2011 Brammo Enertia Plus Preview

Twice the power will sell for just 12 percent more

story by Jeff Cobb, Photograph by Brammo, Created Oct. 18, 2010
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Crediting batteries with double the power of those supplied with its Enertia Powercycle, Brammo announced today another giant leap for the budding electric motorcycle industry in the form of its 2011 Enertia Plus.

The new model will look and weigh essentially the same as the existing Enertia, but will incorporate a few suspension and chassis tweaks, have more options available, and – most significantly – will offer a traveling range of up to 80 miles on a charge, instead of the current model’s claimed 40 or so.

At a projected $8,995, the new bike will cost $1,000 more. Assembly for the first production units from Brammo’s Ashland, Ore. assembly line is scheduled for some time in the spring, according to company founder and CEO, Craig Bramscher.

No increases over the Enertia’s 63 mph top speed will accompany the new power, however. In a nutshell, Bramscher said that taller gearing would cut unacceptably into off-the-line acceleration for the single-speeder.

Bramscher said other changes to the existing platform include an unspecified increase in fork offset and decrease in trail. New forged aluminum triple clamps will come with the handlebar moved one-inch rearward. Last year’s Elka shock is to be replaced with a Works Performance unit.

The source for the bike’s otherwise radical uptick in performance is a variation of proprietary lithium ion chemistry Brammo is simply calling “Brammo Power” batteries. These have the same formula to be used in the already announced Empulse sportbike, also due some time early next year.

The six-cell Enertia Plus battery pack, nominally rated at 6.0 kWh, will actually push a few fractions more than this number, and will slot in place of the existing bike’s six-cell 3.1 kWh Valence-branded batteries.

Shown with optional saddlebags, sans optional centerstand, the Enertia Plus is essentially a hopped-up Enertia boasting double the battery capacity, offering same top speed, but twice the range.

“It turns out that we’ve essentially doubled the energy density in the same space,” Bramscher said. As a result, the Enertia Plus did not have to be re-engineered and is expected to beat the clean-sheet-design Empulse to market.

When it hits that market, not only will the Enertia Plus boast twice the original’s output, it will also have 50% more energy than its only other competitor made by Zero Motorcycles.

The 2010 Zero S Electric Supermoto has a 4.0 kWh battery, top speed of 67 mph, MSRP of $9,995, and no significant changes for the 2011 model year have yet been announced.

Bramscher said the current Enertia – which underpowered or not, won Motorcycle.com’s first-ever Electric Motorcycle Shootout over the Zero S – will continue along side the Enertia Plus. If the new bike steals too many sales from it, or other customer feedback deems it necessary, he said they might stop selling it, or retrofit a lighter battery to it, or retain it for foreign markets or fleet clients. Time will tell on that question.

As a result of the Enertia Plus’ newfound energy, Bramscher said he is expecting many more converts to the electric motorcycling fold as the company frontally assaults the primary reason why some interested people still wouldn’t purchase the original Enertia.

“We’re pretty excited ... we’ve had a lot of test rides, we’ve had a lot of sales of the Enertia, and it doesn’t take you too long on the exit interviews, finding out, ‘what’s the issue, why aren’t you writing a check?’” Bramscher said of those who only sampled but did not buy.

“And you know, the number one reason people have said no is 40,” he said of the Enertia’s approximate range.

In fact, while some owners have claimed higher range on a single charge, the original Enertia’s advertised 42-mile range is achieved under best case circumstances, and was first estimated following a very gentle drive cycle by federal testers. In what many would consider closer to real world use, we and other riders have depleted its battery in well under this limit.

But that’s all history, Bramscher continued, as he characterized feedback from would-be customers for the original Enertia: “‘Forty miles, I think it’s enough most of the time, but I’d really like to see 60,’” he said, “And so when we heard that, we thought, ‘okay, let’s see how far can we go beyond 60.’”

As is also true with fuel mileage, the new bike’s electrical consumption will vary, he conceded. Depending on riders’ weight, and how hard they ride, actual range could dip below 50 miles, but with double the range regardless, the new bike ought to work much better for getting to and fro.

“The idea is it’s still an urban commuter,” Bramscher said, “It’s not really designed for you know, long freeway commutes because of the speed.”

An ideal usage model already being fulfilled for some by the existing Enertia is one in which a person would ride the bike to work at a moderate pace, and if needed, recharge it while it’s parked.

Topping off the battery when less than depleted does not adversely affect the battery, and the battery accepts charge at about the same rate as before. However, because it has twice the capacity, recharging time for a depleted battery will take twice as long as for the current Enertia.

But after closely listening to customer feedback, Bramscher and crew are nevertheless sure they have a winner that will satisfy many more people than the previous model. “I think the Enertia Plus will be a real solution,” he said.

The new bike may offer an optional fast-charging terminal, Bramscher said, although an on-board fast charger at this point is too bulky to fit. Other options will include a centerstand and Givi luggage. As is true for the existing bike, the Enertia Plus will have enough reserve juice to power electrically heated clothing in the cold season, Bramscher said and the new bike will offer a 12V accessory outlet added to the handlebar and windscreen option as well.

The power to run accessories like a heated jacket liner on an electric motorcycle is a drop in the bucket next to what the motor requires, he said.

Aside from minor styling cues, expect the Enertia Plus to look remarkably similar to the original Enertia. The main difference will be the power gauge will take much longer to deplete.

As it did with the Empulse sportbike, Brammo is announcing the Enertia Plus months in advance of its scheduled delivery date. Not only is the company listening to feedback, its strategy to prove itself the dominant player in the electric motorcycle industry includes doing a savvy job of stoking the flames among a growing fan base for its products on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, dedicated private blogs, its owners’ forum, and many other reputable media outlets.

At the same time, the company is not spread too thin with several models only doing marginal sales. Unlike Zero, which currently sells a street, dual purpose, and two dirt models, Brammo still only has one model that can be purchased for the time being. It is a cagey strategy the company is playing, but it appears to be a smart one as far as we can ascertain.

And if anyone is skeptical as to whether the company can deliver, Bramscher said there are three Enertia Plus prototypes operable now, and all three will be on display at the upcoming EICMA Bicycle and Motorcycle Exhibition in Milan.

Production will follow getting everything worked out with supply, logistics and other issues with its partners, most notably global electronics manufacturer, Flextronics International.

To help streamline profitability and worldwide speed to market of new designs, Brammo recently announced its alliance with Flextronics, which will assemble the batteries, and ship parts for final assembly in Oregon.

For now, Brammo is taking pre-orders. The Enertia Plus will be offered in four new colors: Eclipsed Black, Peacekeeping Blue, True Blood Red and Aluminium Silver.

For existing Enertia owners, the company has said they “will be eligible for a Brammo loyalty rebate of $2500 when purchasing the Enertia Plus during 2011.”

And as with all electric vehicles domestically sold, new Brammo purchasers will be eligible for a 10% federal tax credit and potentially state-level incentives.

Speaking also of financing, Brammo recently raised additional capital with a public stock offering, and has broken ground on a new 45,000 square foot assembly plant in Ashland.

“All R&D and testing and marketing and global HQ will remain here,” Bramscher said of the new facility, as his company prepares to ramp up domestic production capabilities, while continuing to pursue partnerships and plans on a global scale.

Related Reading
2010 Brammo Enertia Review
2010 Zero S and DS Review
2010 Electric Motorcycle Shootout
Electric Motorcycles Primer
Brammo announces manufacturing partnership
Brammo secures $124 million investment
2011 Brammo Empulse Preview

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