The Zero SR/S is a hard one to categorize. Just looking at it, you’d think it’s a super hardcore sportbike, but sling a leg over one and it proves itself an incredibly comfortable sport tourer. It’s quick, makes fun space ship noises, rides like a dream and has incredible range for an electric motorcycle. But after spending most of my Sunday ripping around some great riding roads, I’ve figured out the best feature the SR/S has over any other motorcycle that has ever been built. Fairing-mounted underslung mirrors.
(Full Disclosure: Zero asked if I might like to ride some of the company’s current bikes. We settled on this SR/S and the new DSR Black Forest. I picked up both bikes from the company’s headquarters in Scotts Valley, California. I have since ridden and charged both bikes numerous times. I plan to return both bikes in the same condition they were in when I took delivery.)
I am not a small man, and one of my major complaints about modern motorcycles is that the mirrors are mounted too far inboard and are far too small to get an appropriate rear view. On the highway I often find myself moving a shoulder or pulling my wrist inboard to get a half-assed decent view of what’s behind me. I always look over my shoulder for a lane change anyway, but mirrors are vital for knowing your surroundings. Some get it better than others, but nobody has done it as well as Zero.
Bar-mounted mirrors are fine, but are usually too narrow to see around my wideset big man shoulders. Bar-end mirrors are better, as they are plenty wide, but they are usually much smaller and more susceptible to vibration as they are at the extremities of the bike. They also make the bike appreciably wider, which cuts down the ability to zip through small gaps.
Underslung mirrors have been done before, mostly in the aftermarket, with flipped bar mirrors hanging down below your wrists. Those are hard to place as well, and every time I’ve ridden a bike with them on, my wrist has taken up about the same visual space as the mirror, obscuring my sight lines. It’s never perfect — until the SR/S, that is.
Look at that! I took the bike out this afternoon specifically for this demonstration, parked it curbside in front of a parked car. This photo is from my eyeline in my riding position. The inner segment of the mirror gets a little bit of my hip and thigh, but the outer two thirds perfectly frames the Ford behind. I could probably stand to adjust this mirror even farther out.
Here’s the other side, same experiment procedures. You obviously see less of the car behind, because I’m over to the right of the parking lane. But that you can still see the car behind is the impressive part. I can’t recall having ever ridden a bike where I could see a car behind in both mirrors at the same time. Some are worse than others, but this is quite fine.
By mounting the mirrors directly to the forward aero fairing, the Zero SR/S provides incredible rear visibility. This feels like a big improvement as far as safety is concerned, and I’d love if more manufacturers followed this idea. The SR/S design is uniquely appropriate for this type of fitment, as the fairing extends so far forward of the fork, but surely other manufacturers could find a way to place mirrors forward and down like this on their own bike designs.