While most EV manufacturers push either off-road or streetbike products to the exclusion of everything else, Zero Motorcycles boldly expands on both of those fronts plus something in-between with the improved-for-2017 DS and DSR models. These two are built to fill the dual-sport niche with off-road suspension and dual-surface tires under a sporty chassis that naturally runs the company’s all-electric drive system. This represents a success for both the electric sector as well as the dual-sport/adventure sector, both of which are still burgeoning under increasing public interest and steady technological advancements. Today I’m going to take a look at these bikes made unique by the pairing of electrics with the on/off-road riding style associated with dual-sport machines.

Continue reading for my review of the Zero DS and DSR.

  • 2017 2017 Zero DS / DSR
  • Year:
    2017
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    Z-Force®
  • Top Speed:
    98 mph
  • Price:
    10995
  • Price:

Design

2017 2017 Zero DS / DSR
- image 697766

(DS)

Unlike much of the dual-sport fare out there today, the DS line has more of a streetbike look that will most certainly stand out against the dirtbike-ish looks of the rest of the field.

At a glance, the Zero DS family looks much like many of the conventional “smoker” bikes out there. One of the things I like about Zero is that they take steps to preserve the traditional flylines while not going too far in an effort to make the bike blend into the crowd, nor making it seem too “look at me, I’m all cool and post-modern and stuff.” Most of this is due to the shape of the fuel-tank bump that actually houses either an extra battery pack or a quick-charge device along with a small, dry-storage compartment. A twin-spar frame peeks out below the “tank,” and the rest of the innards are screened by black side covers that seeks to mute the little voice that cries “not like the others.”

A tripletree-mounted front mudguard gives it a distinct off-road look, and a sparse subframe and guard over the back wheel completes the ensemble with a racy finish. Unlike much of the dual-sport fare out there today, the DS line has more of a streetbike look that will most certainly stand out against the dirtbike-ish looks of the rest of the field.

Chassis

2017 2017 Zero DS / DSR
- image 697778

(DSR)

Aircraft-grade aluminum stock makes up the twin-spar frame in an effort to keep things light but strong at only 23 pounds. The steering head comes set for a 26.5-degree rake that gives us 4.6 inches of trail and a 56.2-inch wheelbase. Seat height is typical of the class at 33.2-inches tall, and while it’s not exactly short-rider friendly, the room for the 7-inch suspension travel has to come from somewhere.

Overall, it's a rather impressive list of features that is comparable to many top-shelf smoker bikes on the market right now.

Showa provides the suspension components with a set of inverted, 41 mm forks up front and a 40 mm, piggyback shock in back. Both ends come with adjustable spring preload as well as compression- and rebound-damping for the full trinity of ride controls. Cast rims mount the Pirelli MT-60 dual-surface tires with a 100/90-19 up front and a 130/80-17 in back, proportions that help it blend in with the rest of the genre somewhat and contributes to the off-road performance.

A single, 320 mm brake disc and dual-pot, J-Juan caliper slows the front wheel, and a single-bore, J-Juan caliper binds the 240 mm disc in back to slow the rear with a Bosch Gen 9 ABS on overwatch at both ends. Overall, it’s a rather impressive list of features that is comparable to many top-shelf smoker bikes on the market right now.

Drivetrain

2017 2017 Zero DS / DSR
- image 697774

(DSR)

Now for my favorite part, and the area that makes this company so special: the battery-powered drivetrain. The DS comes with the Z-Force 75-5 radial-flux motor that puts out a maximum of 60 horsepower and 81 pound-feet of torque. A 550-amp controller delivers precise control over the motor, and all that torque is available as soon as you crack the throttle with no need to wind it up.

... a Z-Force 75-7R brushless motor cranks out an astonishing 116 pound-feet of torque backed up by 70 horsepower and a top speed of 102 mph.

The high-capacity, 13.0 power pack plus the Power Tank option provides a range of up to 184 miles at city speeds, but unlike gas-powered rides, the range drops as speed increases. Top speed is 98 mph across the board though sustainable speeds are between 80- and 85-mph. At the current electricity prices, it costs a mere $0.01 to $0.02 per mile to operate and something between $0.73 and $1.83 to fully charge. Actual ranges and charge times will vary due to variable too numerous to calculate, and Zero offers a number of charging and storage options so you can tailor the capabilities to your particular circumstances.

As expected, the DSR comes with a little more mustard on them biscuits in the form of a Z-Force 75-7R brushless motor that cranks out an astonishing 116 pound-feet of torque backed up by 70 horsepower and a top speed of 102 mph. A Z-Force lithium-ion battery pack provides storage for the entire range and buyers can expect between 165,000 and 414,000 miles worth of battery life depending on which battery options they choose.

No matter which combination of features or model you choose, a clutchless, direct-drive unit makes the connection to the rear wheel via belt drive for twist-and-forget operation and regenerative deceleration that converts kinetic energy back into electrical energy for storage in the battery while acting as a sort of compression brake.

Price

2017 2017 Zero DS / DSR
- image 697765

(DS)

The base-model DS with the small, ZF6.5 power pack starts out at $10,995, and the price quickly goes up from there as you add battery and charger options. Naturally, the DSR commands a higher base price at $15,995 with nearly as many opportunities to inflate that initial sticker with accessories, but both models enjoy government incentives at the federal level, and in some cases the state level, so visit the Zero site for the specifics in your area.

Competitor

2016 Energica Eva
- image 684768
2016 Victory Empulse TT
- image 644846

Things are rather lonely in this corner of the market. Sure, we have plenty of street-scntric EV bikes such as the Victory Empulse and a whole handful of Italian-styled rides from Energica, plus a few proper EV dirtbikes such as the KTM Freeride, but so far we have nothing quite like the DS range for a direct competitor. In fact, the power figures with the big 13.0 battery and 7R motor are definitely competitive with the largest displacement, smoker dual-sports out there.

Pricing is on par with models such as the KTM 950 Adventure that rolls for right around 14 grand, but only cranks out around 62 pounds of grunt, well shy of the performance of the Zero plant. Really, with the advances in both power storage and motor technology in recent years, the only real advantage with smoker bikes is the convenience of using liquid fuel, but as infrastructure expands and EV-friendly areas become more prevalent, even that will soon cease to be a dealbreaker.

He Said

“As always, I’m delighted to see EV coming along as a viable option to the status quo, and Zero is definitely leading the way. Sure, the Empulse got all the press on the Isle of Mann TT, but Zero is going about the business of trying to put an electric option on every table. Part of the resistance to change comes from the lack of choices, but Zero covers the spectrum with its current lineup, and I imagine they will be applying their tech to other genres moving forward. I look forward to seeing what comes next.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, "I share my husband’s enthusiasm for this growing electric sector, and these Zero bikes are a head and shoulders above the pack right now with increased range and improvements in battery technology."

Specifications

DS

Model: ZERO DS ZF6.5 ZERO DS ZF13.0 ZERO DS ZF13.0 +Power Tank
Range:
City: 74 miles (119 km) 147 miles (237 km) 184 miles (296 km)
Highway, 55 mph (89 km/h): 44 miles (71 km) 88 miles (142 km) 110 miles (177 km)
Combined: 55 miles (89 km) 110 miles (177 km) 138 miles (222 km)
Highway, 70 mph (113 km/h): 35 miles (56 km) 70 miles (113 km) 88 miles (142 km)
Combined: 47 miles (76 km) 95 miles (153 km) 119 miles (192 km)
Motor:
Peak torque 78 ft-lb (106 Nm) 81 ft-lb (110 Nm) 81 ft-lb (110 Nm)
Peak power: 46 hp (34 kW) @ 4,300 rpm 60 hp (45 kW) @ 5,300 rpm 60 hp (45 kW) @ 5,300 rpm
Top speed (max): 98 mph (158 km/h) 98 mph (158 km/h) 98 mph (158 km/h)
Top speed (sustained): 80 mph (129 km/h) 85 mph (137 km/h) 85 mph (137 km/h)
Type: Z-Force® 75-5 passively air-cooled, high efficiency, radial flux, interior permanent magnet, brushless motor Z-Force® 75-7 passively air-cooled, high efficiency, radial flux, interior permanent magnet, brushless motor Z-Force® 75-7 passively air-cooled, high efficiency, radial flux, interior permanent magnet, brushless motor
Controller: High efficiency, 550 amp, 3-phase brushless controller with regenerative deceleration High efficiency, 550 amp, 3-phase brushless controller with regenerative deceleration High efficiency, 550 amp, 3-phase brushless controller with regenerative deceleration
Power system:
Est. pack life to 80% (city): 165,000 miles (266,000 km) 331,000 miles (533,000 km) 414,000 miles (666,000 km)
Power pack Z-Force® Li-Ion intelligent integrated Z-Force® Li-Ion intelligent integrated Z-Force® Li-Ion intelligent integrated
Max capacity: 6.5 kWh 13.0 kWh 16.3 kWh
Nominal capacity: 5.7 kWh 11.4 kWh 14.3 kWh
Charger type: 1.3 kW, integrated 1.3 kW, integrated 1.3 kW, integrated
Charge time (standard): 4.7 hours (100% charged) / 4.2 hours (95% charged) 8.9 hours (100% charged) / 8.4 hours (95% charged) 11.0 hours (100% charged) / 10.5 hours (95% charged)
With Charge Tank accessory: 1.9 hours (100% charged) / 1.4 hours (95% charged) 3.4 hours (100% charged) / 2.9 hours (95% charged) N/A
With one accessory charger: 2.9 hours (100% charged) / 2.4 hours (95% charged) 5.2 hours (100% charged) / 4.7 hours (95% charged) 6.4 hours (100% charged) / 5.9 hours (95% charged)
With max accessory chargers: 1.6 hours (100% charged) / 1.1 hours (95% charged) 2.6 hours (100% charged) / 2.1 hours (95% charged) 3.1 hours (100% charged) / 2.6 hours (95% charged)
Input Standard 110 V or 220 V Standard 110 V or 220 V Standard 110 V or 220 V
Drivetrain:
Transmission: Clutchless direct drive Clutchless direct drive Clutchless direct drive
Final drive: 90T / 20T, Poly Chain® HTD® Carbon™ belt 90T / 20T, Poly Chain® HTD® Carbon™ belt 90T / 20T, Poly Chain® HTD® Carbon™ belt
Chassis / Suspension / Brakes:
Front suspension: Showa 41 mm inverted cartridge forks, with adjustable spring preload, compression and rebound damping Showa 41 mm inverted cartridge forks, with adjustable spring preload, compression and rebound damping Showa 41 mm inverted cartridge forks, with adjustable spring preload, compression and rebound damping
Rear suspension: Showa 40 mm piston, piggy-back reservoir shock with adjustable spring preload, compression and rebound damping Showa 40 mm piston, piggy-back reservoir shock with adjustable spring preload, compression and rebound damping Showa 40 mm piston, piggy-back reservoir shock with adjustable spring preload, compression and rebound damping
Front suspension travel: 7.00 in (178 mm) 7.00 in (178 mm) 7.00 in (178 mm)
Rear suspension travel: 7.03 in (179 mm) 7.03 in (179 mm) 7.03 in (179 mm)
Front brakes: Bosch Gen 9 ABS, J-Juan asymmetric dual piston floating caliper, 320 x 5 mm disc Bosch Gen 9 ABS, J-Juan asymmetric dual piston floating caliper, 320 x 5 mm disc Bosch Gen 9 ABS, J-Juan asymmetric dual piston floating caliper, 320 x 5 mm disc
Rear brakes: Bosch Gen 9 ABS, J-Juan single piston floating caliper, 240 x 4.5 mm disc Bosch Gen 9 ABS, J-Juan single piston floating caliper, 240 x 4.5 mm disc Bosch Gen 9 ABS, J-Juan single piston floating caliper, 240 x 4.5 mm disc
Front tire: Pirelli MT-60 100/90-19 Pirelli MT-60 100/90-19 Pirelli MT-60 100/90-19
Rear tire: Pirelli MT-60 130/80-17 Pirelli MT-60 130/80-17 Pirelli MT-60 130/80-17
Front wheel: 2.50 x 19 2.50 x 19 2.50 x 19
Rear wheel: 3.50 x 17 3.50 x 17 3.50 x 17
Dimensions:
Wheelbase: 56.2 in (1,427 mm) 56.2 in (1,427 mm) 56.2 in (1,427 mm)
Seat height: 33.2 in (843 mm) 33.2 in (843 mm) 33.2 in (843 mm)
Rake: 26.5° 26.5° 26.5°
Trail: 4.6 in (117 mm) 4.6 in (117 mm) 4.6 in (117 mm)
Weight:
Frame: 23 lb (10.4 kg) 23 lb (10.4 kg) 23 lb (10.4 kg)
Curb weight: 317 lb (144 kg) 413 lb (187 kg) 457 lb (207 kg)
Carrying capacity: 417 lb (189 kg) 362 lb (164 kg) 318 lb (144 kg)
Economy:
Equivalent fuel economy (city): 435 MPGe (0.54 l/100 km) 435 MPGe (0.54 l/100 km) 435 MPGe (0.54 l/100 km)
Equivalent fuel economy (highway): 210 MPGe (1.12 l/100 km) 210 MPGe (1.12 l/100 km) 210 MPGe (1.12 l/100 km)
Typical cost to recharge: $0.73 $1.46 $1.83
Pricing:
Effective price after federal tax credit: $9,895 $12,595 $15,023
MSRP: $10,995 $13,995 $16,690
Warranty:
Standard motorcycle warranty: 2 years 2 years 2 years
Power pack warranty: 5 years/unlimited miles 5 years/unlimited miles 5 years/unlimited miles

DSR

Model: ZERO DSR ZF13.0 ZERO DSR ZF13.0 +Power Tank
Range:
City: 147 miles (237 km) 184 miles (296 km)
Highway, 55 mph (89 km/h): 88 miles (142 km) 110 miles (177 km)
Combined: 110 miles (177 km) 138 miles (222 km)
Highway, 70 mph (113 km/h): 70 miles (113 km) 88 miles (142 km)
Combined: 95 miles (153 km) 119 miles (192 km)
Motor:
Peak torque: 116 ft-lb (157 Nm) 116 ft-lb (157 Nm)
Peak power: 70 hp (52 kW) @ 3,500 rpm 70 hp (52 kW) @ 3,500 rpm
Top speed (max): 102 mph (164 km/h) 102 mph (164 km/h)
Top speed (sustained): 90 mph (145 km/h) 90 mph (145 km/h)
Type: Z-Force® 75-7R passively air-cooled, high efficiency, radial flux, interior permanent hi-temp magnet, brushless motor Z-Force® 75-7R passively air-cooled, high efficiency, radial flux, interior permanent hi-temp magnet, brushless motor
Controller: High efficiency, 775 amp, 3-phase brushless controller with regenerative deceleration High efficiency, 775 amp, 3-phase brushless controller with regenerative deceleration
Power system:
Est. pack life to 80% (city): 331,000 miles (533,000 km) 414,000 miles (666,000 km)
Power pack: Z-Force® Li-Ion intelligent integrated Z-Force® Li-Ion intelligent integrated
Max capacity: 13.0 kWh 16.3 kWh
Nominal capacity: 11.4 kWh 14.3 kWh
Charger type: 1.3 kW, integrated 1.3 kW, integrated
Charge time (standard): 8.9 hours (100% charged) / 8.4 hours (95% charged) 11.0 hours (100% charged) / 10.5 hours (95% charged)
With Charge Tank accessory: 3.4 hours (100% charged) / 2.9 hours (95% charged) N/A
With one accessory charger: 5.2 hours (100% charged) / 4.7 hours (95% charged) 6.4 hours (100% charged) / 5.9 hours (95% charged)
With max accessory chargers: 2.6 hours (100% charged) / 2.1 hours (95% charged) 3.1 hours (100% charged) / 2.6 hours (95% charged)
Input: Standard 110 V or 220 V Standard 110 V or 220 V
Drivetrain:
Transmission Clutchless direct drive Clutchless direct drive
Final drive 90T / 20T, Poly Chain® HTD® Carbon™ belt 90T / 20T, Poly Chain® HTD® Carbon™ belt
Chassis / Suspension / Brakes:
Front suspension Showa 41 mm inverted cartridge forks, with adjustable spring preload, compression and rebound damping Showa 41 mm inverted cartridge forks, with adjustable spring preload, compression and rebound damping
Rear suspension Showa 40 mm piston, piggy-back reservoir shock with adjustable spring preload, compression and rebound damping Showa 40 mm piston, piggy-back reservoir shock with adjustable spring preload, compression and rebound damping
Front suspension travel: 7.00 in (178 mm) 7.00 in (178 mm)
Rear suspension travel: 7.03 in (179 mm) 7.03 in (179 mm)
Front brakes: Bosch Gen 9 ABS, J-Juan asymmetric dual piston floating caliper, 320 x 5 mm disc Bosch Gen 9 ABS, J-Juan asymmetric dual piston floating caliper, 320 x 5 mm disc
Rear brakes: Bosch Gen 9 ABS, J-Juan single piston floating caliper, 240 x 4.5 mm disc Bosch Gen 9 ABS, J-Juan single piston floating caliper, 240 x 4.5 mm disc
Front tire: Pirelli MT-60 100/90-19 Pirelli MT-60 100/90-19
Rear tire: Pirelli MT-60 130/80-17 Pirelli MT-60 130/80-17
Front wheel: 2.50 x 19 2.50 x 19
Rear wheel: 3.50 x 17 3.50 x 17
Dimensions:
Wheelbase: 56.2 in (1,427 mm) 56.2 in (1,427 mm)
Seat height: 33.2 in (843 mm) 33.2 in (843 mm)
Rake: 26.5° 26.5°
Trail: 4.6 in (117 mm) 4.6 in (117 mm)
Weight:
Frame: 23 lb (10.4 kg) 23 lb (10.4 kg)
Curb weight: 419 lb (190 kg) 463 lb (210 kg)
Carrying capacity: 356 lb (161 kg) 312 lb (142 kg)
Economy:
Equivalent fuel economy (city): 435 MPGe (0.54 l/100 km) 435 MPGe (0.54 l/100 km)
Equivalent fuel economy (highway): 210 MPGe (1.12 l/100 km) 210 MPGe (1.12 l/100 km)
Typical cost to recharge: $1.46 $1.83
Pricing:
Effective price after federal tax credit: $14,395 $16,823
MSRP: $15,995 $18,690
Warranty:
Standard motorcycle warranty: 2 years 2 years
Power pack warranty: 5 years/unlimited miles 5 years/unlimited miles

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Image Source: zeromotorcycles.com, victorymotorycles.com, energicamotor.com

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