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Zero DSR/X (2023) - Review

BikeSocial Road Tester



2023 Zero DSRX_01a
2023 Zero DSRX_40a
2023 Zero DSRX_14a


16/09/22: Original press launch review: Adam 'Chad' Child

15/09/23: UPDATE to include second opinion (700 miles, UK roads) by Martin Fitz-Gibbons

Over the past decade we’ve seen electric scooters, commuters, sports, and race bikes, but 40% of the premium over 700cc motorcycle market is made up of adventure bikes. It’s a huge market, constantly growing, which has been made up of conventional combustion engine bikes – that is up until now.

Zero, the Californian bike manufacturer, has now launched what they claim is the world’s first true all-electric adventure bike, with specific off-road modes, and off-road biased 19-inch front, 17-inch rear wheel combination. The firm calls it ‘The world’s most capable electric adventure motorcycle’.

Zero has been at the forefront of electric bike technology, first launching a fully electric bike to the public back in 2010 starting life producing dedicated electric off-road bikes, and so the decision to step into the vast adventure market was an obvious one.

However, they haven’t simply wrapped one of their excellent existing models in off-road clothing; this is an entirely new model, with over 100,000 engineering hours poured into the design process

The battery pack remains the same 17.3kw unit as on other premium Zero models, but the Z-Force 75-10x motor is all new. This means this is the most powerful, torque rich Zero to date with a claimed 225 Nm/166 ftlb of torque. Charging times are also impressive, with an optimal charge time of up to 95% in 60 minutes with the optional Rapid Charge Module (£2459). Zero claims a range of 357km/222m with a Power Tank (optional at £2899) when ridden off-road or 290km/180 miles of city riding (without Power Tank). With a weight of 247kg it’s similar to a fully fuelled adventure bike, like the benchmark in this class, BMW’s R 1250 GS (249kg).

Zero has partnered with Bosch, using a 6-axis IMU which results in a plethora of riding aids, including hill control, and for the first time on an electric adventure bike specific off-road settings.

The DSR/X is off-road ready, with long travel, fully adjustable Showa suspension, plus each one of the five riding modes has a specific off-road mode.  Lean-sensitive ABS and traction control can be deactivated, there is a useful Park Mode with a. slow speed reverse and crawl function. There are even optional spoked wheels, more off-road specific rubber, and crash protection.

There are additional advantages: no gears, no clutch, no noise, and no heat, and obviously it is cheaper to run. The seat can be comparatively low at 828mm as there’s no conventional engine or heat problems, and where you’d normally find the fuel tank is a lockable 20l storage compartment.

We jetted off to Scilly to get a taste of the Californian-built adventure bike both on and off-road.


  • Rider aids and modes

  • Silent running and easy to ride

  • Mid-range power and torque

  • Expensive to buy, especially with the optional Power Tank and Rapid Charger

  • Standard not semi-active suspension

  • Off-road ability in experienced hands

REVIEW: Zero DSR/X (2023) | Electric Adventures

Chad heads to Sicily for some electric adventure riding on the new £24k Zero


Zero DSR/X Price

How much is the 2023 Zero DSR/X? £24,150

There is no denying the DSR/X is expensive and is the priciest model in the Zero range. Yes, over time, running costs could eventually justify the initial outlay, as it should be cheap to run, with low service intervals. If you can plug in at work or have solar panels, it’s effectively free to run.

However, £24k is considerably more than the competition. A full spec’d BMW R1250GS Adventure will set you back just over £20,000 and Ducati’s pricy but desirable Multistrada V4 S starts at under £20K; even fully spec with luggage, radar everything, the Ducati is £23,245. A KTM 1290 Super Adventure S is £15,599 which is a huge saving on the Zero.

Zero claim they are the first to produce a fully electric adventure bike, but Energica also produces a similar all-electric model – though classed as more of a tourer with conventional 17-inch wheels front and back. The Energica Experia is even pricier at £27,790.

The Zero has a quality finish. Can you spot any fasteners on the one-piece top bodywork? But for £24K it would be reasonable to expect semi-active suspension, keyless ignition and nicer switchgear. Add the £2899 for the Power Tank or £2459 for the Rapid Charge Module, plus a few accessories like luggage, and it becomes a costly fossil fuel-free adventure.



Zero DSR/X (2023) Power and torque

The 17.3Kwh battery pack remains the same as other premium models in the Zero range, but the Z-Force 75-10X motor is all-new for this model. This translates to 225Nm/166 ftlb of torque and 75Kw/102 bhp @3650 rpm in peak power.

The is the most potent Zero to date, with more torque than their sporty Zero SRS, if a little down on peak power. It also has far more torque than its closest electric rival, the Energica Experia 115Nm/85ftlb.

Zero claims a top speed of 180kph/111mph, again a little down on their own sporty SRS, but identical to the Energica.

Recharge duration varies: level 1, normal household socket up to 95%, 10 hours; level 2 up to 95%, 2 hours, and with the optional rapid charge up to 95% in just 1 hour.



Motor, gearbox, and exhaust

Every time I ride an electric bike, especially one as torquey as this, it takes a while to recalibrate. There are no gears, no clutch, and obviously no engine noise. Torque is instant, with no lag. Twist the throttle and go. Should you wish, you can send the rear Pirelli Scorpion Trail into overtime searching for grip. From the traffic lights, the Zero would give any conventional petrol bike a run for its money. Ducati Panigale V4 or Suzuki Hayabusa? Both would struggle to stay with the DSR/X to 60mph. Yes, top speed is only a claimed 180kph/111mph, but it does get there incredibly quickly.

There are multiple modes to change the behaviour and feel of the bike: Rain, Eco, Sport, Canyon, and Standard. Only Sport and Canyon are full power. Each map has its own power character. Each clearly displayed mode also changes the level of rider aid intervention and re-gen braking (which is like conventional engine braking but also re-charges the battery).

Zero has worked with Bosch, which means we have lean-sensitive traction control and ABS. Furthermore, within each mode you can revert to a specific off-road mode. For example, Eco mode has an off-road option, as does Canyon, and so on. There isn’t just one specific off-road mode. If you wish, within the menu page you can remove TC and ABS.

I started the road test in Eco, just to get a feel for the new bike. Don’t be fooled, Eco does not give 125cc performance, it’s surprisingly quick off the line. As we cut up the endless hairpins and passed through picturesque villages on the side of Mount Etna in Scilly, Eco mode was more than enough. Throttle response instant.

But if you want to taste the full force of the electric, opt for Sport or Canyon. Even if you’re used to cutting-edge 200bhp superbikes, the acceleration in these full-power modes will surprise you. It’s quick, very quick. Takes your breath away and accelerates without hesitation or noise. Overtakes are  effortless, with no changing of gears or checking the rev counter. Quarter-turn the light throttle and you instantly dart past moving traffic with so much speed that it feels like they have jumped on the brakes. 

I’ve been professionally testing bikes for close to 25 years, yet even I was surprised by the acceleration, especially low to mid-range speed. It’s blisteringly quick, even at 247kg!

I preferred the Canyon mode, with lovely surging acceleration, with enough engine re-gen to make it feel like a big V-twin.  Interestingly, despite riding hard the range increased slightly from Standard as I was using more re-gen on the fast run down from Mount Etna.

Off-road, the instant torque gives the traction control a workout. It’s all too easy to send the Pirelli spinning. Reassuringly you soon feel the TC take over and transfer grip back to the rear. We rode on fine volcanic gravel, with road-biased Pirelli Scorpion rubber, not ideal. With so much torque it is all too easy to get the rear spinning. Turn off the TC and it becomes almost comical.

However, there is a flip side to the Zero off-road. No clutch and no gears make life easier. The lack of engine heat means the rider gets an easier time. And should you need to get off and push or pick the bike up you can’t burn yourself on the exhaust.

Handling, suspension, and weight

At 247kg the DSR/X is comparable to a fully fuelled adventure bike and almost the same as BMW’s R1250GS, fully fuelled. You don’t have to make compromises just because it’s electric.

The fully adjustable Showa suspension, combined with quality Pirelli rubber is an excellent combination. The directly mounted shock, with remote pre-load adjustment, has a huge amount to deal with but stands up to the challenge. Equally, the 47mm Showa forks give enough feedback for some spirited riding. Ground clearance isn’t an issue, and don’t forget you have those Bosch lean-sensitive rider aids as a safety net. It’s fun to ride, if not as sporty as a Ducati’s Multi V4S and more like their Multi V2.

Only one or twice when I was asking a little too much did I think the last 5-10% of the suspension feeling was a little vague. But this was usually because I’d made the mistake of entering a corner too quickly due to the lack of engine braking (depending on mode). It’s easy to enter the corner too quickly and ask too much of the front.

At slower speeds and around town, the DSR/X has a lovely balance to it, all the weight low in the chassis, similar to a BMW R1250GS. It’s simple, easy to ride, not forgetting the Park Mode, a useful slow speed reverse and crawl function.

My main criticism of the suspension and handling is off-road. Large premium-price conventionally powered bikes in the class have semi-active suspension. Press a button and the suspension and ride changes from road to off-road. The Zero has quality, but only manually adjustable suspension.

It can cope with a minor off-road excursion, like potholes and speed humps, but don’t try anything too adventurous like you would on a KTM 1290. The low-speed ease of use is still evident but try hopping over rocks or increasing the speed and the road-biased suspension can’t cope. This is amplified but the lack of noise; the suspension sounds like it’s being beaten into submission.

Zero DSR/X (2023) Comfort and economy

You sit in the bike rather than on it, again a little like Ducati’s Multi V2. The manually adjustable screen doesn’t need to be large because you’re sitting so low. The Showa suspension is on the soft side, and the dash is clear and easy to read. No noise, no vibrations, no heat — it’s a pleasurable riding experience.

If you’ve never ridden an electric bike, it’s slightly surreal, too. You can take more in, hear conversations and church bells in villages; you can smell more, and arguably you are more in tune with your surroundings.  As a big distance adventure bike, it scores highly.

However, Zero claims a range of 357km/ 223miles with the optional Power Tank (£2,899) when ridden off-road, with a low average speed, or 290km/180 miles of city riding (without Power Tank, standard). The claimed highway range in standard form is 137km/ 85miles, with a combined quoted range of 185km/115miles.

On test, I covered 81km/50miles of reasonably hard riding, on and off-road, with 105km/65 miles remaining or 60% battery. In theory, that’s 186km/115.5 miles in total, which matches Zero’s claimed combined range. Is that enough?

You’re going to need to think about a charge after 150km/93 miles. To charge back up to 95% will take one hour or two depending on if you opted for the optional Rapid Charge Module (£2459).  Ride 90 miles, stop for lunch, recharge, and back again – that might be enough for some. But a blast to the south of France or to Scotland is probably out of reach without some very careful planning. Ser the cruise control to a high speed on the motorway, two up with luggage and the range will drop further.


Dual J-Juan radial 4-piston calipers with the radial master cylinder, gripping 320mm discs do most of the work and are up for the job. 247kg, plus rider and luggage is a lot to ask, but the Spanish-made brakes are more than adequate and hard to fault. As mentioned, there’s cornering ABS by Bosch, plus an off-road mode, allowing the rear to lock. Should you want, you can turn the system off completely. Engine brake of re-gen is changeable via each mode.

Rider aids, extra equipment, and accessories

Rider aids have been produced in partnership with Bosch, and are lean-sensitive. Each mode has a specific off-road strategy, and both TC and ABS can be switched off. The TC intervention doesn’t cut the ignition as it would on a conventional bike, it simply reduces the power/torque. In Rain and Eco mode you can feel the intervention, even more so off-road. In many ways, the TC is more beneficial on an electric bike as there is so much instant torque. On a cold day, it would be easy to spin the rear tyre. In the wet, I’d strongly advise keeping the TC active. But despite the £24,150 price, the DSR/X is missing a few specs. There’s no semi-active suspension, no radar detection, no keyless ignition, and the side storage compartments must open with a tool from under the seat. And the Power Tank and Rapid Charge Module are not standard. Zero already has a raft of accessories, including saddlebags, top and side cases, windscreens, covers, skid plate, and crash protection to name just a few. Not forgetting the mandatory connectivity to the Zero Motorcycles mobile app. A charging cable comes with the bike, but you might need to fork out for a wall adaptor outlet (£445).


Zero DSR/X (2023) Rivals

Premium level electric adventure bikes are few and far between right now, so here’s a little selection of the nearest ICE rivals, alongside the Energica:


Energica Experia | Price: £27,790

• Power/Torque: 101bhp / 85lb-ft | Weight: 260kg

Our review


BMW R 1250 GS | Price: from £14,200

• Power/Torque: 136bhp / 105lb-ft | Weight: 249kg

Our review


Ducati Multistrada V4 S | Price: £19,595

• Power/Torque: 170bhp / 92.2lb-ft | Weight: 242kg

Our review


Zero DSR/X (2023) Verdict

You might have laughed at the thought of an electric adventure bike a decade ago, and some will be perturbed by the lack of range and its high price. I can see that. But as a clever piece of engineering, as a motorcycle, it’s impressive. Power and torque are breathtaking. There are useful rider aids both for on and off-road. It’s good looking, appealing, versatile, and has a nice low-speed balance and is easy to ride. At high speed the handling is on par with the petrol-powered adventure competition, and it can take to the dirt – just. It’s an enjoyable, quiet bike to ride, especially in Canyon mode.

Some won’t be put off by the high price as some simply want electric, and if so you’ll have an excellent bike. The range is limited, while semi-active suspension would have given it some more scope off-road. And, despite low running costs, you can’t ignore the initial outlay. But as the world’s first true electric adventure bike Zero has set a high standard.

SECOND OPINION – Martin Fitz-Gibbons, 700-mile UK test

I first rode a Zero back in 2012. It made 29bhp, had a 50-mile range and took 9 hours to recharge. It was objectively rubbish, but something about it felt fascinating. More than 10 years later, the DSR/X looks like the American firm’s most impressive model yet. Chad’s first ride from the launch in Sicily certainly paints it in a positive light – but can an electric adventure bike really make any sense back in Britain, on British roads, at British speeds, faced with British charging infrastructure? To find out, I spent two weeks living with a DSR/X. Here’s what I learned…

Can I really have an adventure on it?

Absolutely. In one day I rode the DSR/X from south Lincolnshire up through the Wolds, over the Humber Bridge, into Yorkshire and along the stunning Rudland Rigg – a stunning 10-mile byway that runs on top of the beautiful North York Moors – before turning round and heading home. Total daytrip distance: 325 miles. So, yes, it’s perfectly possible to have a decent adventure ride on an electric bike. Terms and conditions apply, of course. I stop four times to use public chargers, with top-ups ranging from 30 minutes to an hour. Total time spent charging during the day is 2 hours 45 minutes, which isn’t too painful so long as you don’t just stand there and stare at the bike. Instead you’ve got to spend the time wisely, doing all the stuff you’d normally faff about with during a day’s ride: grab a drink, use the loo, eat lunch, clean your visor… Fitting your schedule, stops and habits around the bike, rather than the other way round, helps massively. As does riding at an efficient speed. I generally stick to single carriageways, riding in Eco mode and mostly at the speed limit. Do that and it’s possible to squeak out nearly 100 miles from a full charge. Once on Rudland Rigg, the DSR/X performs admirably. Left totally stock, right down to the 38psi in its not-very-knobbly Pirelli Scorpion Trail II tyres, the Zero lets me waft along the trail smoothly and easily, enjoying the incredible views out over the purple heather-covered Moors. Along its 10-mile length, Rudland Rigg flits between a mix of sandy surface, stony sections, a few muddy puddles, and finishes with a steep rocky decline known locally as The Steps. The Zero remains well-balanced, thanks to its low centre of gravity, with a confident standing-up riding position and wide bars giving plenty of control. Truth be told it’s not much different to riding any other big adventure bike along a simple, steady gentle off-road road - if anything, the Zero’s perhaps slightly more straightforward thanks to not having a clutch or gears. Suspension is probably the least impressive element: even at gentle pace the ride quality feels quite harsh and unyielding over lumps and bumps in the track.

What’s the true motorway range?

Let’s say your definition of touring doesn’t involve rolling leisurely through empty countryside and instead you just want to hammer along the motorway. Zero claim the DSR/X has an 85-mile range at 70mph, but there’s only one way to find out for sure. I brim the battery, ticking the Extended Range setting – which, for a reason that makes sense to Zero and Zero alone, charges to an indicated 110%. Select Standard mode, then head south from Peterborough down the A1(M), A14 and M11. Cruise control is set to an indicated 73mph, a true 70mph. The DSR/X proves a pleasant place to tick off miles. There’s no vibration, so it’s totally tingle-free through bars, pegs and mirrors. The saddle is comfy, although your bum can tell the shape feels purposefully sculpted out to create a low seat height. The adjustable windscreen can be wound up to a decent height, creating no helmet turbulence, though on our test bike the screen starts slowly dropping back down as miles rack up. The handlebars feel a reach away too, meaning you either have your arms locked straight, or need to lean your upper body forwards into the cockpit. After 40-odd miles I turn round and head north again, cancelling out any elevation change and/or wind direction. As the trip clicks up to 85 miles, there’s 10% left in the battery. That matches up to Zero’s claim, with a modest margin for error on top.

Does it really recharge in an hour?

This test bike features the optional Charge Tank, a £2579 extra charging unit which fills the “frunk” storage space. With it, Zero claim the DSR/X can charge to 95% in one hour. But this also depends on the bike being plugged into a suitable power source, namely either a 22kW or 43kW three-phase AC public charger. For those who don’t speak nerd, in the UK these are harder to find than the DC chargers used by the vast majority of modern electric cars. After the motorway range test I plug the DSR/X into a 22kW charger. Exactly one hour later the battery’s gone from 10% to 90% - not quite as quick as Zero’s claim, but not a million miles off. However, it’s perhaps worth noting that charge times do vary, and are affected by elements such as battery temperature (the Zero’s is air-cooled) as well the peculiarities and vagaries of each individual charging station. Maximum charge speed shown is 12.4kW, which the Zero holds when its battery is between 20% and 40%. But as the battery fills further, charging power reduces. By the time the battery is at 65%, charging speed is down to 10kW. By 90% it’s just 7kW. Away from public chargers, if you plug the DSR/X into a regular British household 3-pin socket it’ll charge at a linear 2.2kW from empty to full. Time-wise, that’s something in the order of 7 hours for a complete 0 to 110% charge.

How quick is it?

The DSR/X is the torquiest production motorcycle on sale in 2023. Peak torque is a whopping 225Nm, or 166lb·ft – even more than a Triumph Rocket 3 (221Nm / 163lb·ft). So, does this gargantuan grunt translate to organ-scrambling acceleration? The only way to know for sure is with some cold, hard facts courtesy of a Racelogic VBOX Sport datalogger. I mount one to the DSR/X and conduct some scientific tests – meaning I set the bike to its full-fat Canyon mode and hold the throttle wide open. Here’s the numbers:


  • 0-60mph: 3.82 seconds

  • 0-100mph: 9.93 seconds

  • Quarter-mile: 12.48s @ 105.17mph

  • Top speed: 105.24mph

  • 60-90mph roll-on: 3.50 seconds

  • 50-100mph roll-on: 6.81 seconds


So, how does that compare? Over a quarter-mile standing start it’s less than half a second behind a BMW R1200GS, and three-quarters of a second slower than the 1250. But the Zero is faster when it comes to roll-ons. Admittedly, the electric motor’s single-speed transmission means it’s not quite a straight comparison with sixth gear on a GS. But if you’re rumbling along leisurely and lazily at 50 or 60mph and want to just open the throttle and let the motor do all the work, then a DSR/X pulls harder than a GS.

In use, the sensation of acceleration feels magnified on the Zero because it’s so effortless and so relentless – it doesn’t pause for breath to change gear, and you don’t need to be at a certain revs to get the best from it. You just twist, and it goes…


What if I just nail it everywhere?

Almost entirely a moot point, because clearly most riders who might be seriously considering a DSR/X aren’t likely to be adrenaline-addicted headcases. But, just for curiosity’s sake, let’s explore the worst-case scenario by giving our DSR/X a darn good thrashing. After charging the battery to its full 110% setting, I head out for an evening blast, riding with both vim and vigour along some empty backroads. By 30 miles the battery’s down to 60%. By 40 miles it’s at 40%. By 60 miles it’s down to just 4%, which is as far as I fancy pushing it before I have to literally push it. Along the way the motor temperature icon on the dash sporadically turns red, indicating it’s starting to overheat. It seems that when it’s constantly asked to deliver massive amounts of torque, the Zero’s air-cooled motor generates heat faster than it can shed it. It’s not a problem as such, but a reminder that the DSR/X isn’t a bike built to just rip about on for the sake of it. Ridden normally, dipping into its full performance every so often, it shows no sign of overheating.

*Tune in to listen to Martin talk further about his experience on the Zero DSR/X in episode 181 his podcast (with regular BikeSocial contributor, Simon Hargreaves), Front End Chatter.

Zero DSR/X (2023) Technical Specification

New price




Engine layout

Interior Permanent Magnet AC Synchronous (IPMAC)


75 kW / 102hp


225Nm / 166 lb.ft

Top speed

180kmph / 111mph


One gear, belt drive

Average fuel consumption

357km/222m with a Power Tank (optional at £2899) off-road. 290km/180 miles of city riding (without Power Tank). Highway range in standard form is 137km/ 85miles.


Combined quoted range of 185km/115miles.

Rider aids

Cornering ABS, traction control, five rider modes, changeable re-gen, off-road modes, cruise control.


Steel tubular trellis

Front suspension

47mm Showa 190mm travel

Front suspension adjustment

Fully adjustable

Rear suspension

Showa 190mm travel

Rear suspension adjustment

Fully adjustable

Front brake

2x320mm discs, J-Juan 4-pot calipers, Cornering ABS

Rear brake

265mm disc, 2-pot caliper, Cornering ABS

Front wheel / tyre

120/70 X 19 Pirelli Scorpion Trail 2

Rear wheel / tyre

170/60 X 17 Pirelli Scorpion Trail 2



Seat height





24 months unlimited mileage

5-year power pack

MCIA Secured rating

Not yet included



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MCIA Secured gives motorcycles a rating out of five stars, based on the following being fitted to a new bike as standard:

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The higher the star rating, the better the security, so always ask your dealer what rating your bike has, and compare it to other machines on your shortlist.