It’s easy to take for granted the dynamics involved in creating a fairing for a motorcycle. Sure, you could easily mold a piece of plastic or resin and create a shape, but what thought process and research goes into such a mold? We take something like fairings for granted because they’re so commonplace. Big OEMs have the resources to hire big-name designers to create something that’s easy on the eyes, then study the fluid dynamics behind the designer’s sketch to see how different lines bend and shape the wind as it flows through it. Then these big players can utilize finite element analysis to dictate the strength of a part or component and adjust as needed for a given application. But nobody talks about these things anymore because this is simply something we expect. We’re numb to it. But when we stop and think about it, the fit and finish of a motorcycle determines its legitimacy.
The last 10 years have taken us through the childhood of electric motorcycles, and now we find ourselves firmly in the technology’s adolescence. Through it all, only one manufacturer has been producing electric bikes that entire time, Zero. This year, the company finally advanced to the Zero SR/F, a no-excuses motorcycle, competent in its ability to take a blast down a winding mountain road as it is in the daily grind of commuter duty. Yes, battery technology still has a ways to go to achieve the convenience that we’ve enjoyed with internal combustion engines (ICE), but the SR/F is the first bike from Zero to truly incorporate industrial design to feel like a full-grown motorcycle; one that bears only a passing resemblance to its older, less capable siblings. Electric bikes have finally come of age.
The official line whenever I’ve spoken to Zero reps is that the company is in the business of making street bikes, not racers. But the hot rodding spirit is alive and burning when you look into the eyes of some of the people who work there, and so it only comes naturally that a core group of enthusiasts would take an SR/F and push its limits.
On the last Sunday in June, the famed Pikes Peak International Hill Climb will commence its 97th running. Taking to the mountain for the first time will be an official entry from Zero Motorcycles (not to be confused with my attempt in 2013 with a dealer-run effort with support from the factory) with its much acclaimed SR/F – a bike which, judging by the 424 comments (and counting) received on Evans’ Exclusive First Ride piece – is of interest to many people. Piloting the SR/F this year is Cory West, a very accomplished racer in his own right, and though he will be a Pikes Peak rookie, he’ll still be someone to look out for.
Here at MO, we’re pretty excited about the 2019 Zero SR/F. With it, Zero has given us the third generation of its electric platform. In reality, however, this is the first time that Zero has delivered a full-sized-feeling electric motorcycle. After 13 years, Zero’s engineers say they finally have the tools to create the type of electric motorcycle they wanted to build all along. While electric motorcycles are still an extremely young technology, the fit and finish of the SR/F show that it is leaving infancy behind and moving beyond the bleeding edge of early-adopter status into the realm of everyday usability.
It’s mind boggling to think that mass-produced street-legal electric motorcycles have only existed for 10 years. In 2009, Zero Motorcycles launched the Zero S and ushered in the electric age of two-wheeled street-legal transportation. During that model year, the S wasn’t just the only electric motorcycle in production, it was the only electric vehicle of any kind being mass-produced. To say that Zero was ahead of the curve is an understatement, but that early start has given the company the time – 13 years from its inception – to develop into its PR claim of being “the global leader in electric motorcycles and powertrains.” If your products created an entire category of vehicles, this is more than PR fluff. It is a demonstrable fact.
Zero Motorcycles is teasing a new SR/F model through its social media channels, promising full details to come on Feb. 25. While a new model is notable, the more important news is that the SR/F will introduce an entirely new platform that will eventually expand to include other future models.