Reviewing the Brammo Electric Motorcycle

Brammo brought its electric Enertia motorcycle for test rides at the June 5 meeting of the San Francisco Electric Vehicle Association, and people seemed to like what they rode.

Brammo_Enertia_SFEVA I don’t have a motorcycle license, and it’s a one-seater, so instead of a first-hand account I interviewed two experienced riders who tested the Enertia in the videos above — first Mike Gaylord, who currently drives a RAV4-EV, and second Wendy Epstein of Mission Motorcycles.

Jennifer Rafiner of Ashland, Oregon-based Brammo introduced us to the bike and ran down the numbers for us.

Brammo_Rafiner2 The Ernetia was designed from the ground-up to be an electric vehicle, made from 45% recycled materials. The final product is 100% recyclable, she said.

It’s got six Valence lithium-phosphate batteries providing 3.1 kWh of battery capacity. With a top speed of 65 mph (Rafiner says from personal experience, though brochures say 60 mph), the Enertia’s range is 40 miles in city driving, but at freeway speeds can drop to 15 miles. Brammo is marketing the bike to people with short commutes who don’t want to (or can’t) ride a bicycle or take transit. It’s not meant for long-distrance travel.

Brammo’s next bike in 2 years or so will have a top speed of 100 mph and a top range of 100 miles, she added.

Brammo_chargecord1 It’s got an AC motor and a Sevcon charger from Germany. The charge cord is hidden under the seat, which you remove to reach the cord. Plugged in to a standard 120-volt outlet, the batteries charge fully in 4 hours, though 2 hours of charging will fill about 80% of battery capacity, Rafiner said (again from personal experience). She also hinted that faster charging on a 240-volt outlet is possible, but I’m not sure what modifications would be needed for that.

No regenerative braking on this model, but perhaps on future models.

The batteries should last 70,000-80,000 miles, Rafiner said. The Enertia comes with a standard 2-year warranty on the batteries and 1-year warranty on the bike, though California regulators require residents of the state to have a 2-year warranty on the bike too.Brammo_chargecord2

Because the Enertia is more like “a computer on wheels” than like conventional motorcycles, Rafiner said, Brammo execs decided to sell it through Best Buy stores. It’s currently available at two in Los Angeles (West L.A. and El Segundo), one in Santa Rosa, Calif., one in San Carlos, Calif., and two in Portland, Ore.

The list price is $7,995. In California, the cost to get it out the door (with tax and everything else) would be around $9,100. Californians would then get a $1,500 rebate from the state, and there’s a 10% federal tax credit available to purchasers too, potentially knocking a couple of thou or so off the cost.

Brammo_Mike1 Both Rafiner and the people who test drove it at the meeting agreed that they’d like to see sales of the bike in wider distribution. How about you? If you’re not near one of the lucky six stories but would like to see a zero-emission motorcycle in your Best Buy, try calling your local store managers and point them to this blog or ask them to plead with corporate HQ. Maybe you’ll get a chance to try the quiet ride of two-wheeled electric drive.

— Sherry Boschert

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