2012 Zero DS Review


Electric motorcycles have been demanding more and more attention in the last several years, and the 2012 Zero DS brings dual sport performance to an interesting new level. Offered in white or black and with two different battery packs, the Zero DS is a dual sport electric motorcycle that was designed to take on its gas-powered competitors head-to-head.

Based on Zero’s advanced electric motor technology, the 2012 Zero DS features a direct drive motor that provides immediate response and minimal friction losses, regenerative braking capabilities, and intelligent battery management all in a durable dual sport design that is light, maneuverable, and stylish.

At the heart of all Zero motorcycles is the battery pack. Available in two configurations capable of either 75 miles (ZF6) or 112 miles (ZF9) per charge, these power packs can last for three thousand cycles of charging and discharging, which correlates to a lifespan of over 300,000 miles. The battery packs are constantly monitored by the onboard system, can be charged directly with the integrated onboard charger, and have been upgraded for 2012 to run cooler at higher revolutions per minute (rpms) by using a higher voltage system.

The Zero battery packs power the compact, brushless motor that provides the linear power delivery and horizontal torque curve that make electric motors attractive as motorcycle engines. The DS is essentially a one-speed automatic motorcycle, but traditional descriptions fall short when discussing electric drivetrains. The electric motor means there’s no lag time, peaks, or troughs when the throttle is opened and there’s equal torque at all stages of power delivery. Additionally, because there is energy to be harnessed when bringing the motorcycle to a stop, the electric motor in the 2012 Zero DS is coupled to a regenerative braking system that keeps the battery charged during normal riding. This is a motorcycle that demands a whole new way of viewing motorcycle propulsion.

Suspension is top-notch, designed for a light package like the DS, and reminiscent of what is found on similar gas-powered dual-sport bikes. Inverted front forks are fully adjustable for preload and rebound damping and the fully adjustable rear shock keeps the twin-sided rear swingarm firmly planted whatever the terrain.

For the rider looking to have the future of motorcycling today, the 2012 Zero DS provides a state-of-the-art powertrain wrapped in a familiar and stylish dual sport design that will certainly turn heads.

New For 2012

  • Revised frame geometry for better handling on both the dirt and the street.
  • Redesigned brake rotors, larger master cylinder, steel braided brake lines, and improved brake pads for more precise and effortless stopping.
  • New bodywork and headlight styling for a more contemporary and aggressive appearance.
  • Lighter, more robust wheels featuring custom hubs, straight-pull spokes, and black rims.
  • Lower gearing intended for more mountainous terrain.
  • Optional chain drive accessory for riders looking for a more traditional drivetrain

2012 Zero DS Specs

  • Model: Zero DS
  • Engine Type: Electric
  • Bore and Stroke: N/A
  • Compression ratio: N/A
  • Valve Train: N/A
  • Induction: N/A
  • Ignition: Electric
  • Transmission: Clutchless, one-speed, automatic
  • Final Drive: Belt
  • Fuel Capacity: N/A
  • Estimated Fuel Economy:
  • Brakes (Front): Single, 12.2 inch hydraulic disc
  • Brakes (Rear): Single, 8.7 inch hydraulic disc
  • Suspension (Front): Inverted forks with adjustable compression and rebound damping and 9.44 inches of travel.
  • Suspension (Rear): Direct-link shock with adjustable spring preload, compression and rebound damping and 7.69 inches of travel
  • Wheelbase: 57.3 inches
  • Rake: 25.3 degrees
  • Trail: 3.5 inches
  • Seat Height: 35.3 inches
  • Curb Weight: 297 pounds
  • Tires (Front): 2.5 inch wide 100/80 tires mounted on 17 inch aluminum wheels
  • Tires (Rear): 3 inch wide 110/90 tires mounted on 16 inch aluminum wheels


  • Quick charge kit effectively doubles the amount of energy flowing to the power pack during charging and reduces the charge time of all Zero models by almost 50%.
  • Belt-to-chain conversion kit contains a 13-tooth front sprocket and 71-tooth rear sprocket to match the factory belt gearing ratio.
  • Windscreen is designed to provide wind deflection and also adds a more classic look to all Zero models. It easily mounts onto the handlebars and can be removed in as little as sixty seconds using two thumb screws.
  • Low height seat reduces the seat height by 1.5 inches and is designed for maximum comfort and durability.
  • Rear soft luggage set consisting of two side cases and one top case provides storage for up to 30 pounds of equipment. Constructed of durable polyester with integral rain hood, quick-release buckles, and reflective markings.
  • Branded handgrips are composed of a soft rubber compound and mount easily to the handlebars.
  • Tool kit is specifically designed for Zero Motorcycles and is stored in a durable black canvas bag. All tools come with a lifetime guarantee.
  • Passenger foot pegs are designed by Zero Motorcycles to adapt select models into accommodating a passenger. The foot pegs mount to a specially engineered section of the frame and come with a seat strap. The installation kit includes all the necessary hardware

Key Competitors For The 2012 Zero DS

  • Brammo Enertia