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Electric motorcycles (quietly)take off

October 21, 2010

Brammo Empulse

In the past few years there has been a huge surge (no pun intended) in the electric vehicle market, particularly of the two-wheeled variety. Many companies are coming out with street-legal, livable, and even downright sporty motorcycles that run on electricity. These e-motos, as they are often called, are no longer an oddity or an inconvenience, some of them can even produce performance and range numbers that approach those of internal combustion motorcycles. The battery technology isn’t quite to the point where truly equal performance with IC engines can be affordably had by all, but with so much money being invested into the industry, it is only a matter of time.

Brammo Enertia

One company in particular is leading the way in producing affordable, cutting edge e-motos for the public: Brammo. Based in Ashland, Oregon Brammo made a name for itself a few years ago with the Enertia, an entry-level, short-range, commuter motorcycle intended for the urban setting. The original Brammo Enertia had about a 40-50 mile range and topped out somewhere near the 50mph mark. Which is fine for the environment in was intended to operate. Still, old-school bikers and those that don’t live in the urban setting needed a little more. So recently, as technology has improved, Brammo released the Enertia Plus, which features double the range of the original model, but with no weight gain. The improvement is due to a battery pack that has the same size and weight as before, but with double the energy density. And this will continue to improve as the technology develops.

Brammo Empulse

The arrow through the heart of e-moto detractors was undoubtedly the awesome Brammo Empulse, a new full-size, electric sportbike capable of up to 100 mph with a 100 mile range. Just don’t try to go at top-speed the whole time, or you likely won’t make 100 miles, as the batteries drain at a faster rate. The Empulse is available in three different models, who’s range and top-speed figures vary according to model. The top of the line is the Empulse 10.0, which has the aforementioned performance figures. Also available are the Empulse 8.0 and 6.0, which get (you guessed it) an 80 and 60 mile range, respectively. For my money, I’d go for the 10.0, for sure.

In addition to the growing market for streetable e-motos, there are a number of organizations that exist in the e-moto racing industry, from race-bike manufacturers, to component designers, and the race series themselves. Racing has always played a huge role in developement of new automotive and motorcycle technology, and from the beginning, there has been a strong push by a few select individuals to create the kind of support structure and testing platform for e-moto development that can only be provided by a successful racing series.

In a future post, I will talk about the e-moto racing industry in more detail, but for now, I leave you with this promotional video of the Brammo Empulse. Eat your heart out.

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