Brammo Empulse Launch Outshines The Stars in Hollywood

Empulse photographed by Brandon Nozaki Miller

Last night Brammo held a proper Hollywood launch party for the Empulse and Empulse R. Sure, we saw an Empulse at Laguna Seca in 2010, but a lot has changed since then. The problem with developing products on the cutting edge of technology is that it can be hard to decide when to stop waiting for it to be perfect and just pull the trigger on production.

Zero addresses this by improving their bikes incrementally each year. Brammo has chosen to save customers the hassle and expense of annual upgrades (hardware, not software, therefore a tad costly) by seeking to create the perfect electric sportbike. CEO and founder Craig Bramscher got on stage after the dance troupe and the spoken word artist to tell us what sets the all-new Empulses apart from other electric motorcycles.

Bramscher listed the following three breakthrough technologies they’ve developed in the past two years:

-6-speed IET Gearbox: “True, an EV doesn’t need a gearbox, but having one makes it dramatically better. The exhilaration, excitement, and precise control make this a much better ride. Now you’ll have engine braking where you expect it, and be able to get off the line quickly but also have a higher top speed. This will also give the feeling of engine braking.”
-Range: “Motorcycles have a lot less room for batteries, so we stuffed 9kwh of useable nominal energy on board. We developed and patented the densest, lightest batteries possible to bring you 100 miles of range.”
-Charging:  “Take the long way from Malibu to downtown LA, plug into any Level 2 charging station and be ready for another 100 miles in 4 hours. The Level 2 trickle charge for cars is fast for the Empulse! This is the only bike with J1772 connectors.”

But to me, one of the most exciting breakthroughs came in the next day’s press release. FINANCING! It has been difficult for electric motorcycle manufacturers to find banks willing to finance small companies with very few products. But at 3.9% for 36 months, I can easily pay $558/month for an Empulse R. My Yamaha R1 costs me $330/month plus at least $100/month in gas at 20mpg, then there are the oil changes, and the valve adjustment which seems to be due 10,000 miles ahead of schedule, the tire wear on such a powerful bike, etc. It adds up fast.

The Empulse R will be available in 2012, the base model in 2013. The R is dripping with carbon fiber (below), costs $18,995 to the base’s $16,995 (before rebates). The two models vary as follows:
The Empulse body work is all plastic has semi adjustable front suspension and semi adjustable rear suspension.
The Empulse R uses carbon fiber for headlight shroud, front and rear fenders, top panel and the rear light housing.

Empulse R photographed by Brandon Nozaki Miller

The party was fabulous, with plenty of Hollywood types as well as real movers & shakers like Azhar Hussain & Rupal Patel from TTXGP, Bob Bartel, the local Brammo dealer, Bill Nation, owner of Pro Italia, current Brammo racer Steve Atlas (with cracked vertebrae!), future (as in, the rest of the 2012 TTXGP season!) Brammo racer Shelina Moreda, and of course the lovely bouncers and my favorite Marine who were all more than happy to carry me AND my wheelchair up and down the silly staircases they had in this nightclub. Nobody could find the key to the handicap elevator. It was a fabulous party with a fabulous gift bag- an actual Brammo backpack! Although the red will clash with my pink leathers, it will be nice and visible. Be sure to check out the video starring racer Steve Atlas when they post it to their YouTube page. It was presented at the party and was a real thrill. They wanted to highlight the fact that this bike will indeed get you from Malibu to downtown LA, the fun way, and back.

I’m still disappointed they’re not sold through Hollywood Electrics, as I really don’t want to enter a Harley dealership unless the alternative is being eaten by zombies. Plus I’d trust an electric motorcycle expert like Harlan for repairs much more than someone who’s accustomed to selling vehicles with far more frequent trips to the service department. It can be hard enough to get your average mechanic to understand all the software on modern vehicles! Currently Brammo has two service techs who travel to customers when issues arise, that’s how little service electric vehicles need. If you already pre-ordered, do so again to specify which model you want. And forget about winning one, the lucky winner was announced last night.

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.