Zero Tackles Pike’s Peak


Zero Motorcycles, the brand that helped define the category of electric motorcycles, introduced their most innovative and powerful motorcycle yet with the launch of the SR/F earlier this year. Now, Zero’s internal engineering team, in collaboration with multiple partners, has transformed its new street fighter into a full-blown racer, which AMA-professional racer Cory West has put to the test at the 2019 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.

“The racing effort for Pikes Pike at Zero is entirely run with the internal engineering staff who mostly commit their lunches, nights and weekends to the cause,” said Brian Wismann, VP of Product Development at Zero Motorcycles. “No dedicated team members or factory-level budgets here. The bike was built with the support of key suppliers to the Zero production line, plus some clever designs from an engineering team let loose to experiment.”

With 110 horsepower and 140 pounds-feet of torque, Zero’s production SR/F already boasts impressive performance stats that challenge competitors representing the biggest names in the industry. Through the company’s Blue Sky program, which encourages Zero engineers to explore their creativity and reach for new heights, the SR/F has become an even more formidable contender, thanks in large part to the help of existing brand partners, including Gates Carbon Drive, Showa, Pirelli Tires, SME Group, Dymag and Hotbodies Racing.

In lieu of the chain kit typically used for race bikes, Zero engineers opted to stick with the same Gates Carbon Drive belt found on the production model. Their plan was that the smooth delivery of torque from the concentric pivot and constant tension belt will give the SR/F an advantage when pitted against gas bikes, which need to shift and respond to power pulses and surges from internal combustion engines.

In order to upgrade the suspension on the SR/F, Zero tapped Showa for their rare Balance Free Front Fork (BFF) and Balance Free Rear Cushion-lite (BFRC-lite) rear shock. Adding utility and further visual character to the racer, Dymag forged-aluminum wheels provide crucial weight savings, plus aesthetic appeal befitting the Pirelli Superbike Slicks fitted to them.

Additional adaptations to the SR/F from Zero’s engineering team include two handlebar-mounted brake levers, which allow for better rear-brake modulation while banking deeply into right-hand turns, which is only possible through the clutch-less design of Zero’s direct-drive electric motor. Custom rear sets were also designed to accommodate the bike’s unique swingarm pivot, which is concentric with the motor output shaft.

Bringing together the overall concept is designer Tom Zipprian’s custom bodywork, which was 3D-printed in-house specifically for Pikes Peak and reinforced with carbon fiber. Large number plates are required per race regulations, and this serves to stylishly accommodate those, as well as provide useful data on testing the potential aerodynamic benefits of similar elements that generate downforce.

Cory West wound up 23rd overall with a time of 10:43:880 and fifth in the Pikes Peak Heavyweight division. His number was, appropriately, 0.


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