Zero DS/ DSR / DSR Black Forest

Zero DS/ DSR / DSR Black Forest

The 2020 ZERO DS, DSR and DSR Black Forest are ‘Adventure’ versions of the entry level S electric motorcycle models. I don’t recall reading or seeing and high rise versions of electric motorcycles so can say these are some of the first ‘adventure’ class electric motorcycles.

In terms of pricing the DS and variants are similarly priced to the basic S model which is a good start. DS around $11,000 USD but quickly becomes overpriced for the DSR, priced around $16,000 USD and DSR Black Forest edition at $19,000 USD. The mid-range and top end models are significantly more expensive for just bigger batteries. Unless you consider hard case panniers worth $8000 USD in the case of the Black Forest edition. More importantly you don’t get a quick charger included as part of the package.

However it becomes laughable when you compare the DSR to say the BMW GS1250 for example. It reminds me of the memorable marketing pitch of comparing the Proton Waja to the BMW 3 series about 20 years ago. Not even close. That said give them another decade it could be a different scenario.

In terms of engines and tech the Zero DS is arguably one of the best in the class since there is very little competition. However the DS and DSR have a few problems out of the box that give WTF moments. The first problem is the claimed range of the DS on the freeway is a maximum of 129 km even with the bigger battery or 63 km on the regular version all at around the speed limit and less if you go faster. You can argue that the around town the range is much higher but this is an Adventure bike so range is one of the most important features. This may be fine if you have an adventure bike that is aimed at suburban and shopping mall touring and not the expected long distance inter city touring. Another issue is that charging time on a standard power point is 11 hours but with the fast charger – not included takes around 3.3 hours. It also has a belt drive which is not appropriate for off road use especially anything muddy. It’s expensive to buy and still doesn’t look expensive and without any exotic materials except for the battery to justify the price.

That said I do understand the economies of scale and that new tech is expensive but honestly the look of the final product is why automotive brands like Zero eventually fail. The only way that they can keep going is for unbridled fans of Zero and/or electric motorcycles. That brings me to the the Zero DSR Black Forest model variant. Black Forest cake is the first thing that comes to mind not the geographic location. The location is an important milestone in understanding climate change and why we now have pollution controls but ask any young person and this branding means and is a cake first.

While I’d love to get an electric bike… I haven’t had opportunity to ride a pure electric motorcycle let alone a Zero just yet. After all it’s the price, look, features and range that is not enough to convince me to buy a Zero DS regardless. I’m the sort of buyer that the company needs to keep them in business and I’d certainly support their concept if the entry price was little less and if it actually looked any good. Design is such an important feature in a motorcycle not just for me.

Zero DS/DSR/DSR Black Forest Key Specifications
Engine: Electric motor – Z-Force 75.5 or Z-Force 75-7R
Battery Capacity: 7.2Kw – 18Kw dependent on model and option 
Power/Torque: DS – 34Kw @ 4300 106Nm @ 1 RPM
DSR – 52Kw @ 3500 157Nm @ 1 RPM
DSR BF – 52Kw @ 3500 157Nm @ 1 RPM 
Gearbox: Direct – Belt final drive
Kerb Weight: 142 – 241Kg Approx
Performance: Top Speed 163 kph Approx
Sustained top speed 129 Kph Approx
Fuel Economy: City 253 km – 315 km
Highway 39 km -129 km @ 113kph
Charging time dependent on charging accessory
Seat height: 843 mm
Dimensions: Lxx x Wxx x Hxx x Wxx
Recommended Retail Price: $10,995 –  $19,000 USD (2020)


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