Eco Mode is great for commuting, but Canyon Mode is excellent fun.
We talked a little bit about the ride modes on the 2022 Zero SR/F Premium long-term review bike I’ve been riding in the last part of this series. Now, I’m going to dive more deeply into the details to show how they can make a difference.
The 2022 Zero SR/F Premium has a total of five ride modes, most of which have a reasonably self-explanatory name: Standard, Eco, Sport, Rain, and Canyon. If you’ve ridden other bikes in the past few years with ride modes, you’ve probably seen something similar on any number of bikes.
The reason it matters for a Zero, though, is because the ride modes don’t only affect your power, torque, and traction control settings. They also affect your levels of Neutral Regeneration and Brake Regeneration, which can in turn impact your available range before you have to stop and recharge.
More About the Ride Modes
After riding this SR/F for a couple of months, in my experience, Eco Mode is what you choose when you want to ride as politely as possible. It’s a good option for city riding, as it keeps both your neutral and brake regen at 100 percent, governs top speed at 75 miles per hour, and dials back both power and torque so you can’t easily get yourself into trouble. You don’t quite need a top hat or an evening gown to ride in Eco Mode, but it’s extremely well-mannered. If this ride mode went to a tea party, it would most definitely lift its cup with its pinky finger extended, and frown at you if the crusts weren’t cut all the way off its finger sandwiches.
Sport Mode, on the other hand, is for when you care zero percent (sorry) about your range, and you just want all the power, all the time. Top speed is set at the top number available on the slider, which is 124 mph. Power and Torque settings are at 100 percent, Neutral Regeneration is at 46 percent, and Brake Regeneration is at 35 percent. In this mode, you can practically watch your state of charge drop as you pour on the throttle and whip yourself through the twisties.
So far, Canyon Mode is my favorite. It strikes a fine balance between Eco and Sport modes, unlocking all the power and torque (and top speed) you might want, but also giving high levels of both Neutral and Brake regen. Utilizing regenerative braking is one especially cool thing that electric bikes can do, but gas bikes can’t. So, if you’re riding an electric bike, why wouldn’t you want to take advantage of it? Especially if you don’t have to compromise on power or torque. That’s why this mode is so appealing.
Standard Mode gives you an available top speed of 110 mph, dials power back to 22 percent, sets torque at 72 percent, and leaves neutral regen at 43 percent and brake regen at 50 percent. Rain Mode dials your top speed back to 100 mph, power down to 22 percent, torque down to zero, neutral regen to 41 percent, and brake regen to 31 percent.
After doing our weekend route in Eco Mode last time, I charged the bike to 110 percent the next weekend, but set out in Canyon Mode instead. Keeping momentum top of mind (and also trusting my tires), I concentrated on staying as smooth through curves and corners as I possibly could. Certain corners on our favorite weekend route sometimes have gravel on them, and since you can’t know ahead of time what conditions you’ll find, I tend to err on the side of caution.
That also means that I probably slow down more than I should going into corners. By concentrating on carrying more speed through my corners on that ride, I managed to get to the same public charging station we’d stopped at the week before with an estimated range of 28 miles left—or about 28 percent of a full charge. The previous weekend, in Eco Mode, the same route saw me get to that charger with an estimated 21 miles of range and 24 percent of a full charge.
In other words, by concentrating on riding more smoothly and keeping my momentum up, I got more range out of Canyon Mode than Eco Mode. You can probably guess from the settings I’ve mentioned that Canyon Mode is much more fun to ride in than Eco Mode—and you’d be 100 percent correct. If you can have all the fun possible on a given machine, and even get rewarded with increased range, why wouldn’t you?
This will come as a surprise to absolutely no one, but extended stints with the throttle wide open will drain your battery very quickly. For example, if you choose to drag race someone (on private property, in controlled and legal conditions, etc.), you could just about watch your estimated range drop before your very eyes. (You know, if you weren’t also trying to concentrate on riding.) If you let it get too low, all the regen in the world won’t save you if you don’t have a nearby charging station available.
My personal range anxiety has decreased considerably as I’ve gotten to know this bike. I would imagine that’s probably similar for most people—as you learn what to expect, you also learn how to deal with it appropriately and manage your expectations. If you’ve never ridden (or driven) an electric vehicle before, that’s something to keep in mind.
Even though the SR/F is a naked bike, tucking yourself into as tiny a ball as possible if you’re trying to lower your rolling wind resistance can make a difference. Obviously, there’s only so much it can do—but your range will deplete more slowly than it would if you just sat straight up in the saddle and didn’t tuck. (Your mileage may vary depending on your size as a human. Presumably, strongman Eddie Hall would have a more difficult time tucking on this bike than I do, because he’s a larger person in general.)
I also discovered that some Walgreens in Chicago and the surrounding area have Volta chargers. Since Walgreens is a national chain, I wondered if that’s true elsewhere as well. According to Walgreens, it offers EV charging at around 400 locations around the US. In my area, some of its chargers are on the Volta network (which doesn’t require an app and is currently free for Level Two charging situations like the Zero), and some are on the ChargePoint network (which requires payment, and you can use an app on your smartphone).