Early this morning, or late last night (if you’re Craig Bramscher and crew) Brammo unleashed a one-two punch on the electric motorcycle industry. Not only have they acquired an exclusive international license for SMRE’s patented Integrated Electric Transmission™ (IET), but they’re also expanding their line to include four new models, all featuring the IET™ and swappable Brammo Power battery packs. But more about that later.
What I find interesting is that this transmission will be so helpful in creating a higher top speed, they felt it warranted scrapping the current prototype of the Empulse and starting essentially from scratch. Yet the press release says little about that. I certainly hope this will deliver. While a clutch-less motorcycle takes some getting used to, I could do without the transmission as long as I could have decent speed and acceleration at a reasonable price premium. If adding the transmission improves any of those three criteria, great. But I hardly expect it to be cheaper.
The new models are all based on competition dirt bikes, and will debut at this Friday’s MiniMotoSX race in Las Vegas:
- Engage MX – dirt bike competing in MiniMotoSX – anticipated price $9,995.00
- Engage SMR – Super Moto Racing – anticipated price $9,995.00
- Engage SMS – Super Moto Street – anticipated price $11,995.00
- Encite MMX PRO – mini dirt bike competing in MiniMotoSX – no price announced
Prices do not include relevant taxes or Federal and State electric vehicle incentives.
Their press release goes on to state:
Integrated Electric Transmission (IET™) – The 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, that enables Brammo motorcycles to accelerate hard from the line up to a high top speed, something that is just not possible to achieve with a single ratio electric motorcycle.
“Electric motorcycle design has always been a bit of a balancing act in direct drive systems where great acceleration performance comes at the expense of low top-end speed.” Stated Brian Wismann, Director of Product Development at Brammo. “The IET™ system provides the best of both worlds and is the perfect complement to Brammo’s industry leading Brammo Power battery and vehicle control technology to maintain our position as the world’s leading electric motorcycle manufacturer.“
Where is the Future of Electric Motorcycling?
With Brammo going head-to-head against Zero to serve the off-road riders, it’s clear that’s a strong market. Between the stringent EPA requirements, noise pollution complaints and the fact that you just can’t go all that fast on the dirt, it’s a perfect market for electrics. But as gas prices increase and the economy continues to seemingly stagnate, there’s a real market for street bikes. In fact, I’m seeing a growing number of riders on what are generally considered “starter” bikes, which may indicate a sharp increase in new riders here in LA where gas prices tend to be higher than most of the country.
So now it seems their electric sportbike, Empulse, is now being delayed even longer to enable development of the IET system. The release makes no mention of when the Engage and Encite will be in stores, so there is always the possibility of a long wait, as we’re seeing with the Empulse already. Many sportbike riders (self included) dream of a bike that will be as fun and powerful as our gas bikes, but without the gas habit and of course the leg-melting (even in proper gear) heat on summer rides. But that bike is still unobtanium, unless you’ve got the means to build it yourself, a la Chip Yates and Michael Czysz.
This is exactly what’s frustrating about the industry. So many manufacturers promise electric sportbikes, but the only one I’ve seen on a showroom floor, available for sale, was the Roehr. But at $18k for their 100+mph model or $30k for their 130+mph model, with no financing available from Roehr, it’s out of reach for most sportbike riders. At that price, I didn’t even want to test ride the one Hollywood Electrics had in stock. Hopefully one day all this small-bike technology will indeed trickle up to become something affordable for the larger bikes. Until then, I’ve got my bicycle for days when I don’t feel like blowing through 20mpg on the ride to work. And that has TEN speeds. So there.