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Brammo's second-generation electric motorcycle: the Empulse 10.0 streetfighter

By

July 15, 2010

The Brammo Empulse - powerful, practical, fully electric and plain HOT!

The Brammo Empulse - powerful, practical, fully electric and plain HOT!

Image Gallery (12 images)

Three years ago, Brammo made headlines with one of the first consumer electric motorcycles to hit the U.S. market – the US$12,000 Enertia. Capable of 60 mph and a range of around 40 miles, the Enertia was a lightweight and fun commuter … but what a difference three years can make! Meet the Enertia's big brother, the Empulse 10.0 – a slick-looking, hard-hitting fully electric streetfighter with a sustainable top speed over 100mph and a range in excess of 100 miles on a single 2-hour charge. Available to order now, the Empulse more than doubles the Enertia's practicality, while adding a huge whack of fun to the equation. Pricing is a pleasant surprise – the top-spec model will go for US$13,995, but the final cost may be as little as US$7,000 in certain states once federal and state incentives are taken into account. We spoke to Craig Bramscher, Brammo's founder and CEO, about the Empulse, the dawn of electric motorcycle racing and the very exciting future of electric motorsport.

The 2007 Brammo Enertia

Electric motorcycles are well and truly working their way into the mainstream. The first-generation Brammo Enertia demonstrated the practicality of the electric platform in an urban commute setting, but still left many potential customers feeling nervous about whether they'd end up pushing it home.

"The whole range anxiety thing," says Brammo CEO Craig Bramscher, "We thought, well, the average commute is 26 miles, so a 42 mile range should give you comfort. Well it turns out that when it gets to half full, people fill it up. Some people like me take it all the way down to the end. We're finding with electric vehicles that people are more conservative."

Despite range concerns, the bike became a modest success – but Brammo never expected it to find an audience among the petrolhead community. "We kinda thought the Harley guys and the Ducati guys would not be that crazy about it," says Bramscher, "Turns out they loved the Enertia, they just want a little more."

The 2011 Brammo Empulse

And more they will get. "The driving force around this vehicle was some new technology we've developed in the powertrain," says Bramscher, "which is an all-around system that includes a more efficient battery and a more efficient controller, a more efficient motor and then our own vehicle control unit. So it's really a full Brammo drivetrain. And that, in combination with the battery technology, gets us all the way up to a 100-mile average range. One hundred isn't the absolute best case scenario, it's a good average case scenario."

The first vehicle to take advantage of the new Brammo Power platform will be the Empulse streetfighter, and it looks like an absolute ripper – a stylish, affordable, high performance streetbike with attitude to spare.

The Brammo Empulse.

From its tough LSL headlight and bar-end mirrors over the steeply angled faux fuel tank to the stubby single seat unit, the bodywork is a modern take on a tough retro cafe racer. The forks are quality USD units with radial mounts for the Brembo brake callipers.

The frame looks somewhat like a twin-spar GP-style sort of thing, but the belly of the beast is dominated by the yellow battery packs slung underneath in a purposeful and downright threatening display of power. And is that a radiator? Yep, in fact the Empulse is the first production electric bike to come with a water-cooled motor.

The Brammo Empulse.

Three models will be available, their different price points reflecting the range restrictions imposed by their battery packs. Retail for the Empulse 6.0 (with a 60-mile average range) will be US$9,995, the Impulse 8.0 will be US$11,995 and the top flight Empulse 10.0 with the full 100-mile range will go for US$13,995. All those prices are subject to significant government rebates and incentives depending on which state they're registered in – the Empulse 10.0 could cost as little as US$7000 in some states.

One thing Bramscher made sure he did with his second-generation electric motorcycle was to keep it as compact as possible: "You put a Ducati next to it and it looks pretty bulbous. Put a BMW next to it and it looks quite massive. So it still ends up being this very nimble and lightweight bike. In my history, I really like the 250 race bikes and the more nimble stuff, and if you see the Enertia, it's super slender and it's probably closer to a trials bike than most streetbikes, so we're trying to still keep [The Empulse] as real easy to ride, really fun, a 'steer this thing with the footpegs' kinda bike. I'm just so excited about the product, we had it out on the racetrack yesterday kinda testing the limits of it and it's just stunning. It feels much lighter than it is."

The Brammo Empulse in action.

Beyond range and top speed figures, we don't have any indication of what the final weight of the Empulse will be, or what its power figures will be like. But it's safe to say it'll be streets ahead of its little brother, and will offer a serious fun factor to take it well beyond the designation of a commuter machine, even if it will fulfill that role with considerable flair.

You can put down an order right now to be one of the first to receive an Empulse when the first bikes start coming off the production line next year. Laying down $100 down gets you on the list, and bikes will be built on a first come, first served basis.

Deliveries will start next year, but exactly when? "We're gonna try for Q1," says Bramscher, "and it kinda depends a bit on how big the backorder volume is, because if we get enough people ordering, then we can accelerate that process pretty dramatically. But if it's just kind of medium interest, it'll probably be by Q2."

The Brammo Empulse.

Expanding on the Brammo Power platform

The Empulse is just the first bike to take advantage of the new drivetrain technology – sorting out all the electronics is the difficult bit, and Bramscher is convinced that now that's under control, building a range of bikes around it will be the easy part.

"We can deploy this drivetrain into multiple platforms very quickly - it's just integration," says Bramscher, "Now that we've got all the electronics completely sorted and well in hand, we can develop vehicles very quickly.

"We can't even talk about how quickly we've developed a couple of iterations of this. We're quite excited about the process. We don't do anything in clay, we do everything in digital and then go directly to tooling and so that saves months and months in the development cycle. And because the electronics are so configurable and the powerband is so forgiving, you can really have some fun with these things. It's very exciting.

"Somebody asked me when we first did the Enertia, what's the product roadmap, and I kinda just said, you know that ten-fold brochure Honda has that has from little kids' bikes all the way up to the VFR1600 or whatever it is… I can definitely see 20, 30 bikes in the range. And after this product came together so nicely, it might not be ten years out, it might just be a few years."

Concept drawing for the Brammo Empulse.

Electric racing and the future of electric motorcycles

Bramscher is very clear on how fast he expects electric bikes to get in the not-too-distant future: "Faster than humans can ride 'em."

The way you get to that kind of ridiculous performance potential, of course, is to go racing – and Bramscher believes the pioneer electric motorcycle racing series like the TTXGP and the FIM's eGrandPrix series are going to show a jaw-dropping rate of development through the next decade or so.

The Brammo Empulse: powerful, clean and HOT.

"At some level," he says, "it's like racing back in 1910, with the early development of the gas motor, because nobody's worrying about stifling the engines, there's no restrictors, it's do all you can – but fairly quickly. I can't see it taking 100 years to get to the point where we get super performance. I think it's going to take 5 or 10 years and we're gonna get some pretty amazing performance out of it. We already have the next two [Brammo] race bikes mapped out, and we're really excited about where it's going."

Furthermore, extreme performance is going to be much cheaper with electric machines: "If you get MotoGP level performance in the next year or two, it's not going to cost as much as a MotoGP bike to get the same performance out of it. You don't have to squeeze another 2% out of a gas motor by spending half a million dollars on it."

The Brammo Empulse.

Racing might seem like an odd sort of a focus for a company that considers itself so 'green' – but Bramscher sees racing as a vital path towards efficiency: "Turns out that the faster we can go on the racetrack, the cheaper we can go from point A to point B for a civilian in terms of energy."

With that in mind, Brammo is quietly beginning to explore a whole bunch of technologies that should flourish in a post-petrol motorcycle. From advanced engine management and incredibly tuneable traction control to the possibility of two-wheel-drive, the electric motorcycle offers a flexibility of design and control options that could bring a whole range of old ideas and all sorts of new ones to the table. Personally, I'm looking forward to the gyro-stabilized auto-wheelie button.

An emissions-free motoring pioneer, Bramscher looks forward to the day when machines like the Empulse rule the road: "We look ahead 30, 40 years. We'd like to be one of those brands that survives and everybody says 'did you know they used to put gas in cars?' We want people to look at people that drive gas cars the way that people look at people in a restaurant in California for smoking."

Brammo's second-generation electric motorcycle: the Empulse 10.0 streetfighter

It's hard to imagine - the gasoline-powered automobile has been an incredibly integral part of our lives for more than 100 years. But just think of all that's happened in the electric auto industry in the last five years. And just think what Obama's US$2.4 billion investment in the battery-electric vehicle industry might end up achieving… 40 years is a long way away and the future is looking bright.

Bramscher is putting his money where his mouth is, and working to make his vision happen. And we're loving the look of the Empulse. As performance figures and that all-important range between charges continue to improve, and prices keep coming down, there's no question in my mind: one day the petrolhead fraternity is gonna run out of excuses. And I say that as a card-carrying member.

The Brammo Empulse - powerful, practical, fully electric and plain HOT!

More about the Brammo Empulse at the Brammo website.

About the Author
Loz Blain Loz has been one of Gizmag's most versatile contributors since 2007. Joining the team as a motorcycle specialist, he has since covered everything from medical and military technology to aeronautics, music gear and historical artefacts. Since 2010 he's branched out into photography, video and audio production, and he remains the only Gizmag contributor willing to put his name to a sex toy review. A singer by night, he's often on the road with his a cappella band Suade.   All articles by Loz Blain
18 Comments

looks of the bike are great except for the big set of rectangular batteries, some performance figures would have been good

nidhin999
15th July, 2010 @ 07:09 am PDT

They delivered a nice hunk 'o rech, but made a crotch rocket that is just uncomfortable and impractical for daily use. We need a Tourer, Windscreen, bag mounts, etc. Im more into the larger 8KW scooters of late.

Facebook User
15th July, 2010 @ 10:30 am PDT

beautiful bike with tons of potential. I also am a petrol guy with a nice collection of bikes at home and I think this eb would be a wonderful addition. sign me up.

Landon Hillyard
15th July, 2010 @ 01:33 pm PDT

we have to think up a new name for electric lovers.,,,, the combustion engine guys are called petrolheads, what will be an equally memorable name for the new electric powered speedsters ?

robinyatesuk2003
15th July, 2010 @ 07:43 pm PDT

Great idea. Now make mine look like a giant adult big wheel for extra storage, range and maybe a bag or two of groceries.

VoiceofReason
15th July, 2010 @ 08:13 pm PDT

Hmmmmmmmm

Will it smoke up the back wheel at 200 Kmh?

Mr Stiffy
15th July, 2010 @ 08:30 pm PDT

The bike sounds great, a huge leap forward for electric powered vehicles. However, while we still generate most of our electricity from fossil fuel, where are the green credentials? All we have done with this design so far is move the smoke generator from the bike's non-existent exhaust to the coal-fired power station's smoke stacks.

Roll on better ways of generating our electricity! Roll on a faster way of recharging (battery swap at the service station??). When I can get clean power and recharge as fast as I can refuel a petrol vehicle, that's when I'll buy one of these or similar, not before.

FlipperOZ
17th July, 2010 @ 01:13 am PDT

Now we just need them to stop making them look like a petrol bike and get them to come up with something really sexy.

Mudd
17th July, 2010 @ 06:23 am PDT

Now if only a big scooter! For the less agile this bike is not that great, but a Burgman with this motor - Yes.

stuart.hayman
17th July, 2010 @ 03:36 pm PDT

Looks good, in a currently fashionable way, but this misses the point. Batteries currently have a much lower energy density than petrol or diesel. The best way to get round this, while we wait for the infrastructure to catch up (i.e., widely available recahrging points in all car parks, battery exchange at filling stations, etc.) is to radically redesign the motorcycle as lower and as streamlined as practicable. That is, as opposed to the aerodynamics of a streetfighter, which aren't much better than a sack of potatoes (the rider) perched on top of a stack of bricks (the bike)!

axelowtl
18th July, 2010 @ 03:42 am PDT

160km from a charge not too much less than you'd get out of a normal bike and considering that you can just plug it in at home I'd say it would be much more useable as a fun commuter than a petrol bike. How many people have petrol bowsers at home? Because you can lug this into a wall.

Drew__1
18th July, 2010 @ 10:38 pm PDT

Top job, looks great, has range and speed.

The "smoke stacks" aren't smoking when you're sitting at the lights, Flipper, that's an improvement, baby steps mate. (and you'll be fine with your wind and solar at home anyway)

Probably can't smoke it up at 200 km Stiffy, we know you're a fan, you'll have to stick to your new Ducati.

I'd ride one.

I'd own one, if I wasn't so poor buying tyres for my petrol burner! lol.

Craig Jennings
18th July, 2010 @ 10:52 pm PDT

Greetings.

Thanks for the opportunity to be heard. Complete Kudos to the people at Brammo!

They appear to have successfully ushered us into the next era of motorcycling!

Let us support them in their efforts, as we all stand to benefit from their gains and development. Ride Safe! GODspeed!

nayehieona
20th July, 2010 @ 09:18 am PDT

quite amazing performance as an electric bike.

hope can be Brammo Taiwan exclusive agent!

lienly
2nd August, 2010 @ 07:22 am PDT

nå begynner det å ligne noe :)

Sveinung Amundsen
18th August, 2010 @ 04:57 am PDT

Where is Honda? Yamaha? Ducati? Triumph? Why are they staying away from the Ebike party???

Neil
17th September, 2010 @ 10:07 am PDT

Love the concept! Build me a cruiser and we might just talk! What I'd prefer to see is something in a hybrid. My ride to work, etc, would be served well by this, but I don't ride crotch rocket style.

Chris Blake
9th October, 2010 @ 03:53 am PDT

Only issue I see is that these are likely to be very quiet - dangerously quiet. Most of the time drivers only know that a bike is there is that it makes noise. This is already an issue with some electric cars - it will only get worse with a smaller electric bikes.

phydeaux
14th October, 2010 @ 07:31 pm PDT
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