I’m on the way back down the side of Mount Etna, Sicily’s still smouldering volcano and the site of one of the twistiest and best paved roads upon which I’ve had the privilege to make a complete and utter mockery of whatever Italian police people call their version of the road traffic act.
As each corner comes up I’m shutting the throttle and dragging the rear brake. I’m running in deep and hitting what I’m definitely not going to refer to as an apex. That would be because doing so would be a clear indication of my mindset at the time. This is immediately followed by pointing it at the exit and nailing it. Yes, yes, stop being so judgmental, it’s been a very difficult couple of days and I’m enjoying the therapy. Kilometre after kilometre passes and it’s a case of rinse and repeat all the way back down the hill. Absolute bliss.
The bike is, of course, the new DSR/X from Zero.
Zero DSR/X - Silicon Valley Tech Smartness
Zero are the company who’ve been developing their range of planet saving electric motorcycles with real world usability over the last number of years. If you’re like me and a little bit of you dies inside when you hear those words ‘Electric’ and ‘Motorcycle’ used in the same sentence then take heart. These are the good ones.
The company are based in California where they marry all that Silicon Valley tech smartness with real world motorcycles. They make the clever, forward thinking riders bikes of the future. Now they’ve launched their first adventure bike, an all-electric offering that really looks the part.
There are a host of settings to choose from. All the usual ride modes are available with the addition of a new one called ‘Canyon’. More on that later…
Because the power is delivered directly there is no need for a gearbox or clutch. While there is very little for ones left hand and foot to do, this is still a motorcycle. The settings menu is displayed through a cool new full colour TFT screen.
Zero DSR/X - Delivery Is Instant
Fidgeting with the buttons for a few minutes, I’m impressed with the different throttle management settings. There’s one for riding at a slow pace that allows the rider to manoeuvre the bike through traffic without delivering that direct power in a way that would result in embarrassment and any unanticipated financial burdens being bestowed on the rider. Then I accidently find the setting of the whole trip, perhaps on any bike ever. It has reverse. Not only does it have reverse but its activated by twisting the throttle the wrong way whereupon the bike moves backwards at a crawl.
The power delivery is instant and the bike surges forward with surprising enthusiasm. Exiting, I give the throttle a bit of a squeeze and I’m rewarded with a progressive, responsive and quality suspension set up. Unsurprisingly the springs are all supplied by Showa.
The Z-Force motor is home to a 17.3kWh power pack. While that might not mean much to the average motorcyclist the acceleration will. Keeping in mind that it’s a totally direct drive affair, twist the throttle and the belt delivers the power to the back wheel with no lag, this thing delivers 225Nm of torque. A S1000RR from BMW produces 113Nm. The new Zero is quite fantastic!
Zero DSR/X - Canyon Setting
After a few kilometres of uphill twisties it’s time for a spot of trail riding. Here the bike has all the credentials on paper. The frame has been reimagined and redesigned to allow for more of that all important ground clearance. That wonderful Showa suspension has a generous 200mm of adjustability. This is done by hand and not electronically. The luggage compartment in the ‘tank’ keeps the bike balanced. A full set of luggage is available as are a set of wider footpegs. Also available is a bash plate and a taller windscreen.
The bike behaved flawlessly off-road and even though it’s been a while and the DSX/R weighs in at over 200 kilos, I was still able to get around the woods without dropping it.
The Cypher III operating system is doing a whole lot of work here. The state of the art set up manages a full Bosch stability system. This has a variety of different settings including one for riding off road called the ‘Canyon’ setting. In simple terms this electric cleverness does a whole lot for the rider. From hill hold to the speed of power delivery, to the way the brake and traction controls operate, Bosch have designed the system specifically for the DSR/X. It works and it works very well indeed.
Zero DSR/X - Charging Time
The big question is, of course, the charging time. This continues to evolve and to that end Zero have developed the DSX/R with their fastest charging capabilities yet. Minimum charge time can be as little as one hour now with the optional charge pack. There is, unsurprisingly, an app to let you set up the bikes electronics, you can set the top speed as well as the amount of torque you want on tap in addition to monitoring the machine and getting software updates.
This technology, with a number of other upgrades, will appear in the, already well proven, new 2023 Zero SR/F as well as in the Zero SR/S.
All of the Zero range are a lot more Tesla than they are Nissan Leaf. If you’ve yet to ride one then you’re just not in a position to wander onto social media offering your opinion as to what is wrong with this ground breaking new technology.
The bike, meanwhile, is available exclusively in this green and pleasant land from the team at Franklin Motorcycles here in Dublin. Call the team there on 015385055 to book a test ride.
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