ZERO SR S (2022 - on) Review

Highlights

  • Range and charging time make electric power viable
  • Dynamic - is right up there with the best sports-tourers
  • It can go backwards. No, really, proper reverse...

At a glance

Power: 110 bhp
Seat height: Medium (31.0 in / 787 mm)
Weight: High (518 lbs / 235 kg)

Prices

New £22,240
Used £19,000

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Zero’s latest SR/S Premium has the potential to impress. Introduced last year and already a capable and well-equipped sports tourer, the 2022 version is upgraded with a battery that’s not only lighter but also stores more juice.

There’s a revised operating system. And there are new ‘Cypher’ upgrades available too, unleashing more power, greater range and clever tricks like built-in sat-nav and reverse. Yes, as in going backwards. It’s the electric bike that could finally convince doubters. Like me.

I’m less than enthusiastic about electric motorcycles. There are several reasons. I don’t believe electric is a one-size-fits-all answer to internal combustion’s various issues, lack faith in the infrastructure, and worry about the longevity of some products.

But the main reason is that I tested some of the early electric bikes about ten years ago and thought they were... well, a bit pants.

2022 Zero SR/S on UK roads

However, the Zero proves electric can be not only practical but also bloody enjoyable. Fast? Very. Engaging? Extremely. Practical and usable? Yes, all that. The SR/S is a great bike that I genuinely love riding and shows electric bikes now really are worthy of attention. Imagine a silent and refined (and faster) Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX, and you’re just about there.

It doesn’t convince me that electric is the future, though. A leading automotive engineer who I know says in five years we’ll still be producing as many internal combustion engines as today, and we’ll be using synthetic fuel and decarbonised petrol.

And there’s still no escaping that the Zero SR/S is expensive, especially given its battery will gradually deteriorate over time (like the one in your phone). There’s also the fact that, compared to other £22k bikes, the SR/S doesn’t have the special feel or top-end chassis spec I’d expect.

However. What the Zero certainly does is show that electric is definitely part of motorcycling’s future. It’s clean, quiet and has excitingly low running costs, and – in the case of the SR/S – gives us bikes that are great to ride.

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
4 out of 5 (4/5)

There’s a smoothness to the Zero. It comes from having rev ‘n’ rip propulsion, no gears and almost silent operation, but it carries through to the handling and ride. The SR/S rolls cleanly into turns, steers with a great mix of agility and reassurance, and the damping action of the sportily firm suspension is silky.

It uses Showa’s big-piston forks and piggyback shock, like the sort of thing you’ll find on a Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX. They’re fully adjustable and ‘separate function’ with bouncing duties shared out between the legs.

It’s a far more refined chassis than featured on older Zero roadster models, and up there with petrol-fuelled rivals like the 1000SX and Suzuki GSX-S1000GT for both ride quality and handling. The only strange thing is that with no engine noise you realise just how much racket a bike chassis makes when dealing with larger imperfections.

Brakes are from J.Juan, a Spanish company owned by Brembo. They’re perfectly adequate, and have the reassurance of Bosch cornering ABS.

2022 Zero SR/S J.Juan front brakes

Engine

Next up: Reliability
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The bike has Zero’s latest ZF75-10 motor which gives 110bhp and a whopping 140 lb.ft of torque – that’s 65% more than Harley’s LiveWire and 29 pound-feet more than Suzuki’s intergalactic Hayabusa.

And the SR/S is fast. In its racier modes it’ll cannon from 40 to 80mph in a little over three seconds, which is quicker than… well, anything. Yet this awesome thrust is not only delivered almost silently, but also fabulously smoothly.

Previously the SR/S had a 14.4kWh battery and was good for an average of about 80 miles. The Standard model still does, but this updated Premium version gets a 15.6kW battery. In normal riding it gives a range of around 95 miles, which is greater improvement than the increase in capacity would suggest (or maybe I’m slower than the previous tester).

2022 Zero SR/S left-hand bend

Range alters widely with riding style. Select a fruity mode, risk briskly and you’ll get 70 miles, but sticking to the speed limit and accelerating gently gets 120-odd. There’s an optional 3.6kW ‘power tank’ that occupies the storage area in the dummy tank, though it’s £3349.

Plugging the Zero into my house, it takes almost 4 hours to go from 43% charged to 95% (the final 5% takes 30 minutes regardless of charging method to maintain battery health, so using the time to 95% is best for comparisons).

This means 7hrs 15mins to go from empty to 95% on my three-pin plug. But refilling the Zero using a ‘type 2’ three-phase charging point makes use of the SR/S Premium’s upgraded 6kW system, and it’ll go from empty to 95% in just over two hours.

2022 Zero SR/S front

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
4 out of 5 (4/5)

It looks and feels a well-made thing. Panels aren’t flappy, paint isn’t thin, castings and plating don’t scream cheapo, and with Bosch electronics, Pirelli tyres and J.Juan brakes there’s a sense of quality.

This extends to the colour TFT dash too, plus the low-mounted mirrors that fold cleanly out the way with a worryingly satisfying action. Only one or two bits let the SR/S down, such as dated switchgear that doesn’t have the high-class feel you expect on a £22k bike.

Reliability should be excellent. Zeros don’t have a reputation for going wrong, and there aren’t exactly many moving parts in the drivetrain. There’s the electric motor, and, er… that’s about it. There’s a final-drive belt that’s maintenance free for its 24,000-mile life, too.

Zero give a five-year unlimited-mile battery warranty and it’s designed to last the lifetime of the bike, though I’d worry about longevity and residual value if I was doing 20,000 miles a year. Using Zero’s figures as a guide, it’s reasonable to expect the battery to have lost almost 40% of its capacity (and hence range) by the time it’s done 100,000 miles.

2022 Zero SR/S footpeg and detailing

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
3 out of 5 (3/5)

Running the SR/S doesn’t cost much. Last year the average UK price for a kWh of domestic electricity was 18.9p, which we multiply by the Zero’s battery capacity to get recharge cost.

That’s 15.6 x £0.189, meaning just £2.94 to refill the SR/S. That’s not much for a range of 95 miles. In fact, with unleaded petrol currently averaging £6.64 a gallon (£1.46/litre) it’s like getting 214mpg from a petrol engine. Wow.

Using the Zap-Map app reveals there’s now a staggering amount of public charging points available, including free ones at some supermarkets. I never realised there were so many local to me.

2022 Zero SR/S storage space in the tank

Don’t assume all electricity costs the same, though. Forecourt and service station charging points can have higher fees – Shell’s Recharge is 45p per kWh, so recharging the SR/S is seven quid. Mind you, that’s still like getting 100mpg.

You also get free road tax. Yes, free.

While these figures are excellent, let’s not overlook the £22,240 asking price. Oh, plus £445 for the ‘wall adaptor’ (charging lead) so that you can use the bike. That’s a lot of money compared to the class-defining Ninja 1000SX. Double the price, in fact.

If you’re doing massive miles each year and are keen to save the polar bears then you could probably make the running cost and purchase price balance out – but though the Zero is great to ride, its dynamic and equipment still aren’t twenty-two grand level.

2022 Zero SR/S right side

Equipment

3 out of 5 (3/5)

Spec levels are good. There’s a colour TFT display with switchgear operation, cruise control, heated grips, Bosch MSC with cornering ABS and traction control, five modes (rain, eco, standard, sport, canyon), adjustable engine/regenerative braking, and endless set-up choice.

It’s not standout, though – the Zero doesn’t have the semi-active suspension, radar-controlled cruise or full-bling goodies of other £22,000 bikes.

Like KTMs (and most cars) the SR/S also comes with built-in extras that you pay to unlock. These Cypher III upgrades are desirable, but not cheap: releasing an extra 1.7kWh of battery for 10% more range is £1075, and speeding-up charging by 17% costs £495.

Add on-dash navigation (£260) and parking mode with reverse (£160), plus £445 for a ‘wall adaptor’ charging cable that surely should be included, and you’re at £24,515.

2022 Zero SR/S TFT dash

Specs

Engine size -
Engine type Permanent magnet AC motor
Frame type Steel tube trellis
Fuel capacity -
Seat height 787mm
Bike weight 235kg
Front suspension 43mm USD fork, fully adjustable
Rear suspension Monoshock, fully adjustable
Front brake 2 x 3200mm discs with four-piston calipers. ABS
Rear brake 240mm disc, one-piston caliper
Front tyre size 120/70 ZR17
Rear tyre size 180/55 ZR17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 214 mpg
Annual road tax £22
Annual service cost -
New price £22,240
Used price £19,000
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two years (five for batteries)

Top speed & performance

Max power 110 bhp
Max torque 140 ft-lb
Top speed 124 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 95 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

2020: Zero SR/S sports-tourer released. Based on the naked SR/F, it has a softer chassis set-up, more comfortable ergonomics and a full fairing, but also their most powerful electric motor so far with 110bhp. There are Standard and Premium (heated grips, more powerful charger) versions.

2022: SR/S Premium updated with a larger yet lighter battery and pay-to-unlock extras, including faster charging and on-dash navigation.

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