Dhe Etna, the mighty and still active volcano, holds its otherwise often steaming breath. A few travel enduro bikes cavort on its slopes at altitudes between about 550 and 1600 meters. That happens more often. But different: Then a Ducati Multistrada thunders a rumbling one bmw R 1250 GS ahead or a high-revving KTM 890 Adventure. On this day it is comparatively quiet. The plastic drive belts hum, and of course the medium-treaded Pirelli Scorpion Trail II tires roll audibly. But instead of the usual engine noise, a buzzing can be heard.
The motorcycles, each weighing 247 kilos and developing a good 100 hp, are powered by an electric motor and therefore carry an 81-kilo, 17.3-kWh battery pack in their space frame. They accelerate when they are supposed to, vehemently. So far, so remarkable: With the DSR/X, Zero Motorcycles is introducing a new model that hardly anyone would have expected.
Electric motorcycles are still rare, electric travel enduros even more so. Batteries and long-distance routes don’t really go together given the limited installation space on two wheels, which is why we keep hearing from well-known manufacturers that something like this is far from on the horizon. Zero sees it differently, as the DSR/X proves. Incidentally, the Italian manufacturer Energica was on the market a few weeks earlier with its crossover model Experia: 222 kilometers standard range in mixed operation, 22.5 kWh battery, 60 kW motor, weight 260 kilos. A surprise no doubt, albeit from a small niche player.
Zero has had a steep learning curve
Zero is certainly more relevant. The American company has been on the market since 2006 and in Germany since 2009. The first Zeros seemed very awkward, initially equipped with bicycle components. But those days are over, Zero has had a steep learning curve. The latest, smartly designed models, the SR/S and SR/F, caused quite a stir, both intended for road use only. And now? “The category of adventure sport bikes is the most important of all,” says Zero’s European boss Umberto Uccelli.
If necessary, the DSR/X also runs 180. But not for long, you know that from electric cars. It is therefore more important that she can also be deliberately slow. And how. The speed control on the “throttle grip” works extremely sensitively, and anyone who has a restless hand and therefore runs the risk of unintentionally opening the “gas” can stretch a safety net: the standard maneuvering aid limits the speed to 5 km/h, both forwards and backwards . Turning in tight spaces is also not a problem because the steering angle is large enough.
In general, the Zero DSR/X has many practical features: directly in front of the driver, a 20-litre storage compartment with a lid, lock and two USB sockets; height-adjustable windshield in different formats that can be adjusted with one hand; Side stand with oversized contact area; second, smaller storage compartment under the seat. Its height cannot be changed, but there are lower or higher versions to choose from.
There is also much else on board the Zero DSR/X that the technology has to offer today. Mention should be made here of fine Showa spring elements with extensive adjustment options, the Bosch MSC safety system with a six-axis sensor for controlling the traction control and the ABS even when leaning, a hill start aid, five driving modes with different power release and recuperation, an easily readable TFT -Display, a powerful radial brake system with double discs and quadruple pistons at the front and heated handlebar grips. Zero wants to rework the parking brake, because a motorcycle without a gearbox needs more than an electronic brake with an unannounced automatic release of the same.
Market leader among electricians
If the DSR/X is a weasel on asphalt, it is not quite as supple off-road, but rather a little stiff at the hips. However, the electric motor makes up for everything on difficult terrain. He is unstoppable, even just before he delivers the boost that keeps him from failing. The only question is whether the toothed belt driving the rear wheel can withstand the dirt thrown up and flying stones over the long term. The usual solution is chain or cardan.
Despite the 1000 meters difference in altitude that had to be overcome on Mount Etna, according to the cockpit display, the Zero DSR/X had around 40 percent of the battery capacity for almost 100 kilometers uphill and downhill at high speed. This gives hope that one could have 220 to 250 kilometers “in the tank” in only hilly terrain. Charging is faster than ever thanks to the new, integrated 6.6 kW charger. The DSR/X can go from zero to 95 percent in two hours on the wall box at Level 2, but it takes a long night to do this on the household socket. Based on an electricity price of 52 cents per kWh, a filling costs around 9 euros.
For the first time, Zero has hinted at the course of business in Sicily. You are approaching the mark of 10,000 produced vehicles per year, Uccelli hinted. Furthermore, the motorcycles are assembled by hand in Santa Cruz, a circumstance that is also cited to justify the stately prices. In the case of the DSR/X, it is 26,550 euros.
In Germany, Zero is the market leader among electricians. In the first eight months, 266 new registrations were registered, almost as many as in the entire previous year (281). This makes Germany the second largest market after the United States. Let’s see if the Californians can become a kind of two-wheeler Tesla.