Brammo Engage and Encite: six-speed gearboxes go electric

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For the first time, multi-speed gearboxes are coming to electric production motorcycles. The six-speed boxes on these new Brammo Engage and Brammo Encite dirt bikes promise to be the technology which finally elevates electric powertrains above Internal Combustion Engines, combining the massive and instant torque of an electric motor with the immediate delivery and controllability an honest-to-god clutch lever and multiple gears brings. The two prototypes will debut at the MiniMotoSX race in Las Vegas this Friday, May 6.

Brammo asked us to be clear that these photos show prototypes and not final production machines, which haven’t received a launch date yet. “Just to note, this is not final styling, working on a cool battery box for removable, swappable and new plastics all around,” Brammo CEO Craig Bramscher told us. “The drivetrains are now in casting process for full production. This is a CNC unit for prototype.”

The six-speed will debut on four new Brammo production dirt bikes:

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 – anticipated price  $11,995.00
Encite MMX  PRO – mini dirt bike competing in MiniMotoSX – no price announced

There’s no word on launch dates for any of the above. All these models are currently in prototype phase.

The Brammo Encite minimoto.

The transmission technology which allows Brammo to combine the benefits of electric propulsion with the variable performance of multiple gears comes from SMRE and is being licensed exclusively to Brammo.

“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,” said Brammo’s designer, Brian Wismann. “The Integrated Electric Transmission 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.”

The Brammo Engage dirt bike.

Brammo’s staying mum on performance and range figures at this early stage, as well as the exact performance benefits the gearbox will bring. Craig did tell us that he feels this technology is crucial to bringing electric bike performance in line with ICE, positing gas-powered motocross bikes as the Engage’s real competition and extolling the benefits of the electric motor’s massive low-down torque combined with the lower gearing a multi-speed transmission brings. Craig suggests that the Encite mini moto will be the first time an electric truly surpasses the performance of a comparable ICE motorcycle, in terms of acceleration, top speed and even range. “I was scared to give it full throttle even in third gear,” said the bike-mad CEO.

Brammo

  • Jason

    Exciting news!!!

  • Mr.Paynter

    Sick! The only thing that could possibly make them seem more enticing!

  • Bronson

    That green and black SMR is *HOT*! Can’t wait to read more about it and see some video of it in action. Very nice.

  • http://www.damiengaudet.blogspot.com damien

    Looking good. Now, is it Brammo or Zero that keeps losing all the original owners/executives?

    • http://pinkyracer.com pinkyracer

      It’s Zero you’re thinking of. Brammo is still run by it’s founder Craig “Brammo” Bramscher.

  • John

    I suspect the IET is going to be added to the Empulse. Or at least I hope so. Very cool technology.

  • incon

    Range and when I can get one in Australia is stopping me atm!!! Please brammo I want on an on/offroad bike like the zero ds here but with range!! I need to have min 70km/112mile range

  • Taco

    Great another bike I want now but we have to wait at least a full year before they come out. Is it possible for that part of the brain that wants and covets stuff to get blue balls?

    • http://pinkyracer.com pinkyracer

      Dude seriously. And I don’t even know what blue balls feels like, but I’ve got it so bad for the Empulse I’m ready to cheat on it with a Zero. At least the Zero’s ready & willing, even if it’s not as sexy.

  • aristurtle

    Dammit, I thought half the benefit of going electric was that we didn’t need to deal with gearboxes anymore?

    • Thom

      aristurtle ;

      EXACTLY ! Thanks for bringing this up first . That is part of the whole damn point of the supposed superiority of the E/V is not needing the complexity and weight of a gearbox which is in fact according to the ASE papers I’ve read superfluous .

      So in reality what Brammo is doing here is bowing to marketing demands and what they perceive as Customer Acceptance by adding on a GearBox to a power plant that in reality does not need or benefit from one .

      E/V’s When will reality sink with the general public and the press that we’re no where’s near making them viable , and that in order to make E/V’s viable , all that is known and accepted about ICE vehicles needs to be forgotten in order to build a truly successful E/V

      • JaySD

        I hear what you are saying but if having a cruising gear means more highway range? Having a lower gear means better off road crawling slow without snatchy throttle?

        Just because the bike has gears does not mean the torque band or the gearing won’t allow you to ride primarily in one gear

      • NickP

        Maybe they’ll keep a single speed version around for people like you but I’ll be buying one that has better acceleration, top speed and range, thank you very much.

        • Myles

          At this point in time a gearbox can provide benefits.

          The line of thought is that with proper development an electric motor does not need gearing because of it’s inherent efficiency. At this time, the motor development is way behind. The fastest electric bike uses a tank motor ferchissakes.

          It sounds like some of the arguments above are for motor development instead of wasting time/funds on gearboxes that will prove unnecessary with better motors. I can see both sides of the argument, but don’t really care. More, different, things are always better.

          Off topic. . . why do Sumos always wear the dirtbike beak? And why do Sumo riders always wear dirtbike helmets instead of street helmets when they ride on the street? Is it a fashion thing?

          • JaySD

            Generally yes, it has to do with the fact sumo’s are supposed to be dirt bikes with street tires and those are dirt bike attributes. The high fender doesn’t serve much purpose on the street compared to a hugger or lower smaller fender. Same thing with the gear the dirt bike look full face helmets seem most popular. Also depending on where you are riding sometimes you do hit the dirt on your sumo

          • NickP

            I like to ride on the street with my dirtbike helmet because of the ventilation. Great airflow without having any june bugs for lunch!
            Then again, my street bike is styled like a motard so it has a beak and hand guard, but will never see any dirt. I’m confused.

            • Bronson

              +1. I love my MX helmet on the street. Great airflow, the goggles don’t fog as easily, and the visor is great for shielding the light from a low sun at day or bright car headlights at night.

              The high fender on a motard isn’t as useful on the street as it is in the dirt. I ride mine (KTM 625 SMC & 525 SMR) on the street and in the dirt — Jumps, wheelies, curbs, stairs, streams, etc. The mud, leaves and sticks would clog a hugger fender.

        • aristurtle

          If Chip Yates’s bike doesn’t need a gearbox, and the Tesla Roadster doesn’t need a gearbox, why does this need one?

          What this needs is a better motor, not a complicated workaround.

          • NickP

            The Tesla only has 1 speed because they couldn’t put a 2 speed in it without breaking.

            • eric

              Hey, I wouldn’t say anything bad about tesla, they’ll sue you.

              • NickP

                lol thanks! What I meant to say is, Tesla’s are f’ing sweet and don’t need any stupid transmissions to weigh them down. All other EV’s on the other hand…

      • Ryan

        I don’t see why electrics wouldn’t benefit from gearing. The entire idea of gearing is to allow a smaller motor to do the work of a bigger unit after all.

        EVs have such a limited, and heavy, energy source it only makes sense to add gears to allow the motor to use less energy and run at a more efficient level. I’d imagine a transmission is lighter then more batteries.

        Plus, there is only so fast something can rotate. Eventually, it’s going to have to drop back into safe limits for longevity, safety, and thermal properties.

        A CVT would probably be better for an EV then a geared transmission, but this is probably cheaper and more inline with what people expect.

        Anyway, I’m interested in hearing why electric motors don’t need a transmission, if you want to elaborate.

        • Myles

          Quick searching brings a ton of results from RC car forums and the like. The general sentiment is that while ANY motor can see gains from gearing, electric motors are a whole new ballgame compared to ICE. They have a huge power curve, make a ton of power down low, but can also spin really high. Sometimes the benefit of additional gearing can be outweighed by the added complexity of a transmission. Electric motors (with minimal development), for example, can propel a motorcycle from 0-190mph in a standing mile with direct drive only.

          I think eventually the gearbox will be replaced by the ECU and a single high-power motor will be able to a ton of work efficiently. A big electric motor doesn’t have the same inherent loss in efficiency that a big ICE engine has. At this stage, a gearbox will probably provide benefits in small engine applications. We’ll have to see what happens when they let these bikes out in the wild.

          CVT’s sap a ton of power and have a wicked hard time in high-rpm applications, I doubt we’ll ever see a truly successful electric motor/CVT application in Motorcycling.

          • http://vtbmwmov.org Eben

            CVT’s sap power? Every car I’ve ever seen with a CVT option (Civic, Versa, Impreza) bills it as a way to increase fuel economy. Is it just that they control the power more efficiently?

            • Myles

              An identical engine with a standard (or one of the fancy dual clutch whiz-bangs) transmission will always make more power than when equipped with a CVT. There is more drivetrain loss in a CVT.

              They do have increased fuel mileage.

  • tomwito

    I hope they can get the pricing down in a few years. $9-12K is a a lot of coin for a dirtbike. I want one but thats a hard sell.

    • JaySD

      I agree even a brand new KTM is like what 8k?

  • Rob

    I won’t buy a bike without a clutch and gears. This is a big step in the right direction if they want to sell to motorcyclist rather than well-off urban hipsters.

  • je

    Yeah.. Yeah.. This is the right stuff right here.

  • JaySD

    Am I a horrible person for really wanting an electric dirt bike so I could rip on some mountain bike trails without getting in trouble :P?

    • NickP

      Agreed. There are 2 kick-ass mountain bike trails within 2 miles of my house. I’m sick of riding them at less than 30 mph!

  • http://www.rideicon.com iconmotosports

    We like!

  • JonB

    So good. I want a SMR with a CA plate and 19″s.

  • JRl

    Looks good! Hopefully the range/speed will be similar to the Empulse. I might have to change my pre-order! =)

  • noone1569

    Hmm.

    I’ve been saying for a year or two now, my next bike is a supermoto. I’ve also been saying I want an e-bike.

    Hot damn, make that SMR street legal, and I’ll pluck down the coin. No shit, where do I sign?

  • Your_Mom

    I am not an electrical engineer but don’t electric motors have a specific rpm where they run at peak efficiency? If so, why not offer a CVT so that a rider can select “max range” mode and the powertrain would go to and hold that motor speed? I know it’s probably not as psychologically satisfying as simulating our ICE experiences but maybe we need to begin creating new ones instead of simply reinforcing the old ones we already have? Just a thought….

    If we only seek to recreate the experiences we already have, electrics will never reach peak efficiency and the range we’re all looking for. No?

    • Ryan

      I agree a CVT would be best.

      I think it has something to do with the tradition of gears and the stigma of CVTs being for scooters. A CVT also might be heavier and more complex with less durability. I could be wrong about that.

      Automatics just aren’t as engaging as manuals. :)

      • Spencer

        I think everyone is forgetting the one place where CVTs really shine, SNOWMOBILES! Not that sleds are very efficient but they are fast.

  • Your_Mom

    And wouldn’t some focus on aerodynamics do wonders for range? Drag increases as the square of speed and all that…

    The Amarok SP1 seems to point to where we need to be going. Not double-cradle framed simulations of small super motos… I can see a feet-first or feet-forward electric-bike (with actual aerodynamic engineering) as the actual winner of the “natural selection drives electric bike engineering” history contest…

    • http://www.ClevelandCycleWerks.com scottydigital

      Frontal area of a motorcycle is larger then a car. Drag is close to the top of the list on things that kill range.

      • Your_Mom

        Only if you retain the same layout as conventional bikes. FF bikes can have much reduced frontal area especially if one takes advantage of the packaging with the electric powertrain. Think small Ecomobile, not Ducati 1198SP.

  • http://www.muthalovin.com the_doctor

    Nice. Is it just me, or do these concepts look small? I have not seen one of these ‘lectrics in person, and I realize that without the ICE, they will look small, but from these shots, they all look really small.

    • http://pinkyracer.com pinkyracer

      yeah, I think they’re small. And it makes sense, as it’s much easier/cheaper to make small (less powerful) electric bikes than big (FAST!!!) ones. At least, it would seem so, judging by the PLETHORA of rinky-dink electric bikes out there and still only one actual sportbike in production (the Roehr).

  • http://theprojectbeta.com/ andehans

    Pretty exciting, just wish the Engage didn’t look like an ordinary MX bike with a square battery-box accidentally thrown into the frame. Let’s hope the final bike looks more resolved.

  • Esteban

    great! thx for the report.. gears.. that brings back some the sensation of riding a regular bike that might begone with no engine..love it

  • marshallhaas

    Finalllllly. I’d buy supermoto form

  • Alex

    im curious, what exactly is the difference between the SMR and SMS?

    • http://www.faster-faster.com fasterfaster

      I assume the SMS is street legal (lighting, horn, etc.)

  • http://rohorn.blogspot.com rohorn

    ‘Til it comes with rotating anti-balance shafts, kickstarter, and flammable fluids bowser’d twixt knees and groin, it just won’t feel like a proper motorbike.

  • casey

    if anyone knows where I can purchase a similar headlight high fender Id be much obliged. I’ve been trying to locate a KTM 690 SM beak for a while, and I just cant seem to get my hands on one. Gonna put it on a little project Im working on.

  • Coreyvwc

    This is awesome. I can’t believe the whole electric revolution is happening right now!

  • Jens

    From the beginning I said, if the E-bikes ever really like to compete (except dragracing and LSR) they need a clutch and a gearbox. Now it´s there and now the hunting of the laptimes can start. Imagine how fine you can adjust the traction and wheeliecontrolsystem with an electric motor…. Thats the future, but I am not sure if I like that.

  • Sooner

    Love what Brammo is doing here. I want one! The clutch is a must for me. Better bike control when the application of power is done using two hands in a coordinated effort instead of one, especially off road.

  • TreMoto_Eddie

    I spy an ATV in the background… hmmmmm