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ADV News1,000 Miles Off-Road on E-Bikes Using Only Public Charging Stations

1,000 Miles Off-Road on E-Bikes Using Only Public Charging Stations

Two Zero DSR electric motorcycles take on Colorado Backcountry Discovery Route.

Published on 11.16.2021

The rugged Colorado Backcountry Discovery Route (COBDR), with its rocky, rutted high altitude passes, middle-of-nowhere way points and potential for severe weather can be tough enough to conquer on your average adventure bike. So how would a couple guys on Zero DSR electric motorcycles fare? Well, the new short film 1000 Rocky Mountain Miles provides the answer.

Tucker Neary and Mark Jackson are definitely up for a challenge, off-road riding two stock Zero DSR Black Forest Edition bikes loaded with camping gear and with no extra battery packs or generator in tow. Just an electric Jeep 4xE Wrangler as camera wagon. The trip looks like quite the adventure — a mud-slinging, parts breaking, freeze-your-ass off adventure.

Starting at the 4 corners of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, and concluding at the Wyoming border, the goal was to do it all only using charging stations available to the public.

In fact, the goal was to attempt a 1,000 mile off-road ride along the COBDR using only public charging infrastructure. Probably not something the gen pop would come up with as a goal, but makes perfect sense when you learn Tucker is the founder of the Electric Cycle Rider website, which specializes in testing the latest e-motorcycles and bicycles and keeping the public informed on the extremely fast-paced changes happening within that industry. 


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Tucker, who lives in Colorado, and Mark, in Northern Arizona, are both familiar with riding gas-powered motorcycles on the COBDR. The idea to try it on e-bikes came one day when Tucker was looking at the onX Offroad mapping app and noticed there were quite a few J1772 charge stations in some very rural places along the route — enough, Tucker felt, that if they were careful, they might just make it. 

And therein lies the adventure. Because any serious off-road moto traveler knows “being careful” on a trip —  especially one that involves hundreds of dirt miles in the mountains like the Rockies is nothing more than a mantra. What Tucker calls the “inevitable variables” —  things like severe weather, missing or anemic charge stations, broken bike parts and having to be rerouted around wildfires made connecting those dots on the map anything but easy. 

1000 Rocky Mountain Miles offers a big dose of trail porn that includes everything from sweeping drone views to closeup, mud-on-the-lens wheel spins. The journey kicks off in the adventure riders’ paradise of the Four Corners Region where Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado meet, and goes on to showcase legendary high-altitude passes like Ophir, California, Cinnamon and Hurricane, before ending seven muddy days later at Wyoming’s border with Colorado. 

“Zero claims 157 miles in the city and 64 on the highway,” says Tucker. “We found that the riding we were doing would resemble 1% per mile, so approximately 100 miles of range.” Since they didn’t carry any backup power, even in the Jeep, strategizing over the logistics was paramount, and most was done ahead of time by overlaying the BDR route into onX Offroad desktop app, then synching the works with their smartphones. 

It’s no surprise range anxiety is one of the film’s main characters. “We were riding with a constant sense of anxiety in regards to our range,” says Tucker. “Making one wrong turn on our route could prove to be catastrophic. We were afraid of going too fast and burning up the battery life, even when the weather turned poor or the sun started setting.” It was a reminder how simple it is to throw “$5 on the pump and be back on your route in 10 minutes.” 

The guys had planned to camp every night, but one overnight was spent sheltering in a Telluride hotel after a grueling day of riding through freezing rain and hail. 

As for the bikes, the DSR is Zero’s “adventure” dual sport model. More travel-ready than the DS trail bike or the FX, which is the lightest dirt-intended machine Zero offers. The guys were riding Black Forest Editions, which came with hard luggage and other touring amenities. They weigh in right around 500 lbs and put out up to 116 foot lbs of torque. Wheels are cast, with a 19-inch front, and you have 7 inches of travel to play with front and rear. Perhaps not a bike most of us would want to take on a serious off-road ride, but as close as an electric model currently gets to being an “adventure bike.” Cost for the 2021 special edition is $18,995.

While Tucker and Mark’s trip was super adventurous and a fantastic way for anyone to spend 24 minutes on YouTube, it mostly proves that stress-free electric adventure motorcycle riding is still a long way off, even in Colorado, a state Tucker says is ahead of the curve when it comes to sheer volume of charging stations. 

In fact, the experience of riding electric motorcycles was so different from previous rides on gas-powered bikes, Tucker urges us to not even compare the two means of transport apple to apple, and instead, appreciate them for their differences. 

To their advantage, these bikes from Zero asked the guys to take their time instead of blasting through the experience. And there was that quiet to enjoy, the combustion-free magic carpet effect that let them feel more immersed in the scenery. Well, at least on the smooth sections when the Zeros’ suspension wasn’t clanking away. 

In the end, Tucker and Mark hope the film will send a simple message: That no matter what kind of motorcycle you own, just get out there and make an amazing adventure out of riding it.

Photography by @_middlewell

Author: Jamie Elvidge

Jamie has been a motorcycle journalist for more than 30 years, testing the entire range of bikes for the major print magazines and specializing in adventure-travel related stories. To date she’s written and supplied photography for articles describing what it’s like to ride in all 50 states and 43 foreign countries, receiving two Lowell Thomas Society of American Travel Writer’s Awards along the way. Her most-challenging adventure yet has been riding in the 2018 GS Trophy in Mongolia as Team AusAmerica’s embedded journalist.

Author: Jamie Elvidge
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