ZERO DSR X (2022 - on) Review

Highlights

  • First electric adventure bike to hit production
  • Claimed combined range of 115 miles
  • Optional rapid charge gets to 95% in 1 hour

At a glance

Power: 100 bhp
Seat height: Medium (32.6 in / 828 mm)
Weight: High (545 lbs / 247 kg)

Prices

New £24,150
Used £19,900

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The Zero DSR/X has narrowly claimed the accolade of being the world’s first all-electric adventure bike - just beating the Energica Experia to production. Creating the bike is a no-brainer for Zero. The adventure market is huge (and still expanding) and, as first attempts go, it’s impressive. They must be applauded not just for their engineering and design but also bravery.

Weight is comparable to a conventional adventure bike. Lean-sensitive rider aids, (including hill control) both on and off-road, are useful and effective. The bike is comfortable, smooth, vibration-free, silent, easy to ride both on tarmac and the dirt, and has that instant surge of torque that will make even petrol heads smile.

During the test, I covered 81km/50miles of relatively hard riding, on and off-road, with 105km/65 miles or 60% of the battery charge remaining. In theory, that makes for 186km/115.5 miles in total, which matches Zero’s claimed combined range.

Zero DSR/X on the road

The big question will be whether that is enough. Is a 100-mile ride enough for an adventure machine? Do you really want to stop for a two-hour lunch to re-charge? The optional Rapid Charge Module (£2459), will allow you to re-charge in an hour, but stopping every 100 miles might not be to everyone’s taste.

Even a weekend tour would have to be carefully planned, especially if you intend to ride two up with luggage. Meanwhile, Zero’s claimed range for motorway miles drops to 137km/ 85miles.

It should be inexpensive to run and comes with unique features like the park assist, and extra storage where the dummy fuel tank is but there is no hiding the fact the initial outlay is expensive.

Zero DSR/X with luggage rear

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
4 out of 5 (4/5)

To produce an all-new fully electric adventure bike, Zero haven’t simply dressed up an existing model. The DSR/X is an entirely new bike with a completely new frame, subframe and swing-arm all designed to be stronger than their previous models to take the extra weight and demands of off-road.

There’s long-travel, fully adjustable Showa suspension front and rear, increased ground clearance, a stronger belt drive, and re-designed sprocket, plus off-road biased wheel sizes (19-inch front 17-inch rear).

The electronics are all new too and feature five riding modes: Rain, Eco, Sport, Canyon and Standard. There isn’t a specific off-road mode, but each mode has its own off-road setting, which is simple and easy to select. Lean-sensitive ABS and traction control settings have been produced in partnership with Bosch to work both on and off-road. Furthermore, you can remove TC and ABS should you wish to do so.

Zero DSR/X turning left on the road

Road handling is impressive and comparable to other large premium bikes in this class. The directly mounted rear Showa shock is fully adjustable and has a big task controlling the weight and immense torque but it is up for the job. Equally, the 47mm Showa fully adjustable forks cope with the impressive stopping power of the J-Juan brakes.

The ride is on the soft side, this isn’t a sporty adventure bike, but it is more than capable of carving up a mountain pass with ease, as we discovered on the bike’s launch on Mount Etna in Scilly.

Ground clearance is sufficient, and quality Pirelli Scorpion rubber, combined with that extremely strong mid-range grunt and reassuring lean-sensitive rider aids, plus changeable engine braking (re-gen), make for a fun ride.

Zero DSR/X kicking up dust

But has Zero possibly missed a trick?  The manually adjustable suspension doesn’t offer the versatility of the semi-active suspension you’d find on the cheaper petrol competition, which transforms when you ride off-road. The DSR/X remains the same unless you manually change the setup. Off-road, it’s not bad and its low-speed balance is as sweet as a GS’s, but there are clear limitations and a KTM Adventure it is not.

The 247kg weight may sound like a lot - because it is - but it's comparable to a fully fuelled BMW R1250GS.

Engine

Next up: Reliability
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The DSR/X shares the same 17.3Kwh battery pack as Zero’s other premium bikes but the Z-Force 75-10x motor is all new, making this the most torque-rich bike in the range. Peaks of 225Nm/166lbft of torque and 75Kw/102bhp at 3650rpm deliver a punch Mike Tyson would be proud of. Zero claim a top speed of 180kph/111mph, plus there is a useful Park Mode featuring a slow speed reverse and crawl function.

Charging times are also impressive. With the optional Rapid Charge Module you can cram a 95% charge into the battery in as little as 60 minutes. That jumps to two hours with a level two charger and a whopping 10 hours through a three-pin domestic plug.

On the plus side, this is the most powerful Zero to date, and it feels it. Even in Eco mode there’s more than enough torque to embarrass most of the adventure competition away from the lights. Canyon mode is comically fast, you can say farewell to almost anything in a straight line. Twist the throttle and go — no engine noise, no gears, just instant and rapid acceleration. Not what you’d expect from a 247kg adventure bike.

Zero DSR/X battery

Each mode has its own power character and engine re-gen; only Sport and Canyon are full power. Eco, Rain and Standard are easy to live with and have a nice connection, if a little sharp. Canyon and Sport are mind-bendingly quick, and owners will really need that lean-sensitive TC back in the wet and slippery UK. The Canyon mode was my preferred option, with enough engine re-gen to make it feel like a big V-twin.

Off-road, with so much torque, it is all too easy to get the rear spinning. The instant torque gives the off-road specific TC a hard time but when ridden sensibly, the lack of gears, clutch, heat and noise makes it easier for less experienced riders. There’s a lovely low-speed balance, too, that’s similar to BMW R1250GS.

Zero DSR/X motor

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
4 out of 5 (4/5)

As a brand new model, the jury's out on the DSR/X's reliability but it's well put together - as are the other bikes in the range - and with fewer moving parts than a petrol equivalent, there isn't too much to go wrong.

Time will tell how the batteries cope with hundreds (and then thousands) of charge cycles, too.

Zero DSR/X ridden through the trees

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
3 out of 5 (3/5)

If there’s an elephant in the room with the Zero DSR/X, it’s the £24,150 price. Yes, running costs will be low, but that is considerably more than the competition, even a fully spec’d Ducati Multistrada V4S with luggage and adaptive cruise control is £23,245.

The Zero doesn’t have adaptive electronic suspension, isn’t keyless, has no radar.  What’s more, the Power Tank option to increase the range adds £2899. And then it’s another £2459 for the Rapid Charger Module.

There is another electric adventure bike about to hit the market in the form of the Energica Experia, but at £27,700 it doesn't represent a budget alternative. Realistically, the Zero will need to tempt existing BMW R1250GS and Multistrada riders away from petrol machines and that's a big ask.

Zero DSR/X left side

 

Equipment

3 out of 5 (3/5)

The spec is generous with cruise control, a full-colour dash with connectivity, a lockable 20l storage compartment where you’d normally find a fuel tank, plus small storage compartments on both sides of the upper bodywork, accessed by a tool from under the seat.

There’s a relatively low seat for an adventure bike plus a huge range of accessories including luggage and more off-road biased tyres. As a first attempt at an all-electric adventure bike, Zero are ticking plenty of boxes.

Zero DSR/X in green and white

Specs

Engine size -
Engine type Z-Force 75-10x motor - Interior Permanent Magnet AC Synchronous (IPMAC)
Frame type Steel tubular trellis
Fuel capacity -
Seat height 828mm
Bike weight 247kg
Front suspension Showa 47mm fork – 190mm travel, fully adjustable
Rear suspension Showa shock – 190mm travel, fully adjustable
Front brake 2x 320mm disc, Dual J-Juan radial 4-piston calipers. Cornering ABS
Rear brake 265mm disc, two-piston caliper. Cornering ABS
Front tyre size 120/70 x 19
Rear tyre size 170/60 x 17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption -
Annual road tax -
Annual service cost -
New price £24,150
Used price £19,900
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two Years

Top speed & performance

Max power 100 bhp
Max torque 166 ft-lb
Top speed -
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 115 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

Model introduced in 2022.

Other versions

None

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