First 9 days of life with my 2014 Zero SR

My Zero SR

I purchased a 2014 Zero SR 8 days ago on March 5th at about 1 AM in the morning. I had been out riding earlier that morning from the previous evening. Harlan Flagg, owner of Hollywood Electrics organized a ride night for a bunch of his customers. It is a new thing he is doing once a month, and it really is a lot of fun. I knew I would be riding my new bike (Kitty) home, so I got a ride on the back of a friend’s 2012 Zero from Sun Valley down to the shop.

After a fun filled night of eating drinking, and breaking a foot peg off of my, as of yet un-purchased, new bike, we went back to the shop and filled out the paperwork. Being so happy about this of course I immediately stated riding Kitty everywhere, poor Foxie, my 2012 ZF6, must have been jealous, and Turbo, my 2013 S, couldn’t have cared less I am sure because he is heading off to a new owner.

Clearly we were all having a good night…

I started by giving her a 100 or so light canyon miles for testing, followed by a few hundred high speed highway miles (perhaps triple digits…). Everything worked out really well, and Kitty felt just AWESOME! I quickly realized that from the factory, the Zero SR was very near the power of Turbo, my 2013 race bike, which astonished me. If it comes from the factory with this much power, I can only imagine how much more she has waiting for me! For now though I will leave the 102 mph governor in place, yes, that’s right, the SR is GOVERNED at 102 mph. I am pretty confident I will have it up to 130 mph no problem, with goals of hitting 150 mph this year. 150 might be a bit lofty, but I really feel confident in this bikes power.

After a few days and 350 miles of my normal mixed canyon and hwy riding, there was an M1GP race that Harlan and some of my friends were going to. While I didn’t want to compete in such a tight technical race on a new, and fully stock bike, I really couldn’t help but wanting to support everyone. So I decided to ride up to Santa Maria from Thousand Oaks which is 119 miles away. I had not planned my trip but did have a rough idea of the route I wanted to take.

Harlan and Ian, a Zero Owner I hope to get licenced at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway with CVMA and TrackDaz as the second person in history to earn his licence on electric met me close to my place and suggested I just draft the Hollywood Electrics van up the 101 which sounded like a great plan to me. We didn’t talk about the route and mileage though, so we went about 10 miles out of the way at highways speeds, and up a huge mountain/canyon road at a good pace… and, I couldn’t help but tear up the canyon once too, I stayed disciplined the rest of the time.

Sadly that 15 miles out of the way and one joy ride in the canyon prevented me from being able to make it all the way to the race track. We packed my bike up into the van after 121 miles of riding. Had we planned just a little bit we would have made it. We opted to pack Kitty up to save some time and get to the track ASAP. We were just 9 miles away.

Doug Smith Racing
Doug Smith holding a commanding lead over the 250cc gas bikes on his Custom 2013 Zero FX.

Throughout the weekend, I was tortured by not racing, but I knew it was the right decision with Kitty being fully stock including tires and suspension. I kept myself from going crazy by managing the pitts with Harlan for the 5 electric racers we had there. Ian was supposed to be racing his 450cc Gas Beta Supermotard, but once he took the extra Zero that was at the track out, he forgot all about the gasser. Managing pits for electrics is no easy task, I have done it by myself many times and could tell the guys really appreciated it. We got everyone organized and focused on racing while we handled charging and bike maintenance with extreme precision. Which was a good thing, because there were 3 crashes that weekend.

The weekends crashes were not too bad and only resulted in 1 minor injury. Doug Smith was pushing hard on his custom FX when he lost the rear in a tight corner. Just ahead of Ryan Biffard and Jeff Clark. As I know very well, the Zero’s crash awesome, and doug was back on his bike and pushing even harder no sooner than he had hit the dirt. The later crash though was pretty awesome, I was announcing the race, when Jeff Clark came blazing into the same corner Doug had low sided in earlier. He was coming in hot and late breaking trying to pass Ryan Biffard on the inside. Jeff lost the rear first and then the front too on his custom Hollywood Electrics 2013 FX at full lean sliding right into Ryan’s 2013 Zero MX.

It was a phenomenal sight as the two bikes tangled up and the riders flipped through the air and tumbled in the dirt. Ryan Biffard, who we later learned may have broken a toe (I recommended he get some good race boots), was back up on his MX with its funky new bent handlebars after freeing it from being tangled with Jeff’s FX and back out on the track, but not before Eland Eggars on a 2013 Zero S with a size 6 upgrade had passed the crash. In the end, Eland ended up taking second place to Doug Smith still just a bit ahead of Ryan.

Charging Zero SR in the City of Salinas parking structure
Charging the Zero SR at the Stienbeck free thanks to the City of Salinas!

After such an awesome weekend, I really didn’t feel like just going 119miles back home, so I rode 240 miles up to Santa Cruz to extend my adventure. Thankfully in my line of work, I can work from anywhere. I am currently archetechting and programming a bionic eye with a crack team of very experienced medical device engineers for Second Sight Medical, we actually won Time magazine’s invention of the year last year. So armed with my trusty laptop, new SR, and my extra charger which I am working on making a nice after market part from, I set out for The PCH, AKA hwy 1, to head up the California coast.

I may have been alone on the ride, but I wasn’t without support. My Senpai of long distance on a Zero, Terry Hershner, stayed up until ungodly hours on the phone helping me navigate during the night. His many long trips and experience proved immensely valuable, especially his advice to sleep in Monterrey. I had been riding so long 8-9 hours, and was so exhausted that somewhere between Big Sur and Carmel I had begun to hallucinate, shadows turning into animals scurrying across the road, and cliffs turning into pavement for me to ride on. The 1 has many dangers for the skilled and alert rider, when you lose those skills to sleep deprivation and exhaustion, the Pacific Coast Highway quickly turns into the Pacific Coast Deathway.

Ketty getting charged up while sleeping with me.

I arrived in Santa Cruz with 801 miles on the odometer early the next morning after a few hours of sleep in a hotel. The first thing I did was pull into Terry Hershner’s Living room, do a burn out on his carpet, and fall asleep. Well, I didn’t do a burnout this time, he texted me and made me promise not to this time since he was away from home while I was there. Looking back on the trip up, I am truly amazed at the new suspension, and power train. The trip was really not as hard as I expected, and the battery range made it quite easy to do.

Zero SR and Electroceptor
Kitty with Alex Tang’s Electroceptor

A stayed in Santa Cruz for 2 days, meeting friends from Zero, and riding up to Santa Clara to meet a few friends over the mountains, and then started back on my way home, but this time I decided to take the 101 back.It was a few miles shorter, but higher speed, and a whole lot more boring. I wasn’t sure what the outcome would be because as electric riders know the faster you go the more battery you use. But all along the way chargers, Nema 14-50 RV plugs, and other opportunity charging locations were readily available at the amperage I needed to charge up quickly. I would stop every half hour to 40 min and charge up for about 30 min until I neared the end of my trip. I was again getting so tired riding became difficult.

I rode for a lot longer and stopped to charge for an hour at two places, and then for the last leg of the trip, I was too impatient to charge up all the way, so I left El Capitan State Park at 80% charge and rode home as fast as I could. I rolled into my Driveway at 9AM on the dot with 7% battery, 7 miles of range, and 1300 miles on my odometer. When I plugged in Kitty said that I had 3 hours and 40 min until fully charged. I went inside, and fell face first into the couch and slept for 40 min until I had a meeting to attend on the computer for work, after which I slept while Kitty charged up and then went into the office 30 miles away in Sylmar Ca.

I was planning to go the the CVMA TrackDayz event this weekend, but when I saw Harlan at Hollywood Electrics that night, he thought I should stay home and get some sleep. 2 days later now, I am still feeling a bit laggy, but I think I will be up for the ride to Newcomb’s in the morning.

Zero SR charging
Charging near El Capitan State Park.

Since I couldn’t responsibly make it to the track day and races, I took Kitty out to Mullholland today for the last part of her shakedown, hard core canyon riding, for a stock bike. I slowly pushed her harder and harder on the new and improved Zero Suspension, street IRC tires at recommended street pressure, and stock break pads, now with 1300+ miles of use. I was amazed! I felt sooo good in the corners, and stable over the bumps. The brakes worked very well for street pads, and the soft street suspension kept great traction and was easy to balance while trail breaking.

Towards the end of the day while riding hot down the tight technical canyons of 23 into Westlake Village, I did lose the rear pretty well twice in one corner, but the suspension handled it well and I didn’t ever feel like I was going to high side after reconnected with the pavement. I went back to investigate the road conditions and try to deduce what the loss of traction was caused from and I think the result was mildly, very mildly, sandy road on hot IRC tires with recommended street pressure, while using the back break to level out the chassy after grabbing a fist full of front break.

Zero SR dash with 1535 miles
1500+ miles on my new Zero SR in 9 days.

All in all I am EXTREMELY pleased with the Stock Zero SR. I think Zero has incorporated Hollywood Electrics Sevcon Size 6 upgrade into the bike beautifully, and upgraded the suspension and chassy correctly to handle the additional power. The only think I would like to see, or recommend hard core street riders upgrade would be the rear break. I will myself be ditching the IRC tires in favor of some AVON Roadriders which I think will suit any street rider very well, and make the bike even more phenomenal in the canyons. If you are not a hard core rider in the canyons, or twisties, this bike is perfect without any modifications whatsoever for you. And if you are a squid out there, this bike will definitely eat you up by making you feel like a superhero and riding beyond your skill level.

I recommend the Zero SR for riders looking for power, distance and stability. With torque to rival a 1000cc race bike and cornering as slick as a 250cc race bike, there are no drawbacks.