so was feeling confident in how the throttle launched both bike & rider forward & I have to say, my cheeks were aching by the time I go to the end of the first 6 mile stretch, both face & butt. The seat is not the most comfortable & to me, that would be another negative that would stop me buying one, but the fun factor, WOW! The Zero handles increadibly well, with the weight being low down, you don't really notice the 235kg (compared to Talyn J's 215kg wet). The riding position even though the SR/S is the faired version is comfortable (apart form the seat) as it has bars more like the Tiger than the Daytona, so no 'bum in the air' riding position like some fully faired bikes. More tourer than sports, even though it looks and handles more sports bike. I found the suspension a little hard but it is adjustable. Again , comparing it to my own bike, it was going to be hard anyway. It's down to the style of bike I'm used to. I could have taken out the DSR/X, their ADV offering as more of a direct comparrison to my everyday bike, but it wasn't charged.

The acceleration is awesome. there are other bikes that have similar 0 - 60 times and similar torque, but none deliver that torque instantly and with very little sound. I was reminded of some years ago when I was learning to fly a glider. You're in this bubble, with no sound aside from the wind whistling through the fairing and the countryside sliding silently below at speeds of up to 100mph. That's how the Zero felt, although obviously not at 100mph  :augie Overtaking cars was a simple matter of thinking about it - and sudenly you had clear road ahead of you again.

Would I buy one?

No. I couldn't justify the £20,000 price tag (new) or the £15k second hand prices they seem to command. Then there's the increased insurance costs, estimated to be around 25% motre than the equivalent ICE engined bike. Then there's the cost of charging. It's not too bad if I can plug in at home, which I'd probably do if using for commuting or the odd Sunday blast, but not for longer trips. Have you seen the price of sparks at public chargers? Talyn J does around 50mpg with a range of approx 190 miles and takes at most 5 minutes to fill up, pay and be off again. The Zero with it's theoritical range of 120 miles at high speed/commuting style riding, takes over an hour (rapid charge to 95%) or almost 3 hours standard charge. Yes, I know Marc Travels (YouTuber) is riding around the world on a Zero SR/F and charges as/when he can and if you're of that mindset and in no hurry, it can work on longer trips. But it comes down to cost again. I'm also not convinced that silent bikes work well when it comes to safety. I mentioned the pedestrian who stepped out in front of me on the way out. I had another one do the same on the way back, one car on the duen carriageway pull in front of me to overtake another car, I'm not certain that would have happened if he'd heard Talyn J behind him, and two cars pull out in front of me at a roundabout. Yes it may have been innatentive drivers, looking at their phone, or a particularly well endowed lady waiting to cross the road, but it could also have been down to me riding a virtually silent bike, something that drivers, especially around my local area aren't used to - we don't even have that many eScooters here.

So the Zero SR/S is a good, fun and quick bike to ride, I throughly enjoyed my hour's ride, but I'm not ready to switch to electrickery.

So, what did your brother buy?

He messaged me while I was away in Newcastle earlier in the week asking me what trhe Suzuki GSX-S125 was like. How I was supposed to know is anyone's guess, I haven't so much as looked at a 125cc bike in over 40 years. This is why we found ourselves on Saturday morning at the local bike shop. There was a Suzuki GSX-S125 just inside the door, which we both sat on. He felt nice & comfortable sitting on it, all the controls were just right & the new price was in his budget, and he liked the colour. But before rushihg to the nearest salesman, I thought I'd have a look at what else they had to offer. The shop was also main dealer for Kawasaki, Honda, Mutt and Aprilia. After a coffee & 1/2 hour wandering around, by which point I was firmly in discussions with the Zero rep, negotiating a test ride, my little brother tapped me up for a l(payday) loan of £100 to put a deposit down on a new

Aprilia Tuono 125.

He picks it up in 3 weeks.   :wheel

No matter how smart you are you can never convince someone stupid that they are stupid.


I do like those Zero's. The price is a bit steep, but then you also offset that with the fuel costs. After all, it is cheaper to charge at home than it is to charge your bike at a gas station. ;) The range is an interesting observation. The thing is that the dash will relate a riding style it knows to the situation it is in and through that calculate the expected range. I can understand that that will be expected to be less around town with lots of stop and go traffic than it is on the motorway where you just do a single speed for a long time. I have seen that range seems to vary a lot with temperatures and wind etc. 

But I love the ride. It feels like you are strapped to a rocket with 100% of its power available at any time. Even at high speeds. My only thought was whether I was stong enough to keep holding on to it.  :icon_rolleyes: :icon_lol:
2008 Triumph Street Triple R | Ex Triumph Tiger 900 T400 1993, Tiger 800XC 2011


My old boss got a Electric Audi recently. Went from London to Manchester, and on the way back had issues with finding working or unused chargers etc and a 4 hours journey ended up being 7 hrs.
The infrastructure is just not ready..