2014 Brammo Empulse RR Review — Riding The TTXGP Champion

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Brammo Empulse RR

Well this was fun. Late last year I became the first person outside Brammo to ride their factory race bike. Was it fast? Well, with 173 hp at the wheel and 166 lb.-ft. at the crank, what do you think? Read all about it in this 2014 Brammo Empulse RR Review.

Photos: Dito Millian

What’s New
Let’s start this with a simple comparison. The fastest gas-powered superbike available in showrooms today is the Ducati 1199 Panigale R. It’s been shown to make 186 hp at its wheel and around 100 lb.-ft. of torque at its crank. It weighs 417 lbs (wet) and, in the hands of Brammo factory racer Eric Bostrom, lapped Laguna Seca in 1:33.07.

This Empulse RR weighs 467 lbs and Eric’s teammate Shane Turpin (who rides this “Sauvetage” graphic version) lapped Laguna Seca in 1:32.581. So yes, this electric race bike is fast. Faster, in fact, than any Internal Combustion Engine bike ever sold to the public.

Of course, you can’t buy one of these. The Empulse RR is a two-off prototype developed specifically for electric motorcycle racing and shares virtually nothing with its showroom counterpart, the Brammo Empulse.

Well, the basic layout is a little similar. A massive aluminum beam perimeter frame (unique to the RR) wraps the battery pack, located where the engine on an ICE bike would traditionally be. Hiding under the “tank” are the motor controller and other electronics. The motor is tucked up under the swingarm in an arrangement that creates maximum room for the batteries without lengthening the wheelbase. In fact, at 56.5 inches, the RR’s wheelbase is a tenth of an inch shorter than that of the Ducati.

As on the production bike too, the shock does without a linkage. But that’s where the similarities end. On the RR, that shock is a top-shelf Ohlins TTX36 item and the forks are similarly fancy FGRT 200s.

The RR’s Lithium-Ion battery pack — a structural frame element — holds 14 kWh of electricity, good for about five laps of a track at race pace. That not very many, but it wasn’t long ago that the performance of electric motorcycles matched their disappointing ranges.

Power is produced by a proprietary Parker Racing motor, an ongoing development project with Brammo. The day I rode the bike, a Parker engineer was going over performance parameters with the bike’s designer, Brian Wismann, in the pits.

“We believe the Brammo Empulse RR to be the fastest track-prepared electric motorcycle in the world,” Brian told us. “This bike is an evolution of the one we developed in 2010, and shows what is possible by using racing as a way to rapidly develop technology. The first iteration of the Empulse RR made about 80 hp and struggled to keep pace with the B-group at a trackday. Now, we’re typically the fastest bike in the A-group and beating the gas bikes heads-up in races! It is that pace of development that makes this bike so special and this effort so valuable to our company. We’ve been successful in racing because we stuck to it, believed in what was possible, and learned from our mistakes.

Brammo Empulse RR
A little Luftwaffe, a little acid trip a little P-51. All fast motorcycle.

The Ride
Brian’s not lying about the speed. On Thunderhill’s short, half-mile front straight, the RR was able to reign in and pass any other bike on the track with us that day. That included BMW S1000RRs and the aforementioned Panigale.

Of course, with me on board, those same bikes would just have to pass me again through the track’s long, sweeping Turn 1. I was that guy at the last Pacific Track Time event of 2013, but being that guy up against very fast riders on very fast bikes is saying something.

All this came about when my editor at Playboy called on the previous Tuesday. “Wes,” he said. “We’ve got a two page hole in the March issue. Can you fill it by next week?” I said yes, obviously, which is what you do when Playboy calls, then picked up the phone to Brammo, who just so happened to be testing that weekend and were happy to oblige. That Saturday, I zipped on my Roadcrafter, strapped my leathers to our loaner Honda CB500X’s tail and road the 500 miles from Los Angeles to Thunderhill in freezing-cold weather. My bar tab at that night’s PTT Christmas party was the most significant expense of the trip, the little Honda cost me less in fuel than a single taxi ride to LAX would have, much less the last-minute flight up there.

The next morning, I wiped frost of the Honda’s seat, rode the 12 miles from hotel to track, then changed into my leathers in front of everyone while Eric — who rides in a near-identical Icon one-piece — made fun of my camel toe.

My first two sessions out on the very cold track were aboard a Brammo Empulse TTX, the track-prepared version of the production Empulse. It performed exceptionally well, confirming my impression of that bike from two years ago. It turns very quickly, but is very stable and communicates exceptionally well. Speed is up there with a 650 twin. A perfect learning tool for a new track, particularly in such cold temperatures.

When it came time to hop on the RR, Shane nervously showed me around his one-and-only race bike, pointing out his unique setup — he likes an incredibly sensitive front brake and little regenerative braking — and suggested I turn up the steering damper quite a bit. I ignored him, something I came to regret on just my second lap, as the RR wheelied violently over the blind crest in Turn 9, shaking its head during my crossed up landing. I turned that damper all the way up as soon as I was back in the pits while Shane laughed at me.

The thing I’ve found while riding all these electric motorcycles is that, free of cylinders and gearboxes and airboxes and intake tracts and their defined arrangments and sizes, designers are left free to optimize the total package for ideal handling. The batteries are obviously the heaviest component and they can be clustered around an ideal center of gravity. Their location can be moved through trial and error to find that ideal, too. Given that, their weights don’t end up being the burden on handling you’d expect. Well, that’s a bit of an understatement, because their designers are left free to conceive an ideal package, the handling of electric motorcycles can also approach an ideal. Which is then aided by their lack of reciprocating inertia and its impact on steering speed and feel.

The Brammo Empulse, the Mission RS, the Energica Ego and now this Empulse RR are some of the best handling sport motorcycles I’ve ever ridden, regardless of their powertrain. With them, designers no longer need to choose between steering speed and stability; both are possible in the same package. A package whose attributes can now be individually tailored to a very fine degree according to rider preference. It’s as if handling and performance characteristics are now simply a user-alterable variable. Like engine braking? Just dial in how much. Want wheelies? Tell the computer. Want faster steering? Raise the battery pack a little.

Continue Reading: 2014 Brammo Empulse RR Review – Riding The TTXGP Champion>>

  • http://metabomber.com/ Jesse

    Goddamn right I want one. (Bike, one piece, whichever). Great story being told here.

  • bammerburn

    2014 is the beginning of a new epoch. My SV650, ZX-6R, and VTR-1000 are now shaking in their booties as I start re-aligning my financial plans to focus on electric-motorcycle ownership. Out with the climate-change guilt, in with the TIE-Fighter-soundin’ madness.

    • Mugget

      Nevermind the climate change guilt, when I go EV it will be for world-beating performance and minimal maintenance costs!

  • Justin McClintock

    I really like the idea. But the batteries thing…I’m just not on board yet. They either need to drastically reduce charging time (unlikely it’ll ever get to levels I’m comfortable with), or as I’ve said before, some kind of industry standardized swappable batteries. When I call roll into a “gas station” and have my depleted battery exchanged for a charged one and be on my way in 5 minutes, I’ll be all over it. But when I’ve got to pull in and wait a couple hours for a recharge….just not my cup of tea.

    • Braden

      From what I’ve read when it comes to battery design, it’s fast recharge rate, large capacity, or big power, pick two. If we could get graphene super-capacitors figured out we’d be set.

      • Justin McClintock

        As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, the electric grid isn’t setup to handle a significantly load of electric vehicles. Not unless you want to start throwing up nuclear plants by the hundreds.

        • PrezNixon

          Justin — You are wrong. The reality is that the same folks who have been buying EV’s are the same kind of folks who have been installing solar and wind power, and they’ve been installing more power generation than has been required to charge all of the EV’s that have been sold. It has been a self-solving problem so far, with no need for any new power plants at all just to charge EV’s, and no signs of that changing as EV’s continue to ramp up in sales. Heck, bitcoin mining is more of a threat to our grid than EV motorcycles.

          • Justin McClintock

            All that presumes that every electric vehicle buyer lives in a solar or wind rich area, has the means (and land) to provide their own electric generation, and always plans on charging at home. Thus far that’s pretty much proven true as most electric vehicle buyers are buying them as a statement and not because they make economic sense. If you put a massive number of electric vehicles on the road, you will put a massive burden on the electric grid. As I mentioned elsewhere, charging a 22kwh battery in 15 minutes requires 88 Kw of electricity. You put 100,000 vehicles on the grid charging at that rate (there are over 250 million registered passenger vehicles in the US, so that’s a very conservative estimate), and you’ll need quite a few additional nuclear plants just to handle the passenger vehicles. Or you could cover half the country in solar panels to attempt to get the same electric output. The math isn’t in their favor.

            • PrezNixon

              Justin — No, it doesn’t have to assume that every buyer has to do anything. It relies only upon the law of averages, because the grid is interconnected and does not rely upon any single person balancing out their own usage. And we know where the largest populations of EV’s are located. It is California by far, which has excellent energy potential.

              The latest generation of Tesla Superchargers are 135KW. No problem there. Your mistake with your numbers is that you assume that everyone will be charging with fast chargers. That flies in the face of reality, where real life has show that fast charging is rare among EV owners. By far the majority of charging is done at slower rates. Heck, many Tesla owners report that they don’t even bother plugging in every night anymore, because they just don’t need to do it every night. They can skip a night or two and still charge overnight a few days later.

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

              We’ll see if my other comment shows up .. but I think you’re hugely overestimating the power required for high-powered demand charging.

              1. Most charging is low-power charging, typically overnight. Tesla owners now average somewhere around 500 miles of charging @ Tesla’s SC stations per car per year .. and keep in mind that on a 600 mile road trip, probably only 300 miles of that will be done with high-power demand charging, the start and end charges will be done on low-power charging.

              2. Our entire transportation system won’t be converted to EV overnight, nor will it ever go 100% EV. Obama’s “moonshot” goal of 1 million EVs on the road by 2015 is pretty optimistic .. a more reasonable guess would be probably around 500k by 2015, and perhaps 2-3 million by 2020. Nissan can build up to 150k LEAFs per year in the Smyrna facility .. Tesla is talking about ramping up to 500k EVs per year by 2020. If 1M new EVs displace gas vehicles in the US each year averaged out for the next decade, then EVs will likely only represent 10% of the grid makeup.

              3. Vehicle-to-grid dispatch is an answer to burst demand charging, and as the number of EVs increase, allows us to switch to intermittent renewable generation and more efficient base-load generation (nuclear).

              What is a realistic estimate for the amount of high-powered demand charging?

              Drivers in the US drive approximately 3 trillion miles per year. Assume 50% of drivers eventually convert to EV, 10% of those miles are high-power demand charging, and the vehicles average 400 Wh/mile (AC).

              That works out to 60 trillion watt-hours per year. For reference, the US as a whole uses around 4000 trillion watt-hours per year .. so it’s a non-negligible contribution to demand, but it’s not huge.

              60 trillion watt-hours averages out to about 6 GW of base-load capacity (a couple of nuclear plants), or 10 GW if the load is mostly over a 16 hour period. It’ll surely burst higher than that, especially on big travel days like holidays, or around huge localized events like sporting events (what happens when 50k EVs all leave the Super Bowl at once, and 20% of them plug in during the next few hours? That’s a 1.3 GW draw, pretty big for a region) .. but these are not unsolvable problems.

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

            Prez – it may be true that early adopters installed more local net generation than they drew back with their EVs, but I doubt that is true going forward (2012 and beyond). Local generation is great, but it’s not quite as simple as it seems.. using the grid as “black box storage” to dump intermittent power into and then draw out typically in the evening causes some significant complications.

            Local generation plus vehicle-to-grid dispatchable storage solves a huge number of problems .. and the utilities have pretty significant financial incentives to install infrastructure to support V2G.
            http://protomech.wordpress.com/2013/07/31/decentralized-battery-grid-storage-and-the-13k-ev/

    • Richard Gozinya

      Swappable batteries are unlikely to ever become the primary recharge method. You go the automation route, that requires a very high level of complexity, to account for all the different EVs (consider the difference between battery locations and sizes in a Model S and an Empulse.) And that would make it prohibitively expensive. Or you go the manual route, and the labor costs (Liability insurance would prevent them from letting people do it themselves) Would make it prohibitively expensive. Either way, too expensive.

      At the same time, charging technology gets better and better, and more and more charging stations keep popping up.

      • Justin McClintock

        I dunno, I still think there might be hope for the manually swappable battery setup. Obviously the current methods won’t work. But take some kind of smaller industry standardized battery. Something moveable by a person. Now figure out how many each vehicle needs. They could be setup in series or in parallel…or the vehicle could even swap between the two to change power and range characteristics. A motorcycle might need 1. A car might need 3 or 4. A pickup might need 7 or 8. But as far as labor is concerned….several states still require attendants to fill your car with gas and fuel isn’t outrageously high in those states. The only other major challenge (besides getting the industry to agree on some kind of form factor that is) would be designing the vehicles to allow for a swappable battery. Yes, it would require some effort on their part, but it’s hardly impossible.

        Until I can charge an electric vehicle that offers roughly equivalent range as a gas (or diesel) vehicle in roughly same same amount of time it takes to refuel that gas (or diesel) vehicle, all while offering similar performance or I get a swappable battery that I can exchange pretty much anyway, electric vehicles will continue to be a novelty at best.

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

          Swappable batteries could have some fleet applications – imagine a crowd of Zero FX police bikes used to patrol the city, and a small number of hot-swap battery modules ready to go at any given time.

          But in the consumer world, there’s no way that manufacturers will agree on a common battery format without some type of top-down mandate .. even Tesla’s battery swap seems to be more of a gimmick. A Better Place tried battery swap and got crushed in the market. There’s too much entrenchment and too few incentives to design around.

          It is possible that some type of pumped electrolyte battery could offer gas-equivalent refueling times. Cambridge Crude and a couple others are talking about this. Still pretty much in the lab.

          There are a couple of bikes coming out this year and next (Mission R and eCRP Energica) that claim to offer ~30 minute charge times on quick DC charging standards (CHAdeMO, J1772 DC). With these bikes you could ride for 1-2 hours, charge for a half hour, then ride for 1-2 more hours.

        • PrezNixon

          Battery swaps are great for MX track bikes. Stick in a few kW’s worth of light batteries, do a handful of hot laps, then head back for the pits for a RedBull and a battery swap, and download your GoPro footage. Catch your breath and do it all over again with a second battery pack.

          Long highway trips are going to still be the realm of big gas bikes for a while longer. That’s just the way it is for now.

    • CaptainPlatypus

      Tto my layman’s eyes, swappable batteries are by far the most reasonable solution, especially if we manage some further advances in battery technology. And by the time the political will and economic incentives exist to switch from ICE vehicles to electrics, we’ll have had a generation or six to adopt thorium power anyway…at which point “throwing up hundreds of nuclear plants” (as you mention elsewhere in the coments) will sound a lot less insane.

      • jesse1018

        Swappable batteries has some hurdles to overcome as well. 1) Battery size and connections must line up. Additionally, as batteries develop, will older model EV’s be compatible with new batteries? Different sized vehicles and diff utility requirements will require diff specs on batteries. Will there be a SM/MED/LG option? 2) Who regulates quality control? How often would the batteries get serviced? More importantly, who will be obligated/finantially responsible for servicing? Much like dollar bills, you would likely never see the same battery twice (assuming sufficient quantities were available) 3) Batteries are heavy. Replacing the battery manually would be difficult, even for fit individuals, and require a certain level of technical know-how. Really, you’d need an automated system. That, in turn, would require significant financial invenstment, a standardization accross all manufacturers (to be compatible with automated system) and a program for each model.

        I’m sure it can be done, but it will be difficult.

  • Braden

    Am I right in assuming there is no gradual change in power delivery as the battery discharges? Basically just 100% full power for five laps and then a marked decrease in available kWh?

    • BrammoBrian

      Braden,

      You’re correct – there’s very little decrease in performance from the start to end of the race. With tires heating up and the rider still learning, it usually translates to faster laps at the end of the event rather than the beginning when battery voltage (and theoretical performance) is highest.

      • Braden

        Very cool, thanks Brian.

      • karlInSanDiego

        Hey Brian, any chance Brammo can show their cars in a video to explain in detail how the choice for a 6speed was made for the street bike? I’m really digging shiftable bikes and strongly hope that is something all manufacturers do in a quest for greater range while still keeping acceleration and riding fun.

    • Richard Gozinya

      I’d guess that it depends on how they set it up. Most electrics reduce output the closer the batteries get to zero, to extend the range.

  • Nathan Haley

    Think of how inconvenient gasoline must have sounded when it first came out: You could never get too far away from a gas station (and back in the day they weren’t as ubiquitous as they are now), you can’t just fill it up from your house and you have to pay through the nose for fuel. Skeptics can keep their gas bikes – the rest of us are going to have a lot of fun with the electric revolution.

    How long before someone does what Brammo, Mission etc. have done with the sportbike to a heavyweight cruiser or similar? Stuffing 22kwh of batteries into a frame that was designed to carry 600lbs would likely give you 200/300mi highway/city range. Make it compatible with Tesla superchargers or similar and it’ll charge in 15 minutes. Food for thought.

    • Richard Gozinya

      Sounds like the Brutus V9. The Brutus’ in general are pretty damn cool, big burly electric cruisers with perimeter frames.

    • Justin McClintock

      22Kwh in 15 minutes? That’s going to require 880 volts at 100 amps….or some equivalent to it. And that’s assuming perfect efficiency, which rest assured, electric chargers are not. That’s not happening. Or you could run full scale power-line levels of 66,000V at 1 1/3 amps. Nobody’s crazy enough to trust the general public around 66,000V and nobody has an insurance policy big enough to handle that. Nevermind the fact that our electric power infrastructure is simply not set up to handle the additional draw of millions of vehicles running around and adding that kind of load to the grid when recharging. The largest nuclear plant in the US outputs around 4,000 MW. We would need an additional 22 of those simply to charge up 100,000 vehicles at once at that kind of rate. Given that there’s an estimated 254.4 million registered passenger vehicles, that 100,000 is an extremely conservative number and probably should be at least an order of magnitude higher…meaning the number of nuke plants required to power all those wonderful electric vehicles would also need to be an order of magnitude higher. And that would still be very conservative on the number of vehicles recharging at any one point.

      This totally overlooks the heat issue as well. Go look at any fast charger for a set of AAs or an electric drill. There’s a fan built into it. For good reason. All that inefficiency is going into heat. Unless you’re moving a ridiculously large amount of air across those batteries, they’re going to get extremely hot very quickly. And that’s not going to do anybody any favors, least of all the batteries themselves.

      My point in all this? You’re not getting a sizable fleet of electric vehicles on the road with that kind or recharging rate or anything close to it. Any even at 1/10th that charging rate, you’re still pushing the limits of what any one vehicle is going to be able to recharge at without some serious supervision.

      • Nathan Haley

        A Supercharger (Tesla) fills up 85kWh in 30 minutes. That’s a bigger pack (and it’s got a very ornate cooling system) but it’s not impossible. And when did I say this thing – which couldn’t cost less than $30k – would be the next Civic?

        • Justin McClintock

          Okay then, that simply supports my point that they aren’t really that viable.

          • Nathan Haley

            So a vehicle that sells less than 100,000 models isn’t “viable”? I don’t think the Model S has sold half that yet.

            • Justin McClintock

              And I’m also pretty sure Tesla hasn’t turned an un-subsidized profit yet either. So then there’s that.

              • Richard Gozinya

                How is that even remotely relevant? They’re a very young company, that actually makes something right here in America. And if you want to bring up subsidies, EVs, and renewable energy aren’t subsidized at anywhere near the rate of the oil industry, let alone the auto industry.

                Sure, EVs aren’t presently the optimal vehicle of choice for most people, but they are the future, no matter what naysayers choose to believe.

                • Nathan Haley

                  Adding to what Richard says – who says we can’t dream about the bikes of the future, just because gas is too cheap to make them “profitable” right now? Should we not look to develop electric propulsion until gas is $20/gal and/or we have no other choice? If you got rid of all the uneconomical things in the world, you’d have a pretty boring world.

                  brb, going to telephone Tesla right now and inform them that their venture isn’t “viable” so they might as well give up now, then I’ll get in touch with NASA to make sure they know that Apollo 11 wasn’t profitable.

                • Richard Gozinya

                  Well if we stopped subsidizing stuff, gas would already be over $15 per gallon. So yeah, anti-EV types really don’t want to bring up government subsidies.

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

                  Exactly. Take away the EV subsidies AND the gas subsidies, and let the marketplace decide.. it’d be EV in a heartbeat.

                • Nathan Haley

                  Well, it would depend on how you qualify “subsidies”…I mean we have literally waged war for cheap energy. There’s room in the marketplace for both ICE and electric vehicles at the moment.

                • Piglet2010

                  “If you got rid of all the uneconomical things in the world…”

                  Such as Henry Kissinger’s Worthless Eaters™ – that will solve a lot of problems, eh?

              • runnermatt

                You are probably correct about the unsubsidized profit with regards to automobile sales, I haven’t seen the numbers myself. I do know that Tesla made quite a bit of money early on by licensing their battery design. That was back when Tesla made the “Roadster” that used the Lotus Elise chassis.

                But then again anything Elon Musk starts seems to turn to gold. He was one of the founders of PayPal. He started Tesla, which is easily the most successful electric car company. He also started SpaceX which was the first civilian space transport company to be certified by NASA for SpaceX spacecraft to make deliveries to the International Space Station.

                • Stuki

                  Take away the enormous indirect subsidies of all risky, “we’ll make money in the future, some day” plays inherent in a monetary policy geared at transferring infinite amounts of free money, no strings attached, to billionaire bankers, from everyone else; and neither the massive windfall from Paypal, nor the pretense of viability of SpaceX and Tesla, would be nearly what they were/are.

                  Not trying to be a hater; and Musk is definitely one heck of a “go out and do it, rather than sitting around babbling on internet forums or academic conferences, guy”; but in all seriousness; the sum total of all his achievements may still amount to nothing more than a net destruction of wealth. It’s just that we’ll never know, since so much wealth to destroy has been made available to well connected and/or lucky punters over the past 40 years by pillaging the working and saving classes. And there still seems to be some small pockets left to squeeze out of those guys, so the smokescreens are still too dense to make anything resembling a good call wrt. which of all subsidized flights of fancy have, and have not, actually created more wealth than they have destroyed.

                • Piglet2010

                  PayPal is very convenient for money laundering, tax evasion, etc.

      • PrezNixon

        Justin — no need to worry so much about where the electricity will come from.

        1) Refining, pumping, distributing, lighting gas stations, etc burns a whole heck of a lot of electricity. So every gallon of gas you don’t burn, you also recoup all that electricity required throughout the entire life of that gas. You’ve failed to account for that.

        2) Even when there are fast charging stations, not all EV’s will require fast charging every day. The vast majority will use Level 1 or Level 2 for the majority of their charging. At home. At night. When currently power plants are shut down because demand is low.

        3) Typical EV buyers are the same folks who typically install home solar and wind power generation. Overall, they tend to install more power generation than they need to charge their new EV’s, so EV buyers and solar/wind installers have been self-solving this problem up until this point. With solar panel and EV car prices continuing to drop, there is no sign that this trend will change as more EV’s roll out.

      • karlInSanDiego

        Justin, fast charging is only occasional, not a daily occurance. Batteries don’t like the behavior, and fast chargers needent be on every corner. More like rest stops on interstates. Chevy Spark claims 15 minutes on a DC fast charger as well, but again, those are meant to be rare stops. Stop thinking of the move to e- on today’s grid. We can transition our power grid to renewables at the same time we’re revising it to handle to savings on petrol.

        • Justin McClintock

          Even without fast charging, if we transition to a point that, say, 40% of today’s fleet of cars is plugged in overnight, we won’t have the capacity to handle it. And if you’re going to try to use renewables to cover that, well, solar isn’t going to be very effective at night when all those vehicles are slow charging. Wind typically isn’t as effective at night either as you don’t get the same heat gradients across many wind-rich areas that drive the winds to begin with (aka, anywhere near water). Meanwhile, everybody who’s in support of the idea of widespread electric vehicle use seems to be under the impression that people will simply stop trying to drive across country. My in-laws live in Charlotte. They’re 350 miles from here. It takes me 4 1/2 hours…with a gas vehicle. The best electric vehicle would add a minimum of half an hour to that trip, and that’s with a fast charger which you’re saying is bad for the batteries. Or how about sporting events? I drive up to SC from Atlanta for football games in the fall, along with about 80,000 other people. I don’t even want to being to imagine what would happen if everybody showed up with an electric vehicle and needed to charge them up during the game. It would give Clemson, SC a similar power draw to NYC. And again, what are we going to make all these batteries from? I hate to tell you this, but making batteries is a very, very dirty process. Hence many battery manufacturers going overseas and closing US facilities. The EPA doesn’t look kindly on them….something Tesla and Brammo and the rest of the electric vehicle manufacturers haven’t even begun to consider.

          I’m not going to say these problems can’t be overcome eventually, but it’s not going to happen soon. We won’t see a major shift towards electric vehicles during my lifetime (and I’m in my 30′s). And it’s going to involve lots of technology that simply doesn’t exist right now.

          • karlInSanDiego

            Clearly, you’ve got a different solution and refuse to see the value in a vehicle that can be powered (via electric power station) by many different energy technologies. I put PV on my roof and overbuilt it so I can power electric vehicles in the near future. I expect my power company in San Diego to see the solar writing on the wall and build pump storage facilities to bank that energy during the day, so we can draw at night. What do you think you’ll be driving in your lifetime, 180 mpg gas powered bikes fueled with $20/gal. gas that we pulled up from Venezuela after our next coup there? Please stay out of the hammerlane when I’m trying to pass you.

            • Justin McClintock

              Pump facilities? So where are these massive reservoirs going to go? I’ll bet those will be cheap. As for my lifetime, I think at some point I may own 1 or 2 electric vehicles as around town machines. I’ll never fully replace my fossil fueled fleet though. I don’t see many families during my entire lifetime switching over to an entire fleet of electric vehicles. I’ve laid out the issues with that pretty clearly.

            • BillW

              They already have pumped storage between Lake Hodges on the low end and the Olivenhain Reservoir on the high end.

              • karlInSanDiego

                BillW, That’s for water storage/usage. These pumped storage facilities I’m speaking about are used as a giant battery. You use the power you have during the solar day, to pump water uphill. Then at night when there is no light for solar, you let the water run downhill and generate power with a hydroelectric generator.

                • BillW

                  Karl, I understood what you meant by pumped storage. Per a discussion I had with a station employee when I was hiking by Lake Hodges one day, the system between Hodges and the Olivenhain reservoir is used for pumped storage exactly as you described, i.e., he said they pump water up to Olivenhain at night, and then run it through generators at Hodges during the day.

                  Given that they had to build the pumping facility anyway, since there’s no other way to get water to Olivenhain Reservoir, it would have been rather stupid of them to not built it for pumped storage, since they can make money on it.

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

            Justin:

            I wrote a blog post discussing some of the issues raised here.
            http://protomech.wordpress.com/2014/03/04/dc-quick-charging-and-the-grid/

            40% of the US vehicle fleet would be 80 million cars. The US bought 100k EVs last year; Tesla’s mammoth Gigafactory (to be sited in the US, maybe the EPA hasn’t caught on?) would be capable of producing 500k EVs by 2020, using the equivalent of the current _global_ production of lithium-ion cells. There’s no way we can reach 40% fleet EV “overnight”, and that gives grid operators time to prepare for electrification of our transportation.

            • Justin McClintock

              I know more than a few people in the battery industry who think Tesla are insane. Many US battery production facilities are closing specifically due to pollution regulations. This is something Tesla hasn’t really had to give much thought to…yet. But they will. Making batteries is a dirty, dirty business.

              • BillW

                As opposed to, say, extracting and refining oil, which is clean as a whistle, right?

                • Justin McClintock

                  No, but from an environmental standpoint, refining oil is cleaner than making batteries.

                • BillW
                • Justin McClintock

                  Go look at what it takes to make lithium batteries. One of the key components is cobalt. One of the key biproducts of cobalt production is arsenic gas. Similar issues with the other materials. We have oil production issues when stuff goes wrong. We have battery production issues even when stuff goes right.

                • Piglet2010

                  Where is all the lithium to be found?

                • Justin McClintock

                  There’s actually a pretty good supply of lithium out there. Plus it’s fairly safe to recycle if we ever reach that point. Not to say that if we started replacing every single vehicle with a lithium-ion battery powered vehicle it wouldn’t be an issue. But we’ll get over this battery disaster and on to fuel cells long before that becomes a concern.

              • Piglet2010

                Tesla is not insane – they know how to play the corporate welfare game very well. Working class taxpayers subsidize the toys of the rich.

                • Justin McClintock

                  Very good point. They don’t have to turn a profit if we keep handing them one.

      • Nemosufu Namecheck

        To generate that amount of electricity you would need a bolt of lightning!

        • Justin McClintock

          1.21 Jigawatts!

      • Adriano Casemiro

        Battery powered EV are just a stop gap. We all will be riding electric bikes when fuel cell technology become mainstream and building the hydrogen infrastructure is cost effective. Until that day, I`ll keep on riding internal combustion engines. You just cannot add millions of vehicles to the stationary electric grid. You have to generate your electricity as you go.

        • Justin McClintock

          I’d agree with that. Refilling a fuel cell takes very little time, especially when compared to recharging a battery. Ideally they will, nonetheless, be a hybrid setup with a battery (or better still, capacitor) for the purpose of regenerative braking. But anyway, the only real problem with fuel cells now is the cost of the fuel cells themselves and the storage density of hydrogen. That latter is proving to be a pretty big challenge, but I think we’ll get there eventually.

          The irony is that most of the infrastructure for hydrogen fuel-cell based transportation is already in place. If a gas station has a water line and an electric line, they have the raw materials they need to make hydrogen on-site. That one’s REALLY gonna drop a deuce in Tesla’s cheerios.

      • Piglet2010

        Also, normal switches cannot be used at the 12.5 kV that most local power-lines carry due to arcing, not to mention the 69 kV transmission line voltage. But seeing electrical vehicles blowing up in flames at rest stops would have entertainment value.

        Of course, no one can insure a nuclear power plant but a sovereign entity (e.g. Price-Anderson Act).

      • drivin98

        Tesla SuperChargers will be putting out 135 kW from its battery buffered supply – 120 kW now. I’m pretty sure it can dish out 22 kW in 15 minutes.

        Regarding grid capacity for EV charging, I’d point out the (many) fallacies in your argument but I have stuff to do.

  • BrammoBrian

    Wes – the five lap estimate is a bit low. Shane and Eric run 6 lap races in AFM and 8-10 lap races when we compete in TTXGP/FIM eRoadRacing events. For example – the Laguna Seca FIM race was 8 laps.

  • Stuki

    Almost more than the dynamics of the bikes themselves; what excites me more is how quieter, less obviously polluting, more politically correct track bikes may make it easier to get tracks located closer to population centers. 160hp superbikes may always prefer running room hard to obtain anywhere but the middle of nowhere, but similar tech applied to 30-50hp motards (and carts) could perhaps lead to easier track access for the majority of the population. In that sense, electric track bikes may even result in less risk of being humiliated by a waving racer passing you on the inside….. :)

  • William Connor

    So electric race bike faster than a street bike. Breaking news, racing ICE bike faster than a street bike as well. The Panigale lap was set on street tires and the Brammo on slicks for those times. The WSBK pole time form last year was a 1.22.683, a more fair comparison of two racing bikes. The AMA pole time last year was a 1.24, if you feel WSBK is too big of a specification difference. This is billed as a racing bike and not for sale to the public so a fair comparison is in order, versus a stock street bike on DOT tires. I dig the electric bikes, when they have the range and support I will own one. Right now I can’t afford to not be able to get where I am going, when I want to get there.

    • http://krtong.com/ Kr Tong

      You wouldnt be able to run a panigale on street tires at the track. An AMA champion definitely wouldn’t.

      • Justin McClintock

        Not much probably. A set of tires and lots of downtime while it recharges. Take some good reading material.

        • http://krtong.com/ Kr Tong

          If you can ride for 20 and quickcharge in 40 minutes youll never miss a session.

          • Justin McClintock

            The better question then would be, if they were to sell the bike to the public, would the portable quick charger cost more or less than the bike itself? And would the track let have circuits to plug something like that in?

  • Richard Gozinya

    Those electrics just get cooler and cooler, making the ICEs look more and more cumbersome and clunky.

  • Jack Meoph

    Looks the business. I’ve always wondered that when (not IF) the electric MC goes mainstream (10 to 15 years me thinks) the entire geometry of the standard MC will change. In theory, you can distribute the weight of the batteries anywhere that makes the platform more stable/controllable and more ergo centric to human form. I get low center of mass and stuff, but when does all the slipstream/aerodynamic aspects of motorcycles start coming into play in overall design of the next generation of two wheels. Less wind resistance has to equate to longer battery life and thus longer range, making them more practical.

    • karlInSanDiego

      Sadly Jack, that may put us seated in the center like the Gurney Alligator or a Vetter eco challenge bike, but better than no bike at all. Maybe the Tron thing will work out.

  • Dan

    Video please!

    • karlInSanDiego

      Sadly, Playboy reserves its video bandwidth for other purposes, so it looks like this is a made for print only piece.

  • LS650

    When a local dealership starts selling an electric motorcycle that has the speed, ability, and range of a CBR250 – and for a similar price – then maybe I’ll buy one.

    Until that day comes, this is all just an interesting experiment.

  • MotoEnthusiast

    I love the part about a fast bike not making you a fast rider lol.
    Wes do you think that 500 mile trip would’ve been as enjoyable on a FZ-09?

    • ‘Mike Smith

      Seems like the FZ-09 would make the Honda seem lame, but I haven’t ridden either,

  • karlInSanDiego

    Wes, my favorite review of yours to date. Thanks for giving us a look at this rare beast, which I won’t see this year at the not being held this year Laguna Seca Moto GP race

  • Rau

    Nice read. Curious why you always make a point of saying that that Panigale R is the fastest bike you can buy?

  • BillW

    I’m pretty sure the sharktooth graphics were used on P-40 Warhawks, not P-51 Mustangs. As seen here:

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/33/Curtiss_P-40E_Warhawk_2_USAF.jpg

  • firman azis

    I still wonder why no one ever get an idea of standardized battery. Rather than charge it, replace it with a fully recharged one. Like replacing AA batteries out of your flashlight.

  • DudeHeads

    Siler is gone. That magnanimous douche is actually gone. It’s almost sad. Almost.

  • http://servicingstopford.co.uk/ dells98

    What a fantastic looking bike that is! car service