Zero Brings A Proper Adventure Bike To The U.S.

Zero Motorcycles has been at the cutting edge of EV bike development ever since it hit the scene in 2006, and the marque expands its footprint into adventure-bike territory with its new DSR “Black Forest” model. The Black Forest builds on the Zero DSDual Sport” adding long-distance comfort items and ample dry storage to lend it a level of utility that could only be had from the accessory catalog before now. Long-distance power capacity and the usual snappy torque delivery round out the package to make this EV at home almost anywhere.

  • 2020 Zero DSR Black Forest
  • Year:
    2020
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Top Speed:
    102 mph
  • Price:
    18999
  • Price:

2020 Zero DSR Black Forest Design

2020 Zero DSR Black Forest
- image 863179
2020 Zero DSR Black Forest
- image 863184
The DSR Black Forest has all the important globetrotting high points represented, starting with the ADV bike profile dominated by the tall windshield and large topcase.

The adventuresome spirit is strong with this one. The DSR Black Forest greets the world with all the important globetrotting high points represented, starting with the ADV bike profile dominated by the tall windshield and large topcase. I’m not sad to see the fuel-tank hump that usually dominates this genre reduced to a vestigial bump, to be honest, and the lack of mass around the front-middle kind of opens up the rider’s pocket.

A beefy front end has a tripletree-mount mudguard with fork foot-mount guards to protect the swept area of the inner fork tube. There’s a headlight grille and LED spotlights that are designated as “off-road use only” plus front turn signals to wrap up the forward lighting. The touring windshield comes with a little wind deflector to help shape the wind pocket, and it’s well vented for smooth slipstream reintegration to minimize the head-buffet effect. Stock handguards protect your hamburger shovels from brush strikes and weather to complete the pilot’s protection.

A pair of sport drop bars bolt up at the gape of the cowl scoop to protect the bike if you drop it in the parking lot or when doing something risky on an off-road adventure. A short-rise bar and mid-mount foot controls defines a relaxed upright seated rider’s triangle that’ll let you stand up on the pegs for technical work though taller riders may feel a bit cramped in that position.

The flanges atop the tank bump form pockets for your knees for improved rider-to-machine integration. Stock fold-up passenger footpegs and a wide p-pad keep your passenger comfortable, and while the top case doesn’t come standard with a pad on it, it still acts as a hell of a butt-stop to help keep your passenger aboard.

The obvious stars of the rear end are the pair of panniers and large luggage box that gives the Black Forest its utility as an adventure bike, but I submit to you that the very same attributes make it an excellent commuter. Think about it; you have comfort items and protection from the weather, dry lockable storage, and almost 200 miles of range in the city. A range of recharge options are available and can be configured to soak up enough power for almost 100 miles for each hour of charging, so you can quickly recover from your trips. For the type of riding I mostly do, this machine would serve me just fine.

2020 Zero DSR Black Forest Chassis

2020 Zero DSR Black Forest
- image 863195
2020 Zero DSR Black Forest
- image 863181
2020 Zero DSR Black Forest
- image 863185
The suspension is very forgiving and handling is smooth, but a little heavy with the panniers on.

An aluminum twin-spar frame provides the main structure on the DSR Black Forest with a yoke-style swingarm to complete the skeleton; all of which come with complex shapes that are meant to increase strength without adding extra weight. Cast rims round out the rolling chassis in a five Y-spoke configuration and dual-surface Pirelli MT-60 hoops in a 100/90-19 up front opposite a 130/80-17. The tread has deep grooves for improved traction on soft surfaces, but with sufficient street flats to make it comfortable on the tarmac. If you plan on using it strictly for your urban commute, I’d recommend that you invest in some straight-up street tires.

The suspension shows more of the Black Forest’s off-road chops with 41 mm inverted Showa forks that offer the full trinity of adjustments and seven inches of travel. Out back, a 40 mm Showa monoshock brings the same set of adjustments to the table along with 7.03 inches of travel that’ll soak up quite a bit of abuse. Plus, the all-around adjustability lets you tweak and tune to your heart’s content to get the thing set up just like you want it.

J-Juan brake calipers grab a 320 mm disc up front and a 240 mm disc out back to slow things down, and there’s a stock Bosch Gen 9 ABS feature that ensures you don’t lose traction by overdoing it at the brake levers. The DSR platform maintains its agility through a 26.5-degree rake angle and 4.6-inch trail over a 56.2-inch wheelbase, and that should be just far enough from the bottom of the range to keep the Black Forest from being too twitchy.

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

2020 Zero DSR Black Forest Drivetrain

2020 Zero DSR Black Forest
- image 863198
2020 Zero DSR Black Forest
- image 863182
2020 Zero DSR Black Forest
- image 863178
As you'd expect, the torque is of the 'stump-pulling' kind and immediate.

The beating heart of the Black Forest is the brushless Z-Force 75-7R motor that relies on permanent magnets and radial flux for its grunty performance along with a stock 14.4 kWh power storage capacity. If you opt for the Power Tank accessory, you can boost the capacity up to 18.0 kWh and city range up by another 40 miles for a total city mileage of 196 miles. Yeah, it’s safe to say that kind of range would see most of us to work and back home, and certainly down to the grocery store and on a long weekend of camping. In other words, the things we usually use bikes for.

On the highway, the mileage drops to 91 miles or 114 miles combined mileage, respectively, but that’s still a pretty good chunk of road to cover on one charge. It’s a direct drive that sends power to the rear wheel via a carbon-reinforced belt drive sans transmission, so there’s no clutch lever or toe shifter, just twist-and-go operation.

Since it’s an electric drive, there is no need to spool up to develop the maximum power so the full 116 pound-feet of torque is available as soon as you “crack the throttle” as it were. That stump-pulling torque is backed up by 70 horsepower, and you can expect to sustain a 90 mph cruise speed with momentary bursts up to 102 mph; plenty for public roads.

The on-board 1.3kW charger will deliver a 100-percent charge from dead flat in 9.8 hours for the ZF14.4 model or 12.1 hours for the 18.0 kWh model. Bear in mind, these are the numbers from the factory on machines performing under perfect conditions, so individual results may vary, but Zero’s figures are close enough to serve as a reference point.

If you spring for the extra accessory chargers, you can get the full charge time down to 3.3 hours on the larger battery, and if you leave the optional Power Tank off and instead go with the Charge Tank, you can get the full charge time down to a mere 2.5 hours. Oh and perhaps best of all, you can “fill up” for right around two dollars, so it’s an inexpensive bike to operate especially once you factor in all the maintenance on which you’ll be saving money. You can wear out your brakes, tires, and drive belt system, but that’s about it, and the motor only has one moving part, so you can forget all the expensive oil and fluid changes that add to the operating costs.

Model:Zero DSR Black Forest ZF14.4Zero DSR Black Forest ZF14.4 +Power Tank
Motor: 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
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
Controller: High efficiency, 775 amp, 3-phase brushless controller with regenerative deceleration High efficiency, 775 amp, 3-phase brushless controller with regenerative deceleration
Power pack: Z-Force® Li-Ion intelligent integrated Z-Force® Li-Ion intelligent integrated
Max capacity: 14.4 kWh 18.0 kWh
Nominal capacity: 12.6 kWh 15.8 kWh
Charger type: 1.3 kW, integrated 1.3 kW, integrated

2020 Zero DSR Black Forest Pricing

2020 Zero DSR Black Forest
- image 863194
2020 Zero DSR Black Forest
- image 863180
2020 Zero DSR Black Forest
- image 863187
MSRP starts at $19k with the option for either a Power Tank at $2.9k or a Charge Tank at $2.5k.

The stock DSR Black Forest rolls with the base 14.4 kWh battery for $18,995. If you want the 18 kWh Power Tank option you can add another $2,895, and if you’d prefer to go with the Charge Tank, you can expect to shell out another $2,495. Either system will support up to two Quick Chargers at $600 apiece.

Model:Zero DSR Black Forest ZF14.4Zero DSR Black Forest ZF14.4 +Power Tank
Warranty:
└ Standard motorcycle warranty: 5 years/unlimited miles 5 years/unlimited miles
Color: Black Effect Black Effect
Price: $18,995 $21,890
Options & Accessories:
└ Power Tank: + $2,895.00 Included
└ Charge Tank: + $2,495.00 NA
└ Quick Charger: + $600.00 + $600.00

2020 Zero DSR Black Forest Competitors

2020 Zero DSR Black Forest
- image 863186
2020 Harley-Davidson LiveWire
- image 804461
Harley wins the tech category with its Reflex Defensive Rider Systems package, but you'll pay dearly for that at the checkout counter.

Zero is blazing the trail for the rest of the industry, and the response from the smoker-bike makers has been lukewarm as they weigh the risks with this burgeoning market. With that in mind, I decided to grab Harley-Davidson’s long-awaited LiveWire just to see how it stacks up against the DSR Black Forest.

Right off the bat, the LiveWire comes off much more like a proper naked sportbike than an adventurer, but credit where it’s due, it ain’t a bad looking machine and it’s much less industrial looking than the Zero. Too bad if you want to carry anything; if you can’t bungee it to your p-pad, you gonna’ have to backpack it.

Let’s not get bogged down in details and instead get to what you really want to know. The H-D will go from 0-to-60 mph in only three seconds, all with nary a shift to be found. It’s got 105-horsepower on tap with a 146-mile range in the city, and perhaps best of all, you can fully charge the LiveWire in only 60 minutes at a DC fast-charging station. H-D wins the tech category with its Reflex Defensive Rider Systems package that bundles all the common ride-quality and safety tweaks together. The thing is, you’ll pay for that tech, handsomely. The LiveWire rolls for no less than $29,799 which is quite a jump in price, even for a fully-modded Black Forest.

He Said

“This is an exciting model. It expands the EV bike sphere of influence into the urban-globetrotter market, and it covers the practical commuter sector as well. I know I could make it work, and if Zero keeps up its rate of improvement, I won’t have much reason not to try it out.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “The DSR Black Forest is new for our market for 2020, but it was released last year in Europe to meet the growing demand for electric touring. I think “touring” in Europe is a bit different than what we call “touring,” but as an adventure bike, I can see this working. Performance is sporty, as you would expect on a modern electric bike. Storage is roomy, though if you use it as a commuter and you have to filter, those panniers need to come off.”

2020 Zero DSR Black Forest Specifications

Model:Zero DSR Black Forest ZF14.4Zero DSR Black Forest ZF14.4 +Power Tank
Range:
City: 157 miles (253 km) 196 miles (315 km)
Highway, 55 mph (89 km/h): 88 miles (142 km) 110 miles (177 km)
└ Combined : 112 miles (180 km) 141 miles (227 km)
Highway, 70 mph (113 km/h): 64 miles (103 km) 80 miles (129 km)
└ Combined : 91 miles (146 km) 114 miles (183 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:
Power pack: Z-Force® Li-Ion intelligent integrated Z-Force® Li-Ion intelligent integrated
Max capacity: 14.4 kWh 18.0 kWh
Nominal capacity: 12.6 kWh 15.8 kWh
Charger type: 1.3 kW, integrated 1.3 kW, integrated
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 one accessory charger: 5.7 hours (100% charged) / 5.2 hours (95% charged) 7.0 hours (100% charged) / 6.5 hours (95% charged)
└ With max accessory chargers: 2.8 hours (100% charged) / 2.3 hours (95% charged) 3.3 hours (100% charged) / 2.8 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:
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 & Capacities:
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)
Curb weight: 489 lb (222 kg) 531 lb (241 kg)
Carrying capacity: 417 lb (189 kg) 375 lb (170 kg)
Equivalent fuel economy (city): 435 MPGe (0.54 l/100 km) 435 MPGe (0.54 l/100 km)
Equivalent fuel economy (highway): 207 MPGe (1.13 l/100 km) 207 MPGe (1.13 l/100 km)
Typical cost to recharge: $1.61 $2.02
Details:
Warranty:
└ Standard motorcycle warranty: 5 years/unlimited miles 5 years/unlimited miles
Color: Black Effect Black Effect
Price: $18,995 $21,890

Further Reading

Harley-Davidson LiveWire

2020 Harley-Davidson LiveWire
- image 804467

See our look at the Harley-Davidson LiveWire.

Zero DS / DSR

2019 Zero Motorcycles DS / DSR
- image 809196

See our review of the Zero DS / DSR.

Zero Motorcycles

ALLYN IMAGES: DO NOT DELETE
- image 805821

Read more Zero Motorcycles news.

TJ Hinton
T.J got an early start from his father and other family members who owned and rode motorcycles, and by helping with various mechanical repairs throughout childhood. That planted a seed that grew into a well-rounded appreciation of all things mechanical, and eventually, into a formal education of same. Though primarily a Harley rider, he has an appreciation for all sorts of bikes and doesn't discriminate against any particular brand or region of origin. He currently holds an Associate's degree in applied mechanical science from his time at the M.M.I.  Read More
About the author

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

Press release
What do you think?
Show Comments
Motorcycle Finder: