Electric Night Ride 2019: Stuttgart
Last week Tony Godshall (who just landed from the States) and I got on the train in Amsterdam, all the way to the city of Helmond. Aka new Tech Capital in the NL with companies like Lightyear hard at work.
Tony took control of a (2014 I believe) Zero DSR, I splurged and found a brand new (69, no joke, kilometers on the tacho) Zero SR/F waiting to unbehave. Thanks Gert-Jan from electricmotorbikes.nl for helping us out here.
As a duo it was time to get moving, I had no idea what to expect. I have never done a ‘long distance roadtrip’ with any vehicle only taking Type 2-charging. Felt like a bit of a gamble, but then the sun was shining and the ENR4 was waiting for us, less than 48h away!
Let me focus on the bike, it’s clear that the Zero team has taken a lot of design clues from Energica. Still the Zero SR/F has it’s own energy, I especially like that the battery is so obvious and not hidden at all, in plain sight.
Our first charging break is one that we actually delay, because the bikes ride very economic at 25 degrees celsius and hardly any wind. Tony notes his DSR is doing 40Wh/km and this is before our first stop. After Mexican lunch in Düren we continue to Koblenz and find some chargers that are unavailable (in use & ICE’d) so we make it to a nice bakery in the neighbouring town. Germany is outfitted with many 22kW chargers which is great news when riding these bikes.
Tony arranged an airbnb nearby, I continue with me, myself and I to Frankfurt where I will meet friends. Riding the SR/F alone with lots of energy in the ‘tank’ gives an immense powerful feeling. Actually the route is at it’s prettiest here in the hills, forest, very green, and quiet. The quiet on the Zero SR/F might be what impresses the most, no chain but a belt, it seems to help a lot. Also it’s much, much lighter than the Energica Eva Esse Esse 9 I had with me to Paris last year.
The smoothness of the whole riding experience on the SR/F is the best I have ever encountered. It’s unbelievably easy to just ride along and enjoy the silence. Since there are hardly any moving parts, stability while driving is utterly comfortable.
First day was 355km (Helmond-Frankfurt). If I had to guess I would say between 15-20kWh spent. After leaving with 99% near Koblenz I charged 8.74kWh in Frankfurt before midnight. Saturday I continue the adventure to Stuttgart after a beautiful warm evening next to the river in the centre of Frankfurt.
Fairly riding mode easy go I reach Heilbronn, it’s a beautiful route next to the river today, weather is a bit cloudy but fine really. I find a Lidl where a Mercedes hybrid has been using the Type 2 for 75minutes and I can’t seem to unplug the cable. Which is fine because in Heilbronn I arrive at the next Lidl just before a Mini hybrid (so I ‘win’) and I walk to a Thai restaurant, the sun starts to work its magic again. I start the charge with 26% left. One hour and a spicy lunch later the bike shows 81%. (5.7kW speeds at 52A according to the SR/F display, freely delivered by Lidl, Heilbronn).
Later that night I find myself invited to a fantastic BBQ with a gorgeous view thanks to quite a steep track up the hillside. Very exciting to take the SR/F almost into the forest! Almost 600km on the clock now, and the ENR4 is almost there! Minutes before my alarm at 3:40 I wake up in time for a shower. And it’s off to the Fernsehturm. Stuttgart is not Paris (yeah, predictable), where I found quite some traffic in the middle of the night on the periferique a year ago. It’s very, very quiet on the roads, no races going on like last year.
It’s quite amazing, after a 20 minute ride in the dark, to find all these quiet bikes and the wonderful people riding them high up the hills of Stuttgart. I arrive with 96% in ECO mode. All morning I’m trying to keep cool to see what kind of economics in low consumption the SR/F is capable of.
It’s quite cloudy, so the feel is very different from the blistering heat we had to conquer in Paris last year. But slowly the temperature is rising, even though we started out around at just 14 degrees Celsius. Especially now that we’re actually riding outside of the city, I should have really decided on including my sweater today but yeah. Too late now. No engine to warm me up, haha!
Unfortunately some people hit the wet grass without traction control/ECO mode enabled so a couple of them have small accidents. This dampens the atmosphere, and it’s already cold and I’m hungry. Have to prep better next year. 7AM now? No, I checked the timestamps of the photos, it’s only 6:00 still.
By 8AM we make it to the Grabkapelle for a group photo. Haven’t seen the result yet, looking forward though. Even though I was ready for coffee, breakfast, and heat, sun didn’t wanna play (just yet)!
Before 9AM we actually lose contact with ‘the big group’ thanks to the horrendous German traffic lights. Pardon my French. Since we lack police friends guiding us like we had in Paris, we actually have to behave ‘like normal people’ on the road, not as cool.
A lovely German breakfast, takes a while but the eggs are great. And the company, the man of the hour Ezra shows me the NIU app, and tells me all about the trip from Antwerp to Stuttgart on a 45km/h NIU device. Wow. I’m heavily impressed. Now this is adventure!
It’s these kinda wonders, I’m almost forgetting Daniel who came all the way from Guadelajara, Spain! Next level. What a ride. For a different story though. Later this afternoon I ride back to the Stuttgart campus where I’m staying for the weekend. I feel very lucky because my host is a motorbike fanatic. We head over to the Autobahn to unleash the full power of the SR/F (my first time on the highway with this bike). Racing some Porsches, Audis, you name it, too easy with this machine. Almost into the limiter at 190km/h, it’s just crazy how easy it is to get to these speeds. The wind is your only enemy. Neckstrain waiting to happen. I can also tell you that you probably won’t make it to 100km range on a charge if you average near 150km/h ;-]
Monday morning after the greatest breakfast with tomatoes and za’atar I start the tour back home, I found a new host awaiting in Bonn tonight and the first stop today will be Neustadt.
A very relaxed way to discover the town, head for quality lunch, coffee, while the bike is getting juiced up again. It’s not really hot today, so there is actually some more consumption than on the easy rides with Tony, also there is much more wind which doesn’t help anybody of course. But averaging 80km/h on the small roads still gives fair values and the GOM predictions are very clear and indicate true values. I arrive in Neustadt with 22% left and 44km predicted range left. 90 minutes later we’re at 98% and a GOM saying 199km juice. Cool thing is tapering only starts around the 98/99% mark so you never have to worry about ‘I hit 80% and should leave right now’, something I’m very much used to charging all kinds of vehicles on CCS normally.
Near the Rhine it’s time for another cake & coffee break, the day is quite cold which diminishes some range and also my mental range gets reduced. I didn’t prepare for ‘non summer weather’ that well so I’m not having a blast here with the cold wind passing by the river. I do decide to cross over, and speed up, that’s the cool thing about a charging break you don’t need that much, afterwards you can go and ‘spend that energy’. The roads are quite straight in this part of Germany, closing in on Bonn rapidly. At the other side of the water it’s overtake after overtake with just so little effort. The bike is crazy fast and the instantness is as you would expect from a powerful electric vehicle.
Now my Bonn arrival is worth speaking about, it was the most expensive charge in the whole five days. Seems this region is not completely ready yet for the arrival of lots of e-vehicles, (even German manufacturers are starting to understand it’s one of the main directions for the short term future at least). Depending on the app you look at, the charger shows different stats. Some say NewMotion, but in fact that RFID does not work. The Chargemap-app states that their RFID should work, it does not. Plugsurfing app states the RFID should work, it does not. Online somebody mentions the TankE-app, that should unlock this charger for free, but the whole thing doesn’t even show up in the app. I’m left scanning the QR code on the machine and pay a full euro ‘starting fee’ after which you pay 39ct/kWh. I’m glad I’m bringing a Zero today and no I-Pace..
After a great night in Bonn it’s that realisation, the last day with the SR/F has started… I’m very lucky that the sun actually decides to come back, and after talking with some people I realize how close I am to Naturpark Eifel. So I decide to actually ride into the forest and hills one more time, on my way to Aachen.
After a first day in Street mode, and riding the ENR on Sunday in Eco mode, of course this last day it’s Sport mode all the way. This unleashes the full potential of the SR/F which is obviously huge. It’s hard to overstate the feeling of power when on a dry sunny road with this bike. You have to, or I did, to decide to calm it somewhat because on these small roads the possibilities are endless. I didn’t talk about the regen yet, I had to get used to it and day one, and only later found out the amount of regen is actually connected to your riding mode. Eco gives the highest degree of regen, and taking it to Street, and Sport, actually makes for a very smooth regeneration feel. Which helps riding with less stress, something that feels very healthy. You can also create your own mode in the app, but I didn’t fiddle so much with the app. To get back on the subject of the power this bike has... The gaps you need to overtake and so on, the reality is you need very little space. The weight of the bike (not much for its power) makes the smoothness of your speedy moves just incredible. If I rent a motorbike in the future I would have no clue how it would not be this one again. The only thing being it’s very sporty, and I wouldn’t mind a tour model with higher seating (you can actually get a higher seat on this one). Anyway, this is my fifth day on the bike, and physically I feel great. Sunday was a long day but also relaxing, and we did the speeding on the Autobahn. I can just state the facts as they feel to me. The Zero SR/F is the motorbike to beat in 2019/2020.
What I ‘hoped’ to experience finally happens. I find an 11kW charger (the NL is packed with those, and we’re almost back in the Netherlands anyway). Luckily I just went into town as an excuse for coffee and cake, (see a pattern here?), charging is bonus. But I can confirm that you will actually slow down to 2.8kW charging speeds when this occurs. This is before the big upgrade that Zero promises will land in Helmond in September, that should double all charging figures I’m mentioning. Right now that means that at 77% it will take one hour before full. Which suddenly feels like long. Luckily Helmond is not far away. Great, great chocolate cake by the way, at Nela’s, and 11kW charging next door. Be aware though that I got ICE’d here big time. Obviously I just creep on to the sidewalk, love electric motorcycles and being ICE’d because even if they (the cars) wanted to, they just cannot block me really from getting to the charger, haha.
You know this will happen, but it does of course, it’s the last (fifth) day and I feel totally at ease with the bike. I know the real range (easily 200+ km when taking the small roads and enjoying the scenery), I can control the power very precise, you know the weight and how it responds. I sit more relaxed, I feel totally in control. I suddenly realize this is the bike. Zero really pulled it off. Nevermind CCS charging, you really don’t need it. You’re much more free with Type 2. You can literally go anywhere. A country like Germany has plugs in the weirdest places. They actually work (France, please learn). They can be expensive, but mostly Maingau will help you out there. You just need some time off, sometimes. Which is great, because it helps create time for you to actually do some walking around, checking out villages and your surroundings. Totally different from the Energica feel. Liberation. Zero, you rock!
I know the goodbye is coming, when I do overtakes near Helmond next to the river, straight roads, use gaps between cars and trucks, you can do whatever you want. You need mere seconds, no shifting, to go from 80->150, and back, doing some regen. The feeling in your stomach in Sports mode. Wow. And then they actually managed to create space for your Type 2 cable to store it ‘into’ the bike! They could do someting with the dash, definitely, they could’ve mounted USB ports in sight, and there are a couple of these twisters. But these things don’t hamper the riding experience, at all. And riding is all you want. In silence.
Thanks Gert-Jan, from electricmotorbikes.nl for arranging the bike right in time for the ENR. Thanks Trui, Christian and all the amazing others who together make what the Electric Night Ride is, a joyful moment where you feel not alone riding the future, right now.
This trip was also the first time that I finally tested Polarsteps, you can check my travel log here.