Chris MacAskill, aka. Baldy, likes the sound of gas motors, he likes the look of them and he likes shifting. While Baldy was doing an interview with the Zero CEO Sam Paschel, Sam offered him a 2020 Zero DSR Black Forest Edition motorcycle for two months. The Zero DSR/BF Black Forest Electric Dual-Sport Motorcycle delivers near silent 146 Nm of torque and can handle dual sport terrain with its crash bars and Pirelli MT-60 tires. In this real world long term review follow Chris, his wife and his gas-riding friends as they experience an electric bike for the first time, learning all about electric charging and electric range, take the bike shopping, learn whether or not a baguette fits in the top luggage, go on longer and longer road trips, almost run out of battery and go riding on trails. This video answers real world questions about riding and owning an electric adventure bike.

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The full video transcript …

Hey, it’s Baldy from ADV Rider. I got to interview Sam Paschel, CEO of Zero Motorcycles.

Great interview you’ll find on YouTube.

And he said, I could have a loaner bike for an extended period of time.

I was a little skeptical of electric because I like the sound of gas motors.

I like their look and I also like to shift. Here’s what happened when I had it for two months? Wow, here we are, look at that, a Zero van.

Good to see you, I’ll stay by six feet away from you.

You’ve, no sir, We’ll have a gift for you here.

Oh, what is it? Well, as you’re about to see, the Black Forest, you know, this is a bit of a departure from a normal adventure bike.


And so the idea was we wanted to give you the new adventure tool kit.

Well, the tooth test is pretty funny, actually.

It’s all about adventure.

And since the motorcycle doesn’t require any maintenance, the kind of tools they provided are not what you expect.

So, this is a marshmallow roaster with removable tips, extensible.

And there was some s’mores in here, but my wife shamelessly rated this toolbox, so I don’t know if this is arranged the way it’s supposed to be.

And she ate the s’mores and that is a rechargeable lantern for when you’re camping, a mug, steel mug for your coffee.

They have the mother of all, industrial matches here that in a waterproof case. They have manuals, fantastic Grafton Pen.

I hope that’s in focus. Field Notes.

Why, of course, you got to have Field Notes and last but not least, a buff.

But does it make me look badass? I need help with that. Boy, that breaks a beauty. Holy cow! Oh, are you sure? You’ll sure love it and seat is super comfy.

And it does have a passenger, I’m think so It does and quite a compfortable real seat. I’m excited about that.

Although I’m going to give it a spin myself.

I’ve got to see if I can fit it.

So, the amazing thing about electric is you have your left hand free.

So, assuming we don’t die here, Whoa! Off we go in selfie video mode to the bakery.

How quiet is this? Well, you made a hole.

I did make a hole.

I got some for my neighbor.

I hope the bag will fit in…

Everyone fits in his luggage. There we go, here.

Nice to be able to use straps on the luggage to tie on sleeping gear.

True confession.

I was sure I would miss the sweet audio tone of a Ducati, there’re some like that.

But actually, it’s kind of like going from somebody’s private propeller airplane to a glider.

I got used to it super fast.

I thought it would be kind of lame to ride an electric motorcycle this quiet around town.

But everybody loves it.

They all want to talk about it.

It looks so badass and it’s so quiet.

They love it. Oh, I’m coming up on my buddy, Scott, I’m going to surprise him with my badass new motorcycle.

Hey buddy, how is it hanging? Hey! Hey! hey! What’s going on? Oh, check it out.

Check it out.

You didn’t even hear the engine.

Did you? I did not.

So, you got one of these guys… Electric.

So, it’s the most convenient motorcycle ever for around town and a lot of fun for short adventures.

But now I got to figure out the charging network for longer trips.

Okay, so here we are at my local grocery store and they have all these chargers.

Okay, I’m such a charging noob, I don’t know what all this means.

So, there’s a DC 2 and a DC 1 and I pull it out and that doesn’t look like the kind of fitting my motorcycle has.

And I don’t know what the hell kind of fitting that is.

But I go up to this little level two charger and this fitting…

Okay, that I can understand, that fits in the tank.

Alright. That’s what the fitting looks like.

And there we go. Alright.

It says we’re charging 14% charge at 8:48.

So, we go in and get a coffee while we wait? Alright.

So, it’s been exactly an hour and we’re at 64% charge.

Can you hear the fan blowing while it’s charging? So, the charging unit is reading that we’ve been charging for an hour and 32.

So, they say the last part of the charge is the slowest, but in the last 10 minutes, it’s gone up to 94%.

So, I don’t understand.

I decided my first adventure should be to San Francisco, where there’s a high density of charging stations because it’s complicated.

There’s like four different companies and you have to have accounts with each and each location may have a level 2 charge her, but maybe not.

The right up there is amazing with all the canyons and mountains.

And first stop being the famous Alice’s restaurant where the Squids get all the tickets. Did you guys get a ticket for? Yeah, double over… How far over? Double… Wow! Somehow along the way, I bumped the GoPro on my helmet, so it’s pointing down and I missed filming some epic rides through the forest and the coast highway and even being a hooligan in the San Francisco Hills.

Talking about a great day, here I am with the Golden Gate Bridge behind me, having clocked 92 miles through the forest and Half Moon Bay, I have 26% left in charge, so I got to go find a charging station before going back home.

But oh my gosh, it’s been so great to ride this bike.

So I was a little nervous because I’d come 96 miles.

I had 14% of battery left, I’d done some hooligan stuff around the hills. And I only saw one IFFCO station with this level 2 charger.

The rest of them, you know, seem to have these big chargers.

I wasn’t in the best neighborhood either, but I found it.

So, here’s a tough decision, and it’s been charging about an hour, it’s at 52%.

It’s getting cold and windy. Do I try to get home with this much charge or do I wait until it gets over 60%? Well, that was close. I was going to fill it up to 55% because I had 43 miles to go home in it.

55% said I had a greater than 55 mile range.

But then I get on the freeway and I’m going 75 miles an hour and holy cow, it started to go down.

So, in the 43 miles, I exited the freeway one stop sooner so that I could limp home fairly slowly.

And as you see now it’s at 2%.Oh! Home sweet home.

So the good news is my high school has a whole bank of chargers, just two and a half blocks away.

And the elementary and middle schools are the same chargers everywhere.

An embarrassment of riches of level 2 chargers. Look at that.

Oh, look, we’re down at 0% and we’re cruising around the parking lot here at school on 0% charge.

Should we see what happens? It’s still going round and round the school, still doing loops of 0% charge.

I have heard on laptops, you shouldn’t run it all the way down to zero, so to speak, so I’ll be kind and charge it now.

Tough job, but I feel it’s my duty to test it in the dirt.

When I rolled in the park, it didn’t look like anybody had riden down there like me.

But right away, I saw some eye candy and a kindred spirit with an electric trials by. Oh! You bought it? Yeah.

The red one is kind of the aggressive one.

So I’ll start you on green.

Oh! and the Rangers, dude, they look badass on their Alto’s.

What do you have on your belt? I just pepper spray the radio. Yeah, they come with a converter box. So, you plug that in, then you plug this into the converter box.

Yeah. That’s really nice.

Thanks a lot. Yeah, of course. You guys have fun.


So I just turn the throttle.

Just turn the throttle. Okay.

I had done that. The first time I did that on an Alto, I almost…

Oh yeah. Yeah.

It’s not that twitchy [bike’s sound] So, let’s get the luggage out and mix it up with the KTM.

I know it’s not a pure dirt bike, but I had a blast with it and I was pretty gentle.

I thought, I like shifting, but actually, one less thing, and you don’t have to get your butoh under the shift level and there’s just consistent power wherever you need it.

I’m 6’4 and I felt a little bent over, but I usually am on most bikes.

I’m also 195 pounds and got the front forks to bottom a couple of times, but I never adjusted the suspension.

One thing I didn’t think of before descending my first steep hill because I’m on electric bike mood is how you slow it down.

So I had a few white knuckle experiences.

So, I fired up the app and saw the default for regenerative braking is 62% I change that to 100% and it felt better.

It still felt like gas engines have more compression to slow you down on the steep descent.

So here we are, Metcalf Motorcycle Park, which is about 35 miles south of my house.

On the slab, and I use 40% of battery, I only had 60% left.

And I thought, oh, jeez, you know, how much am I going to get to ride today before finding a charge station in San Jose and heading home? And but it’s doing well.

I’ve been riding for about an hour and I’m at 46%, so it doesn’t take up too much on the trail.

Here we are back home, suitably dusty.

Okay, I got home at 10% charge, just plugged it in at 10:57, we’ll see how long it takes at 110 volts.

So checking back two hours later at 1:05, looks like we’re at 43%.

Another two hours later, here we are at 53% That was an odd reading because two hours later, it was at 78% and two hours after that, 100%.

So eight hours to go from 10% to 100%.

So I wasn’t too keen about how the windscreen vibrates when I first got on.

Good morning, Ken.

Okay, I’m on my silent motorcycle again.

I remember thinking, why did they just attach it with those two bars? Well, it turns out it’s quite adjustable from a high angle to a low angle.

And then there’s this, with several adjustments in between.

I set the windshield on high and this thing on the outermost.

And my helmet was in pretty clear air.

On the last day, we had it, my wife suggested we go over the mountains to the ocean.

I married a bike girl.

And how do you rate this Zero compared to all the other bikes we test? Well, so far the Zero is much cooler.

Why? I love the peace and quiet.

So, we came 40 miles over the mountain and your comfort level is? Oh, it’s perfect and she’s perfect. You’ve had it two months, are you going to miss it? Yes, definitely.

You’re going to let me buy one? We’ll talk about that. If I were going to buy another motorcycle, would this be your number one pick? I have to think about that, because I can’t ride it.

And so that’s a major factor.

Was it too heavy? Yeah, it was too heavy.

So you took it out for a spin the other day, you own a BMW, 650 GS. What do you think? That was great. It’s a dream bike.

I’d love to have one, which is cool…

Are you going to buy one? Very possibly.

My wife said I could have one for my birthday, so.

Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Do you have to take it back? I know, it’s the worst part. So what is the extra battery? How much range does it get you? That is basically, so what we’ve got here, the main battery is a 14.4.

We call it a power pack, 14.4 kWh.

You can only have one or the other. This is currently installed with the charge tank, allowing you to use the level 2 chargers.

Yeah. So you can either do the charge tank or a power tank and a power tank is an extra 3.6 kWh.

I see. So for the weight of this bike, it would basically translate to another 40 miles or so, 40, 50 miles.

So, can you talk me a little bit about the belt drive? Sure. There’s some guys online are concerned if you get a rock in their brakes or something.

You know, they are not an incredibly robust drive technology.

You know, it’s why. We do recommend, if you’re going to be riding some serious off-road stuff or if you’re going to be catching more than about 6 to 10 inches of air, we do recommend to chink it.

I see. And so that is available.

It, of course, makes it noisier.

But I do know a lot of people that have done that, you know.

For most people we have found in the dual sport category, you know, depending on where they live, depending on their capacities, they’re not usually catching much air.

They’re doing fire roads.

They’re doing… or using it on their property or just doing more simple, less technical stuff.

And that’s really what this excels at, you know.

Oh, this is said. Bye bye.

Bye bye. Bye bye.

Until next time.

Until I come down and buy you.

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