It seems that the world is changing faster than we think. With technology in electric vehicles constantly getting better, owning an electric vehicle is becoming more viable by the day. On my daily commute, I see more and more fully electric cars. I first became aware of Zero motorcycles while I was in the Netherlands. I saw the advertisement at a local motorcycle dealer and thought “that’s cool” but like most people we still believe that electric vehicles “are just not that useful”. How wrong I was!
Going on the Zero motorcycles website, I found that they had a few authorised dealers in the UK so I thought I would give it a go. I chose to go for the Zero DSR (Duel Sport Rider), the biggest of the range.
The Zero DSR has a 775-amp Z-force motor that utilises powerful magnets producing 67bhp and a whopping 146mn of net torque over the speed range. For comparison, a BMW R1200GS produces around 124nm of torque at 6000rpm. Compared to previous motorcycles from Zero the DSR delivers 43% more torque and 17% more power.
The Zero DSR is just so easy to ride. It takes a little bit of getting used to the power delivery and not having a clutch lever or gear lever, but it’s light and agile, and all the weight is low down with the motor and battery, but no big heavy fuel tank on the top with fuel sloshing about. It feels absolutely solid and planted in the corners. The Showa suspension really eats up the pot holes and, being a dual sport bike, would be more than capable of going down some dirt tracks. The braking is a little soft, using its large 320mm disk, and not as progressive as I like but, with Bosch ABS as standard, is perfectly adequate. The huge torque from the motor is very noticeable making overtakes a breeze and getting to national speed easy.
The bike feels solid and secure and built to last. There is quite a bit of plastic but it all feels of good quality, the bike felt well thought out. There is a nice black powder-coated aluminium frame and the handlebars have a very familiar feel of Renthal bars. On the fake tank where you would have the fuel cap there is a bin with a hard neoprene box that you could store your charging cable, however it’s only held in by Velcro and really seems like they did not put much effort into this part of the bike.
The bike comes with Bosch anti-lock brakes and Pirelli tyres as standard but you can also have an additional power tank fitted which will add an extra 3.3kWh to the standard 13kWh. The dash is functional and easy to read even in direct sunlight, and gives you all the information you require including what riding program you are in – Sport, Eco or Custom. You can also connect to your motorcycle using your phone giving you a more in-depth insight into the motorcycle, such as the state of charge, time to a full charge, and you can even edit the motorcycle’s custom riding mode.
The Zero DSR is the future that will soon be knocking on our doors, but right now the battery technology still needs to improve – the DSR has a range of about 150 miles with charge time of about 8 hours using a standard household plug. So, for a daily commute it is perfect, but for a day out around the twisties you might run out of puff before lunch. You can use extra chargers from Zero that will bring your charge time down to around 2 hours but still the technology is not there for touring. The on-the-road price is £14,000, which is quite expensive for a second motorcycle. The DSR and electric motorcycles are a taste of the future here and now, but for the average rider, it’s not quite there yet.
Photos © zero motorcycles
First published in Slipstream February 2017