Skip to main content

There are certain authenticity claims to riding motorcycles that are as difficult to ride as possible. I am regularly guilty of this nonsense way of thinking, but it is real. Hard tail chopper, “suicide” shift, manual transmission, and so on. Bikers with these features on their bikes tend to occupy a more “legit” space in the motorcycle world. These things are all cool, but they aren’t required to make a bike good or bad. I spent years believing motorcycle authenticity required suffering on some level, that is, until I rode the 2023 Zero DSR/X. 

The 2023 Zero DSR/X changed my mind about electric motorcycles

I was never an old-school chopper biker. I never needed a hardtail suicide shift bike with clean bars and no front brake to feel the thrill of riding. However, I did very much believe that if you weren’t at least shifting gears manually, then you were just riding a scooter. To be clear, that distinction was derogatory. That was until I took delivery of the Zero tester. 

I rode Zero’s DSR/X a number of times. I pulled the digital throttle as hard as I could, tucked in, and tried to keep my stomach from turning inside out from the electric motor’s unworldly acceleration. While that is exciting, no matter what your philosophy on bikes is, the silent puttering around town still left me wanting. 

A few days later, I foolishly crashed my Suzuki DR650, poking a 3 cm deep hole right above my knee, rendering my leg bloody, stiff, and mostly useless. 

The next day, bummed, embarrassed, and angry, I remembered that I had promised to ride the Zero to a friend’s event who was interested in checking out the bike. At the risk of tearing my newly-stitched meat, I slowly saddled the 100-hp silent sport machine and took off. After a few moments of discomfort, I began to realize that thanks to the lack of gears and strong “engine” braking, there wasn’t all that much for my legs to do other than lightly press the rear brake and squeeze the hollow “tank.” 

Is the Zero DSR/X any good? 

2023 Zero DSR/X parked in front of a cabin a dusk.
2023 Zero DSR/X | MotorBiscuit: Peter Corn

Riding with only one good leg allowed the Zero to shine. My prejudices turned into gratitude, and with that, I began to see the electric motorcycle for what it was, a complete break from some of the worse parts of riding motorcycles – bravado. 

This bike is objectively quick, sharp, agile, firm, and quick. Did I mention it was quick? 100 hp and 166-lb-ft of torque on a bike weight 544 lbs is a hell of a lot of power. Especially when considering there are cars with similar power and weigh five times the amount. Everything that makes a motorcycle thrilling is found in the Zero DSR/X. Even the size is something that feels true. It’s tall without being imposing while also having a low-cut saddle That gives you a sense of being almost inside the motorcycle. The one performance spec that isn’t all that impressive is the 112 mph top speed.

All that said, I did miss a few things from the more traditional motorcycles. The quietness was in some way. I didn’t feel like an asshole blasting through residential areas at night, but I do miss hearing the bike. I love the sounds of riding a motorcycle; it’s one of my favorite parts, truth be told. The sound of cold starting a bike, popping the throttle for a downshift, high RPM, the click of the gears, all of it. In this way, the Zero was lacking. 

The 2023 Zero DSR/X is great but not perfect

The only other noteworthy critique is sort of two-pronged; the range of 135 miles (10 hours total charge time) made me feel very limited despite never riding more than 35-40 miles at a time. But that feeling of limitation paired with a nearly $25k price tag is a tough pill to swallow. But for a bike with 100 hp and 166 lb-ft of torque that corners, brakes, accelerates, and all-around boogies down using industry-leading technology, a high price tag should probably be expected. 

The 2023 ZeroDSR/X is a brilliant display of what a motorcycle can do. It’s pure and also light. There’s no sense of pretense or biker guy that comes from it. It is free from all the stereotypes. I wish it didn’t take getting injured to see how useful a bike like this is, but I’m glad I got the lesson anyways.