Brammo Empulse R: first photos

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Snapped by Italian technology partner IET, which developed the 6-speed gearbox, these are the first photos of the new Brammo Empulse R, due for official unveiling on May 8. Not only will this be the first production electric motorcycle capable of exceeding 100mph, but that gearbox and traditional clutch should help spread its performance across that speed range. Low-speed, off-the-line acceleration is a bugbear for current, single-speed electrics.

Update: while these photos are new to you and me, they show a development prototype, not the upcoming production model.

Changes over the two-year old concept Brammo Empulse (above) include wavy brake discs, that very, very obvious gearbox and what, hopefully, appears to be a higher subframe that will carry a different seat unit.

Have you ever seen a motorcycle gearbox with so many wires running into it? Gearboxes 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.

“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,” Brammo designer Brian Wismann told us last year. “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.”

via MotoElettriche

  • Scott-jay

    Transmission cover is begging for a sturdy slider-bumper thingy.

    • Troy R

      I thought the same thing until I realized that I don’t think the transmission is mounted in the bike in that picture.

      If it is SERIOUS crash guards are needed.

  • Troy R

    I wonder what that clutch is doing exactly? HFL has this stuff first, and it’s awesome.

    • Wes Siler

      It’s one of those things we’re not really clear about yet.

    • Campisi

      Probably the same thing that two or three of those gears are doing: making the system feel more normal compared to gas bikes. The (presumably heavy duty) clutch will likely take some load off of the transmission internals as well. I’m curious to see if it’s an actual friction clutch or some sort of electronic de-coupling of the input shaft from the motor, or indeed something else entirely.

  • BrammoBrian

    Errr… need to chime in here. These are VERY old photos of our first DVP (Development Prototype) with the six-speed IET transmission. Definitely not photos of the production bike. You’ll need to wait until May 8th for those. Nice try, though! ;)

    • Wes Siler


    • the_doctor


    • Gene

      It is good to see someone putting serious R&D into things. It’ll be nice to see the final cleaned-up design.

  • Lucas Worthing

    That tail section needs an good designer to give it some attention. I’m available…

    • BrammoBrian

      Geez… Try to do something different and people kick your teeth in… I get it. Nobody likes the tail. ;)

      Don’t worry… the production design is much different.

      • protomech

        “the production design is much different.”

        ^^ this comment is worthless without pics!

        • *

          Come on now. We know what you mean, but show a little respect.

          • protomech

            Tongue-in-cheek implied.

      • Gene

        Actually I like a nice wide comfy seat. I’ve only seen the tail from that one angle.

        It CAN’T be worse than the abomination hung on the 2nd gen SV-650! That would be quite the “accomplishment”

        • Campisi

          I just bought my first cruiser-style motorcycle (it’s a long story) and have been surprised how uncomfortable I find the wide seat to be. Then again, the angle I have to sit in due the ergonomics of the bike’s design has my weight supported largely by my tailbone, and the seat (much like the rest of the bike) isn’t very high quality.

          I’m hoping for something somewhat narrow; lithe, but comfortable enough to exhaust the range.

          • Wes Siler

            Congrats, you’ve realized why cruisers suck so damn hard.

            • Campisi

              I put about sixty five miles on it yesterday riding back home from where I met the previous owner and couldn’t sit for a few hours afterward. I had to go five hours on my CBR250 to achieve a similar level of discomfort.

  • iconmotosports

    We love our Enertia, but we can’t wait for the new hotness!

    • Jesse

      Still awaiting photos of one of Icon’s Finest lofting the front on an Enertia. We’ve seen burnouts in bars (awesome, btw, Brammofan)… e-hooligan level up!

      • Brammofan

        Aww, thanks for remembering. I’m sure when Wes gets a chance to testride the Empulse, we will be treated to some bathroom burnout action.

  • Sebastian

    i actually kinda like the tail.

  • Matthew Stutzman

    Brian and his team have gone and done something so tight within such a short time it’s going to give more than a few observers pause. I am ridiculously excited about this company and where its headed!

  • jonoabq

    Moving the conversation away from the looks, now I’m getting curious in a practical sort of way, what apprimately is the expected lifespan of the battery unit? If it takes me six or seven years to hit the 1/2 life of a Triumph triple engine how does the Brammo motor compare? When I start to seriously consider throwing down cash I have to make some cost of ownership comparisons, looks and ride characteristics aside, and the battery life and performance degradation is an area that I have not seen discussed a whole lot.

    • Archer

      It’s an excellent question, and odds are, no one really knows. It’s a significant gamble.

    • protomech

      Brammo claims 1500 cycles to 80% capacity remaining, which means on a combined highway + city cycle of 77 miles, you would hit that point at 1500 * 77 * 0.9 (average of 100% and 80%) = 104k miles.

      The wrinkle with that cycle count claim is that it doesn’t include calendar aging and it is under laboratory test conditions, typically a controlled temperature, gentler discharge (and harder charge) than you would see in real life.

      Calendar aging is the real question. The battery manufacturers can do accelerated aging tests (heat cycles?), but the real test is to see how they perform in real 5-10 year timespans.. and obviously those tests will be run by the customers.

      Zero claims 3000 cycles to 80% capacity remaining, at ~60 mile real-world range that works out to 160k miles. I’m planning on 100k in 8-10 years on my Zero S, if it makes it that far and is still useful at the end I’ll be well-pleased.