The no­tion of an electric ad­ven­ture bike raises a few, very ob­vi­ous, ques­tions. How­ever, in the spirit of open-mind­ed­ness…

BIKE (UK) - - CONTENTS - By Ben Lind­ley Pho­tog­ra­phy Zero

An electric ad­ven­ture bike. But, hang on, where do you charge up?

THE BLACK FOR­EST looks like a Mad Max refugee, but with­out a sawn-off megaphone exhaust. In fact, it’s al­most noise­less: Mad Max on mute then. Grunty, too, like you imag­ine those Max ma­chines to be, ex­cept with no raggedy fu­elling. In­stead there’s just clean, in­stan­ta­neous, rapid thrust. No gear click­ing, no rev watch­ing – the thrust is yours from walk­ing speed to the 110mph lim­iter. And the de­liv­ery is just so smooth you never worry about the lack of trac­tion con­trol. Silent, grunty and pan­niers? Es­sen­tially Zero have kitted out their dual-sport DSR with a glut of ex­tras. Both bikes have long 178mm travel forks and 19in fronts, but the Black For­est gets a head­light grille, tour­ing screen and Givi lug­gage. Look closer and spot off-road foot­pegs, fog lights and long mud­guards. There should be a com­fort seat but they aren’t ready yet so this bike has the firmer one from the DSR. Just like the DSR, the ‘For­est’s pow­ered by an electric mo­tor with di­rect drive (no clutch needed) and a 14.4kwh bat­tery. Zero say there’s enough ca­pac­ity for a 160-mile daw­dle or a 78-mile mo­tor­way ride. But hav­ing added full bat­tery re­gen­er­a­tion to the ‘Cus­tom’ rid­ing mode us­ing Zero’s smart­phone app I get dif­fer­ent num­bers. The trip shows 37% used over 41 miles, rid­ing as hard as I’d ride a petrol bike on curv­ing Sch­warzwald roads. That im­plies a 111-mile range. Last month, edi­tor Wil­son man­aged 54 miles’ en­ter­tain­ing rid­ing from a fully-charged En­er­gica Eva Esse Esse9. The Zero wins hands down. Zero tech­ni­cal en­gi­neer Alex Sell­ing says this is be­cause their bat­tery crams more ca­pac­ity into a given space than the com­pe­ti­tion. So what’s in the box? ‘The Black For­est runs two rows of 28 bat­tery cells. More cells in a row means more torque, while more rows means more ca­pac­ity’ – and also a longer charg­ing time. That

means Zero have to clev­erly bal­ance th­ese three char­ac­ter­is­tics – torque, ca­pac­ity and charg­ing time. They could lose a lit­tle thrust in favour of range… ‘But we want to keep the fun fac­tor in our bikes,’ says Alex. ‘We want own­ers to be wowed by torque.’ If you are fa­mil­iar with more tra­di­tional ad­ven­ture bikes you’ll be im­pressed by the brak­ing power from the sin­gle front disc, but ir­ri­tated by the firm perch and sports­bike-like bend in your knees. It turns much slower than a BMW R1200GS too, and has none of the big­ger bike’s road poise. Long-travel sus­pen­sion is su­per soft, so the Zero’s 220kg crashes for­ward un­der brak­ing and wal­lows on the throt­tle. And then there’s the fin­ish. Brown-ish camo patches are stuck to the fuel tank, pan­niers and bikini fair­ing. Some are al­ready scuffed. The fog light switch isn’t in­te­grated with the switchgear and slides around on the han­dle­bar. The Givi top cases each lock with a sep­a­rate key, so that makes four keys on your Black For­est fob. And three times I twisted the throt­tle at low speed with­out re­sponse. Dis­con­cert­ing when it hap­pens dur­ing a tight U-turn. Looks-wise En­er­gica’s Ego and Eva ma­chines make me want an electric bike. While this Zero can’t match the En­er­gica’s swoop­ing car­bon­fi­bre fin­ish it’s a claimed 78kg lighter, is eas­ier to man­age at slow speeds and much more pow­er­ful. The Zero also doesn’t haem­or­rhage charge if you wring its neck and it’s £7771 cheaper. I wouldn’t take one to the Black For­est, but as a com­muter…

The Black For­est looks like a Mad Max refugee, but with­out a sawed-off exhaust. Mad Max on mute then…

The Black For­est: let’s face it they were never go­ing to paint it pur­ple, were they?

Not quite the star ship ight deck you’d hope for Far be it for us to be nega­tive about an electric ad­ven­ture bike. But. Where are you sup­posed to charge it?

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