Zero DS: very strong 125s for teenagers

As fast to 100 km/h as a VW Golf GTI. More power than a Suzuki Hayabusa. Spontaneous throttle response like a BMW 1000. Would you shove something like that under your 16-year-old kid’s butt on their way to school?
Oh yeah, there’s no need to fear the police – madness is legal, here in the form of the Zero DS. It belongs to the type of electric motorcycles that obscure in the mist of the EU type tests how much smoke they really have on the rear wheel. Fascinating or dangerous?
Zero DS

With 180 Nm, the Zero has more torque than a Honda Goldwing 1800.

Johann, our photo driver, is the proud owner of the A1 driver’s license, so he can move all kinds of 15 hp 125s, has his own Aprilia, which he uses on and off-road. So the boy is clamoring to put the whisper-quiet and extra-strong Zero through its paces.

Zero DS disturbingly snappy

However, neither Johann nor the test crew from AUTO BILD MOTORRAD expected what happened shortly after the start: The DS goes forward like a singed sow – which was additionally given a 400-volt electric shock.

If she gives the cozy companion from the start, she starts up with a disturbing bite shortly afterwards. Up to about 140 km/h, the Zero whirrs forward emphatically and violently. Above all, the pulling power is impressive. End of town, full throttle – at this point, common 600 machines become small in the rear-view mirror.

The torque on the rear wheel is so powerful that you have to be very careful when it is wet: Even with moderate acceleration, the grip can break off and the motorcycle, which weighs 187 kilograms, can turn into a tail swing.

Zero DS

The battery is charged via a Schuko plug whose connection is elegantly sunk into the frame.

A modern 125 four-stroke enduro takes – brutally shifted – almost 20 seconds from 0 to 100 km/h. The Zero does this about three times faster with a little twist of the right wrist. Our test crew looked for and found the explanation for this on the dynamometer: 56 hp, 180 Nm of torque! The classification in the 15 hp class is only justified on paper.

Zero with an extra electric kick

AUTO BILD MOTORRAD follows up with the manufacturer. We want to know under what conditions the enormous power of the Zero DS is throttled, when it switches to the class-standard performance of the 125cc. The answer: “In principle, one can say that if the temperature of the engine or battery is too high or if the charge level is too low, the performance is throttled.”
This is somewhat vaguely formulated and suggests that the maximum output of 56 hp determined on the test bench is available in most situations! (Bike innovations for 2022)

That doesn’t seem illegal. According to Regulation No. 85 UN/ECE, only the rated continuous power is relevant for the legal classification (registration and driver’s license class). The legislator understands rated continuous power to be the maximum power that an engine can sustain for 30 minutes. Zero advertises the extra electric kick aggressively.

Title AUTO BILD motorcycle 02-2022

Available now: the new AUTO BILD MOTORRAD!

The DS 11 kW offers a “riding experience that is exceptional in its class and an absolute thrill. It doesn’t matter whether you are a novice driver or are returning to motorcycling”.

A tricky statement, after all there are 16-year-olds and B196 license holders in this segment, and they don’t even have to take a test.

Top version with a range of 229 km

Even without the impressive performance figures, the Zero is a truly full-fledged motorcycle. The upright sitting position on the comfortably shaped saddle is also suitable for longer tours. Here the range is rather limiting – Zero promises up to 191 km for the basic model, the version with top battery power (3699 euros extra) should then hum 229 kilometers.
We managed about 140 kilometers on average; the greatest range is possible in city operation. The speed and all other information are easy to read in the wide cockpit, and a smartphone app helps to manage charging processes or set performance characteristics. This is cleverly done and clearly structured.
Zero DS

“Pressure, speed, fun – that’s all it takes,” says test driver Johann (17).

The workmanship of the US motorcycle is also otherwise pleasing, everything is finely assembled, the materials are right. There are also clever details such as the charging socket in the frame or the cable compartment in the dummy tank.

That’s how it should be, given the test machine’s purchase price of almost 19,000 euros. That’s how much three full-fledged adventure bikes like a Benelli TRK 502 cost. Another reason why the Zero is actually not for the way to school.

Specifications and price: Zero DS

engine permanent magnet machine
battery pack 7.2kWh
continuous power 11 kW (15 hp) at 3800 rpm
Max. Torque 109 Nm
Top 139 km/h
tires v./h. 100/90-19 / 130/80-17
seat height 843mm
curb weight 187kg
Range 98 km
Price from 17,040 euros

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