For some, the term "electric " motorcycle" evokes images of a dinky, underpowered moped that might have just enough range for a day's worth of errands. But electric vehicle producer Brammo sees something different. Brammo sees a plug-in motorcycle that can compete with many of today's gas-powered sport bikes. Based in Ashland, Oregon, Brammo got their start in the mid-2000s by producing boutique supercars. Brammo CEO Craig Bramscher wanted build a performance car comfortable for someone his size. His goal was to accomodate a 6'8" driver that weighs roughly 300 lbs. Bramscher said if they could meet those constraints, then he himself could finally fit comfortably into a fast car.

From there, Brammo went on to manufacture the gas-powered Ariel Atom open air sports car under a license from UK-based Ariel Motor Company. The Ariel Atom helped the company refine its manufacturing processes, but Brammo settled into its current form following a decision to focus exclusively on electric powertrains.


Instead of an electric Atom, Brammo decided to go with something even lighter: a motorcycle. Their first attempt was the Enertia powercycle prototype; and with it they were able to raise $10 million in investments from multiple investors, including Best Buy. By 2009, Best Buy became an authorized reseller tasked with selling and shipping Brammo's bikes.

In 2010, Brammo announced their Empulse Trio line of electric motorcycles, which featured water-cooling. Three battery packs would offer different ranges from 60 to 100 miles. Empulse production was delayed until 2012, as Brammo decided to make a big change before launch: adding a 6-speed transmission.


Brammo announced they would be adding a 6-speed transmission paired to an electric motor to their lineup in May of 2011. Bramscher said that having a clutch is "better in some ways. They give you a chance to slip the clutch, pop a wheelie--some of the more fun things you can do on a conventional motorcycle." Unlike traditional clutches, there is no 'marrying' the clutch to the motor that requires a skilled touch. Instead, you simply select the gear and go. Thank the electric motor's immediate high torque delivery for that.

Unlike a gear-less electric bike, the 6-speed transmission also allows customers to get quick, off-the-line starts, but also high top speeds. Brammo says the Empulse can top out at 100 mph.

The Empulse R that Bradley tested for TRANSLOGIC 125 has more carbon fiber than the base Empulse. The headlight shroud, front and rear fenders, top panel and rear light housing get the carbon treatment. In addition to its looks, the Empulse R features a fully adjustable suspension--great for track use.


Due to battery placement, the Empulse R is very well balanced, to the point of challenging today's naked sport bikes. Being that the Empulse is powered by an electric motor, many of the normal vibrations felt from gas-powered bikes are gone, giving a sense of further connectedness to the road.

Finally, with a battery range of 56 – 121 miles, depending on the aggressiveness of the driver, riders can spend hours on the road. The Empulse can recharge quickly using any level-2 charging station. (At this point, if you live on the west coast, you can find the chargers almost anywhere.)

The Empulse R goes for $18,995 and is available now.

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