The electric revolution continues. The new R version of the Zero S offers riders 56 percent higher torque and 24 percent more power—106 pound-feet and 67 horses—and means the Zero SR can hit 60 mph in 3.3 seconds and 102 mph, according to Zero. Which is impressive enough on paper, but even more electrifying when you actually unleash that torque from between a couple lanes of stopped cars.
At least is was with the last Zero S we tested, which was super quick and easy to ride. Silent but deadly, as we say…
What you’re looking at is a 75-7 passively air-cooled, high efficiency, radial flux, permanent high-temp magnet, brushless motor controlled by your basic high-efficiency 660-amp three-phase brushless controller with regenerative deceleration. Plug it into your standard 110-volt outlet, and you’re fully charged in about 10 hours.
Other components have been upgraded to keep pace with that 660-amp motor controller and its sleek new integrated heat sink: Now there’s a stronger, adjustable 43mm fork, improved rear suspension, wider triple clamps, a more robust frame/swingarm design and improved brake calipers and larger diameter rotors.
All the 2014 Zeros benefit from a new dash with cool-blue backlit LCD screen. Using new right-hand switch gear, you can toggle between eco, sport and the new “custom” riding mode. Riders can also use their smartphone to link up to the controller to customize power and regen settings, plus use a host of other features that track range, charge and cost of running.
Also for 2014, a new Z-Force Power Tank accessory ($2,495) lets buyers increase energy storage capacity during or after purchase, and can be added to any 2014 Zero S or Zero DS model. With it, the Zeros with the ZF 11.4 battery pack (the largest available) will be able to run up to 171 miles in the city or 88 miles on the highway.
Prices for the various models have dropped by $1000 vs. 2013 MSRPs. The 2014 Zero SR with ZF 11.4 battery is $16,995. Expensive, no doubt, but Zero and other electric advocates will tell you that the fact that nearly no maintenance is required will do a lot to make up for the high initial cost.