We’ve gotten to the stage where electric moto giants are turning their head towards electric tourer motorcycles. Here’s our comparison of the top two bikes available right now.
Energica Motor Company and Zero Motorcycles – two of the biggest names in electric motorcycles from opposite sides of the world.
Both are constantly smashing the ceilings of electric motorcycle potential, and in 2023 they’ve both turned their sites to adventure touring motorcycles. It’s a pretty significant milestone that EV battery technology has developed to the point where electric motorbikes can offer long range adventure adventure bikes. We’re here to look at both the Energica Experia and Zero DSR/X side-by-side to see how they stack up against one another, and which would be the superior adventure tourer.
What is an adventure tourer?
A tourer motorcycle is designed to cover longer distances than your average motorcycle for the specific purpose of adventuring and traveling. That means a more upright, comfortable riding position, comfier seats, luggage capacity and motors than can handle high speeds for long highway bursts. Because of those characteristics – it’s a segment of the market that typically attracts older riders looking for a comfortable bike for bigger trips. Traditional petrol adventure tourers have a long range capacity, high ground clearance, more robust suspension, light handling and extra features that make long distance adventuring more comfortable for the traveler.
We’ve not seen too many capable offerings coming from the electric moto manufacturers for touring motorcycles, so the pressure is on to deliver a motorcycle that will step up to rider’s expectations. The closest attempt we’ve seen at a touring motorcycle in Australia was the Harley Davidson Livewire or Energica EsseEsse9+. But neither were built as long distance touring motorcycles. We recently covered a story on an Aussie adventurer who took a 2,500km journey across Australia on a LiveWire. Ed had incredible patience and perseverance – traveling at 50 km/h for 200 km stretches to ensure his battery could make the distance between charging stops. If you’re wondering how different things may have been different on an Experia or DSR/X – you will find out later this year!
Launched in June of 2022, the Experia marked the first model in a new generation of motorbikes from the Italian manufacturer. It was Europe’s first fully electric Green Adventure Tourer, and until the Zero DSR/X came along later that year, the only electric motorcycle built purely for touring. It was the first bike that was able to ride long distances on both sealed and unsealed roads, with a butt load of features that would make it an amazing adventure machine.
The innovations that went into the Experia’s new Green Tourer Platform included a reengineered EMCE electric motor, revised battery chemistry and new frame and chassis design. The redesign was intended to reduce the overall weight of the bike, improve rider balance and increase ground clearance.
Some of the bells and whistles added on to the Experia include some decent storage, voluminous and aerodynamic hard side panels, weather protective fairings and adjustable windscreens. The ‘tank’ section of the bike holds 112-litres worth of storage capacity, 2 USB ports on the dash and two more lockable waterproof storage compartments. The Tourer package, an additional add-on for the Experia, also comes with heated hand grips, GPS bracket, splash and hand guards.
The lower position and the refined upright design of the battery keeps the weight of the bike low which significantly improves handling. The Sachs 43mm forks are fully adjustable for compression, rebound and preload and have about 150mm of travel. Like the other Energica models, the wheels are 17” alloys with a Pirelli Scorpion Trail II tyre. Tobin from our team went to the UK launch of the Experia and confirmed the handling was a significant step up on the other models. Light and well-balanced. All adding to the dual-purpose capability to the bike. While the most impressive battery on offer from Energica means longer range than the Ego, Ribelle and EsseEsse9. You’re still going to need careful planning if you’re heading for a full weekend of off-road adventuring. Type 3 DC fast chargers might be easier to find while riding through the Dolomites, but in Australia it’s a whole other story.
We covered the newest 2023 Zero models in a recent article, but by far the most exciting to us was the launch of the DSR/X. Zero is calling it “the world’s most capable adventure electric motorcycle” and as we rub our hands together with excitement, let’s take a closer look at this beauty. Now the name might lead you to think that the DSR/X is a DS or DSR model with a few tweaks, but no, the DSR/X is a complete reinvention for Zero.
While the battery pack remains the same 14.4 kWh as standard across other premium Zero models, the innovations on the DSR/X come with the brand new Z-force 75-10x motor. We’ll break down the specs of the motor later side-by-side with the Energica. But the Zero team poured over 100,000 hours of engineering hours into this motorcycle so we’re expecting some pretty huge things.
With five off road ride modes you are in complete control of your adventure. Fully adjustable Showa suspension, lean-sensitive ABS and traction control can be deactivated. You even have the option of whether to have spoked wheels, more off-road specific tyres and crash protection (handy for adventuring). The fuel tank also has a lockable 20L storage compartment. Another first that came in the 2023 round of Zero motorcycles was DC fast charge compatibility, putting the 1 hour charge time on par with the Energica standard.
While the DSR/X is certainly the more stylish of the two electric adventure tourers, early ride reports let us know that the suspension leaves a little to be desired and the range of the bike needs some serious work.
Let’s look at the stats
|Price (top spec)
|102 hp 75 kW
|100 hp 75 kW
|1 hr 15 min
DC fast charge
|2 hr AC fast charge
One thing to note before we get into comparisons is that the price listed for the DSR/X is the price set by our mates over at the English Electric Motor Co. from Pounds to AUD with an estimate on import costs over here (customs duty, GST, shipping, etc). Zero doesn’t import or have a presence in Australia at the moment so this is our best estimate. We can see that the Energica, while being the slightly more expensive bike, does come out on top when comparing riding range – which is a critical factor when we’re talking about dual-purpose touring. An extra 40 – 50 km can make all the difference when stretching the battery out to the nearest charger.
Experia vs DSR/X – who wins?
The DSR/X does come out on top in terms of engine capability in tough environments, torque being the major factor here. While 116 Nm from the Experia isn’t anything to sneeze at, electric engines are superior to most of their internal combustion counterparts for torque anyway, but 225 Nm from the DSR/X is a pretty outrageous figure.
Both bikes come out on an even playing field when looking at acceleration, horsepower and top speed – while both bikes are capable of putting out much more power than they’re allowed to, being dialed back isn’t always a bad thing, I mean honestly, who needs an adventure bike that can reach speeds up to 240 km/h?
When we started out writing this piece we thought it might become clearer which would be the superior bike, but horses for courses, it’s a pretty close call.
The Experia will give you what you want in terms of distance, while the DSR/X has it slightly beat for power. At the time of writing this post – Energica have not released the off-road version of the Experia which is rumoured to come with bigger front forks, more ground clearance and better off-road tyres. So right now – it looks like the DSR/X is the slightly better option if your adventure touring comes with a substantial dose of gravel/trail riding. If you’re mainly sticking to the bitumen though – the Experia is going to get you further, with slightly more expensive components and faster charging. And that is a big point – while Zero have stuck with AC charging which suits the American market where there are substantially more AC public charging stations and infrastructure. The rest of the world has adopted faster DC charging. The Australian government is focusing on expanding the DC fast charging infrastructure here – so the Experia looks to have the better charging options. Both bikes can of course charge from a conventional 3 pin plug – but it’s going to be a long slow 8 hour charge from empty. Perfect if you’re stopping overnight.
The Experia has slightly more storage capacity over the DSR/X, but with around 250 kms of range you will never be straying too far from civilisation to warrant the need for all that extra storage space.
Both bikes are backed by absolute trail blazers in electric motorcycling, each with their own history of shattering electric vehicle potential.
So which is the superior motorcycle? They are both significant advances in the electric motorcycle world. So really it comes down to your preference in riding. You tell us!