Zero’s latest tech allows sweeping upgrades to be made via an app
There’s no question we live in an instant-gratification society but the latest development from electric bike pioneers Zero takes it to a new level by offering 'over-the-air' updates that can instantly unlock functions and even increase your machine’s performance and range via in-app purchases.
- Related: 2022 Zero SR revealed
It might not have the mechanical appeal of bolting on an end can or changing carb jets, but it offers a very clear view into the future, particularly when it comes to electric vehicles.
Zero’s Cypher III+ operating system, which is part of the firm’s updated 2022 SR/F, SR/S and the new SR model, will allow the upgrades once the company’s Cypher Store launches in Spring 2022.
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Over-the-air upgrades are already becoming increasingly common in modern cars. Tesla, for instance, has long allowed buyers to spend more to improve their cars by paying to unlock software upgrades.
As long ago as 2013 the firm sold cheaper, short-range versions of its Model S that had '40kWh' batteries that were actually identical to the larger 60kWh units fitted to longer-range versions.
Owners, who saved a considerable amount by buying the short-range model, could pay a hefty fee to unlock the extra 20kWh. More recently, BMW has taken a similar route, allowing car owners to 'unlock' features like heated seats on some models, where the hardware is fitted as standard but only activated if you pay extra. Zero’s Cypher Store uses the same idea.
The new-for-2022 Zero SR is effectively a stripped-back, lower-cost version of the SR/F, with a list price of £15,790 instead of the £19,490 for the Premium SR/F. As standard, it makes 74hp and 122lb.ft of torque, powered by a 14.4kWh battery.
However, Cypher Store upgrades can bring its performance up to that of the SR/F, hiking power to 113hp, torque to 140lb.ft and enabling Bosch’s Advanced Motorcycle Stability Control system. Another finger tap can hike its battery capacity to 17.3kWh.
The options on offer vary depending on which model you have, but the 2022 SR, SR/F and the faired SR/S in either Premium or Standard forms all have a selection of over-the-air upgrades available.
It might be hard to get your head around the idea that the hardware needed for more range or performance is already present but won’t be activated until you plunder your bank account, but it’s a route that allows firms to simplify manufacturing, sharing the same components across both high and low-end models while still letting customers pay less to buy a lower-spec machine.
While there has been some controversy relating to car companies removing over-the-air upgrades when vehicles change hands, so the next owner has to pay for them again, Zero says that the improvements will remain with the bikes when they’re sold on.
If you’re paying a four-figure sum for an improvement (the 20% extended range, from 14.4kWh to 17.3kWh, on the new Zero SR or SR/S Standard costs £1825), it’s good to know that you’re also adding to the bike’s resale value.
Zero app technology explored:
A new battery pack is at the heart of the 2022 Zero SR, SR/S and SR/F. Called the 14.4+ (or 15.6+ in the SR/F) the packs can be upgraded to 17.3kWh capacity via the Cypher Store. A physical Power Tank accessory boosts the capacity further to 20.9kWh for up to 227 miles of range.
- Pay for the power The 'Speed and Performance Boost' upgrade on the new SR hikes the power and torque to SR/F levels, with 113hp and 140lb.ft, albeit at a price: It’s a hot £1495 to unlock it via theCypher Store.
- Charge for charging Other over-the-air upgrades on offer include faster charging, ranging from a 10% hike in speed for the SR for just £160 to 100% faster charging ability on the SR/S Standard, at a cost of £1245.
- New battery tech A new battery pack is at the heart of the 2022 Zero SR, SR/S and SR/F. Called the 14.4+ (or 15.6+ in the SR/F) the packs can be upgraded to 17.3kWh capacity via the Cypher Store. A physical Power Tank accessory boosts the capacity further to 20.9kWh for up to 227 miles of range.
- Get warmed up Not every over-the-air upgrade costs a fortune – owners will be able to activate on-dash navigation for £260 or, on the SR/S Standard, allow permission to use the heated grips for £160.
Zero reveal 2022 SR model plus lighter batteries and increased range
First published on 05 November 2021 by Dan Sutherland
American electric bike specialists Zero have announced three updates to their line-up for 2022, revealing a new SR naked model, plus more efficient batteries, and the ability to purchase upgrades through your mobile phone.
Starting with the latest SR, the £15,790 (Government grant included) plug-in roadster shares the same look, ZF 75-10 motor and chassis components as the £19,490 SR/F naked however produces a more modest peak power of 74bhp, plus 122lb.ft of torque.
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Down from 140lb.ft and 90bhp on the F, the new model is said to be rechargeable using public charging stations, thanks to its onboard 'Type 2' connector, with those wanting the ability to plug it into a wall socket needing to pay a little extra for an adapter.
Although a new model is exciting, range anxiety remains a big stumbling block for many used to petrol power. Zero are looking to change that though - promising up to 227 miles of city riding on a single charge on next year’s SR, SR/F and fully-faired SR/S.
Dropping to 113 miles at 70mph, all three bikes will come equipped with updated lithium-ion batteries, with the SR using the firm’s 14.4+kWh unit and the F receiving a new 15.6+kWh option. The SR/S can be equipped with either design.
Increasing capacity by up to 20%, shedding around 2.7kgs and no larger than the old 14.4kWh battery, both new systems can be further upgraded to a maximum of 17.3kWh. An optional Power Tank arriving in the first quarter of 2022 then boosts this to 20.9kWh of energy – allowing for claimed range figures of up to 227 miles mentioned above.
But how are the batteries upgraded to greater capacity? This is all done in Zero’s new 'Cypher Store' – a mobile app upgrade system that allows you to also purchase faster charging, extended range, speed and performance boosts, heated grips, satellite navigation and more.
Use of the store will also allow you to upgrade the performance of your SR to match the SR/F.