The rapidly expanding adventure motorcycle market receives a new player today from Zero Motorcycles: the all-electric DSR/X. If the prospect of a battery-powered ADV bike sounds far-fetched given range anxiety and a general lack of charging station infrastructure, rest assured that Zero recognizes exactly how much of a challenge the DSR/X faces and tried to pack it full of features to quell concerns.
The company’s largest-ever standard battery holds 17.2 kilowatt-hours of charge, which translates to claimed range estimates of 180 miles in the city, 85 miles at 70 mph, and up to 200 miles on mixed surfaces typical of an ADV bike. No true standard for measuring electric motorcycle off-road range exists quite yet, so Zero also cautions that more aggressive riding might result in closer to 155 miles of range. With Level 2 charging capabilities, the DSR/X manages a nearly full charge (0 to 95 percent) in two hours or as little as one hour when equipped with an optional 6kW rapid charger.
On road, the large battery pack’s low mounting placement results in smooth straight-line speed right up to the DSR/X’s electronically limited 112-mph top speed, while also contributing to competent handling for a 544-pound bruiser (note that figure is before adding any accessories). Unlike Zero’s sportier S and SR models, the motor control unit of the DSR/X mounts above the battery to improve ground clearance.
Most importantly, among electrics, Zero managed to combine peppy throttle response without sacrificing precise modulation of the 100-horsepower electric motor—especially crucial while riding on dirt, when all 166 pound-feet of torque might easily overpower tire traction. Bosch contributed the DSR/X’s Motorcycle Stability Control system, now with 10 discreet drive modes thanks to an additional toggle between Street and Offroad traction control and ABS settings while in Eco, Standard, Sport, Canyon, and Custom modes. The Bosch system includes automatically linked front-to-rear braking and a helpful Vehicle Hold Control feature that works in conjunction with Zero’s handy reverse gear.
Fiddling through all the various settings takes a bit of an adjustment period but definitely proves worth the while, since each mode also tweaks the amount of automatic regenerative braking. The DSR/X uses only a single forward gear, though, so Zero’s decision to forego a left-hand brake lever in place of a non-existent clutch emerges as one potential nitpick while standing on the pegs plowing the big bike through dirt and gravel. But, in general, thoughtful design of the bike’s ergonomics results in a comfortable ride even after a long day in the saddle and initial impressions suggest that Zero’s build quality concerns look to be a thing of the past.
On rutted surfaces or washboards, the bike’s heft combines with decent, if not particularly refined, suspension to smooth out most smaller bumps. Adjustable Showa forks allow for nearly eight inches of travel, while the rear features a beefy pre-load adjustment knob (albeit somewhat hidden behind the rear foot pegs) plus rebound and compression dials.
In place of a growling V4 that powers the Ducati Multistrada or the burbling V-twin of the Harley-Davidson Pan America, the main soundtrack of the DSR/X resembles more of an F1 race car’s whine emanating from the carbon-fiber reinforced 25-millimeter drive belt. Zero hopes the near-silent electric motor will attract nature lovers. Under hard acceleration or at higher cruising speeds, the drivetrain whir provides a futuristic backdrop; during slow-speed dirt riding, more of a choppy brake-disc drone develops. To minimize customer concerns about belt stretch and wear as grit and grime work into the drivetrain, a novel row of holes in the rear sprockets filters out the gunk (though Zero will still sell a chain kit for those holdouts willing to convert to an EV, but who doubt the reliability of such a system).
Riding on Pirelli Scorpion Trail II tires that lean toward adventure touring more than true off-road use, the DSR/X requires some concentration in lower traction environments to avoid wheelslip even with Offroad selected for the TC and ABS settings—an optional set of knobbier Rally STR tires should provide much more dependable grip. And a full set of 23 new accessories specifically built to transform the DSR/X into a more dedicated long-range expedition bike or legit trail-runner includes saddlebags, a larger windscreen, a skid plate, wire wheels, fog lights, and more.
Whether the droves of buyers turning to the ADV format will accept an all-electric motorcycle remains to be seen, even if the DSR/X offers range on par with the large gas tanks typical among the competition. Much like bringing along a Jerry can, Zero provides an optional Power Pack that adds nearly seven more kilowatt-hours of charge capacity (while sacrificing much of the 7.4 gallons of built-in storage, however). And much like Jeep and Rivian have devoted significant investment to building EV chargers near trailheads across America, Zero partnered with Backcountry Discovery Routes to improve access to charging infrastructure.
Available in Sage Green or White Pearl, the DSR/X starts at $24,495 before accessories. And Zero promises that unlike much of the motorcycle and automotive industry, DSR/X bikes will hit dealer floors worldwide after orders open today, September 13.
[$24,495; zeromotorcycles.com]Learn More and Get It
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