On May 8 in Los Angeles, Oregon-based Brammo Motorcycles will at long last reveal its benchmark six-speed, 100-plus mph, Empulse and Empulse R electric motorcycles.
One could say the company nearly jumped the starting gate in 2010, revealing an early single-speed prototype in July that year – and yet pictured in all promo photos, you’ll have to wait for the real thing next month.
As it is, it’s a case of “better late” – and “never” was never an option, Brammo has said.
Instead, it held back to work out details in design, specifications, component supply chain, and more – and in the process, updated its own “Brammo Power Module” lithium-ion battery pack, and added an Italian-made IET transmission.
“IET™ is a mechatronic propulsion unit that emulates the feeling and performance of a traditional internal combustion engine, with a specially developed electric motor, clutch and gear shift,” Brammo says in its marketing copy.
Included standard on both the Empulse and Empulse R – we do not yet know spec differences between the two – the transmission is said to yield increased range, acceleration and top speed out of its 9.3-kwh (10.2-kwh peak), 15-volt, 90-amp-hour BPM battery.
Brammo adds this is “the world’s first production electric motorcycle to feature water cooling,” and to be sure, this is a 2-wheeled American-made marvel, and we’re featuring it because it’s something of a milestone.
For one, it will beat automakers of U.S. electric vehicles to installing a transmission – vehicles like the Nissan Leaf, for example, rely on a single-speed with the argument being electric motors produce maximum torque from 0 rpm.
This may be so, but torque advantages are further exploited with multiple transmission ratios, a fact makers of internal combustion vehicles long ago found out.
Fact is, deleting the transmission from EVs also saves cost, complexity, weight and bulk in a vehicle already priced substantially higher than comparable internal combustion vehicles.
So, kudos to Brammo for including the tranny and not going with the line that it is not needed.
Further underscoring that the Empulse is a cutting edge EV, it includes the transmission despite the fact that its power-to-weight ratio – as is typical for motorcycles – is off the charts compared to its more utilitarian four-wheeled EV brethren.
Its 9.3-kwh (nominal) battery and 40-kw motor (torque not specified) has only 440 pounds plus rider weight to propel, compared to the 3,366 pound curb weight a Nissan Leaf in SV trim has to propel with an 80-kw (210 pound-feet torque) motor and 24-kwh battery capacity.
The 54-horsepower (40 kw) bike is being positioned as a sporting machine, but it could just as well be used for commuting – with options open for recreational riding as well.
Assuming electricity costs of 13 cents per kilowatt-hour, Brammo calculates cost to operate is about a penny per mile around town, and 2 cents per mile on the highway.
As far as we know, it has not been through U.S. Environmental Protection Agency testing, but Brammo cites range figures as calculated according to SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) drive cycle testing.
City range is stated at 121 miles (195 km). This estimate was arrived at via the SAE City Riding Range Test Procedure for Electric Motorcycles (variable speed, 19 mph/ 30 kph average). Highway range at a constant 70 mph (113 kph) is said to be 56 miles. Combined range is said to be 77 miles with a 50/50 split of city and highway driving in the SAE test procedure.
Recharge times via the industry standard J1772 connector at level 1 (house current) is said to be around 8 hours. Level 2 (240-volt) charging is said to take around 3.5 hours.
As mentioned, top speed is said only to be “over 100 mph” and 0-60 times are not mentioned but may be close to, or on par with some 500cc or non-supersport 600cc four-stroke motorcycles.
“The Empulse and Empulse R are a milestone for Brammo and the new electric benchmark for the motorcycling industry. I know when I reveal the bikes on May 8th people are going to be blown away by the integrity of the design and the focused presence this motorcycle commands,” said Craig Bramscher, Founder and CEO of Brammo. “When we first revealed the Empulse prototype, our customers had some very clear feedback for us and that feedback has inspired much of what you will see in the production version.”
Early estimates for the fully spec’d Empulse had pricing at around $14,000, but don’t be surprised to see this figure jump a fair bit higher with the transmission and extra development work – though some government subsidies are available. Actual pricing info, photos of production-ready models, and launch date are all to be determined.