Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Fastest Electric Motorcycle Is Also the Most Practical

The Fastest Electric Motorcycle Is Also the Most Practical:

Photo by Tyler Maddox for Wired

The promise of this new electric motorcycle is clear and simple: a top speed over 100 mph and a range in excess of 100 miles.
Achieving either would give Brammo’s Empulse R a marked advantage over any other production electric motorcycle to date. Doing both holds the potential to rocket the nascent form of transportation into the mainstream, creating a product that’s not just environmentally friendly and cheap to run, but also real-world, everyday practical and fun to ride.
Can the Empulse hit those magical numbers? Testing it on the roads around Brammo’s Ashland, Oregon, factory last week, it absolutely did. But, it achieved so much more that those numbers didn’t end up feeling like the real story. This thing doesn’t just serve as practical, fun transportation; it uses the benefits of electric propulsion to achieve real performance benefits over internal-combustion-engine sportbikes as well.
This thing doesn’t just serve as practical, fun transportation, it uses the benefits of electric propulsion to achieve real performance benefits over internal-combustion-engine sportbikes as well.
But why would you want an electric motorcycle when ICE bikes are cheap, fast and efficient? In America at least, motorcycles are frequently objects of leisure. Reducing the guilt of ownership and use while enhancing the image is a proven driver of desire. With the Brammo Empulse, you can have your performance and enjoy it safe in the knowledge that you’re not damaging the environment, too.
Formerly a maker of high-end, boutique performance cars like the open-wheeled, open-cockpit Ariel Atom and road-legal replicas of ’60s Lola race cars, it makes sense that Brammo wouldn’t stop at just making a practical motorcycle. The bike’s designer, Brian Wismann, rides what’s currently the fastest motorcycle in the world — BMW’s S1000RR — as everyday transportation and the company won the fledgling TTXGP North American Championship last year with its Empulse RR race bike, adapting lessons learned on the track to this production motorcycle.
When developing the Empulse, however, Brammo benchmarked the much more practical, but still fun Triumph Street Triple. This is intended to be a motorcycle that’s equally at home on city streets or carving up a mountain road. The Empulse’s riding position and chassis geometry are both based on Triumph’s bike, and Brammo targeted its outright performance too — a decision that might sound overly ambitious given the Empulse weighs 470 pounds and that its proprietary, liquid-cooled electric motor makes just 54 hp and 46.5 pound-feet of torque to the 416-pound Triumph’s 105 hp and 50 pound-feet.

Photo by Tyler Maddox for Wired
Riding the two motorcycles head-to-head on Ashland’s twisty, technical Green Springs Highway, it was the Triumph that had to work hard, using its extra power to keep up. That’s because the Brammo steers faster, holds a line with more stability and inspires considerably more confidence in its rider.
It achieves that through higher quality, fully adjustable suspension and lightweight forged-aluminum wheels, of course, but also the inherent benefits of an electric drivetrain.
On a traditional bike, heavy components like the gas tank, gearbox and cylinders are spread out over a larger area as defined by their necessary mechanical relationship. But electrics can keep their heavy batteries virtually anywhere and mount their engine and gearbox in the optimal location.
Brammo has maximized this advantage, squashing the drivetrain’s area into as centralized a position as possible, limiting the effect its weight has on handling. That’s a trick ICE race bikes and their road-going replicas are increasingly employing as well, but what the Empulse does that no ICE bike ever could is remove the impact reciprocating inertia and vibration have on handling and feel.

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