Zero DS: A More Aggressive Electric Motorcycle


A lot of electric vehicles suffer from performance anxiety. That is to say, they are green and clean, but not very mean, the Tesla Roadster being a notable exception. Sometimes though, you just want to go fast. I had my first hybrid experience the other day, and while the Honda Insight I drove wasn’t the worst ride I’ve ever had, I could see myself getting very bored, very quickly with such an underpowered car (in my opinion, of course).

But I doubt I would get bored with the Zero DS, the latest electric motorcycle to be unveiled by Zero Motorcycles. Built from the ground up and utilizing the latest techniques and technology, this durable dirtbike promises off-road performance with streetwise manners. And it had better for the asking price $9,950.

We’ve talked about Zero Motorcycles here on before, and at least to me they make a lot more sense than electric cars. The Zero DS embraces what it is to be a dirtbike; light, strong, and powerful. Having 100% of torque on demand with a twist of the wrist is every dirtbikers wet dream. The Zero DS, which stands for Dual Sport, is essentially the same Zero S motorcycle with a more aggressive suspension and rugged frame while still being street legal. It also dispells the stigma that many electric vehicles are tender, docile, and need to be coddled. As you can tell from this video, the Zero DS can take a beating.

While Zero is playing its cards close to the chest with torque and horsepower ratings for the DS, the Zero S model has 62.5 ft-lbs of torque on tap with 31 horsepower. The DS has a top speed of 55 mph and a range of 50 miles. That is more than enough mileage for even the most hardcore dirtbikers (or at least the ones here in Connecticut, where there are very limited oppertunities to dirtbike legally anywhere but private property). Its 4 kWh lithium-ion array battery can be recharged in less than four hours from either a 110 or 220 volt outlet.

The upgraded suspension comes with an inverted front fork to reduce unsprung weight, adjustable rebound and compression damping on the front and a custom adjustable rear shock as well. The DS also gets its own special, durable, lightweight wheels that were made for offroading. The round headlight is also a nice touch.

The Zero DS is not a cheap dirtbike by any measure; you can almost afford a Ducati for the cost of this bike, but that is before taking into consideration local and federal incentives. I think more electric manufacturers need to emphasize the performance potential of electric motors, because not everybody is going to motivated by limited range, high early-adapter cost, and the lack of enjoyable sounds (whoooosssssssh doesn’t do it for me, sorry).

But what do you guys think? Should more manufacturers try to emphasize performance as well as earth-friendliness? I know electric vehicles have a long way to go (and I still have my doubts about cars as a feasible platform, what with long recharge rates and all) but I see a lot of potential for racing applications from a system that can dump all of its torque from 0 rpm.

Source: Zero Motorcycles


Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.