The Victory, however, is hampered by severe driveline lash, particularly at low speeds. Also, the Victory’s transmission takes away a key advantage of an electric vehicle—the simplicity and lightness of direct drive—and replaces it with an unnecessary, heavy gearbox with notchy shifting and a stiff clutch.
Interesting that motorcycle journalists - who you might expect to be die-hard transmission fans - have largely panned the six-speed Empulse.
Even with the Power Tank installed, the Zero is 16 pounds lighter than the Victory and its motor generates much more horsepower and torque. In side-by-side acceleration tests, the Zero left the Victory in the dust. Although both claim a top speed in excess of 100 mph, the Zero’s air-cooled motor limits the bike’s sustained top speed. When the controller senses the motor approaching its maximum allowable operating temperature, it limits torque output and top speed. The Victory’s liquid-cooled motor is less susceptible to spikes in temperature.
The Victory has an advantage in performance consistency over the 2015 SR. I'm curious to see the first review of a 2016 SR vs the Victory.
We didn’t achieve anything close to these bikes’ claimed maximum range, which is 140 miles for the Victory and 185 miles for the Zero. Like measuring fuel economy, we diligently recorded battery usage and mileage, and in mixed riding we averaged 60 miles of range on the Victory (high of 81, low of 50) and 77 miles on the Zero (high of 121, low of 60).
Both bikes are testing well below their nominal range - in fact their "mixed riding" returns less range than even the constant 70 mph rating (~64 and ~94 miles respectively).
As-tested the Zero bike has about 30% more range, but Zero claims almost 40% more. It'd be interesting to see what their test route looks like.
Recharge time is 8-9 hours, and for much of that time the bike’s noisy cooling fan is running. A Level 2 charging station like you might find at the shopping mall and Victory’s accessory 240V/Level 2 charger ($399.99) reduce recharge time to just under 4 hours.
Brammo had a huge advantage with the faster onboard charger for a while. The charge tank seems like a much better option than the Power Tank for Zero's 2016 bikes, which at least matches the Empulse charge speed.
The Victory Empulse TT has sportier styling and ergonomics and higher-spec components, but the Zero SR is the clear winner here. It’s lighter, makes more horsepower and torque, is more comfortable, has smoother power delivery and more range, and comes with standard ABS. Zero also has a free smartphone app that connects to the bike via Bluetooth for tracking performance parameters and adjusting top speed, maximum torque and regen in Eco mode. With a base price of $15,995 and an as-tested price of $18,490 with the Power Tank (excluding dealer installation), the Zero also undercuts the Victory’s $19,999 price tag. For 2016, Zero promises 10-percent more range, a new internal permanent magnet motor with better cooling and higher sustained speeds, and a Charge Tank accessory for use with Level 2 charging stations. The Victory falls short of the Zero for now, but we expect Polaris will put its significant financial and engineering muscle toward closing the gap.
Hopefully Polaris will continue to refine the Empulse.