Vital Stats

Engine:
Permanent Magnet AC Motor
Power:
136 HP / 145 LB-FT
Transmission:
Single-Speed
0-60 Time:
3.0 Seconds (EST)
Curb Weight:
569 LBS
Seating:
1+1
Base Price:
$34,000
Throw EV enthusiasts into a room with diehard motorcyclists, and prepare to see sparks fly. The perfect storm of oil and water famously struck when electric bikes first competed at the Isle of Man TT, and the conflict continues every time a battery-powered two-wheeler crosses swords with one of its internal combustion ancestors on public roads.

The Energica Ego is a motorcycle that might be among the first vehicles to finally reconcile the two tribes when it populates American roads in April, 2015. Why is this Italian-built electric superbike different than the ones before it, and what does it deliver that domestic brands like Mission Motors (San Francisco, CA), Zero (Santa Cruz, CA), and Brammo (Ashland, OR) haven't?

For starters, the Ego originates from parent company CRP Group, a Modena-based outfit with a rich history of supplying Formula One teams. With historical ties to supercar production and a longstanding familiarity with rapid prototyping and high tech materials, the company has a reputation for cutting edge design and construction, which lend it a technological leg up on the startup crowd.
Energica EgoEnergica EgoEnergica Ego

As the bike crawls off the line, a subtle thrum of straight cut gears and EV driveline noise emerges.

Bearing that in mind, there's something undeniably strange about being surrounded by heavy Italian accents at the famed Rock Store, nestled deep in the hills of Malibu. The brick-and-mortar biker hangout usually hosts tympanic membrane-rupturing Hogs and dry clutch-rattling Ducs, but on this particular weekday morning in July, the birds can be heard chirping as a small fleet of Egos quietly charge their batteries off the local power grid.

"My grandfather worked closely with Enzo Ferrari," CRP Chief Operating Officer Livia Cevolini tells me shortly before I swing a leg over Energica's white and acid green steed. More distracting than the casual punctuation of her statement is the shock of her winged Jeremy Scott Adidas sneakers in my peripheral vision, which serve as not-so-subtle reminders that Italians are addicted to flair.

That style factor comes into play the moment you turn the Ego's key, which fires up the dashboard in a garish sequence of colors worthy of Miami Beach on Memorial Day. There's nary a peep from the motor at a standstill, but as the bike crawls off the line, a subtle thrum of straight cut gears and EV driveline noise emerges. The permanent magnet AC motor is managed by a liquid-cooled control unit that monitors throttle position and lean angle, among other variables. At full-tilt, it produces a claimed 136 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque, which is fortunate considering its 569-pound curb weight, approximately 175 pounds of which are due to its 400-cell battery and cabling. The bike's mechanical components are held together by an oh-so-Italian tubular trellis steel frame, while key external components on the limited edition Ego 45 model incorporate 3D-printed pieces finished in Formula One-inspired ceramic coating.

Energica EgoEnergica Ego

There's a palpable feeling of connectedness between the right grip and the motor.

At terrestrial speeds, the Ego feels eerily attuned to throttle inputs and responds to slight adjustments in wrist angle with well-modulated forward movement. There's a palpable feeling of connectedness between the right grip and the motor, and barely a hint of the power potential that lies beneath. Above 30 miles per hour or so, the bike's momentum helps it feel faster and more willing to accelerate, which in turn draws even more rotational inertia from the motor. The increasingly audible whine of the driveline heightens the sense of drama, and as the digital speedometer creeps further upward - 50, 60, 70 mph - the bike starts to feel lighter and even quicker. In the estimated 3 seconds or so it takes to scoot from zero to 60 mph, the upward rake of the acceleration curve suggests that subsequent speed milestones are encountered in a parabolic, not linear, manner.

Despite the lack of traction control on my test bike (early models will be TC-free), the electronic nannies seem unnecessary because the engine's torque output feels like it's managed so responsibly by the liquid-cooled control unit. While piloting this foreign machine for the first time along the serpentine stretch from the Rock Store to the "Snake" section of Mulholland Highway, a route that's notorious for throwing riders off bikes in spectacular fashion, the Ego manages to stroke mine, encouraging greater lean angles and deeper braking than I would usually reserve for an unfamiliar machine, especially given its aggressive riding position and its stretched-out handlebar layout.

Energica Ego

Energica says the Ego will be capable of 100 miles per charge while cruising at a steady 50 mph..

The return ride runs beyond the starting point and along high-speed sweepers that reveal a stable chassis and a willingness to track with steady, confidence-inspiring arcs. Though it lacks the flickability of a traditional middleweight literbike (think Triumph Daytona 675 or Yamaha R1), the Ego's thrust and stability levels make it feel better suited to larger-scale bends than tight, technical stretches. The Brembo monobloc brakes, which do not use regeneration to divert energy back to the battery, lack the initial bite typically associated with high-end stoppers. That might very well change with calibration, since Bosch is still developing the bike's ABS system, which will feature a rear lift mitigation system. The four-way engine braking system that manages the driveline's regenerative charging felt light in all but the highest settings, and an Energica engineer confirmed that the final calibration will move each setting one click higher.

Though our ride wasn't lengthy enough to accurately predict cruising range, Energica says the Ego will be capable of 100 miles per charge while cruising at a steady 50 mph. One spokesman mentioned that after 48 miles of hard riding through Malibu, 30 percent of the charge remained, which equates to an estimated total range of around 69 miles. More impressive than the bike's power-to-range ratio is the fact that a four-phase DC charger can replenish 85 percent of the battery's power in only 30 minutes, suggesting real-world adaptability to the inherent limitations of a battery-powered lifestyle.

Energica Ego

The Energica Ego starts at $34,000, while the limited edition Ego 45 will run a $68,000.

The Energica Ego starts at $34,000, while the limited edition Ego 45 will run a considerably steeper $68,000 and come equipped with carbon fiber body panels and greater suspension adjustability. Judging by price alone, the Ego hardly closes the gap with its gasoline-powered counterparts, especially when a sultry exotic like the Ducati 1199 Panigale can be had for roughly half the price. But what the Ego lacks in the dollar-for-dollar metric, it captures in its future-friendly technology and surprising performance capabilities.

It may not be the magic bullet for electric propulsion we've been hoping for, but as an engineering accomplishment that captures the spirit of what electric bikes can attain, this new kid on the block from Italy represents a future where gas and electric-powered enthusiasts might finally be able to get along.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 39 Comments
      Devonblue4u
      • 4 Months Ago

      Since when was a literbike a middleweight? And even 675 is a cheater, usually lumped in with 848/898 Duc's and Gixxer 750's.

      And why would you risk riding in full leathers only to take a bus back home with a range of only 100 miles? 569 lbs is about 100+ lbs more than a than a BMW S1000RR that spits out 50 more horses, has a better sorted chassis, the latest electro trickery to make mere mortals ride like gods, and costs 12 grand less.

      This thing is a bar/cafe hopper at worst, or at best, a race series based on electrics only.  

      SpikedLemon
      • 4 Months Ago

      If it were 150miles in mixed riding: that, IMHO, would become that 'game changer'.

      It's too short of range. While it doesn't sound like a large distinction: it means when you go out "for a ride" on the weekend that you're limited to a sub-2hour ride.

      Car Guy
      • 4 Months Ago

      Nothing can replace the sound of a 11,000+ RPM inline 4.  

        Dean Hammond
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Car Guy
        • beg to differ....theres a  V4 wailing in Superbike right now thats "orchestral"......then theres the Desmo twins....
        itsme38269
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Car Guy

        Uh, yeah, actually something can.  Speakers.


        If you want to go fast, though, the speakers won't get you very far.


        So do you want to go fast, or listen to noise?  I'll take the former, thanks.

        thecommentator2013
        • 1 Month Ago
        @Car Guy

        Something can: The whirr of an electric motor.

        Val
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Car Guy

        One has subjectively "better" sound, the other is more efficient, simpler, more responsive.

      marv.shocker
      • 4 Months Ago

      I'll say it again: I don't understand the purpose of an electric motorcycle. No sound, no shifting, no range...the very things that make motorcycling fun. Not to mention that they're more than twice the price of current top-tier sport bikes.

        waetherman
        • 4 Months Ago
        @marv.shocker

        As a commuter, electric bikes make perfect sense. As canyon-carving recreational rides, they don't. So I agree; spending $35k on something that can only hit peak performance for maybe half an hour doesn't make a lot of sense. But that doesn't mean that pursuit of the electric performance bike should be aborted.

          Bavarian818
          • 4 Months Ago
          @waetherman

          As a rider for almost 4 decades, I agree and disagree!!!  I love the new tech and cant wait to ride one of these ne EV's, however, commuting in LA, my exhaust note has saved my ass from getting hit way so many times that it isnt even worth counting!!!

        m_2012
        • 4 Months Ago
        @marv.shocker

        100 miles is typical range for most bikes, this is not a deal breaker. Once the weight of the batteries comes down and the performance of the motors goes up (both things happen everyday in EV world), people will forget about ICE bikes as quick as they are forgetting about those other inefficient people movers.   

          Lewis
          • 4 Months Ago
          @m_2012
          100 miles is not the typical range for most bikes. Go look up some of the best selling street legal machines and get out your calculator. Most bikes hold more than 3 gallons and the best selling machines are well north of the mid forties mpg which equates to 120-150 mpg as a good average. Touring guys complain if the range is under 150 miles. I think commuters would be the motorcyclists to be more open to adapting E bikes if the price made sense. 
          SpikedLemon
          • 4 Months Ago
          @m_2012

          100miles to your low-fuel light: might be close in range to a liter-bike when you're hooning it on backroads but 100miles is short from real-world range to empty when riding more resposibly - even on a liter-bike (e.g. GSXR1k, CBR1kRR, etc...)

        Technoir
        • 4 Months Ago
        @marv.shocker

        No shifting, no loss of power during shifting, better control of the bike.......these are all positive points. 

          Dean Hammond
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Technoir

          incorrect,.....gears can be used for decelleration along with brakes and compression of th ICE( moreso on twins ) ICE are alos inherently lighter which is EASIER to control...

          Val
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Technoir

          Engine braking with an ice and downshifting can only dream of the control and precision offered by electric regenerative braking, which is freely adjusted in software. Nobody has EVER complained that the slightly higher weight makes the bike difficult to control. The weight is much lower, and the throttle response is way more predictable and linear.  

        Dean Hammond
        • 4 Months Ago
        @marv.shocker

        sounds eerily familar to the slow demise of driving enjoyment with a  manual transmission...next up self driving cars????/

        karlInSanDiego
        • 4 Months Ago
        @marv.shocker

        marv, thankfully you don't have to get it for it to exist.  Of course your points are all good ones, but you can't wait until all the stars are in alignment before you build your first ev bike, or you've already missed the boat.  Brammo's Empulse shifts and isn't twice the price, but it is still range limited, so probably only good for commuting, but plenty good for that and if used that way 5 days a week, a perfectly good solution.

          Humberto Yi
          • 4 Months Ago
          @karlInSanDiego

          BMW HP4, the current best of the best, is loaded at 20K, this starts at 35K...so yeah, it's damn near double the price.  I agree, we need to be experimenting with these things, but it isn't a real motorcycle or even a production model, until battery prices come way way down, and the technology catches up, they will make great additions to Jay Leno's garage, but beyond that, it's pointless except for the reason of pushing tech boundaries for future generations. 

        thecommentator2013
        • 1 Month Ago
        @marv.shocker

        It's that instant rush of torque, torque, torque...and this wonderful whirr from an electric motor.

      car czar
      • 4 Months Ago

      Waste of time and r&d. I get we have to offset ICE engines in cars but motorcycle are getting 54 mpg and up. Why spend the money you were saving on gas on an electric bike that will never recoup the extra cost in its lifetime. If we wanted electric bikes the Segway would still be around.

      Avinash Machado
      • 4 Months Ago

      Nice town runabout.

      danfred311
      • 4 Months Ago

      motorcycles don't matter

      and only fools drive motorcycles because they are death traps.

        mawhalen53
        • 4 Months Ago
        @danfred311

        But they're so light! Aren't you obsessed with how overweight cars are?

          marv.shocker
          • 4 Months Ago
          @mawhalen53

          Yes. And I'm also bothered by the weight of this motorcycle. 569 lbs is more than 100 lbs heavier than competitive IC bikes.

        karlInSanDiego
        • 4 Months Ago
        @danfred311

        Go ride bus, because in your world cars won't matter either.  Been to any developing nations lately?  Motorcycles matter.

          danfred311
          • 4 Months Ago
          @karlInSanDiego

          scooters matter. motorcycles do not

          Dean Hammond
          • 4 Months Ago
          @karlInSanDiego

          @ danfred...?...what the hell does that comment mean? seriously, all a scooter is is a LOWER POWERED MOTORCYCLE.....

        Poe
        • 4 Months Ago
        @danfred311

        Don't feed the troll.

      Val
      • 4 Months Ago
      The author asks how is this bike different than mission (brammo and zero are not really in its category) but completely fails to give an answer. The 3D printed matte panels? Really?. And it would have been interesting to know.
      EB110Americana
      • 4 Months Ago

      As a counterpoint at half the cost, less weight, and really making me want to try going electric, we have this:

      http://youtu.be/6YIEVdFt0OE

        EB110Americana
        • 4 Months Ago
        @EB110Americana

        "Anonymous" aye? Still some commenting bugs to work out.

        -EB110Americana

        Edit: Yeah, that's gonna take some getting used to...

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