2018 Alta Redshift SM vs. 2018 Zero DSR Drag Race

Modern e-bikes go head to head at the strip

Proponents of e-bikes like to point out that maximum torque is available from 1 rpm. That’s an appealing performance characteristic, and when an electric car like Tesla’s Model S proves to be faster than sports cars from Ferrari and Lamborghini, it’s tempting to think that an electric motorcycle might be the ultimate accelerator.

Well e-bike technology isn't at a place yet where it's putting internal combustion bikes to shame (even the $38,000 Lightning LS-218 isn't quicker than a $25,000 Kawasaki H2, as we found out in this face-off at the dragstrip, but battery-powered bikes have made some huge strides in the past few years.

We had two of the latest and greatest e-bikes and a quarter-mile length of pavement at our disposal, so we decided to see how the Alta Redshift SM and Zero DSR compared. As far as performance testing goes, it doesn’t get much easier than launching an e-bike—just twist the throttle and hold on! How’d these two California-built motorcycles perform? You’ll have to watch the video to find out.

QUICK SPECS

ALTA REDSHIFT SM
PRICE AS TESTED $13,495
WEIGHT 283 lb. (128kg)
BATTERY CAPACITY 5.8 kWh
SEAT HEIGHT 35.5 in. (902mm)
120V Charge Time 6 hr.
CLAIMED HORSEPOWER 42
CLAIMED TORQUE 120 lb.-ft.
ZERO DSR
PRICE AS TESTED $19,390
WEIGHT 457 lb. (207kg)
BATTERY CAPACITY 16.6 kWh
SEAT HEIGHT 33.2 in. (843mm)
120V Charge Time 11.3 hr.
CLAIMED HORSEPOWER 60
CLAIMED TORQUE 81 lb.-ft.