World Exclusive: 2015 Energica Ego Review — Italy’s Electric Superbike

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Following the release of the Mission RS, it is now possible for electric superbikes to outperform their gas-powered predecessors. Electric speed is no longer the sole preserve of American motorcycles. The 2015 Energica Ego is made in Italy and nearly as fast as the Mission. Earlier this week, we got the world exclusive first ride on this new electric superbike.

What’s New
Energica is a sub brand of CRP, a specialty parts manufacturer that’s been supplying Formula One teams with rapid prototyping, advanced materials and insanely tight tolerances for over 40 years. It’s no coincidence that the company is based in Modena; chief client Ferrari is just down the road. While visiting the factory yesterday, we saw an order sheet with names like Red Bull and Renault on it, too. The parts on order? Everything from brake ducts made from CRP’s proprietary 3D printing material “Windform” to components for next year’s new KERS systems and their electric motors.

So, even though you probably haven’t heard of CRP, they’re no fly-by-night start-up. The company has strong expertise and experience producing parts for the highest performance vehicles in the world and even specifically with high performance electric motors.

Because Formula One has restricted testing, CRP has seen its rapid prototyping business decrease in volume. Their main specialty is delivering precision parts of the highest quality in a very short amount of time — mainly next day, all over the world — something that was in high demand in F1 while it was doing a lot of real world testing. A team would try a part on track, alter its specs minutely and then CRP would rush that part or parts back to them for the subsequent test day. With diminished F1 testing, CRP wanted to diversify its market, identifying electric propulsion as a growth area within its field of expertise — high performance. Energica is intended to establish its name in that field, employing it to create a new Italian motorcycle brand.

This new superbike isn’t just a collection of off-the-shelf parts, nearly everything on it has been designed specifically for the Ego and will be produced either by CRP or European suppliers with specific and established expertise in that area.

The PMAC motor and its controller? Designed and produced by CRP. The batteries? Like all other electric motorcycle makers, Energica sources its cells in the Far East, then designed its own pack and assembles them in-house. The battery casing is made from that Windform material, a plastic resin reinforced with carbon particles to give it extremely high tensile strength while maintaining a low weight. That material is also used to 3D print parts like the fairing, “tank,” front fender, hugger and chain guard. As a result, the entire exterior of the bike is basically one big frame slider. The full-color, TFT dash is produced by COBO, the same Italian company that produces that part for the Ducati 1199 Panigale.

Parts like the suspension and brakes are simply the highest quality items a manufacturer like CRP can buy — fully-adjustable Marzocchi forks fitted with Brembo Monobloc calipers and a twin-tube Ohlins TTX36 shock. Forged aluminum Marchesini wheels are the same as those used by the Panigale S and R. The steel trellis frame and aluminum swingarm were designed and produced in house, again by engineers, machines and materials more used to Formula One.

Energica is working with Portuguese electrical equipment specialist Efacec — a large manufacturer of charging stations — to ensure the Ego will be compatible with quick charging standards the world over and is working with them to develop an app for future owners, allowing them to find and plan journeys using those stations. Efacec has also contributed to the design of electric cars like the Nissan Leaf.

Where other electric motorcycles have come from new companies with big plans, Energica comes from an established industrial player. In addition to being Italian, that’s really what sets it apart from companies like Brammo, Zero, BRD or Mission.

2015 Energica Ego

The Ride
As you can see in these photos, the bike we rode this week is very much a pre-production prototype. We’re the first people outside of Energica to ride it. You can see the seams where the various Windform parts were printed, then bonded together all over the fairing and “tank.” That material can be painted, but why bother on a test bike that there’s a good chance we might crash?

And that’s what we expected when we flew into Florence, then drove down to a tiny hilltop town that dates back to Roman times to test it. Volterra is home to Europe’s first arched city gate and was where the internal combustion engine was invented way back in 1853. We went to the museum, that first motor was a clay jar with a cork in the top. Things have come a long way.

Pre-production bikes are often rough around the edges in more than just visual ways. Intended to develop the various components in real world conditions, one or more major features are typically missing and everything is just sort of bodged on.

But, pulling away from Volterra’s town square, over its slick, steep cobblestone streets, there wasn’t any roughness, it wasn’t tempermental and it didn’t once try to spit us off. Instead, what we found was a shockingly (har) complete package. This prototype didn’t just feel like a production bike, but the kind of slickly executed, cohesive, user friendly package that we’d more typically associate with, say, a Honda production bike.

A lot of that comes from the throttle response. This is the real black magic that can make or break an electric vehicle. Know how your stock motorcycle hesitates and jumps when you roll the throttle gently from completely closed, to just trying to maintain speed at low revs? There’s none of that on the Energica. While the degree of twist isn’t totally linear — it ramps up more quickly through the last third of the movement — it is smooth and predictable and intuitive. There is zero hesitation between closed and maintenance throttle and, because there’s no explosions in its electric motor, things continue with no hesitation, in a completely smooth manner, all the way up to full throttle.

Get there and you’re rewarded with very strong acceleration. As tested here, the Ego makes 124 lb.-ft. of torque and 134 bhp. That’s less power than the 160 bhp Mission, but still an awful, awful lot of torque, all instantly available and, unlike a gas bike, unrelated to gear selection. That removes the need to chase revs and gears from the riding equation, leaving you free to exploit the maximum possible acceleration any time you’re ready. Corners become about lines and trail braking and acceleration points, only. That makes electric bikes like this absolutely superior performance motorcycles in the real world, leaving nothing in the way of you riding them faster.

The Energica is also a little heavier than the Mission. Here equipped with 12kWh of battery, it weighs 580 lbs, 40 lbs more than its made-in-San Francisco rival. We were unable to find an explanation for that disadvantage, but suspect it comes at least partially from the inclusion of a separate controller and onboard charger, equipment the Mission integrates into a single unit.

Where the Energica has the Mission beat, though, is in user friendliness. Where the American bike is essentially a road legal racer and has the limited steering lock and aggressive nature that suggests, the Energica has been developed as a road going superbike. It can perform a u-turn in the width of the road and is much easier to ride. Think back to that Honda-like execution of the control feedback and how every part on the Ego works together to work with you.

The most surprising aspect of the Ego’s performance? How well it tackles low-speed, hairpin corners. A bike this heavy has no right to steer this quickly or inspire so much confidence below 30 mph. Weight is centralized around an ideal center of gravity and, because there’s so much of it, moving it even a slight amount has a very large effect on handling. Energica can raise the batteries 10mm and experience an effect similar to raising the engine on a gas bike by 20mm.

Like the Mission, the Energica benefits from the electric powertrain’s complete lack of vibration and reciprocating inertia, factors that combine to elevate feel to hitherto unprecedented levels. You can push the Ego’s front end into a corner very, very hard largely because it communicates grip levels so directly. Energica has maximized this trait by giving this tester a very plush suspension setup, something that works with the very low unsprung weight to maximize ride quality and keep the tires planted on the road even over very large bumps.

Also like the Mission, steering is fast, but the bike is very stable. It turns with the speed of a 600, but rides over large bumps like an ADV bike. The high sprung to low unsprung weight ratio helps there, leaving the suspension free to move quickly without upsetting the bike it’s attached to.

The result of all that is a bike that flows down the road at a rapid pace, unfazed by imperfections and empowering its rider with instantaneous performance and greater feel than anything possible on a gas-powered motorcycle. The result is extreme confidence and a rider that only has to focus on one thing — the road ahead of him.

During this short test ride, we were unable to evaluate the Energica’s range — said to approach 150 miles in realistic speeds — and this prototype was not fitted with the ABS or traction control systems that will come standard on the production bike.

If they have so much torque, why don’t electric motorcycles accelerate much, much faster than their ICE counterparts?

An Energica engineer answered that question by explaining that Ego’s gearing is equivalent to 4th gear on an Internal Combustion Engine sport bike like the Ducati 1199 Panigale. Making much more torque and making it from 0 up to 5,000rpm enables them to push a higher gear while still delivering very strong acceleration and a 150 mph top speed.

Power increases in a linear manner as revs rise, but it’s torque that you feel, so as it tapers from 5,000rpm to the motor’s 10,500rpm redline, it feels as if the bike is accelerating less hard. This is a better illustration of torque vs horsepower than you’ll find onboard an ICE bike; power is a calculation, torque is motive energy.

Energica electric superbike

What’s Good
Smooth, smooth throttle control. There’s zero hesitation and using that throttle is completely intuitive from the first second you hop on the bike.

The high sprung to low unsprung weight ratio combines with plush suspension settings to deliver an outstanding ride without making the suspension overly soft; it doesn’t dive unduly on the brakes or squat under acceleration.

The 580 lbs curb weight disappears once you pull away; the Ego changes direction like a 600.

Conventional, but good ergonomics facilitate good body position and man/machine interaction.

The TFT screen is bright, easy to read and immediate, conveying a lot of information with very little effort.

While not as outrageously aggressive as the Mission, the Ego still delivers a compelling, evocative, futuristic sound track. It sounds as fast as it is.

Making the fairing and “tank” out of a very strong, very rugged, easily produced material like Windform is genius; the bike should resist damage in a crash very well.

Overall execution is Honda-like in its completeness and user friendliness.

energica electric superbike

What’s Bad
On this prototype, the bars were too low, leading to wrist pain in minutes.

The seat isn’t quite long enough, cramping the rider’s ability to scoot back and tuck in. Energica is aware of this and says it will fix it for production.

There’s no getting around it, 580 lbs is a ton of weight for a performance motorcycle. It blunts outright performance and makes the bike difficult to manage at very, very low speeds.

Energica Electric Superbike
The production version of the 2015 Energica Ego will come with paint.

The Price
When it puts the bike on-sale in 2015, Energica is targeting a $25,000 price point. That’s $5,000 cheaper than the faster Mission. That bike is more complete from a consumer product perspective, benefiting not just from higher performance, but also from sleeker looks, slicker packaging from its James Parker-designed chassis and a more cleverly conceived charging system that should deliver faster charging times, despite its greater battery capacity. The Mission OS and its large display, onboard video camera and Internet connectivity also trumps Energica’s more conventional setup.

energica electric superbike

The Verdict
The handling of a CBR600RR with the torque of a Panigale in a package with greater feel and better ride quality than either. If you needed any more evidence that electric power is a game changer for performance motorcycles, the fact that Energica is delivering another unprecedentedly fast motorcycle using the technology should provide it. Range and recharge times are less completely resolved here than they are on the faster Mission, but the Energica is easier to ride and more road friendly regardless, while getting close in performance.

RideApart Rating: 9/10

Gear:
Helmet: Schuberth S2 ($700, Best Helmet Out There)
Jacket: Axo (N/A)
Gloves: Racer Sicuro ($240, Highly Recommended)
Boots: Dainese Cafe ($260, Highly Recommended)

Read More:

Video: 2015 Energica Ego Video Review
2014 Mission RS World Exclusive First Ride
2013 Brammo Empulse R World Exclusive First Ride
2012 Zero DS Video Review

  • TP

    THAT THING LOOKS SO SICK!

    I really appreciate your detail of the F1 supplier side of their buisness.

  • Stuki

    3D printed Fairings………… Yesssss! And of frameslider grade material to boot……

    Wonder if there are clear plastics suitable for this. Talk about customized windshields…

  • Strafer

    kinda like the un-painted version lol

  • Zac Hunter

    Leave the paint off…

  • grindz145

    It’s awesome to finally read a review of a bike that really hasn’t had much detail divulged to the public. I’m looking forward to seeing that gopro footage…

    And yes, the bike absolutely looks worse with paint.

  • http://protomech.wordpress.com/ protomech

    Wow, very nice work scoring this preview. I wasn’t expecting anything on this bike for another six to twelve months..

    580 pounds is very heavy. For comparison, the 10 kWh Zero S weighs 380 pounds, and another 2.5 kWh battery module would bump weight up to ~420 pounds.

    So where’s the weight go? Energica’s 100 kW motor surely weighs more than Zero’s 40 kW motor, as does the motor controller, radiator, fairing, heavier-duty brakes / wheels / tires and faster charger, etc. 580 pounds still is a very high weight.

    • grindz145

      That puts the two bikes into perspective.

      I’m not opposed to the weight myself. After riding touring bikes for years, I recognize how well a chassis can perform even when loaded. In order to get the kind of touring range that everyone seems to want, the weight will have to approach these numbers, and it may not be terrible.

      Of course if you want lightweight power, you can ride a Zero today in a sub 400 lb package.

      Mr Siler hasn’t quite bothered to review the 2013 Zeros yet though…

      • http://protomech.wordpress.com/ protomech

        I think there may be a bit of bad blood on one or both sides after the video review of the 2012 Zero DS loaner. Wes is usually pretty good about covering new EV bikes (see this and the Mission RS), but RideApart nee HFL has barely said word one about the 2013 bikes (despite improvements in the three things Wes dinged the 2012 bike over: range, charging speed, and handling/performance)

        • grindz145

          Yeah, I figured as much :) But why not poke the bear a little bit to see if I could help shake things up.

        • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

          I’d love to cover Zero’s 2013 range, but I/we have zero (har) access. That’s a shame, since I/we are the biggest electric motorcycle proponents out there.

          • Harve Mil

            I can send you a bike and an invoice if you’d like. :)

  • DJ

    Thanks for bringing us this review, Wes. I guess you are the de facto Electric Motorcycle journalist these days (you get all the cool stories).

    A suggestion for your future EV articles: You should ask them to let you try charging the bike (while you eat or something) and tell us about the charging experience since this is an important factor in deciding what to buy. Was the bike compatible with the nearest charging station you could find on your cell phone, was the experience seamless, did it charge as fast as they said it would, can you charge it both at home and at public stations with minimal extra equipment, etc.

    Other key data questions are how does the vehicle react when the motor, motor controller, or batteries get very hot, or when the battery is at a very low state of charge. These features will make the difference for eventual customers.

    Another thing missing from this and many other EV articles is a reality check. Lots of companies can make an awesome EV prototype, but making a production vehicle for a reasonable price is another story. I know CRP owns all their own 3D printing equipment, but, you can’t make an electric superbike with a 12kWh battery and huge 3D printed parts and sell it for $25k USD without losing money. Not today, and probably not in 2015. With injection molded fairing and battery boxes, maybe.

    For reference, CRP used to say this bike would be in the market in June 2013. Now it’s a 2015 bike. So they have a history of being optimistic.

    Criticism aside, it’s a great looking bike and I wish them success in commercializing it.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      We’ll be getting a test unit in LA next June and will report on real world, living with it stuff then. Part of the fun with prototypes is they don’t necessarily have the same parts the production bike will have for charging and whatnot.

      • Christopher Nugent

        We’ll have a few little tweaks and updates by then ;-)

    • Christopher Nugent

      The 3D printing and sintering aspects of the Energica Ego are for prototyping and development not for production parts. As you pointed out it is not cost effective (at the moment) for production parts. But they do make development and tooling easier and less time consuming and costly.

  • Harve Mil

    Nicely done. I’d like to know about range or any commentary you could offer on battery consumption metrics while it was in your possession.

    • Giovanni Gherardi

      Testers driven the bike for 70km pushing hard and the battery consumption was between 40 and 50%

      • http://protomech.wordpress.com/ protomech

        So 90-100 miles riding hard? That sounds pretty good.

  • grb

    Awesome!

  • Corey Cook

    Electrics can outperform (*some) of their gas predecessors. The asterisk and word the (some) are very important when making a blanket statement such as that one…

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Well, the Mission laps Laguna faster than either the Panigale R or HP4. So that’s “some” of its gas powered predecessors.

      It’s much faster on the road too, where feel and confidence and all that immediate torque play much larger rolls.

      • Corey Cook

        The fully race prepped Mission prototype machine does indeed lap Laguna faster than the street legal 1199R and HP4, the street legal Mission that you can actually purchase does not.
        Apples and oranges. Road bike vs. race bike.

        • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

          The production Mission RS weighs a tad bit less than that racer, makes a tiny bit more power and is fitted with the same suspension, brakes, wheels etc. It’s also limited to a higher top speed (160mph) as opposed to the race bike’s 130mph.

          Faster.

      • Mugget

        Well slap me silly and call me Susan!! I did not know that, amazing!!!

  • Kr Tong

    The tank and tail have a very italian design to them. Something very MV and Ducati about them. And the front end reminds me of a bimota, again italian. In white it doesn’t NOT look 600 lbs— Mostly because of the huge fairings trying to spread out and cover the batteries down below.

    And I wonder how foreign electric bike distribution will work. Until now all the EV companies had headquarters a couple hundred miles away— so what will selling an italian EV bike in California be like? My guess is that the extensive dealership network (the that makes servicing a KTM in california an expensive pain) wont be an issue for EV’s since we’re just dealing with suspensions and batteries. But local bikes are subsidized. (More or less than italian EV’s? I don’t know.) At least with this bike, if you need some spare fairings, you could potentially just print some new ones, which could be done anywhere.

    • http://protomech.wordpress.com/ protomech

      Fun facts, using Zero as an example since they publish datasheets for their battery:
      http://www.zeromotorcycles.com/powertrains/powertrains-sales-sheets.pdf

      The battery modules on the 10 kWh Zero electric motorcycle weigh ~130 pounds. The complete battery assembly, which includes the enclosure, internal cabling, BMS and other electronics, weighs 170 pounds (the entire bike weighs 380 pounds). Scaling Zero’s battery assembly up to 12.5 kWh should increase assembly weight to ~210 pounds.

      Energica may be using a battery technology that weighs somewhat more, in exchange for more favorable characteristics (perhaps lower heating/sag under load). And they may actively cool / heat the batteries, which will also increase the weight of the final assembled battery.

      A large battery pack is very heavy, true. But the rest-of-bike is no lightweight.

  • Chester

    I’m sold on electric. For the sheer amount of joy riding one brings.

    I’ll have my explosion power too. I don’t particularly care about the environment (sorry).

    • appliance5000

      I always puzzle over statements like this as I assume the writer breathes air, drinks water,eats,and rides outside. I’ll also assume he doesn’t live in a drought area like – say Colorado – or a flood area like – say Colorado – or a fire area like – say Colorado.

      That said- I agree. If electric vehicles are to succeed it has to be on terms of desirability. This is the genius of Tesla and bikes like this.

      So I appreciate the honesty (no snark) and the making of an Important point.

  • karlInSanDiego

    Ok, for a good laugh, watch this youtube video of a previous unveiling, but turn on English caption (it’s Italian), and watch google rewrite what she’s saying. Super amusing http://youtu.be/U3t0CEwVBto

    • Slothrop

      Okay, that was funny…

  • Chris Cope

    Energica sources its cells in the Far East” Eh? The Far East? Did the cells arrive via wooden junk, captained by Fu Manchu?

    • Mugget

      Actually, that’s probably not far from the truth!

      Certain batteries/energy cells are actually among the most dangerous goods likely to travel by air these days. An aircraft loaded with those kind of goods make the pilots very nervous. Whilst there isn’t an all-out ban on those kinds of goods on air freight, there are very strict and thorough packaging guidelines, not to mention all the extra paperwork that goes with it. Sea freight poses much less risk, and is much less drama for the pen pushers.

  • Justin McClintock

    I’d be wiling to bet some of that weight increase comes from the body material. If it’s as strong as has been suggested, regardless of strength, it’s going to need some decent thickness, and that’ll definitely add to the weight. And yes, the bigger battery is surely going to be heavier than some of the competitors as well.

    Don’t suppose they mentioned anything about battery access? Sure would be nice to have multiple batteries so you could charge one while using the other (a point I may have mentioned before). I mean, come on…even RC cars keep extra batteries around. Nobody wants to have to sit around while their toys charge.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Well, they make parts for F1 cars out of Windform and the teams aren’t complaining about the weight… Part of what they’re able to do with 3D printing is skeletonize and pair the part down to the absolute minimum while still retaining strength.

      None of the big electric bikes are going the quick swap battery route. Buying another battery pack would cost ~50 percent of the bike’s purchase price, weigh too much to handle easily and quick swap wouldn’t be compatible with a traditional (light, strong, well packaged) perimeter frame. Just charge the damn thing.

      • Justin McClintock

        If the parts are truly tough enough to be able to handle duty as a frame slider, they’re tougher than any part on an F1 car as well. And the bodywork certainly doesn’t appear to be skeletonized. If it were (on the backside), the first rock to hit the thin sections would go right through. That was my only point. Maybe it isn’t meant to handle duty like a frame slider is. But if it is, that’s where some of your weight came from.

        As for the battery…well, that’s still disappointing. It’ll just be an exotic toy until they do something about that issue.

      • http://protomech.wordpress.com/ protomech

        All of the large production bikes have fixed battery packs, but that’s not to say it can’t be done.

        Ripperton in Australia, for example, has a converted R1 electric racebike with two removable battery packs. 53 kg / 117 pounds each.

        Per Ripperton:
        “Looking at about 8 to 12 seconds for a pack swap.”

        http://www.diyelectriccar.com/forums/showthread.php/ripperton-electric-track-bike-41173p90.html

        Zero’s 2013 X-class bike lineup (XU, FX, MX) all support two removable modules.

        Hollywood Electrics brought a 2013 Zero FX to the M1GP 24 hour endurance race and placed 4th overall. The battery modules can be swapped in about 20 seconds and last for 45 minutes of racing (on a kart track, with restricted power to keep the FX competitive with the 50-100cc bikes).

        https://www.facebook.com/hollywoodelectrics/posts/10150331320059963

        Here’s a video of a battery + rider swap from an earlier endurance event:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vngxQY32si4

  • Reid

    lol 580 pounds…

  • FreeFrog

    Looks awesome sans paint!

  • Michael Howard

    Apparently I don’t understand what “world exclusive” means, since I’ve been reading other “first ride” reports about this bike. ;)

  • Christopher Nugent

    Thanks Wes for the great article and glad you enjoyed the Energica. Two things you might want to point out to your readers. The Mission you rode had a 17kWh battery and 120 kw motor as compared to Energica Ego 100kw motor and 11.7kWh battery. Also I think the price comparison is more like $25k vs $72k for the bike you rode.

    Chris

  • susannaschick

    woot! she’s sexy but too short for me. why are all the electric sportbikes so short?!?! I think the Mission is the tallest one, but they don’t say on their spec sheet. Yes, I can always pad the seat like I did my R1, but still. Tall people need electric superbikes too, you know. My FX is awesome, but I wanna go fast!

  • sfbay

    PLEASE OFFER RAW WINDFORM. The prototype fairings look amazing!

  • Guest

    If CRP is no fly-by-night startup and has all that technical expertise, then when didn’t they build a bike to outperform the competition? I get that they’re trying to build it to a certain price point, but I would be enquiring about future upgradeability before looking to buy this. We know that the Mission motor is capable of much more than the current output, EV technology is going to move fast, battery technology will allow Mission to crank up the output of their bike – that’s a big future upgrade for owners. How does the Energica compare in that regard?

    Regardless, it’s plain to see that the horsepower wars are over. The new age of the jiggawatt has begun.