The Future promised us jetpacks, prime rib in pill form, submissive fembots, and self-driving flying cars. Instead we got TikTok, murder hornets and N95 rash. Life is unfair. But if you know where to look there are furtive slices of the Future creeping up on us—rare blips of surreal futurism manifesting in the matrix.
On that note, I propose that we actually do indeed have jetpacks—or rather, an analogue that comes so close we can chalk one up for the promised Future actually coming through. And that machine is the Zero SR/S electric motorcycle: a breathtakingly quick, brilliantly well-balanced electron missile wrapped up in sleek fairings.
A totem of earthly lust. The Santa Cruz, California-based visionaries have been around some 15 years, releasing their first street-legal, zero-emission bike to the wild in 2010. Much has changed since that proto Zero S, however, as their two-wheelers have evolved from cool but crude EV scooters to what is now undeniably a superbly-engineered and executed machine loaded with fully-adjustable Showa suspension, Bosch ABS and Motorcycle Stability Control.
By now we all know electric motors excel in torque. Not only do they supply a surfeit of twist, they do so instantly—an intoxicating sensation on two wheels. The SR/S’s 14.4kWh lithium-ion battery and ZF 75-10 motor pack 140 ft-lb of torque and 110 horsepower—enough to slingshot the SR/S from stop to 60-mph in a blink (or 1.6 seconds to be exact). And since there’s only one gear, the power unspools evenly and bountifully until you’re well into triple digits.
The performance is exhilarating, but it’s more than just numbers. Like one of those speeder bikes in Empire Strikes Back that Luke chases Imperial scout troopers on across the Moons of Endor, the S/RS feels like nothing you’ve ridden before. Or maybe it’s closer to those Light Cycles from Tron: eerily silent, save for the high-pitched whizz of an electric motor. Unreal hyper-boost from the coil of the throttle. The whoosh of the wind. It feels insanely light, although at 505 lbs. it’s more about the placement of that weight, with its mass central and tucked underneath (unlike most ICE bikes’ high-positioned gas tanks).
And now famed customizer Deus Ex Machina has come out with its own bespoke version of the SR/S. With its trellis frame and lack of gas tank, Deus’ lead designer Michael “Woolie” Woolaway considered Zero’s latest the perfect platform upon which to base his first fully-electric custom build.
Teaming up with Lockheed Martin aerospace engineers, Woolie constructed a new single-mold carbon fiber composite fairing, adding a handblown windscreen, World Superbike Showa shocks and fork, carbon fiber Dynamag wheels and F1 winglets. In totality the makeover bestows this futuristic motorcycle a timeless, classic silhouette. “I wanted to do something kind of old and new,” explains Woolie, “old shapes that I grew up with, and new technology.”
Regardless of stock Zero or custom Deus fairings, the SR/S is an unparalleled vehicle of exploration. Whether zooming up the PCH or crawling through the hills of Bel Air, no one knows you’re around as you wind your way through unchartered neighborhoods, quiet like a prowling fox. Of course silence isn’t always a motorcycle’s best friend—sometimes you do want to be heard, especially on a motorcycle. And it’s impossible not to have some reservations about all EV bikes’ stealth when zipping through traffic.
But you just have to create more cushion for error, and leave more room when lane splitting. Because when you’re free of gridlock and the road opens up ahead, the world will light up: twist the throttle, unleash a whirring burst of power, and rocket up the speedometer like a spaceship. It’s the closest you’ll ever come to flying while grounded.