Steady evolution characterizes the electric motorcycle industry. E-mobility's march of progress tiptoes forward with each model year, but in 2022, Energica and Zero Motorcycles made significant strides by entering the adventure-touring segment.
The Italian OEM released its Experia in May, 2022. Zero wasn't far behind either, launching the DSR/X just 15 weeks later. Both models break free of urban confines thanks to extended ranges, travel-friendly ergonomics, and optional luggage packages. Yet, they're both products of Energica and Zero’s steady progress.
The Experia and DSR/X may be one small step for the manufacturers but they’re one giant leap for the market. Now, when pavement-pounding travelers and off-road adventurers want to explore parts unknown, they can add new battery-powered options to their shortlists. As such, there’s no better time to determine which e-ADV reigns supreme on the spec sheet.
|2023 Zero DSR/X||2023 Energica Experia|
|Motor:||Z-Force 75-10 Permanent Magnet AC Motor||Permanent Magnet Assisted Synchronous Reluctance Motor|
|Battery:||17.3 kWh||22.5 kWh|
|Range:||180 miles (City), 85 miles (Highway), 115 miles (Combined)||261 miles (City), 130 miles (Highway), 160 miles (Combined)|
|Performance:||75 kW (101 hp) / 166 lb-ft||75kW (101 hp) / 85 lb-ft|
|Weight:||544 pounds||573 pounds|
Going the Distance
To maximize range, many internal combustion touring bikes employ large-capacity gas tanks. The concept is no different when it comes to electric motorcycles and battery packs. For that reason, Zero and Energica strap their new tourers with two of the largest fuel cells the industry has seen.
The DSR/X draws from a 17.3 kWh pack, sending all that electric juice to the back wheel via its Z-Force 75-10X Motor. That e-drivetrain produces 75 kW (101 horsepower) and 166 lb-ft of torque. When ridden with a disciplined right wrist, the DSR/X nets up to 180 city miles, 85 miles on the highway, and 115 miles in combined conditions.
Energica sees Zero’s hand and raises the stakes with a colossal 22.5 kWh battery. The firm’s Permanent Magnet Assisted Synchronous Reluctance Motor isn’t just a mouthful, it can also be a handful, with Energica claiming 664 lb-ft of peak torque at the rear wheel. Still, the brand rates the motor’s peak output at 75 kW (101 horsepower).
The Experia’s 22.5kWh battery doesn’t just put up big numbers on the dyno it also racks up a 261-mile city range, a 130-mile highway estimate, and a 160-mile combined rating. That extra distance doesn’t come without its drawbacks. With the larger battery in tow, the Experia weighs in at 573 pounds, nearly 30 pounds more than the 544-pound DSR/X. However, most travelers will take the extra mass for the extra mileage. With that, we have to award this round to Energica.
Zero isn’t out of the bout yet, though. It's far from it. That's because what the DSR/X lacks in range it makes up for in versatility. Both the adventure-tourers can take on the odd fire road while rolling on the stock Pirelli Scorpion Trail II tires. Unfortunately, the Experia’s 17-inch cast wheelset restricts further dirt prospects, as most off-road-biased tires aren't available in its road-oriented wheel size. On the flip side, more semi-knob tire options suit the DSR/X’s 19-inch front wheel, especially if the owner upgrades to Zero’s tubeless spoked wheelset.
Zero doesn’t stop at the hoops either, it outfits the rest of the DSR/X’s chassis for trail duty too. A fully-adjustable 47mm Showa SFF-BP fork and a piggy-back reservoir shock afford the electric adventurer 7.5 inches of travel (at both ends). The Experia’s 43mm ZF Sachs front end and rear monoshock also offer adjustability, but they only yield 5.9 inches of wheel travel (fore and aft). Given those numbers, it’s safe to say that Energica doesn’t envision its tourer venturing too far from the tarmac. For that reason, the DSR/X evens the scorecard after two rounds.
Draw... Your Own Conclusions
Like all motorcycles, these new electric tourers need spec sheets that correspond to their price tags. With Zero charging $24,495 for the DSR/X and Energica starting the Experia at $25,880, the two models go head-to-head in the flagship adventure-touring category. That doesn’t mean they appeal to the same customers, though.
It all comes down to the buyer’s adventure-touring needs. If you prefer pavement, it’s hard to beat Energica’s Experia. If dirt’s your deal, the DSR/X does the deed. Of course, we can’t ignore the $1,385 gulf between the two MSRPs, but the Experia’s superior range warrants that uptick. Even when outfitted with Zero’s optional 20.9 kWh Power Tank, the DSR/X’s 220-mile max range doesn’t challenge Energica’s 261-mile claim. If the judges score on range alone, the Experia wins hands down, but if we take off-road riding into account, customers will have to draw their own conclusions.
Sources: Zero Motorcycles, Energica Motor Company