2016 Zero DSR (Test Mule?) Spotted in the Wild

MAY 10 2015 BY TDILLARD 14

On MotoZero Racing’s Facebook page, we caught sight of a nice group ride with the caption “Jim did 225 miles of dual sport riding last weekend in the sierras on a 2015 DS. Good action.” What followed that was a link to Jim’s SmugMug page, with a ton of photos of what looked like a blast riding in Yosemite.  Here’s that link.

Now, that’s all fine, but this photo in particular caught our eye:

"MY16 D&R"

“MY16 D&R”

See that label on the bar?  That would suggest this is a “Model Year 2016, Development and Research” bike, now wouldn’t it?  The rest of the bike is pointedly absent of labeling or graphics, save that and a few logos.  Naturally we had to go back and look through the shots a little closer.

2016 Zero DS

2016 Zero DSR(?)

2016 Zero DS rear view

2016 Zero DSR (?) rear view

2016 Zero DS rear view

2016 Zero DSR (?) side detail

And, for reference, here’s the 2015 Zero DS from the site:

2015 Zero DS

2015 Zero DS studio


2015 Zero DS action

Remarkably unchanged, by appearances.  The front end, brakes and rear suspension appear identical, though the front disk appears a little larger on Jim’s bike. The changes we’ve heard in the grapevine are battery and drivetrain-related, and remember, Zero filed trademarks for the DSR and FXS back a few months ago.  Motorcycle.com speculated:

“…A more likely scenario is the DSR will be a variant of the Zero DS dual-sport but with the more powerful motor from the Zero SR. Zero claims 67 hp from the SR motor compared to 54 hp on the 2015 DS, while the peak torque is said to increase by nearly 56% to 106 lb-ft.”

…and what’s this we spy, with our super-duper closeup?  That’s a Size 6 controller, folks, under that plastic cover – just like on the SR:

Sevcon Size 6

Sevcon Size 6

…leading us to guess a few things.  To our knowledge, Zero doesn’t intend to do an “R” version of any Police bikes, but this is clearly a Police version (note the taped up lights).  What this probably amounts to is a test mule – rather than a “production intent” bike as we see it here.  It’s kind of an interesting peek into Zero’s R&D process.  This “DSRP” with saddle bags is the largest, heaviest most electrically complicated bike they can theoretically make. They can use this for physical testing (like this trip), and also electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) testing as well.

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14 Comments on "2016 Zero DSR (Test Mule?) Spotted in the Wild"

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Great detective work! I’m still waiting for a reasonably priced used model. I can’t wait till these are the main stream.

Im waiting untill they come out with a decent sized onboard charger

+1,makes the bike usable, waiting 16hrs to recharge is a waste of $20k

Unfortunately I suspect a higher power charger would be quite physically large. An off board DC charger might be a better way to go, and give the bike Chademo compatibility.

It really needs to be onboard, otherwise actual day trips in the 300-400mi range aren’t in the cards, which is a pretty major purpose of buying a bike in general (if all you need is a medium-range commuter, get a (electric or ICE) scooter which are cheap; if it’s short range, get a (electric or human-powered) bicycle).

In theory Zero do offer a ($1800) CHAdeMo option, but it won’t work with most DCQC chargers, ebcause, contrary to spec, they only support 200V+ systems.

They have one on offer, but it doesn’t necessarily work with most CHAdeMo stations, which don’t fully support the spec.

Carrying a charger on a motorcycle makes even less sense than it makes in a car. Not only are batteries ten times as big, and heavy as a gas tank, but they are forced to carry the equivalent of the gas pump too! If we had a coherent national policy, your charger would hang on the wall of your garage, and there would be public chargers. Making a big deal out of offering 240 volt outlets, and calling them “charge stations” is a joke.

The beauty of a motorcycle, or an efficient car is that you could do a fast charge from a 240 volt supply, and not need industrial 440 volt power.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the 2016 “test mule” speculation is correct. It is about that time of the year when a 2016 model would be out for testing and doing so in the Sierra’s would be a lot safer (to keep the press at bay) than testing the bike around Santa Cruz. Coming out with a DS SR version makes marketing sense and would cost very little to implement. Upgrading the batteries and motor would also generate interest with EV enthusiasts to trade in their 2012 and 2013 models for a new bike. Finally, a DS version is a better mount for riding on all of California’s, and most urban streets, where you need longer travel to get over those big potholes and crumbling pavement.

Zero would garner a lot more interest if they came out with faired road bikes… That could increase ranage by 50% (at highway speeds, not urban) without changing the drivetrain, for a lot cheaper.
They’re aware of the possibility, see here:

Craig Vetter is working on a 3d-party fairing that he and Terry Hirshner expect will give 2x range, but it’s really large & ugly, and probably won’t be suitable for in-town use.

I have long been wondering when they would stick the more powerful controller into the DS. It would cost them very little to offer another variant, with every part having already been tested and being in production, and the IC competitors offer humungous offroad bikes with way over 100hp.


Great story, Ted. I went down to Rocket cycles last weekend to take a look at the FX. Looks like a lot of fun.

Does anyone here ride a Zero FX or DS?

I just bought one. Haven’t had it out yet. Hopefully tomorrow. The test drive was a blast. I’m waiting for the rack so I can carry my stuff when commuting. Weekend was too busy to get off road with it. I’m hoping the short range won’t be an issue for general use.

They ought to swap out that cruddy headlight housing with a twin headlight, ala Buell Uly. Then do something with the battery/powertrain casing, to make it look better than crap.

Other than that, yeah, Zero’s born to be dirty offerings look so much better than their street offerings.

Lithium Titanate Batteries are coming , will mean charging times will be mins , not hrs ! Life cycle will be over 20k recharges (30-50yrs of life!) . Oh , n price per amp is just a bit more than regular Lipo batts .