After a little more than an hour in the saddle of Zero’s new $24,495 DSR/X, slicing through the epic roads outside Park City, Utah then making my way silently up some rutted, rocky trails, I stopped for lunch at a gorgeous trailside pull-off. The mountain views were stunning. A few minutes later, a couple of dudes on four-stroke dirtbikes went tearing by, braaaping exhausts echoing off the birch trees and absolutely shattering the calm. Moments like that can make even the most ardent internal combustion fans realize that maybe it’s time for a change.
Full Disclosure: Zero Motorcycles wanted me to ride the DSR/X so badly they flew me to Park City, Utah, put me up in a perplexing resort, and gave me a fully-charged bike for a day in and around one of the world’s greatest places for adventure.
But more on that later. Please let me belatedly introduce the bike. The 2023 Zero DSR/X is the all-electric motorcycle company’s latest model, one of its biggest launches yet — and not just because this is Zero’s largest bike ever. While it may sound like a special, more extreme version of the venerable DSR, the DSR/X actually shares more with the company’s latest sportbike, the SR/S.
It’s very definitely a new bike, though, and designed for adventure. A new frame cradles a heavily revised motor that delivers 100 horsepower and, more impressively, a whopping 166 lb-ft of torque. That’s about 50 percent more than the old DSR. Helping you control that power is a vastly improved stability control and ABS system from Bosch with five modes for pavement riding, five more for off-road, and yet five more custom modes you can make into whatever the heck you want them to be.
That’s all controlled via a single rocker switch on the left grip, which also controls the bike’s heated grips. Information is displayed on a new, five-inch, optically bonded TFT LCD that’s easy to read even in Utah’s harsh sunlight. Range comes from Zero’s 17.3-kWh battery pack. The bike is officially rated at 180 miles in the city and 115 in combined riding, but that number climbs up to a whopping 200 miles when you leave the asphalt behind.
More range when off-roading? It’s true. You might think that scrabbling your way up a rutted trail and spinning the rear tire out of every hairpin would eat up range, but it’s actually the contrary. When it comes to EVs, acceleration and wind resistance are what kills the battery quickest. Most adventure-style riding is done at a relatively slow and steady speeds. Zero says its bikes are good for upwards of 13 hours on the trail between charges — much longer than I’d want to spend standing on the pegs, generous though they are.
Mind you, the DSR/X seems awfully road-biased to me, but to prove its chops on the rough stuff Zero took me and a gaggle of other lucky motojournos up into the Uinta National Forest and set us loose. Despite the street-oriented Pirelli Scorpion 2 tires, the bike was great. Not having to worry about slipping a clutch or downshifting made me, a rookie off-roader, more comfortable than I maybe should have been on a powerful, 544-pound bike. Likewise, that Bosch traction control gave me plenty of wheelspin for grins while still preventing me from swapping ends when I got a little too eager with the throttle.
You can spec more aggressive off-road wheels and tires if you like — Pirelli Scorpion Rally STRs on wire-spoked rims — but other than aesthetics I’m not sure why you would. As good as it is in the dirt, the DSR/X is better on the asphalt. Comfortable and smooth at speed, the bike was an eager companion slicing through Utah’s stellar scenery. The soft suspension does mean a fair bit of dive under braking, but it leans and corners so confidently that within a few miles I had to shift my boots back on those oversized pegs because I was dragging my toes through the corners. Usually it takes me a good bit longer before I’m comfortable enough on a bike to lean it over that far.
Even the DSR/X’s windscreen is stellar, easily one-hand adjustable at speed and producing zero buffeting whether high or low. Option-hungry owners can spec the bike up with an even taller windscreen if they want, along with dozens of other add-ons ranging from frame protection to fog lights.
Having done a fair bit of off-roading with both two- and four-wheeled EVs, I am convinced that the experience is infinitely more engaging without a droning internal combustion exhaust. And, as someone who tends to worry about what others think, I personally enjoy the trails better when I know I’m not annoying every peace-loving adventure hound within a country mile. Again, I doubt many DSR/X owners will actually get that far off the asphalt, but regardless of conditions, Zero’s latest machine excels. With a healthy amount of range and more than enough power, the 2023 Zero DSR/X is a winner.