Press the ignition on the Zero Motorcycles DSR/X and you’re greeted with the disconcerting sound of silence, along with a total lack of vibration—the classic “Is this thing on?” EV trope. But give the throttle a twist and it’s immediately clear that this 100 hp, $24,495 all-electric adventure model is a quiet missile, raring to go from the jump. If you find yourself missing the rumbly soundtrack of a combustion engine, just listen to your thudding heart instead.
Zero has fit the all-terrain two-wheeler with its largest-capacity battery yet, a 17.3 kwh cell that allows for up to 115 miles to be covered over mixed surfaces, or 85 miles at a steady 70 mph. An optional Power Tank battery pack boosts capacity to nearly 21 kwh, which keeps the range competitive with many internal-combustion counterparts.
Where gas models are left gasping, however, is the DSR/X’s instantaneous torque—166 ft lbs of it—that seemed to pull the 544-pound machine effortlessly up the hills and through the sweepers and hairpins surrounding Park City, Utah. Surprisingly nimble handling is thanks in part to the battery pack’s positioning low in the frame, as well as a refined throttle modulation that prevents any unexpected lurches, while Showa forks up front and the preload-adjustable rear suspension smooth out all but the biggest bumps.
Such prodigious twist requires traction control to prevent wheel slip, which is included in Bosch’s first Motorcycle Control System tuned for off-road use. The electronics suite also features 10 drive modes (each with dedicated throttle mapping) plus ABS and regenerative braking. Cleverly, the latter system automatically links the front and back stoppers to prevent the type of inconsistent deceleration that can come from rear-only regen braking.
For serious forays off the beaten track, there’s a host of DSR/X-specific accessories, including knobby Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tires, saddle bags and a larger windscreen. A collaboration with Backcountry Discovery Routes improves access to charging, which can take as little as one hour with an optional 6 kw rapid charger. This all adds up to a warning for the burgeoning EV ADV segment: To remain competitive, you’ll have to solve for Zero.