Test Ride: Brammo Enertia Electric Motorcycle

Cooler Than a Scooter, But Just As Easy—The Brammo Enertia

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Brammo is rolling out test bikes at Best Buy locations as quickly as they can, and on Sunday I had a chance to take one for a spin at Best Buy in El Segundo, CA. David, Brammo’s Service Manager and Josh, Brammo’s Southern California Marketing Manager, were on hand to answer questions about the bike—of which I had plenty.

There was only one bike available for us to test and it only had 55% of battery life in it when I took for a test ride, which held me back from going all out because I was trying to keep it alive for others to test it after me. Even so, I managed to reduce it to 29% battery life in 20 minutes.

To conserve the battery, I took my time getting up to 55 mph to join the flow of traffic on Sepulveda, which was an interesting experience (death defying?). I currently ride a 166 HP bike, so it’s a bit unfair to compare the Brammo Enertia to that, but keeping in mind my early days of riding, the Enertia was plenty fast for a new rider.

The bike has a cute pushbutton starter where you might expect a gas cap, and it makes a noise through a tiny speaker to let you know it’s starting up. They explained to me that Brammo may even make custom sounds available, to make firing up the silent beast a little more fun. Silence is definitely not golden when you’re on a vehicle nobody sees, so it won’t be long before the motorcycle version of “ringtones for cars” becomes available.

How Much Does Size Matter?

Do not be deceived by the photograph of the 6′ tall test rider, this is a full-sized motorcycle. The Enertia is comfortable and fun, and definitely handles much more like a real motorcycle than the last entry-level motorcycle I rode, a BMW F650CS. Thankfully, BMW no longer manufactures that mistake. The Enertia’s pegs are so low my friends were able to scrape the pegs just making tight turns in the parking lot. The seating position is upright, with a cool café racer style seat that can also be customized. David explained that they will be offering a version with a slightly lower seat, as seat height is often an issue for new riders as well.

Brammo’s main target is new riders, and they feel that e-bikes are ideal starter bikes because the lack of a gearbox drastically simplifies the learning process. Given that there is already so much for a new rider to pay attention to, it’s good if they have one less thing to learn. However, the powerband was also severely and intentionally crippled, both to keep new riders from abusing the massive torque electric motors are capable of and to conserve the batteries. This is something I’d want to modify immediately, but then, I’m not their target customer. And no matter how many ways and times I asked, they still insisted nobody would be allowed to test-ride their $50,000+ podium-finishing TTXGP bike.

Photo Courtesy Brammo Racing

The Enertia handled well enough in the curves I invented in the parking lot, and the two bends I encountered on the test ride. However, the battery will not last long enough to get from Venice Beach to the Rock Store, so it’s still not quite ready for serious canyon carving. Charging time is 3.5 hours to full charge, and the battery will last about 30 minutes at 55mph.

I wouldn’t recommend this bike for normal Los Angeles commuting, as the range and acceleration just aren’t quite adequate. Your typical scooterist may disagree and think it’s plenty powerful, which it probably is for cities with calmer drivers. However, the aggressive nature of Los Angeles area traffic requires a vehicle capable of responding in kind, and the Enertia is not that bike. I doubt the Zero S is either, but I tested that in completely different circumstances.

In case you’re not a lime fan, rest assured the Enertia isn’t only available in “Kawasaki,” err, I mean, “Subliminal” Green, it’s also sold in four other lovely colors. It’s great to see an American-made electric motorcycle in production and capable of filling the needs of most normal commuters. With the 10% tax credit and drastically lower maintenance costs, the price tag on these bikes is even decent. Add up what you’d spend in gas and oil changes before balking at the price. On my 35mpg motorcycle that adds up to about $1,000/year for gas and oil.

 

Susanna Schick

Susanna is passionate about anything fast and electric. As long as it's only got two wheels. She covers electric motorcycle racing events, test rides electric motorcycles, and interviews industry leaders. Occasionally she deigns to cover automobile events in Los Angeles for us as well. However, she dreams of a day when Los Angeles' streets resemble the two-wheeled paradise she discovered living in Barcelona and will not rest until she's converted the masses to two-wheeled bliss.