New Batteries And Faster Charging

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-in-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 - 2018 Zero Motorcycles DS / DSR
  • Year:
    2017- 2018
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    Z-Force®
  • Top Speed:
    98 mph
  • Price:
    10995
  • Price:

Zero Motorcycles DS/DSR Design

2017 - 2018 Zero Motorcycles DS / DSR
- image 780480
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.

Zero Motorcycles DS/DSR Chassis

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

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.

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.

Front suspension: 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
Front suspension travel: 7.00 in (178 mm)
Rear suspension travel: 7.03 in (179 mm)
Front brakes: 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
Front tire: Pirelli MT-60 100/90-19
Rear tire: Pirelli MT-60 130/80-17
Front wheel: 2.50 x 19
Rear wheel: 3.50 x 17

Zero Motorcycles DS/DSR Drivetrain

2017 - 2018 Zero Motorcycles DS / DSR
- image 780475
Zero cranks out three new batteries for 2018 along with a rather amazing leap in its charging technology.

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.

The high-capacity, 13.0 power pack plus the Power Tank option provides a range of up to 188 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.

Zero cranks out three new batteries for 2018 along with a rather amazing leap in its charging technology. The new lithium-ion storage units come in the ZF3.6, ZF7.2 and ZF14.4 sizes with a ZF3.6 Power Tank that boosts the capacity/range further yet when coupled with the 14.4 main battery for a total of 18 kiloWatt hours and a “city range” of 223 miles. That’s right folks, this makes the Zero even more viable as a commuter, but the factory didn’t stop there, it doubled down with a faster charger, much faster. If recharging times are more important to you than miles-per-charge figures, then the 6 Kw Charge Tank feature may be for you with its ability to quickly slam a charge into the pack via 110/220 V AC receptacle or a Level 2 charging station.

Additionally, the factory re-wrote its mobile App Firmware so you can use your smartphone to tune the performance delivery rather than hauling it down to the dealership. What’s this all mean? Well, in short, it gives EV bikes a violent shove into the viable zone. But don’t take my word for it, check out what Zero’s CTO Abe Askenazi had to say:

Zero’s new 6 kW Charge Tank allows riders to charge at speeds of up to 103 miles per hour of charging at any of the growing number of over 14,000 Level 2 charging stations in the US or around the world. This means riders can add 30 miles of ‘fuel’ in the time it takes to stop for a cup of coffee or fully recharge over lunch. This completely changes the utility of electric motorcycles by eliminating long recharging times.” Sounds good to me.

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.

Motor: Z-Force® 75-5R passively air-cooled, high efficiency, radial flux, interior permanent magnet, brushless motor
Transmission: Clutchless direct drive
Final drive: 90T / 20T, Poly Chain® HTD® Carbon™ belt

Zero Motorcycles DS/DSR Price

2017 - 2018 Zero Motorcycles DS / DSR
- image 780472
Yes, they're pricey, but both models enjoy government incentives at the federal level, and in some cases the state level.

The base-model DS with the small, ZF7.2 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 $16,690 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.

Price: $10,995 to $16,690
Warranty: 2 years
Power pack warranty: 5 years/unlimited mile

Zero Motorcycles DS/DSR Competitors

2017 KTM Freeride E-XC
- image 780470
2016 Victory Empulse TT
- image 780469
We have plenty of electric streetbikes, but the electric dual-sport field is still sparse.

Things are rather lonely in this corner of the market. Sure, we have plenty of street-scentric 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 14.4 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 rolled 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 deal breaker.

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

Zero Motorcycles DS Charging & Range

Battery  ZF7.2  ZF13.0 ZF13.0 +POWER TANK
City: 82 miles (132 km) 147 miles (237 km) 188 miles (303 km)
Highway, 70 mph (113 km/h): 39 miles (63 km) 70 miles (113 km) 89 miles (143 km)
Combined: 53 miles (85 km) 95 miles (153 km) 121 miles (195 km)
Peak torque: 78 ft-lb (106 Nm) 81 ft-lb (110 Nm) 81 ft-lb (110 Nm)
Peak power: 34 hp (25 kW) @ 4,300 rpm 60 hp (45 kW) @ 5,300 rpm 60 hp (45 kW) @ 5,300 rpm
Top speed (max): 91 mph (146 km/h) 98 mph (158 km/h) 98 mph (158 km/h)
Max capacity: 7.2 kWh 13.0 kWh 16.6 kWh
Typical cost to recharge: $0.81 $1.46 $1.86
Charge time (standard): 5.2 hours (100% charged) / 4.7 hours (95% charged) 8.9 hours (100% charged) / 8.4 hours (95% charged) 11.3 hours (100% charged) / 10.8 hours (95% charged)
With Charge Tank option: 1.5 hours (100% charged) / 1.0 hour (95% charged) 2.3 hours (100% charged) / 1.8 hours (95% charged) N/A
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)
Curb weight: 317 lb (144 kg) 413 lb (187 kg) 457 lb (207 kg)

Zero Motorcycle DSR Charging & Range

Battery  ZF14.4 ZF14.4 +POWER TANK
City: 163 miles (262 km) 204 miles (328 km)
Highway, 70 mph (113 km/h): 78 miles (126 km) 97 miles (156 km)
Combined 105 miles (169 km): 132 miles (212 km)
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)
Max capacity: 14.4 kWh 18.0 kWh
Typical cost to recharge: $1.61 $2.02
Charge time (standard): 9.8 hours (100% charged) / 9.3 hours (95% charged) 12.1 hours (100% charged) / 11.6 hours (95% charged)
With Charge Tank option: 2.5 hours (100% charged) / 2.0 hours (95% charged) N/A
With max accessory chargers: 2.8 hours (100% charged) / 2.3 hours (95% charged) 3.3 hours (100% charged) / 2.8 hours (95% charged)
Curb weight: 419 lb (190 kg) 463 lb (210 kg)

DS/DSR Motorcycle

Motor:
Type: Z-Force® 75-5 passively air-cooled, high efficiency, radial flux, interior permanent magnet, brushless motor
Drivetrain:
Transmission: Clutchless direct drive
Final drive: 90T / 20T, Poly Chain® HTD® Carbon™ belt
Chassis:
Front suspension: 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
Front suspension travel: 7.00 in (178 mm)
Rear suspension travel: 7.03 in (179 mm)
Front brakes: 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
Front tire: Pirelli MT-60 100/90-19
Rear tire: Pirelli MT-60 130/80-17
Front wheel: 2.50 x 19
Rear wheel: 3.50 x 17
Dimensions:
Wheelbase: 56.2 in (1,427 mm)
Seat height: 33.2 in (843 mm)
Rake: 26.5°
Trail: 4.6 in (117 mm)
Weight:
Frame: 23 lb (10.4 kg)
Curb weight: 317 lb up to 463 lb (210 kg)
Carrying capacity: 417 lb (189 kg)down to 312 lb (142 kg)
Pricing:
MSRP: $10,995 to $16,690
Warranty:
Standard motorcycle warranty: 2 years
Power pack warranty: 5 years/unlimited miles

References

Victory Empulse TT

2016 Victory Empulse TT
- image 780467

See our review of the Victory Empulse TT.

KTM Freeride E

2017 KTM Freeride E-XC
- image 725875

See our review of the KTM Freeride E.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: zeromotorcycles.com, victorymotorycles.com, energicamotor.com, ktm.com,

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