2016 Zero DSR Test Ride: An Electric Dual Sport/Adventure Motorcycle [Review]

2016 Zero DSR electric motorcycle
Zero Motorcycles is a major award-winning player in the ever-growing electric motorcycle marketplace. The Scotts Valley, California-based company has been producing electric motorcycles since 2006 and I’ve had the opportunity to ride several of their earlier chain drive versions. Newer models have been converted to quieter belt drives and provide extended range through improved battery technology along with faster charging times and lighter advanced construction materials.

New models for 2016 include an amped up example of a supermoto bike in the form of the Zero FXS, which is derived from their popular Zero FX. Built tough enough for trail riding, the Zero FXS features 17-inch cast alloy wheels shod with Pirelli Diablo Rosso II rubber fore and aft, custom-tuned suspension and enhanced braking componentry. Also new to the 2016 line up is the Zero DSR – the ultimate electric dual sport/adventure motorcycle, with a whopping 106 pound-feet of instant torque, a seamless linear power range, a comfortable and commanding riding position, and plenty of suspension travel. The Zero DSR is equally at home on either pavement or on the dirt.

Power for Zero premiere models is courtesy of a new patent-pending Z-Force® 75 7R motor, which is a passively air-cooled, high efficiency, radial flux, interior permanent hi-temp magnet, brushless motor with a High efficiency, 660 amp, 3-phase brushless controller featuring regenerative deceleration. The new motor delivers 67 horsepower at 4,000 rpm (50kW) while producing 106 pound-feet of instant torque. Energy makes its way to the rear wheel through a clutchless direct drive via a 130T/28T Poly Chain® GT® Carbon™ belt.

2016 Zero DSR electric motorcycle

We’ll focus here on the Zero DSR that provides 25 percent more power and 56 percent more torque than the Zero DS, and comes with a high output 60 amp motor controller.

The Zero DSR has a wheelbase of 56.2-inches and an overall length of 83.2-inches. Ground clearance is a respectable 8.5-inches, and the bike tips the scales at 463 pounds. Suspension componentry consists of Showa 41 millimeter inverted cartridge forks, with adjustable spring preload, compression and rebound damping with 7-inch travel up front and Showa 40 millimeter piston, piggy-back reservoir shock with adjustable spring preload, compression and rebound damping with 7.03-inches of travel out back. The DSR rolls on a Pirelli MT-60 100/90-19 x 2.50-inch tire forward, mounted on 5 “slanted “Y”-spoke alloys and on a Pirelli MT-60 130/80-17 x 3.50-inch tire aft – mounted on 4-wide “U” spoke alloy wheels.

2016 Zero DSR electric motorcycle

Bringing the DSR Zero dual sport two-wheeled craft to a halt is a Bosch Gen 9 ABS, J-Juan asymmetric dual piston floating caliper, 320 x 5 millimeter disc in front and a Bosch Gen 9 ABS, J-Juan single piston floating caliper, 240 x 4.5 millimeter disc in the rear, with regenerative braking playing an important role in battery charge.

My test 2016 Zero DSR — outfitted with the Power Tank — was appropriately finished in black since it is effectively a stealth motorcycle. The base sticker was set at $15,995 while the as-tested price came to $18,669.
*MSRP does not include shipping, applicable taxes, PDI, registration or dealer installation of optional accessories. Government incentives may apply. Dealer prep may add to cost and can vary.

SUMMARY: Before readers turn up their nose at the prospect of owning and riding an electric motorcycle, be advised the Zero DSR is a bona fide motorcycle that just happens to offer significant benefits over a petrol fueled bike. For instance, charging the bike to 100 percent from fully depleted typically only costs $1.78. Its intended purpose is not for long range touring, but with proper planning, long trips are not out of the question. From a full charge, I went for a 70-mile ride and returned with 49% of the battery charge left, and that was with full throttle bursts, hills and freeway scenarios.

The Zero DSR is based on an aircraft aluminum frame and looks for all the world like any other dual sport adventure ride. The seat height is a comfortable 33.2-inches – great for my 6’4” long-legged frame, but perhaps not so much for the vertically challenged. The bike is lightning quick and is immediately responsive in the handling department. If speed is of the essence, the DSR can rocket from 0-60 in a scant 3.9 seconds and able to reach a top speed of 98 mph (90 mph on a sustained run). Handlebars are positioned for optimum control and the mid-positioned foot pegs and brake pedal complete an ideal riding position. There are also foot pegs and hand grips for a passenger, but riding two-up obviously depletes the battery’s charge more rapidly.

There are normal, eco and sport riding modes, switchable on the fly, which obviously impact one’s range, and instrumentation consists of a graphic percentage of charge indicator, mode indicator, a dual trip odometer and turn signal indicator (indicators do not self-cancel by the way).

2016 Zero DSR Charge Tank

The Power Tank battery places some of the bike’s weight up high under its simulated normal fuel tank structure, but the bike still handles with exceptional balance. Ride it around town in the Eco mode for normal errands or just plain short fun jaunts, or hit off road trails with equal capability. In other words, the Zero DSR is pleasurable in virtually any riding environment. It’s not you run of the mill electric bicycle “wannabe” motorcycle, but the real deal. If there were a negative issue, it would be that it’s so quiet that other motorists are often unaware of your presence, requiring extra vigilance on your part.

A Zero Motorcycle app is available that allows riders to view a real-time customizable dashboard, and also enables riders to change performance characteristics utilizing Bluetooth‑enabled iPhone and Android mobile devices. Riders can adjust acceleration, top speed and regenerative braking to their exact specifications. The app provides two fundamental interfaces. The riding interface may be customized showing real-time data and acting as a secondary, more detailed motorcycle dashboard. When parked, it provides riding statistics, motorcycle data, helps with diagnostics, and allows the rider to customize both the motorcycle performance and the riding dashboard. The app includes Bluetooth-enabled connectivity for both iPhone and Android mobile devices, and the customizable display reports the precise state of charge as well as real-time power usage while riding.

The Zero DSR comes with a 2-year/unlimited mileage warranty and a 5-year/100,000-mile warranty on the power pack and the lithium-ion power packs are fully recyclable utilizing a chemistry that allows taking advantage of continuously improving battery recycling programs.

2016 Zero DSR electric motorcycle

The 2016 Zero DSR makes for an excellent addition to anyone’s personal riding stable, and for some riders it is certainly capable of serving as one’s only motorcycle with some very practical benefits, such as minimized maintenance and service – no oil to check or change, no spark plugs to replace, no transmission parts to wear out, no cooling system to contend with, no exhaust system issues to deal with, and no valves to adjust or replace. Optional accessories are available to make travel more comfortable and convenient, including the Power Tank, Charge Tank; a scalable quick charger system that reduces charge times by up to 75 percent; top box and side storage cases developed with GIVI, commuter and dual sport Windscreens developed with MRA; and hand guards developed with Cycra Racing.

Many governments from the national to local level, around the world offer incentives for those who purchase and operate electric motorcycles. Zero Motorcycles works with organizations to ensure that maximum exposure and benefits are provided to this new industry, including: government tax breaks and credits; clean air grants for organizations that often cover the entire cost of new electric fleet motorcycles; special parking and access to, lanes/roads and riding areas; positive recognition from the public, politicians and government agencies; and free charging stations.

  • Buy itOn the TFLcar scale of:
  • Buy it!
  • Lease it!
  • Rent it!
  • … or Forget it!

I give the electric 2016 Zero DSR motorcycle a ‘Buy It!‘ for an ideal addition to anyone’s bike stable. It’s good for dirt or asphalt and the range is at least 150 miles.

Power Pack Accessories

Zero’s entire 2016 lineup is now able to travel greater distances, and with their new Charge Tank accessory, most models may be charged three times more quickly than before, allowing access to the growing network of Level 2 charging stations. The new Charge Tank lists for $1,988. and is compatible with 2015 Zero models, but may not be used in conjunction with the available range-extending Power Tank accessory, since both occupy the same real estate on the bike. The Power Tank accessory is available for a suggested retail price of $2,674. Zero also offers a lineup of Police and Military Zero motorcycles.

2016 Zero DSR Charge Tank

The Z-Force® Power Tank adds an additional 2.8 kWh of power pack storage capacity to any 2014 or later Zero S, Zero SR, Zero DS or Zero DSR model. The optional Power Tank accessory may be added at any time during or after the motorcycle is purchased. For example, an individual who purchases a 2016 Zero S ZF13.0 could upgrade their Zero motorcycle to nearly 16 kWh of power pack capacity for additional range. With that level of energy storage capacity, a rider can travel up to 197 miles in the city or 98 miles on the highway depending upon terrain and riding style. The Power Tank comes complete with a Z-Force® power pack module, necessary hardware and additional bodywork. It is recommended that customers take their motorcycle to an authorized Zero Motorcycle dealer for proper installation. The new bodywork includes a completely new tank section and occupies the area where the integrated tank bag would normally be positioned.

Multiple configurations of power packs allow owners to select the range that best meets their needs: 9.8 kWh, 13.0 kWh or 15.9 kWh with an optional Power Tank accessory. The range is 435 MPGe city / 210 MPGe hwy with a standard charge time of 8.9 hours for a 100% charge without the Power Tank and 10.8 hours with. The Charge Tank with maximum accessory chargers will fully charge the Zero in 2.6 hours. A 1.3 kW onboard charger may be plugged into any household outlet and used in combination with the optional Quick Charger and/or Charge Tank accessories to effectively reduce charge times at home or office.

Zero Motorcycles video:

MSRP $15,995
Price as tested $18,669 (Power Tank, $2,674)
Engine Z-Force® 75-7R passively air-cooled, high efficiency, radial flux, interior permanent hi-temp magnet,
brushless motor, 660 amp
Power (bhp) 67 @ 4,000 rpm (50kW)
Torque (lb-ft) 106 lb-ft (144Nm)
Transmission clutchless direct drive
Drivetrain Final drive – 130T / 28T, Poly Chain® GT® Carbon™ belt
Seat height 33.2 in.
Curb weight 463 lbs.
Estimated fuel economy (MPGe) 435 city / 210 hwy
Acceleration 0-60 mph 3.9 seconds
Top speed 98 mph max / 90mph sustained


Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles as well.