Road Test: Zero DSR
When it comes to efficient commuting or rapid urban delivery, could an electric motorbike be the answer, asks Dan Gilkes.
Combining the benefits of a motorcycle in urban traffic with the zero emissions capability of an electric vehicle may seem like an obvious move. However it remains a relatively rare formula. Zero Motorcycles of Santa Cruz in California, has been leading the charge with electric bikes since 2006.
Re‐launched in the UK in 2015, with a heavily updated range, the company is finally seeing sales grow. There are a host of models available, though all follow a similar supermoto/street bike theme.
The two powertrains on offer for the road bike range are the ZF9.8, delivering a maximum 9.8kWh and the ZF13, with its 13kWh output. The company also offers smaller motocross‐styled bikes with 3.3kWh and 6.5kWh outputs.
The range‐topping DSR ZF13 is an adventure styled bike, with a dual sport windscreen and a rather stealth‐like allblack colour scheme. That stealth theme continues on the move, as the Zero makes almost no noise as it slices silently through traffic.
This does mean that despite a bright headlight, there is no way to blip the throttle to politely ask car and van drivers to move over when filtering though. The bike is powered by a Z‐Force lithium‐ion battery pack, with a maximum 50kW output. This delivers a nominal capacity of 114kW and 144Nm of torque, driving through a single speed, high efficiency brushless motor with belt drive to the rear wheel.
The rider can choose between Eco, Sport and Custom settings, using a thumb switch on the handlebars. Eco provides plenty of power for urban acceleration and maximises regeneration as you roll off the throttle. Sport delivers far less regenerative braking, but considerably more acceleration, throwing the bike at the horizon like a sporty 600‐ 750cc petrol bike, thanks to instant torque delivery.
The third setting can be accessed through a smartphone app, allowing the rider to customise torque output, regenerative braking force and maximum speed. The app also delivers information on state of charge, power used and time to recharge.
Talking of which, plugging into a regular three‐pin plug at home will see the bike go from empty to full in 8.9 hours. A quick charger is available, cutting that time in half, but that will set you back another £2,000.
Another option is the ‘power tank’ that puts a J1772 Level 2 public charger connection point in the space where a conventional petrol tank would be. This £2,400 option will allow you to connect to public fast chargers, effectively tripling the charging speed.
For most people an overnight connection or a daytime office charge will be favourite. A full charge provides up to 147 miles of urban use, dropping to around 88 miles of mixed use when averaging 55mph. If you opt for motorway work at 70mph, the range drops to around 70 miles. Judicious use of Eco mode for maximum regenerative braking though will provide a boost to the batteries and the trick is to charge whenever possible, so that the batteries are never fully depleted.
What we think
Cost and range are always at the heart of EV adoption and the Zero is no different. Running costs are very low and for urban use the mileage should be acceptable. If you are looking for an emissions-free two-wheeled solution, the Zero DSR certainly does the job.
Model: Zero DSR ZF13
Basic price: £15,691
Engine: Z-Force 75-7R air-cooled radial flux permanent hi-temp, brushless motor
Power: 50kW (67bhp)
Max capacity: 13.0kWh
Nominal capacity: 11.4kWh
City range: 147 miles
Dual carriagway range (55mph): 88 miles
Motorway range (70mph): 70 miles
Wheelbase dimensions: 1,427
Seat height: 843
Wet weight: 190
Approx recharge cost: £1.50
CO2 emissions: 0g/km
Service: 6 months/4,000 miles
Warranty: 2 yr. battery & 5yr/100,000