2020 Zero Motorcycles SR/F Review

The deficit to internal combustion power is ever closing.

2020 Zero Motorcycles SR/F
Thoughts on the 2020 Zero Motorcycles SR/F? A competent midrange commuter with the capability of tackling sporty riding.Monti Smith

Editor’s note: The following review was written by Michael Gilbert, road test editor for Cycle World, a sibling motorcycle magazine and website of Cycle Volta. When Gilbert’s not twisting throttles, you can find him hammering around the velodrome on his track bicycle or putting in long pavement mileage on his road bike.


Call me selfish, but I was reluctant to throw a leg over the 2020 Zero SR/F. There was not a single real reason as to why—maybe it was that my previous EV motorcycle experiences have left me wanting more performance and capability, or because modern-day superbikes have become my norm. Whatever the case, the Zero sat near the bottom of my priority list.

Then came the time that I had to burn some miles aboard the SR/F (I know, life’s hard as a road test editor). The problem was sister-publication MotorcyclistOnline.com editor Adam Waheed held the motorcycle hostage out of his love for the platform. His “I’ll bring it into the office tomorrow” dragged on for weeks. “Just one more day.”

The SR/F comes equipped with a large-capacity ZF14.4 kWh lithium-ion battery, which Zero Motorcycles says is capable of 109 miles combined city and highway at 70 mph. How far did we go? We made 136 miles on mountain roads before running empty.
The SR/F comes equipped with a large-capacity ZF14.4 kWh lithium-ion battery, which Zero Motorcycles says is capable of 109 miles combined city and highway at 70 mph. How far did we go? We made 136 miles on mountain roads before running empty.Monti Smith

cw’s affinity for Zero motorcycles stems back much further than Waheed’s hoarding of the SR/F, including the Zero S and SR models tested in 2013 and 2014. Both models gained respect among CW staff for their strong relative riding performance, but noted that additional refinement was needed to truly compete with traditional, internal combustion engine-powered motorcycles—a void left to be filled by the SR/F.

Zero Motorcycles introduced the 2020 model year SR/F as a “halo product,” showcasing the pinnacle of the company’s manufacturing capabilities and looking to lead EV motorcycle development. The SR/F is highlighted by a large-capacity ZF14.4 kWh lithium-ion battery and compact ZF75-10 motor, which boasts claimed class-leading power and impressive range measurements. As standard, the Zero SR/F comes equipped with a 3kW charger for $19,495, while our test mule was the $21,495 Premium model accessorized with a 6kW rapid charger, fly screen, heated grips, and aluminum bar ends.

Zero Motorcycles SR/F’s stealthy instinct keeps unwanted attention to a minimum.
The SR/F’s stealthy instinct keeps unwanted attention to a minimum.Monti Smith

To ensure an accurate test, we strapped the Zero to the in-house Cycle World dyno to ensure an accurate power reading, where the SR/F recorded 100.2 hp at 4,500 rpm and 146.5 pound-feet of torque at 1,200 rpm. What’s more compelling than the numbers is the curvature of the Zero’s dyno graph, highlighting the instantaneous torque delivery and an ultra-linear, rider-friendly power curve.

Around town, the Zero SR/F is a highly addicting commuter. The stealthy off-the-line acceleration in Sport mode—one of five selectable ride modes, including Eco, Street, Rain, and an additional custom user setting—will crush almost any automobile without drawing unneeded attention. In fact, the Zero SR/F logged a 0-to-60 time of 3.7 seconds and a 11.83-second 116-mph quarter-mile run. That’s faster than the inline-four-powered, middleweight 2019 Honda CB650R we tested earlier this year. Roll-on numbers reflect serious performance too, the SR/F ripping from 40–60 in 1.2 seconds and 60–80 in only 1.7 seconds, while topping out at a max speed of 124 mph.

Here, we charged the Zero Motorcycles SR/F at the Outlets at San Clemente. Charge time? This Level 2 charger provided a 50-percent charge in roughly 1 hour—all for $1.25.
Here, we charged the Zero SR/F at the Outlets at San Clemente. Charge time? This Level 2 charger provided a 50-percent charge in roughly 1 hour—all for $1.25.Monti Smith

Measured range of the Zero SR/F is highly dependent on riding habits (uh, throttle happy are you?) and scenarios. In order to establish fair measurements, I designated a 48-mile testing loop that reflects real-world riding, then lapped it on several occasions in the various riding modes. The lap included 18 miles of wide-open highway and the rest a mix of stop-and-go surface streets and canyon roads. Average battery consumption on the loop was 63 percent. Maximum range during testing was achieved by Bonnier Motorcycle Group Vice President Andy Leisner, who carefully covered 136 miles of mountain roads before completely emptying the tank… I mean, battery.

Zero Motorcycles SRF full-color TFT dash provides important information, while a multifunction switch on the left handlebar allows the rider to toggle between selectable riding functions. The dashboard layout is also customizable in four quadrants.
A full-color TFT dash provides important information, while a multifunction switch on the left handlebar allows the rider to toggle between selectable riding functions. The dashboard layout is also customizable in four quadrants.Monti Smith

The charging experience of the SR/F was relatively effortless and straightforward, especially since the density of EV charging stations has significantly increased since last testing a Zero motorcycle. Level 2 charging stations offer the quickest rate of charge, providing a full 6kW capacity. Here, a 75-percent charge takes just over 1.5 hours—plenty of time to grab a cup of coffee, send a few emails, and make a couple of Instagram posts. The best part? Each charge was under $2. In comparison, the SR/F completed the same 75 percent in 3.5 hours on our in-house Level 2 charger, which is only capable of conducting 3kW per hour. A traditional three-pronged 110-volt household plug can also be used to charge the SR/F, but Zero claims a full charge will take eight hours.

Zero offers accessory chargers and battery packs to extract the most from the SR/F. An additional 6kW charger (bringing total charging capacity to 12kW) is offered for $2,400, cutting a 100-percent charge time to a claimed 1.5 hours at a competent station. An additional 3.4 kWh PowerPack will also soon be offered to SR/F owners, bumping claimed range to 201 miles in the city and 103 miles on the highway at 70 mph.

Zero Motorcycles SR/F incorporated a lockable storage box in place of a traditional fuel tank.
Zero incorporated a lockable storage box in place of a traditional fuel tank. The storage is highly usable for groceries, small bags, or other items, but is lost with the addition of the optional 3.4 kWh PowerPack. Just below is the Level 2 (J1772) charging port.Monti Smith

When escaping Southern California suburbia for the twisties, the SR/F proved to be a competent corner carver. Tipping the CW scales at 502 pounds ready to ride, the Zero requires a high amount of handlebar and footpeg input to tackle side-to-side transitions, slowly flopping into the corner. Once set, the SR/F’s solid chassis composure and top-shelf Pirelli Diablo Rosso III tires make quick work of the corners, while the Showa suspension components provide excellent damping characteristics after we dialed in the fork (more rebound damping).

2020 Zero Motorcycles SR/F
Handing over 19,495 hard-earned dollars will get you the Zero SR/F, but the Premium model we tested requires $21,495. What’s it get you? A fly screen, heated grips, aluminum bar ends, and, most importantly, a 6kW rapid charger which cuts charge time in half at Level 2-rated stations.Monti Smith

Gripes? There aren’t many. While the relatively low 31.3-inch seat height allowed my 5-foot-7-inch frame to comfortably flatfoot the Zero, the saddle’s construction is overly stiff and uncomfortable for more than an hour of riding. That and a significant cost of entry make the Zero mostly unattainable in the current marketplace, slotting itself into a similar price point as the BMW S 1000 RR superbike.

Riding the 2020 Zero Motorcycles SRF
Excellent chassis balance and top-shelf Showa suspension components paired with Pirelli Diablo Rosso III rubber provide an excellent ride for the SR/F. Less-than-impressive front end compliance was easily fixed by adding rebound damping to the fork.Monti Smith

Nonetheless, the Zero SR/F proves that the electric-motorcycle performance deficits of the past are being largely and quickly overcome. The Zero is genuinely fast and entertaining, yet impressively utilitarian. The lack of clutch and gearbox paired with medium-distance range makes this electric bike seriously useful as around-town transportation with the capability of tackling a few miles of twisties in between, while retaining a natural motorcycle riding experience.

Now, the Zero Motorcycles staff is here to take the SR/F back. Seriously, guys, just one more day.

On the Cycle World dyno, the Zero Motorcycles SR/F belted out 100.17 hp @ 4,480 rpm and 146.45 pound-feet of torque at 1,220 rpm.
On the Cycle World dyno, the SR/F belted out 100.17 hp @ 4,480 rpm and 146.45 pound-feet of torque at 1,220 rpm. That’s notably close in either direction of the 110 hp and 140 pound-feet of torque claimed by Zero Motorcycles.Cycle World

2020 Zero Motorcycles SR/F Price And Specs

MSRP: $19,495; $21,495 Premium model (as tested)
Motor: ZF75-10 air-cooled AC motor
Battery: 14.4 kWh lithium-ion battery
Final Drive: Carbon belt
Frame: Steel trellis
Front Suspension: Fully adjustable 43mm Showa SFF-BP; 4.7-in. travel
Rear Suspension: Fully adjustable Showa monoshock; 5.5-in. travel
Front Brake: Dual radial-mounted 4-piston J.Juan calipers, 320mm discs w/ Bosch ABS
Rear Brake: Single-piston J.Juan caliper, 240mm disc
Wheels, Front/Rear: 3.50 x 17 / 5.50 x 17
Tires, Front/Rear: Pirelli Diablo Rosso III; 120/70-17 /180/55-17
Rake/Trail: 24.5°/3.7 in.
Wheelbase: 57.1 in.
Seat Height: 31.3 in.
Measured Weight: 502 lb.
Contact: zeromotorcycles.com