Up-Close with the Energica Ego Electric Superbike

07/17/2014 @ 12:05 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

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Asphalt & Rubber had the fortunate chance to ride the Energica Ego today, and before I get to a proper review of riding the electric superbike, I wanted to reintroduce this Italian machine to our readers, because while A&R might have been one of the few outlets to cover Energica, this new player in the “E2V” space might still strike you as unfamiliar.

A project from Italy’s respected engineering firm CRP Racing, I first had the opportunity to see the Energica Ego at the 2011 EICMA show. The machine wasn’t a runner at the time, as CRP was still looking for a drivetrain partner that could supplement CRP’s already extensive knowledge in chassis design.

Fast-forward to the 2013 EICMA show, and the Energica sub-brand debuted its first production electric superbike, the Ego. The naming might be a bit tough, especially for us Anglophones, but this 134hp, 143 lbs•ft superbike packs a punch, and is remarkably well-refined.

I will leave the full review for a more-detailed article, but the short version of it is pretty positive. I came to the launch skeptical of Energica and the Ego, but left very impressed with the company its machine — the conversation about production electric motorcycles now has to include this potent Italian brand and its first product offering. Enthusiasts should take note.

Getting more hands on, the first thing that strikes you about the Ego are its headlights. It took me a long time to warm up to the “eagle-eyed” layout, as it seems more glaring than lurid. Over the past few months though, I’ve started to change my opinion about them; and after seeing it in person, you realize how the bug-eyed projectors sort of work.

They aren’t classical motorcycle elements, certainly they aren’t a part of the typical Italian school of design, but they are unique. The Ego’s bird-like headlamps are quickly becoming my favorite design element, which has lead to long talks with my therapist at night and a deeper concern for my mental resolve.

The fairings are aggressive up front, with a notable turn away from the increasingly anorexic tail sections found on sport bikes, which seem to dominate showroom floors currently. Not a huge divergence from the status quo, but again Energica is showing its willingness to buck the trends in the motorcycle industry — as if one needed such a mention when talking about an electric motorcycle.

The Italian company called its carbon fairings as pre-production (a standard feature on the more robust Energica Ego 45 that will debut later), and there are noticeable imperfections in the epoxy and finish. You would have to look hard to see the flaws, and I have zero reservations about those imperfections being absent from the consumer-ready models. Still, it’s fair to note.

Fully adjustable Marzocchi forks upfront, and side-mounted Öhlins shock do the suspension duties on the Ego. OZ wheels and Brembo brakes complete the branding lexicon.

Surely designed to trouble those afflicted with OCD-tendencies, a careful examination of the Ego’s drivetrain packaging reveals the need for the rear shock to be offset so greatly to the right-side of the swingarm, as it makes room for the PMAC electric motor that protrudes over the cast aluminum swingarm.

Through the fairings you can see the trellis frame, which is mated to various rapid-prototype plastic subframes and fairing stays. Beneath the 569 lbs bulk one can see the metal enclosure for the 11.7 kWh (nominal) battery pack and controller, which use water, oil, and air cooling (note the slots behind the front tire, which allow air down the center of the battery pack) to manage heat in the Ego’s systems.

Most impressively is the 4.3″ TFT dash, which has a clean and attractive display for bike systems and vitals. Four riding modes, three regenerative braking modes (plus an “off” mode), makes for an adjustable ride.

A no-brainer edition rarely found on other electric motorcycles: a reverse gear. The production model will have ABS (Bosch is still calibrating its dual-channel system for the Ego), GPS, Bluetooth, and cellular connectivity features, which will mean an even more robust UI for riders to enjoy and use on their rides.

The design might not be for everyone, but we think all will agree that Energica has brought the fit-and-finish to the Ego. Not a classical beauty, we’d recommend making a second pass at this girl a bit later, and see if she doesn’t strike you better under a different light.

With production to start at the beginning of next year, those with $34,000 in free cash can have one in their garage by Summer 2015.

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Photos: © 2014 Jensen Beeler / Asphalt & Rubber – Creative Commons – Attribution 3.0

Comment:

  1. Edshreds says:

    I’m not a fan of the styling (fat tails are something I thought we left behind in the 90′s), and no mention of range etc? All these electric bikes have big HP numbers, but can they still operate to full range at that setting? If so, sign me up (when they look nicer too).

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking electric in general, just the consumer ones. Early days, I guess.

    For inspiration, see the Mugen and Sarolea. Beautiful.

  2. protomech says:

    Their site has two sections where range is mentioned.

    http://www.energicasuperbike.com/energica-ego-electric-superbike/

    “Top of the line racing components, onboard chargers, and a range of approximately 120 miles of real world riding, with a phase 4 DC charge to 85% in just 30 minutes.”

    “150 kM @ 80 km/h – 190 km @ 60 km/h – 100 km @ 100 km/h – 50 km ON RACE TRACK”

    That’s 118 miles @ 37 mph, 93 miles @ 50 mph, 62 miles @ 62 mph, 31 miles on race track.

    For comparison, the Zero S ZF11.4 (10 kWh battery, $15k) is rated at 137 miles in city riding, 85 miles @ 55 mph, and 70 miles @ 70 mph. The front fairing doesn’t seem to help the Energica much.

  3. protomech says:

    “can they still operate to full range at that setting?”

    Speaking generally, power and range will be determined by the power used, not the maximum power available. There’s little change in range between a higher and lower “maximum power” setting provided that you ride largely in the same fashion on either setting.

    However, if you’re making use of high levels of power – accelerating very rapidly, traveling at high speeds – then an electric bike’s range will drop. This is true for gas bikes as well to a lesser extent – gas bikes are extremely inefficient at low loads, which is why city MPG on a high-power bike is so poor), but they get a little more efficient at higher loads .. so MPG on the highway (requires proportionally much higher mechanical energy per mile) can be even better. But ride a gas bike at 100 mph, or do lots of high-speed launches, and its range will suffer as well.

  4. Keith says:

    protomech, by those numbers it’s a useless motorcycle. Currently my riding is MAYBE one to two miles at 25mph (surface streets) then 70-80mph for 100+ miles. It wouldn’t get me anywhere. Neither will a Zero S. Nope no electric for me. The city kids and urban wannbe riders can have them for now.

  5. protomech says:

    The Energica’s range is a little disappointing, given its larger battery.

    The largest battery Mission bike (17 kWh) is rated at 140 miles of “real world” range, which is a virtually useless descriptor. I would guess that’s around 55-60 mph.

    Extended highway riding will either need a much larger battery (Brutus V9 33.7 kWh, 210 miles hwy) or a more efficient aero design and a large battery (Terry Hershner’s Zero “ZF-18″, 125-150 miles at 70-75 mph).

    http://www.craigvetter.com/pages/2014-streamliners/2014-Terry's-streamlined-tail-pt-2-p74-.html

  6. CaptainKlapton says:

    The US bases “fuel economy” for EVs on kwh/100mi with an EPA/ SAE standard drive cycle. Similarly in Europe they use Wh/km but the drive cycle is different.

    The SAE-J1634 test procedure:

    “The range of electric vehicles is determined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), following a test procedure by the Society of Automotive Engineers called ‘Electric Vehicle Energy Consumption and Range Test Procedure’, or: SAE-J1634. The procedure is similar to that used for determining gasoline cars’ mileage, except it includes some additional practices specific to BEVs and PHEVs, regarding the battery charge, operating temperature and calculations for the range and mileage (mpge, explained below).

    The testing is conducted as follows: the electric vehicle is fully charged, parked overnight, and then the following day driven over successive drive cycles until the battery becomes discharged and can no longer follow the driving cycle. Some vehicles enter ‘limp-home’ mode when the battery is almost empty (limited velocity to maximize the leftover range to reach a recharge point) and this rule implies that the EPA does not add this reserve to the vehicle’s range label. After, the vehicle is recharged with a normal AC source and the energy consumption determined by dividing the kWh AC consumption by the miles driven.

    The EPA currently applies the ‘5-cycle’ method, which includes five city and highway driving cycles (FTP, HFET, US06, SC03, Cold FTP; the same cycles used for establishing mpg-ratings for conventional cars). In order to calculate mileage and range estimates, weighting factors are applied to the results of each of the driving cycles (EPA, 2011). The same document states that the estimate also incorporates an additional 30% adjustment factor ‘to more accurately reflect the energy consumption and driving range that customers can expect to achieve in the real world’. In other words, the range found in the tests is adjusted with a factor of 0.7.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_economy_in_automobiles

    http://www.seai.ie/Grants/Electric_Vehicle_Grant_Scheme/I_am_a_consumer/EV_Range_and_Fuel_Efficiency/

    The different drive cycles probably account for the different range claims.

  7. Westward says:

    The Street Owl…

    At this point in the electric game, I think they make excellent commuter bike. Get to work, plug it in, Go back home, plug it in. But for weekend warrioring, not so much. Not to mention, pricing them like european exotics is the biggest hurdle.

    Someone has to really be an electric advocate, and already have either a BMW, Ducati, or MV Agusta in the garage, before they buy an electric anything.

    Though one can appreciate that most electric bikes look more like superbikes than say the original Zero.

    That is what Tesla did right with their car, where as the Nissan Leaf failed with theirs.

  8. Richard Gozinya says:

    At this point, I’m thinking the range issue, especially with motorcycles, due to the difficulties in making them aerodynamic, might be in the transmission. ICE motors have a much narrower power band, but the transmission enable them to operate at low power loads at higher speeds. Electric motors have a very broad power band, but none of them have a useful transmission. Would only need two or three gears, four tops. Anything beyond that is just a waste. Probably make it automatic.

    There’s also a few designs out there for magnetic transmissions. All you’d need is some sort of conductive coil around that thing…

  9. mike says:

    In Beijing there are hundreds of thousands electric scooters. They are a serious attempt to solve the city’s terrible pollution problems.
    Apart from being a wealth tax on those who never venture more than 50 miles from home, what exactly is the problem that electric superbikes are meant to solve?

  10. pete Rasmussen says:

    double carbon batteries will change the game very shortly apparently.

  11. paulus says:

    e-bikes are developing at a fast rate. They are clearly fro early-adopters now, but soon there will be consumer models that meet more and more of the motorcyclists needs.
    For high import tax countries, they are an option as they usually have much lower tariffs.

    I look forward to seeing an e-bike in the garage, which can be used for my daily commute.

  12. Richard Gozinya says:

    @paulus I look forward to having one as my only bike. I’m just waiting for the e-bike that I want to exist in actual fact, not just in theory. Modern ICE bikes, with their ever more cumbersome and fugly exhaust systems, only seem to piss me off. Every year, I like new bikes less and less, as their exhaust systems grow and grow.

  13. protomech says:

    @Richard “At this point, I’m thinking the range issue, especially with motorcycles, due to the difficulties in making them aerodynamic, might be in the transmission.”

    That’s partly true – I think my 2012 Zero motor is not very efficient at 70 mph. It’s direct-drive has short gearing. Because it’s direct-drive and thus is quite deep into the field-weakening region at 70 mph and not very efficient. It’s rated at 69 Wh/mile in city riding and 182 Wh/mile in highway riding.

    The 2013 Brammo Empulse weighs an extra 120 pounds, but it’s rated at 77 Wh/mile in city riding and 166 Wh/mile in highway riding. The transmission and extra mass introduces some small inefficiencies, but by being able to pick the RPM the Empulse motor can avoid the efficiency hole at highway speeds that the 2012 Zero falls into.

    Problem is, the 2013 Zero S (still direct-drive) is rated at 73 Wh/mile in city riding and 143 Wh/mile in highway riding. Zero designed the 2013-2014 motor from scratch, and they may have prioritized efficiency at 70 mph while still giving good wheel torque.

    A multi-gear transmission can help a motor (electric or gas) that has a very narrow range where it is efficient, but it might not even be able to overcome its own efficiency losses if paired with a motor that is already quite efficient at a broad range of RPMs.

    We may see multi-gear transmissions come back again in some forms of high-speed racing; Formula E’s open-wheel racers have five speed transmissions, with a top speed of 150 mph the cars will need to be efficient over a wide range of wheel RPM. The prototype bikes from Mission, Mugen, Brammo, and Lightning all have been direct-drive, which points to that being the best current solution for the circuits they have been raced at.