2014 Brammo Empulse RR Review — Riding The TTXGP Champion


Category: Reviews

So, on a track, with a full race crew in support, on Dunlop’s best SBK-spec slicks, was this the fastest, best handling bike I’ve ever ridden? Yes it was. But that’s not what made it remarkable. What truly makes the Empulse RR special is how it manages to squeeze so much performance into such a friendly, accessible package.

Without a gearbox, that 166 lb.-ft. or torque is instantly accessible, wherever and whenever you are. Want to pass a herd of dozen or so slower riders onto the front straight? Just focus on your line, the twist that throttle. There’s no worrying about being in the right gear for the corner, hitting rev limiters or lugging the motor, just more acceleration than you could ever want, available whenever you’re holding on really tight.

It also inspires confidence near-immediately, even with temperatures peaking in the 40s during the afternoon. There’s so much feel of what the tires are doing that you begin to get the impression that it’s nearly impossible to make a mistake; you just have too much information at your disposal to make one.

Find yourself taking an unfamiliar line on an unfamiliar track? Change it. It’s that simple. You can add lean or take it away to your heart’s content, quickly, precisely and without consequences.

Just three short sessions later, it was time to call it a day and let Shane get back to testing. Leathers off, Roadcrafter on and it was back on the CB500X and back to LA about eight hours later. Somehow my fingers survived the trip without frostbite, but my concept of motorcycle performance didn’t fare so well; this in-house project by a small startup in Oregon is changing what motorcycles are capable of. Suddenly, anything else feels not just slow, but outdated.

Brammo Empulse RR
Not pictured: expression of terror.

What’s Good
The graphics! Penned by sponsor Icon’s design team, this “Sauvetage” version was inspired by the Luftwaffe’s desert camo during WWII and the shark teeth are straight off a P-51 Mustang. That makes no sense, but it works.

The performance is just staggering. I raved for days about putting 100-foot gaps on Panigale’s on Thunderhill’s half-mile straight. Nobody believed me, but they haven’t ridden one of these things yet. 166 lb.-ft. available from 0-6,500rpm is just a whole other world.

Losing the reciprocating inertia really does seem to do incredible thing’s to a motorcycle’s handling. No force resists steering, making it faster while also boosting feel.

The lack of vibrations helps with feel too. No longer is the only thing coming through the bars and seat “POWER!” Instead, it’s “GRIP!” and “BITE!” and “SQUAT!” and “DIVE!” and that’s just revelatory.

And the rest is pure race bike: stunning brakes, perfect suspension, slick tires. Can’t beat any of it.

Brammo Empulse RR
Very few dead dinosaurs burned in the creation of this review.

What’s Bad
Unlike more production-ready rivals — think Mission RS — traction control isn’t seamlessly integrated into the electric motor. Brian described it to me as, “the save your ass type” and encouraged me not to find myself in a situation where I needed it. I didn’t.

No matter how fast and friendly a bike gets, it still won’t make you a fast rider. Eric passed me on the inside of a corner, on a Ninja 250, while waving.

Range is obviously the biggest downside though. Electric bikes continue to struggle with consumer acceptance because of it and five laps just isn’t…good.

Brammo Empulse RR
Not exactly subtle, is it? The Empulse RR drew crowds of onlookers and many instances of "Gee mister, can I have a go?" The answer was always "no," even for Joey Pascarella.

The Price
The Empulse RR is a prototype factory race bike. Its value lies not in its components, but in the R and man-hours that have gone into making and racing it. Still, had I binned it, Brammo would have been out a dollar figure with many zeros behind it.

Brammo Empulse RR
Dang, that "Racer" logo somehow slipped past Icon's logo police.

The Verdict
You and I are lucky people to be living in an era where motorcycle performance is being completely redefined. And right now, it’s the Empulse RR writing that definition. Gives these guys a budget equal to that of a factory race team in World SBK or MotoGP and they’d have no problem competing and likely winning. Electricity is that superior a power source. As it stands, the Empulse RR is a stunning peek into the future of fast motorcycles.

RideApart Rating: 10/10

Helmet: Shoei RF-1200 ($440, Highly Recommended)
Leathers: Custom Icon One-Piece (N/A, but you want one)
Boots: Alpinestars Supertech R ($450, Highly Recommended)
Gloves: Racer Sicuro ($240, Highly Recommended)
Back Protector: Dainese Manis ($220 Highly Recommended)
Torso and Coccyx Protection: Dainese Norsorex ($205, Recommended)

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