Before riding an electric motorcycle, you need to be ready to call into question many things, as the preconceptions and café’s chit-chat. It’s not exactly our case, we have always viewed electric motorbikes with a special interest, we do really want to have a very long test ride lasting 10 days to understand how and where to ride an electric motorbike during our everyday life.
The answer is quite simple: always and everywhere, but obviously trying to change some habits, mainly as regards refueling. Let’s go step by step, first of all the bike: a Zero Motorcycle SR model
a flaming red naked style with some high quality parts, for example the shock absorber pack, fully adjustable, branded Showa. We picked up the bike in the store in Milan, run by the guys of EMove-me, specialized on electric transport world. After a very quick lesson concerning the main principles about handling the electric bike, we soon get on the bike. Trying not to waste time we ride the motorcycle during the working movements in the city of Milan, familiarizing ourselves with two different pre-set control unit maps and playing with the associated app to customize the control unit map as we prefer. So, a motorcycle that works almost like a smartphone, actually it works better, it’s possible to set the standards of the map just connecting the phone to the motorcycle via Bluetooth, you can adjust the maximum torque delivered, the maximum speed, the motor brake.
On the electric motors, the guys told us that these standards have heavy effects on the consumption and therefore on the mileage. The “sport” map provides great speeding up supported by all the available power of the motor, the “eco” map cuts both the torque delivered (the speed up is slow) and the available maximum speed. While I’m playing with the computer board, I realize that we can’t go unnoticed, the bike doesn’t make any noise, except the hisses of the motor. We ride in full silence. You must pay attention when you’re riding in town, because many pedestrians and cyclists get surprised when you’re close to them and they didn’t here you come
It’s such a pleasure to ride in the urban centre, it’s slim on the sides and agile, you can easily ride in slow-moving traffic without any problem. Out of town in the corners, the entry for the corners is a bit “strange”, this sensation is due to the high centre of gravity of the bike, because of the additional battery pack. But it’s just a matter of getting the hang of it and the next step is to go out and play with the superbikes petrol fuelled. It’s not a foregone conclusion that the petrol fuelled will win. I have mentioned the additional battery pack; the SR model is born with a 13 Kwh battery pack, but the model I tried has been equipped with an optional of 3 Kwh more installed under the false tank, that loses the function of glove compartment. The entire battery pack of 16 Kwh enables to ride even more in term of mileage (about the 20% more than the base model) but the bike got heavier, 20 kg more, quite a lot. Talking about optional, if I had to choose I would prefer a charge tank, rather than an additional battery pack. The charge tank makes it possible to shorten the charging time (about 3 hours); a full charge could take at least 8 hours, with a regular socket of 220v.
Not radically, if you only criticize electric motorcycle on the grounds that in Italy hydrocarbons are burnt to produce electricity, you don’t have a hook. After all, this is the truth, mind you, I’m not refuting this theory, but let’s just do the math: the price of a Kwh in our country is about 0,23 Euros. It takes about 16 Kwh “to fill up” the SR, so the overall cost of the refueling is 0,23 x 16 = 3,68 Euros. The driving range varies according to the riding style, it may vary between 160 km to 200 km, so the average consumption is about 17 km/L of fuel. The gas’ price is 1,45 Euro per liter, it follows a cost of 0,085 per km, so the price is four times higher. Mind you I’m not here to convince you that the electric motorcycle is a miracle or it’s the only possible future, but I just want to encourage you to think about this type of transport more concretely.
The driving range: if 200 km seem to you a small number, they are only if you want to take a long ride with friends, the usual 400 km long ride … but I should point out that you can find an electrical socket almost everywhere and with the “charge tank” also a lunch break can help. Let’s make the opposite example and you use to ride this Zero motorcycle mainly for the rides to and from work and for the shorter movements. In this case 200 km of driving range are more than enough. For example, during my long test, I didn’t have to charge the battery every day. Having said that, admitted that your office is 100 km from home, you are not leaving before 6 hours, aren’t you? While you are at work, the motorcycle is recharging, a cable is enough, kind of like a PC monitor cable.
On the road, the bike is fast and accelerates greatly. I’ve said it before, I don’t care, that’s fine, I repeat. The position on the bike is good, but over long distance the legs are getting a little sore. The saddle is huge, even for the passenger, but not enough padded, pretty stiff. Some components are valuable, but others can be improved, for example the rear brake, that was noisy and too ineffective, at least on the bike we tested. On the other hand, the front brake, despite of having one disc only, it works great.
The air protection is low, almost inexistence, as in all naked bikes. You don’t feel the weight (208 kg our bike, with the additional battery) even during the slower maneuver, mainly due to the proper height of the saddle, which provides to be stable on the ground. I’m a little doubtful about the quality of some plastic parts, that can be improved. Instead, the suspension pack is amazing, fully adjustable to choose and customize the ride-height of this SR. The bike we tested isn’t equipped with the glove box, because the only one available “has been stolen” by the “power tank”, in case you want to carry around the charge cable, it’s better to come up with something, but fortunately the cable is light.
A final look to the design, so nice, maybe it can be more distinctive, but the next thought is that so difficult for an electric motorcycle to be considered as a viable alternative, just imagine how it can be with a freaky design. In the end, as lovers of loud exhaust, gasoline smell and of the thunder caused by an internal combustion engine, we give an entirely positive vote to this Zero motorcycle, we move towards this direction trying to test and speak about all the electric bike that the market will make available to us.
And, as usual, the motto is “first try and then criticize”.
Pictures by Carlo Flaminio
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