Because electricity has not yet made a breakthrough in the world of motorbikes, domestic or station-charged motorcycles are a real rarity, in contrast to those fueled up at the gas station. Skepticism radiating off the faces of your fellow bikers is therefore nothing unusual. But you'd be surprised how quickly these views are changing.
One of the reasons is Zero DS, which is exciting a lot of interest. Though it looks rather ordinary, not like a product of a mad scientist, the motorcycle generated much curiosity each time we took a break on our test drive. But, as soon as people learned about Zero's powerful acceleration, their studious looks morphed into enthusiasm. Yes, this is it! My fellow bikers, this is what we can all look forward to. And you know what? It's good. After having driven the small city scooters, with top speeds of 45 km/h, and the BMW travel scooter, it feels refreshing to ride a motorcycle that offers driving sensations akin to what most fervent old-school bikers are used to. Its sitting position is fully comparable to the 600- or 700-ccm travel enduro, which is a petrol-powered equivalent of our Zero.
Elongated seats are sufficiently comfortable for an average grown European and his fellow passenger while the footpegs, mounted not too high, promise a very neutral and tireless ride, even on a lenghtier drive. The distance of your trip will also depend on the terrain through which you will be traveling. Highways and throttle to the max, and driving at the speed limit of 130 km/h, will quickly empty your battery. Zero DS reached top speed at 158 km/h when in sports mode, and 129 km/h in standard. In terms of range, you can count on 80 to 90 kilometers, which will require a 3-hour (providing you have additional chargers) or a good 8-hour (regular charging) break at an electric outlet.
Fortunately, bikers prefer windy roads and picturesque countryside over highways. This is where the Zero shines, in all its glory. Speeding along the curves suits it very well. Each time we rolled on the throttle coming out of a turn, we couldn't help but smile. Ah, if only petrol-powered motorcycles could deliver the same torque and acceleration-induced sensation that flows over your entire body. In such conditions, battery life is no longer a problem and, realistically, it will be OK for up to 120 kilometers. When you hit unpaved roads, you'll enjoy the ride even more. Designed for on- and off-road riding, the Zero won't buck, when in contact with gravel. Sadly, the suspension comes up short, to allow for a sportier ride. But, if a dynamic grappling with a bit more challenging terrain is your thing, then you will want to consider Zero's extreme off-road motorcycle, that features fine lines, low weight, rough off-road tires and fully-adjustable suspension. Safety is sorted by a single-disc brake and the ABS system, which may not satisfy the more demanding sports drivers but, for a dynamic and fun ride, minus the ambitions of a racer, this standard equipment will get the job done well.
For the 2016 season, Zero Motorcycles has announced the arrival of an updated version, with a shorter charging time, the battery improved by half a kilowatt (it rapid charges to 95% in 2 hours, while domestic charging time remains the same), faster acceleration and a longer range on a single charge. An additional battery pack will increase the official range to 187 kilometers on the combined cycle (in the 2016 model version).
In its current state, this is a very versatile and useful motorcycle for daily usage in the city and beyond. The Euro to kilometer calculation is also very interesting, onsidering the minimal maintenance cost of the motorcycle.