Photos from 250+ Feet up COTA’s Petrolsaurus Rex

Standing 251 feet above Turns 16, 17, & 18, the COTA observation tower provides a bird’s eye view of just about every tun on the circuit, if you can stomach its subtle sway in the wind and clear-glass floor at the precipice. Officially called by COTA as the “Observation Tower” – it really needs a better name for casual conversation. We’ve heard COTA Cobra used a few times with some lovely alliteration, but the structure has always struck us as less snake-like, and more like a big dinosaur — we’re going to use the name “Petrolsaurus Rex” until I hear something better, or COTA sends me a cease and desist order. I climbed to the top of Petrolsaurus Rex (read: took the elevator) during the MotoGP Warm-Up session, and snapped a few photos in the process. Enjoy!

MV Agusta F3 800 Ago Now Officially Debuts

We already announced the bike last November, and brought you a bevy of hi-res images of the special edition machine. Although now that we think of it, MV Agusta never released anything on this Giacomo Agostini tribute motorcycle — better late than never, right? Back at the EICMA show launch, where the MV Agusta F3 800 Ago was first shown to the public (and Agostini himself), the Varese brand promised us two additional motorcycle launches in early 2014. MV Agsuta made good on half that promise with the Dragster 800 model, hopefully this Ago special edition isn’t the other half of that statement, and MV Agusta still has something waiting in the wings. That being said, the Tricolore & Gold paint scheme is gorgeous, and looks even better in person.

Isle of Man TT Gets TV Deal for Australia & USA

Want to watch the Isle of Man TT from the comfort of your non-British TV, but haven’t been able to in the past? A new TV from the Isle of Man’s Department of Economic Development will do just that. Inking a new TV contract with North One TV, the Isle of Man TT will be televised in the American, Australian, and of course British markets, making it easier than ever to watch the iconic road race. With a five-year contract with the Velocity Channel in the US, the American cable channel will show seven one-hour race shows. Each segment will air within 24hrs of each race, and be tailored for the American market.

Castiglioni Denies Fiat Buyout of MV Agusta Is in the Works

After reporting 22% growth in Q1 2014, Giovanni Castiglioni had some closing words about the rumors that Fiat could acquire MV Agusta — a popular rumor that has been swirling around in the press the last two months. Denying outright that MV Agusta had, or was in, talks with the Fiat-Chrysler group about an acquisition (some reports linked even MV Agusta to being bought by Fiat-owned Ferrari), Castiglioni said the Italian company solely was focused on building growth, and building motorcycles. “Moreover, I’d like to take this opportunity to deny rumours circulated by the media over the last few days concerning supposed negotiations vis-à-vis the sale of a share of MV Agusta to the Fiat-Chrysler Group,” said Giovanni Castiglioni, the President and CEO of MV Agusta.

A 2WD Hybrid-Electric Motorcycle for the US Military?

In the coming years, US special forces may be riding a tw0-wheel drive, hybrid-electric, multi-fuel motorcycle co-developed by BRD Motorcycles and Logos Technologies. Helping make this project possible is a Small Business Innovation Research grant from DARPA. The goal is to make a single-track vehicle for US expeditionary and special forces that will be nearly silent in operation, yet also capable of traveling long distances. Details on the proposed machine are light, of course, but it sounds like the 2WD dirt bike will be based off the BRD RedShift MX (shown above), and use an electric drivetrain, as well as a multi-fuel internal combustion engine to achieve its goals.

Colin Edwards Will Retire from Racing after 2014 Season

Announcing his decision during the pre-event press conference for the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, Colin Edwards told the assembled press that 2014 would be the Texan’s last season racing a motorcycle. Citing a lack of improvement on his performance in pre-season testing and at the Qatar GP, Edwards decision perhaps answers the lingering question in the paddock of when the American rider would hang-up his spurs after an illustrious career in AMA, WSBK and MotoGP. Talking about his inability to come to terms with the Forward Yamaha, which Aleix Espargaro was able to take to the front of the pack in Qatar, Edwards was at a loss when it came to understanding the Open Class machine and his lack of results.

MSF Updates Its Basic RiderCourse Curriculum

It is no surprise that statistics from the NHTSA show that motorcycle accidents and injuries are on the rise. According to the 2012 Motor Vehicle Crash report published by the NHTSA, motorcycle fatalities for that year rose to 4,957, up seven percent from 2011, while injuries increased 15% to 93,000. While the NHTSA statistics are misleading because the motorcycle category includes mopeds, scooters, three-wheelers, pocket bikes, mini bikes, and off-road vehicles, new riders need every advantage they can afford. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has taken notice of these statistics and has revised the curriculum for its Basic RiderCourse to include a new Basic eCourse, which students will take prior to in-person instruction.

Yamaha Trademarks “R1S” & “R1M” at USPTO – “YZF-R1M” Trademarked Abroad – But Why?

Are new Yamaha YZF-R1 models coming down the pipe? That’s the question being asked after trademark filings in the US and abroad tipped off Yamaha Motor’s intention to use “R1S”, “R1M”, and “YZF-R1M” for motorcycle, scooter, and three-wheeled purposes. The filings are being taken as hints towards a possible multiple trim levels of the Yamaha YZF-R1 superbike, with the “S” and “M” designations being different spec machines than the current base model. The “S” nomenclature is a popular one in the two and four-wheeled world, though “M” would certainly be a novel designation, outside of say…BMW.

Bell & COTA Create Texas-Themed Limited-Edition Helmet

Continuing its theme of making limited-edition helmets for premier-class US rounds, Bell Helmets has teamed up with the Circuit of the Americas and Chris Wood, of Airtrix, to create a Texas-themed Bell Star Carbon helmet, just in time for COTA’s MotoGP race next weekend. Available only until April 13th, the Bell/COTA helmet features a red, white, and blue flag motif on the front, with both the American and State of Texas flags visible, which then wrap around the rear to merge with a hardwood design, reminiscent of the floorboards in a Western saloon. The helmet is also crowned with a Longhorn cattle skull, which adds to the Texan motif. The specially designed helmet also features a horseshoe, the COTA logo, and the 2014 Red Bull MotoGP of The Americas logo.

Aprilia Mounting a Return to MotoGP in 2016

Towards the end of the 800cc era, MotoGP looked to be in dire condition. Grids were dwindling, factories were reducing their participation, and teams were in difficult financial straits indeed. By the end of 2011, there were just 17 full time entries, Suzuki was down to a single rider, and were about to pull out entirely for 2012. How different the situation looks today. In a recent interview with the official MotoGP.com website, Aprilia Corse’s new boss Romano Albesiano gave a brief outline of their plans. The Italian factory will continue to work with the IODA Racing team for 2014 to collect data on the electronics and tires, which they will use as input on an entirely new project being worked on for 2016.

Lies, Damned Lies, & The MIC’s Electric Range Estimates

06/13/2012 @ 5:58 am, by Jensen Beeler37 COMMENTS

Lies, Damned Lies, & The MICs Electric Range Estimates 2011 zero 0012

Rewind a few years ago in the electric segment of the motorcycle industry, and you found a landscape where manufacturers published wildly inaccurate numbers relating to speed, range, and power. The situation of over-promising and under-delivering was so bad, virtually any figure quoted, whether it was made with the best or worst intentions, was immediately called into question. The issue of course stemmed from the fact that OEMs were unable to deliver motorcycles with specifications that were remotely acceptable to a savvy motorcycle market. 20 mile ranges? 15hp available continuously? 60 mph top speeds if you’re downhill, tucked in, have a tailwind, and add five to the speedo’s reading? Yup, those were the good old days.

As the industry matured, so did our expectations, and it looked like some sanity was going to come to fruition as the MIC began pooling interest on developing a standard to rate the various performance specifications of electric motorcycles. An industry group setup to look after the best interests of the OEMs and other business in the motorcycle industry, you only need to follow the cash to see whose best interests are really being served by this group.

So, it should not surprise us then that the latest “standard” from the MIC, which establishes criterion on how the highway mileage of an electric motorcycle should be rated, is doing a downright scandelous disservice to consumers and the industry itself, as the proposed standard massively overrates the highway range of electric motorcycles.

Let us consider the marketplace right now. In essence, we have two manufacturers that claim ranges on their top street models to be over 110 miles. The caveat to that figure is that it only applies to around-town riding, done at 25 mph or less. I assure you, a veteran motorcyclist will kill themselves with their own shoelaces out of sheer boredom before completing the four hour plus journey with the requisite throttle control to achieve such a figure. Nevertheless, the range estimate is more or less accurate in its measurement of city riding, and I would only argue that instead of touting that figure as “the range” of an electric motorcycle, that instead more emphasis should be given to its city-only nature.

This is partially where the MIC’s highway range standard comes into play, as the current electric motorcycle offerings get significantly less range on the freeway than they do on city streets — and when I say significantly less, I mean they get about 1/3 of the distance to a full charge. This also happens to be where the madness, and downright shadey nature of the EV OEMs/MIC comes into play.

If I told you a motorcycle gets 70 miles on the highway, how many miles would you expect it to actually get in real life? 70 should be the answer, right? Maybe 65 might be ok, since we are all used to a little padding with the EPA gas mileage estimates we see plastered on the windows of new cars. What if that figure was more like 40? Yes, over 40% less than what was promised. That sounds like crazy talk, right?

I wish I was pulling these numbers out of thin air, but I’m not.

These were the stated and real world numbers I experienced on the Zero S ZF9 I rode for three weeks straight. In a few months, the Brammo Empulse R will be hitting city streets, and those paying close attention to its claims and realities will find a similar game being played with its range figures.

But wait, isn’t the MIC supposed to be rounding up the general lawlessness that has been going on in the electric motorcycle sector? Sure, if you call rubber-stamping this sort of behavior, and then turning around and calling it a standard sounds like some well-thoughtout industry governance — because that is exactly what is going on here with the MIC’s highway range rating system.

You see, instead of coming up with a “city” range rating that measures an electric motorcycle over a city course, and then also having a highway range rating that actually measures the mileage of electric motorcycles as it would travel at the posted highway speed, what the MIC’s new standard does is take the enticingly high city mileage figure, and have it account for 50% of the “highway” mileage figure. Shut the front door.

The reality that this creates is that the “highway” figure is really a “50/50 mixed use” range figure, while the “city” figure remains fairly accurate. So the next time you go down to your local motorcycle dealership to buy an electric motorcycle, the dealer can look you in the eye and “say, well it’s rated to do 70 ‘highway’ miles,” though in reality you will only get about 60% of that range he just sold you on.

But that isn’t how the electric motorcycle manufacturers see the situation. Bringing up the issue during the MIC meetings, the electric motorcycle OEMs argued that in reality when a motorists goes on the freeway, they travel to it via city streets first, and therefore that city mileage should be taken into account with the highway mileage rating.

Let me clear my throat for a minute as I pretend to cover up my utterance of the word “bullshit” in response to that. From a consumer’s point of view and understanding, there is no reasonable argument as to why a “highway” mileage rating should rate anything other than pure highway mileage — plain and simple. There should be a range estimate for basic around town riding, and a range estimate that only counts how far an electric motorcycle travels at 65 mph on a freeway. If the consumer wants a mixed-range estimate, they can portion out those two values in a manner consistent with their own personal riding style.

As I have come to understand from those sitting in on the MIC calls about this subject, it was Zero Motorcycles that lobbied heavily for the inclusion of the city mileage figure in the new MIC highway mileage standard — though to its credit, Brammo did little to disagree with the idea.

The reasoning for this is simple, both of these companies need to start moving some product ASAP (Zero’s management has some serious marching orders from its financial-backer Invus to improve sales or see top-management get the axe), and that’s not going to happen while electric motorcycles continue to get dubious range figures when compared to their cheaper ICE counterparts.

So, instead of building motorcycles that cater to the actual demands of the consumer, the electric motorcycle OEMs, through the MIC, have instead decided to just fudge the numbers when it comes to measuring the range of electric motorcycles.

The move is short-sighted at best, as it not only continues the trend of electric motorcycle companies touting figures that cannot be backed up in reality, but it makes matters worse because that very same behavioral pattern of over-promising and under-delivering is now getting the rubber-stamp approval by the leading trade organization in this industry.

Does anyone at these companies or within the MIC not realize how this is going to end poorly for everyone involved…not to mention the consumers who are being mislead? Well, there was one guy, but he got RIF’d.

About three years ago, when requests were first being made by the MIC for individuals interested in joining the EV taskforce, I shot off an email expressing my interest in “being part of the solution, and not the problem” when it came to how the industry was going to handle electric motorcycles entering the marketplace. In listing my credentials for inclusion in the taskforce, I made mention of how A&R was one of the leading voices on this industry sub-segment, and that I also happened to have a Juris Doctor and MBA in my academic arsenal.

In response, the MIC sent me a form letter requesting $10,000 to join their special club. You would think that a well-organized think tank would welcome the inclusion of an “outside” opinion, and that having a consumer-minded individual would be invaluable asset to helping foster the EV movement in the motorcycle industry. Nope, they just wanted my money. I declined to pay them the ten grand.

In the end, it is going to be informed consumers that put pressure on the MIC to adopt practices that fall back within the bounds of basic ethical standards. Ask questions the next time an electric motorcycle OEM starts quoting range figures. Ask them if that range is city, highway, or mixed use. Ask them what methodology was used in getting those figures. Ask them if the highway figure quoted it pure highway miles, or combined with city usage. See if they sweat.

Photo: © 2012 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

Comment:

  1. protomech says:

    I 100% agree in the case of Zero, and I’ve been banging this drum since the specs for the 2012 bikes were released. Reporting city-only range as the bike range without qualification is bad reporting on the part of journalists covering the bikes .. and while Zero lists the qualifiers in tiny print, it’s very easy to misinterpret them.

    “In a few months, the Brammo Empulse R will be hitting city streets, and those paying close attention to its claims and realities will find a similar game being played with its range figures.”

    Take a look at the specifications.
    http://www.brammo.com/empulse_specifications/

    City: 121 miles* (195 km)
    Highway: 56 miles** (90 km)
    Combined: 77 miles*** (124 km)

    *SAE City Riding Range Test Procedure for Electric Motorcycles (variable speed, 19 mph / 30km/h average)
    **SAE Highway / Constant Speed Riding Range Test Procedure for Electric Motorcycles (70 mph / 113 km/h sustained)
    *** SAE Highway Commuting Cycle (.5 City weighting, .5 Highway weighting)

    Seems pretty clear to me.

  2. Unfortunately, electric vehicles CAN have this much variation in real world driving range due to how the vehicle is driven and external factors such as ambient temperature or elevation change on the drive/ride. This effect is apparent to anyone that owns or has driven an electric car and does not imply any underlying conspiracy or attempt by the manufacturer to LIE to the customer. The effect is perhaps even more pronounced in electric motorcycles where you have 1. A generally smaller battery pack than an EV car and 2. A generally more aggressive driver with higher performance expectations than your average Nissan Leaf customer.

    That said, and while I appreciate your desire to “uncover the truth”, I think the MIC should be applauded for their efforts to standardize range claims as it’s obviously a tricky thing to do. They did not invent new driving cycles to obfuscate range – they are using the same SAE driving cycles used for decades to measure EPA emissions and mpg fuel mileage for gas engined vehicles. I find it funny that you think the MIC would jump for $10k a piece from 2 EV start-ups when the vast majority of emails I get from them are related to lobbying government to change particle emissions regulations or ethanol blends in gasoline. I’m not implying any wrong doing, but if you want to follow the real money, you’d have to look there.

    I’m a bit disappointed that Brammo were not given the opportunity to make a comment in your article and I am forced to do it here. I also notice no comments from MIC or Zero.

    Additionally, Brammo released the Empulse specification with 3 separate range estimations based on the 3 MIC range tests, including the 70mph continuous test. It would have been easy for you to at least check this before publishing this piece. Please see: http://www.brammo.com/empulse_specifications/

  3. machone says:

    Interesting article, thanks.

    My only ‘credentials’ are as a potential consumer (I have a BEng Aero and several nice certificates/awards though, just to clarify) .

    Normally when I part with LOTS of my hard earned cash I find out about the product I am intending to purchase. In the case of EVs this means trawling, not trolling, the forums and listening to people who have already parted with their cash. I avoid those who have been ‘gifted’ a product or received remuneration from the manufacturing firm. I also take press reports with a ‘pinch of salt’ unless they unearth a significant provable fact.

    What is my point? My point is that as a real potential consumer I have been very disappointed and surprised by the misleading advertising and claims from the leading 2 wheeled EV manufacturers. I don’t know or care whether this stems from bad regulation, lack of competition, desperation or just naivety but if 2 wheeled EV companies want to seriously compete with their ICE competition they will have to either improve their product or stop pushing the boundaries of fact. This ‘unrealistic expectation’ culture is out with the rest of the motorcycle community who are generally more realistic in their performance claims than their 4 wheeled counterparts. Some consumers(not all Protomech) also seem to be swept along with the tide of positive politics….. GET REAL PEOPLE!

    Anybody with their eyes open can see we need to embrace new, more efficient personal transport technology. We can all see the advantages. However, when we go to spend a large chunk of money we want to know the basic facts about what we are getting before we get it – we NEED to be able to trust the manufacturer. All the aggressively hopeful marketing will do is attract some idiots and put the rest of us off, I guarantee it, even without a marketing PHD or any other relevant credentials.

  4. TRL says:

    The problem is that, I can drive my ICE vehicle any way I want and top up with the energy I need anywhere with out thinking about anything but whether there is room on my credit card for the energy purchase. But I can’t do that with an electric.

    Until you have a range that you can plan your ride with (say at least the range of a ’79 sportster with its tiny tank – 75 miles at best regardless of “elevation”, “ambient temperatures” or other nonsense – REALLY you want the RIDER to account for ambient temperatures?) and a way to recharge a the end of that 75 miles in – ONE DIRECTION, potential sales are limited to a small group of early adopters (in the U.S. at least).

    “So, instead of building motorcycles that cater to the actual demands of the consumer…” EXACTLY, build a bike with a realistic range and no one has to play with mileage estimates. Since that is not possible at the moment and since my electric is done whenever and wherever it runs out of energy it is imperative that I know the truth about my range, in fact, feel free to underestimate it!

  5. protomech says:

    Also:

    I strongly disagree with the manner that Zero lists their range specifications (only city and “highway commuting” = 50/50 mix of city/highway .. which is often reported as pure highway range). If you extract the pure-highway range for the ZF9 S you get 43.5 miles.

    While I disagree with HOW they report the data, the actual data seems sound. In my experience (3000 miles on a ZF9 S) both the 114 mile city range and the 43.5 mile highway range are right on the money.. as long as you’re riding a route that matches the test. (~30 mph with gentle acceleration and steady 70 mph, respectively).

    I more typically ride 45-55 mph speeds, and I see 55-70 mile ranges at those speeds.

  6. Brammofan says:

    “In a few months, the Brammo Empulse R will be hitting city streets, and those paying close attention to its claims and realities will find a similar game being played with its range figures.”

    I see that two comments have already been made with regard to the inaccuracy of your allegation of impropriety against Brammo, but it’s been a few hours and I haven’t seen any attempt to correct it or update your article. As one of the “leading voices in this industry sub-segment,” I would think that, at the very least, you would have looked at the specifications of the Empulse R prior to leveling such a serious charge. Brammo has gone beyond what the MIC task force set as a standard.

    Your paragraph implying that Brammo had a duty to speak up against Zero’s alleged requested inclusion of the city range figures in the highway range calculation and that it failed that duty, is a paragraph so full of assumptions and empty innuendo that it doesn’t even pass the red face test. It’s articles like these that erode the distinction between the word “journalist” and “blogger.” Propping yourself up by mentioning your J.D. and your M.B.A.? Please.

  7. Jonathan says:

    A cynic might suggest that anyone who can afford to be an early adopter can afford the fee to have that damn thing trucked home when it runs out of juice in the boonies. Consumer pressure (and even revised legislation) will regulate this kind of nonsense after enough people have got bitten, but it’s probably easiest to just not buy one yet. Of course, there will be plenty of people who do the early adopter thing because they don’t care about the specs – real or massaged, which is how vendors of emerging technologies get away with not_being_exactly_honest in the first place. Remember too that governments have no interest in discouraginging people from spending their hard-earned on junk because it’s “good for the economy”.
    Happens all the time, but I guess we’ll never learn. Caveat emptor!

  8. Bob says:

    When I saw the formula for calculating range sometime last year, it was painfully obvious that the OEMs were embellishing in order to sell a few.

    Moreso, having a friend with one of the Zero bikes has sold me on the deceitfulness of the EV bike industry. He has a 40 mile round trip to work everyday, 30 miles highway and 10 miles full of traffic lights/ He’s run out of juice twice on the way home.

    Why? Because he rides it like he would any ICE bike. Accelerates hard from a stop, stops fast, runs between 70-80 mph to keep up with the flow of traffic. Plus he rides rain or shine, hot or cold. Don’t know if rain or shine is an issue, but apparently Texas 90-100 degree days for 8 months and 1 month below 50 degrees does make a difference. Asphalt temps are near 140 degrees adding to the problem.

    This is something that will straighten itself out on it’s own. Buyers who feel they have been burned in regards to truth in mileage will probably not allow themselves to be burned twice. This has been a learning experience for EV consumers everywhere. A hard lesson for some. Some are happy only going 5 miles to a bike night, then going home after. Those are people who have bought a toy. Buyers who bought these things for practical reasons are less happy.

  9. Bob says:

    My biggest disappointment is that the industry has completely skipped over creating a hybrid. Better performance and mileage without limiting total range in a day. I’d be willing to do a 3000 mile trip in a week on a hybrid if someone made one.

    Maybe Toyota should create a Synergy Drive MC like the Prius.

    I say that lightly as I’ve never driven a Prius, so I actually don’t know if it is any good either.

  10. protomech says:

    Bob – Piaggio has made a couple models of their MP3 hybrid scooter.
    http://www.motorcycle.com/news/piaggio-mp3-hybrid-300ie-released-89695.html

    Motorcycles don’t really have much room to package a hybrid system. And hybridization brings most of its benefits in stop and go traffic – a heavy scooter is really the best fit. For a 3000 mile week-long trip you’d see most of your fuel economy benefits from an aerodynamic fairing.
    http://www.craigvetter.com/

    What Zero model does your friend have? The pre-2012 bikes had a top speed around 65-67 mph, and the 2012 bikes have only been out for about five months now. Hot temperatures can reduce motor performance, but they’ll actually help out with extracting energy from the battery.

    I’ve done some testing with an IR thermometer and my 2012 S, the BMS reports internal battery temperatures 2-7F above ambient during a day parked out on a concrete pad in the sun. The concrete and asphalt are as much as 25-30F above ambient.
    http://electricmotorcycleforum.com/boards/index.php?topic=2083.msg7258#msg7258

  11. Campisi says:

    The most important thing about a standard is that it is indeed a “standard.” The point of a measurement gained through a standard is that it gives the consumer a solid statistical basis upon which to compare two things, and in this regard the MIC testing SHOULD have been fine whether or not the test is realistic.

    Where I find fault with it – and where I applaud Brammo for including the SAE constant-speed highway estimate on their website for all to see – is that the rating they label as “highway” is mathematically derived from the city estimate. There are way too many variables separating city conditions from highway conditions for such a function to be reasonable; what if models A and B get the same city range rating, but model B is considerably less aerodynamic or has gearing that causes it to suffer on the freeway somehow? Engineering and design decisions that will affect its highway range to a greater extent than its city range would be concealed by such a mathematically-derived estimate. Both model A and the customers of both machines would be done a disservice.

    Electric motorcycles are still firmly in the hobbyist/early-adopter market, a market which tends to make itself well-educated on the subject before buying. Shenanigans like this can fly at this point in the EV motorcycle market progression because the buyer will almost assuredly know better; hopefully by the time these machines hit the less-educated mass market, either the standard will have improved or the machines will have improved enough for it not to matter all that much. Considering that fast-charge capability appears to still be novel in this market and that EV motorcycle batteries have such smaller capacities than electric cars, I’d be surprised if recharge time for electric motorcycles on a fast charger would take any longer than ten minutes or so ten years from now, making the entire issues of range much less crucial.

  12. Ryan says:

    I’m guess just a bystander, but I would suggest treading a bit lighter, Brammofan. Jensen is the only guy I see on the web who regularly supports the electric bike scene and is genuinely enthusiastic about it. Instead of personally attacking him, I suggest addressing his concerns about the complete B.S. mileage computation and taking the time to realize that although this may be the current standard, customers who don’t experience those results will feel ripped off. If you somehow think that having all their customers feel ripped off is going to work out for Brammo, please explain that as well.

  13. Brammofan says:

    Hi @Ryan. If Jensen is the only guy you see on the web who regularly supports the electric bike scene, you should definitely do a little more poking around online. Sure, he covers the “scene,” but I find that his coverage is often very critical of the people, companies, and organizations that are out there every day trying to make a difference in the way electric motorcycles are perceived and taking big risks in order to (yes, hopefully make a profit) give people choices in their transportation and in their selection of motorsports.

    Am I personally attacking Jensen? I am not, and I would hope that my criticism of this article is focused on its content and what’s missing from a fair treatment of that topic. If you read it as an attack on Jensen, who I consider a friend, even though I don’t always agree with what he writes, that’s your perception. If he shares that view with you, I’m sure he’ll let me know and I’ll deal with it then.

    I’ve been running the Brammo Owner’s Forum for about two years now and I am not aware of any Brammo customers that “feel ripped off.” If you’ve heard otherwise, then I’d be interested in hearing about those complaints.

  14. Zero Regrets says:

    Thanks for the great article. As a current electric motorcycle owner, I truly appreciate (and identify with) it.

  15. @Ryan. Clearly I need to get the word out more. :D A&R is the best site for electric news that covers standard motorcycle news as well. No one does that. As someone who has a fan blog and podcast I have been very privileged to conduct interviews, and meet people in an around the industry I feel I have enough understanding f the industry to say that Jensesn’s article isn’t solid gold. The biggest problems are that no one from the press has ridden the new Empulse yet, so we don’t know what it will do. The other thing is that since the new specs were released Brammo has had 3 ranges listed. Around town, mixed, and highway (as has been mentioned more than once). So mentioning the Empulse in his critique takes away from his argument. Also, even on Zeros website, the information is there telling you their highway mileage is based on 50/50 riding. Also not mentioned in this post is that on both Zero’s and Brammo’s specs on their websites put up for this year’s bikes contain MUCH more information and transparency than any previous year. They are feeling the pressure, and have responded.

    But, you are right. The basis of the article is about how the MIC’s standards do not help inform the average consumer. But that seemed to get a bit buried.

    There were also complaints about the range isn’t there yet. Its not, and it’s not going to be for a few more years. No one knows when. The technology simply doesn’t exist yet. But the current bikes are huge steps forward from what they were. And they will, and are, continually make big strides forward every year, at the same time we are waiting on a few big leaps in battery tech to come forward. Until then, most people, including the big manufacturers, aren’t going to be interested.

    I think Jensen’s “problem” is that he wants an electric bike really bad. :D But it has to fill his needs, and currently none do that.

    Still waiting to hear about those 3 weeks you spent with the Zero Jensen. :)

  16. I think my problem is the same problem that the general motorcycle riding population has with electrics, though I decidedly come down on the “pro EV” side of the equation at the end of the day. I understand that this technology needs to develop, and that these motorcycles are going to appeal to small group of early-adopters….That all said, there is no excuse for the misleading conduct we’ve seen regarding range estimates.

    Consumers shouldn’t have to dig for the asterisks to find out the real story behind these bikes, and the fact that MIC has created standard (and I wholeheartedly agree one was needed) that only furthers to confuse consumers further, well that’s just unacceptable, hence the article here.

    No worries Ryan, lot’s of friends here disagreeing with me…just like in real life. Brian has his take as a Brammo employee, Harry has his fingers in the Brammo blog/forum gig (that is, when he’s not lawyering by day), and Richard…well there’s not excuse for him. ;) Consider the sources here though, mine and there’s, and draw you’re own conclusions — as it should be for anything. The goal here is to put a spotlight on an issue, and have a frank discussion about it.

    I think at times I do a bit more journalism than most of the “traditional” journalistic publications do on a regular basis, but I’m also quite bloggy in format and approach as well. I’m less worried about label that hybrid approach earns me than I am regarding what the content looks like at the end of the day — that philosophy has seemed to done me well thus far. If someone has a problem with how I operated, they can start their own blog/publication/website. BrammoEnthusiast sounds like a good name for a site. ;)

    Richard is right though, the core of this article has been lost. Can anyone honestly tell me that it’s a good thing that there’s a 50% city mileage calculation in a “highway” range estimate. I’m looking at you weird if you said yes.

  17. Jensen,

    What is your proposal for how electric motorcycle range should be specified from an OEM? I think people typically want to know what an “average” range for them would be. Unfortunately, the answer is always “it depends”…

  18. City rating (I think these figures are pretty spot on) & a steady-state 65 mph rating. Let me the consumer do the math on what that means for my typical use — I think we all are well groomed to having city and highway MPG ratings, that we can handle the math in those similar terms.

    There’s nothing wrong with the 50/50 rating metric by the way…except of course calling it a “highway”estimate.

  19. AndrewF says:

    @BrammoBrian – I think I am pretty typical, yet I do not want any ‘average’ number prepared for me. I want data to draw my own conclusions, so I want a number calculated for city conditions that will take into account not only low speed but also stop-start, lots of sharp acceleration/lots of braking nature of riding in traffic. And, since it is so different, I want a ‘highway’ number which will reflect the range I will get at steady and realistic speed: 60 – 70mph, not some absurdity measured at steady 30 mph like some figures EV makers previously published. Given this information I am quite capable of working out how this will apply to my specific use. Thank you for your concern what I might want though, even if you don’t get it right.

  20. Jensen/Andrew,

    I think what you’ve requested is, in fact, addressed by the MIC standards. The city cycle includes stops and starts and is similar to the “Pomona Loop” drive cycle with an average speed of 19 mph. The Highway cycle is 70mph continuous. The “Highway Commuting” cycle is a 50/50 weighting of those two, but it’s not an average… i.e. a 100 mile range on city and a 50 mile range on highway would yield a 66 mile “highway commuting” range, not a 75 mile range from averaging the two.

    You’ve asked for the OEM to provide the maximum amount of information to the consumer to “draw his own conclusions” and to use a standard that can serve as a point of comparison between various products. Is that not what’s being provided by the MIC standards? I still don’t see the conspiracy and desire to mislead the customer (which isn’t good business in the first place)… Are you instead just saying the standards and testing process set by MIC are just fine, but the OEM(s) are falsifying results?

  21. DareN says:

    Thanks, Jensen – for asking questions average customer would have asked. Unfortunately,we have become society of half-truths, twisted facts and pure BS…

  22. Zero Regrets says:

    @DareN: *like*

  23. TRL says:

    @Brammofan “If Jensen is the only guy you see on the web who regularly supports the electric bike scene, you should definitely do a little more poking around online. Sure, he covers the “scene,” but I find that his coverage is often very critical of the people, companies, and organizations that are out there every day trying to make a difference in the way electric motorcycles are perceived and taking big risks in order to (yes, hopefully make a profit) give people choices in their transportation and in their selection of motorsports.”

    Sales 101: When customers object or argue they are still interested. At that point, respond to their concerns or allay their fears in a way that satisfies them, keeping in mind that, what may seem like a logical and reasonable response to you, may not be. I generally take a step back at that moment and ask myself what is the person in front of me really trying to tell me. I think a very valid concern about range is being voiced here and ttxgpfan is probably right. The problem is not solvable at the moment.

    However, the road to hell is paved with good intentions and, while good intentions are better than bad, good intentions do not automatically earn a pass from critical analysis.

    Oh anyone who is NOT a lawyer please raise your hand!

  24. Westward says:

    Be Just and Fear Not…

    JB’s article is spot on in my opinion. The offended seem to have too close of ties to the industry to be truly unbiased. Notice, those that seem to have little issue with the article, are those of us that would be considered the average consumer.

    I don’t know about the rest of you, but on the expressway I find that 70-80 mph is a sufficient speed in order to not feel victimized by cars and lories…. At speeds less than 70 mph, one is surly placing too match faith in their fellow commuters for their own safety. I require a little more control over my fate…

    I imagine that on city streets it is less of an issue, as general traffic, pedestrians, bicycles, lights, and signs would factor in…

    I reside less than two miles from a Hwy, and most of my commute would be Hwy miles, which by my calculations would only allow me less than 20 miles in any one direction.

    So, if I need to travel more than 20 miles, then I would be relegated to surface streets, thus the limitations of an electric-bike would dictate my course of travel and time of arrival in a way that my ICE bike would not…

    The IOM TT Zero race was intriguing to me in that, if an electric bike capable of an average 100 mph over 37-40 miles, then I would consider that practical for a daily commuter. Knowing that I would more than likely average around 60 mph or less, and be able to cover 50 or maybe 75 miles in a commute before needing a charge.

    If said bike could charge to full capacity in less than 6 hours, I doubt many could argue the practicality of those spec’s. Obviously it would not make for a weekend jaunt, however, it might just be enough to make a track day interesting…

  25. protomech says:

    Two things are needed:

    1. Rename “highway commuting” to “combined” range.
    2. Report steady 70 mph highway range and let the consumer determine what his particular commute looks like. Better yet, report steady range at 10 mph intervals .. 40, 50, 60, 70, 80.

    Brammo has done both of these things in the Empulse specifications released two months ago, which are readily accessible from the link in the very first comment.

    Regarding all the kvetching about the “EV industry” and “shadey nature of the EV OEMs” .. there are exactly two major EV motorcycle players in the US that sell production highway-capable motorcycles. Zero specifies range in accordance with the minimum MIC guidelines. Brammo does exactly what the OP and later posters are asking for.

    This is not an industry failure. This is an individual marketing failure on Zero’s part, and painting it as anything otherwise is either ignorant or dishonest.

  26. Ryan says:

    I really appreciate all the constructive conversation this has developed into. Brammofan, I guess I should clarify that this is the only sight that I rvisit on a regular basis where I believe the ebike news because it is not an e-only site. E-only sites may cover it more, but they are obviously biased and understandably so. I’m also not implying that people on the Brammo fansites would complain, but they’re not the target market of the ebike. People who love ebikes and take the time to post on the forum do not need to be won over. They will be happy no matter what. The target consumer should be someone who will be converted from ICE to electric because their firt experience was so awesome. Experienced mileage vastly different than quoted mileage will only hurt ebike companies. As for my opinion, I would support protomech’s suggestion of mileage@speed reporting.

  27. Brammofan says:

    I think it’s bad form to link to other sites (non-E-only sites, too) on A&R, so all I can do is encourage you to look around.
    And I agree that the people on the Brammo Owners Forum are biased. However, we also tend to complain a lot – about the delays, about the information blackouts, about the turning radius of the Enertia, about the 5-step process after sticking the key in the ignition before you can move forward, etc. To its credit, Brammo seems to listen to some of it and seems to use the information to refine the design of its bikes and to address questions we have about things like the Empulse production. Another forum has become the repository of information shared by owners of the Zero bikes. The information is out there on sites other than forums, too.

    I agree with ttxgpfan that the fully charged range of electric motorcycles will continue to be the low-hanging fruit for the critics for a few more years at least. The way to address it, as protomech mentioned, is by being transparent. The MIC has taken a step in that direction by setting the first real standard. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than what we had before, which was chaos. The companies that comply with that standard and go beyond it by reporting steady-state range should, at the very least, be recognized for taking that extra step. They should not, as A&R did, be accused of “playing” a “similar game” to companies who do not take that extra step.

    Ryan – I think we are both in agreement that protomech’s mileage@speed reporting is a step in the right direction.

  28. AndrewF says:

    @prometech – our ‘kvetching’ is the result of industry-wide pattern of overstimating and misrepresentation, going at least as far back as the first Vectrix, the range of which was calculated at ‘steady 30mph’ – the fact you had to dig deep into their releases to discover. Nor is it true there are only two players as all car manufacturers are guilty of the same sins. Every real road test of electric cars showed their range to be significantly less than promised. I do agree that the information currently published by Brammo is sufficient and meets my needs and expectations… but sadly, that is in fact the exception rather than the norm. It is also very new and up to this point Brammo were as guilty as anyone.

  29. Marc F says:

    It’s probably a bad idea for a manufacturer to weigh in directly in this discussion, but I’ve never let a bad idea keep from arguing on the internet.

    The MIC standards for city and highway (70mph sustained) range are good solid standards that are rigorously defined, and do a good job of setting expectations with the customer. The mixed use standard is also rigorously defined, but calling it “highway commute” is confusing to the customer, based on this article and commentary all over the web. Auto buyers have been able to interpolate from the EPA city/hwy gas mileage numbers to their own mixed use for years, and I think they can do the same here.

    What is missing from the discussion above is that the spec sheet isn’t the only source of mis-set expectations. If our spec sheet says 20 miles and our sales rep says 80 miles, we have a problem. For us OEMs, it’s not just a matter of keeping the spec sheets clear and accurate, but taking the high road in EVERY outlet we use to communicate with our customers. That includes press releases, sound bites, and dealer and employee training.

    -Marc at BRD

  30. GForceGary says:

    I am not purporting to speak for the MIC although I am a member, and I have no financial stake in this debate–full disclosure, I promise. I think that some clarity could be brought to this discussion.

    Mr. Beeler has apparently spent a lot of seat time on electric bikes, but I think he should’ve spent more time understanding the MIC recommended practice instead of launching into a rant about how the recommended practice institutionalizes the industry’s inaccurate range claims. The contrarian proposal from Mr. Saiki that apparently carries some weight with Mr. Beeler appears much more questionable than the MIC’s is. Saiki contradicts himself in his “analysis”. First he says “Furthermore, the acceleration used in the (UDDS) test is so slow that most motorcycle riders do not pull away from a stoplight that slow for fear of being rear-ended.” …” Given the aggressive riding style of most motorcyclists, an even more aggressive reduction (from UDDS) would be appropriate”…

    He contradicts himself, however, when proposing a flat-rate speed for range testing stating “Stop and start driving is not as important to evaluate because it doesn’t majorly affect the range like in a gas car. It would be even better to redue (sic) these ranges by some fixed percentage just like the EPA does for cars.” This is a whiplash-inducing 180-degree shift from his critique of the MIC idea.

    He says “The MIC test does not account for spirited riding.” and then he promptly puts forth a test with an even flatter-rate of acceleration (zero) than the MIC test. His complaint about range is obviously widely held, but his critique of the MIC idea is disappointingly amateurish from someone purported to be an engineering genius. The MIC recommended practice has a lot of depth behind it, and it clearly explains in the Forward what is meant by “highway commuter” as opposed to simply “highway” range. Of course as with all standards, and especially with an industry that is itself still searching for commercial viability, it will be a work in progress.

    My Conclusions: 1. Work still needs to be done on making extended-range/speed electric vehicles affordable, and full disclosure on a more real-world driving range would help to re-establish credibility.
    2. The MIC recommended practice is a good start at a comparative range analysis.
    3. As with every electric vehicle, the biggest key remains dealer-to-customer education for all potential buyers on the wide variability in driving range given different slopes, speeds, temperatures, battery state of charge and state of health etc.

  31. Brammofan says:

    Andrew said, with regard to Brammo including the 70mph sustained range, “It is also very new and up to this point Brammo were as guilty as anyone.” I disagree. Brammo used to have a graphic on their site (and it may still be there) that illustrated the effect of some of the variables on the range of the Enertia. Brian Wismann shared some early drafts of the graphic on the forum and discussed the problem with range estimates in general at least as far back as October 2010. The post can be found at: http://brammoforum.com/index.php?topic=377.msg1884#msg1884

    About the 42 mile range estimate quoted on the Brammo site for the Enertia he noted that the testing was encouraged by Best Buy (who did not want to end up with customer complaints over range). The testing was based on the standard EPA LA4 (FTP75) drive cycle and it supported the 42 mile range estimate. But he and Brammo realized the shortcomings of the existing method of estimating range.

    He wrote, “So… while the range claim is true (as opposed to being the result of an optimistic marketing department), it obviously does not accurately predict everyday riding range by a variety of rider types and weights. The effects of even the same rider driving at varying average speeds (i.e. different driving cycles) can be as dramatic as a 2x decrease in riding range. Our attempt to better illustrate this for predictive purposes was originally shown with this graphic and we are working on ways to explain these issues even more concisely. Unfortunately, it is a complicated and variable metric that we (and other OEMs) are attempting to condense into a single figure for the benefit of easy digestion by the customer with varied success thus far.” October 1, 2010.

  32. DSN says:

    “I think at times I do a bit more journalism than most of the “traditional” journalistic publications do on a regular basis, but I’m also quite bloggy in format and approach as well .” Sorry, Jensen, but you either identify yourself as a journalist writing a journalistic report or you identify yourself as a blogger writing an opinion article. Your hybrid approach is even more misleading than the problem you accuse EV OEMs to have.
    It doesn’t need much, all you have to do is whenever you post something, you add a “Opinion” or “News” on the top or under your name. For someone so worried about others misleading their public, you didn’t think much about what you were doing here… If you had the “opinion” tag somewhere visible, most of the conversation would be only about the content of your article and not about your bold unsupported claims. In fact, most of you write in A&R is opinion, so you shouldn’t say you do more journalism than traditional journalistic publications, although poor journalism is rampant in the auto/moto publications. I understand your frustration, but ranting about it doesn’t help. Giving the example of how it is supposed to be is.
    That said, I think you touched on an important issue here. I gave up on Zero exactly because I felt they were “b.s.ing” me when I tried to buy one of their bikes. However, you seem to have generalized something without any basis for your generalization. It would have been much more helpful to me if you would have actually done some journalism and tried to get some answers from OEMs and tried to get some real documentation and tests posted here. I really would like to, at least once, hear from a Zero spokesperson why they communicate the way they do about everything. It’s really annoying. Brammo is not without blame, however, their problem was more about pricing than it was about range or other specs. They were always very forward with their specs.
    Thank you, Marc F! I hope you at BRD can lead the other OEMs in training people in dealers to be honest about what they are selling.

  33. “Brammofan, I guess I should clarify that this is the only sight that I rvisit on a regular basis where I believe the ebike news because it is not an e-only site.” [@Ryan]

    Ouch. Food for thought, but I am just a blogger with a bit of spare time and an internet connection.

    “Richard…well there’s not excuse for him. ;)” [Jensen]

    And there you have it. :D

    I have thought about this over the past few days, and after digging around a bit in the few mileage spreadsheets a few elmoto owner’s have up, I have a simple solution. Take the maximum capacity of the pack and divide it by .135. Try it. If it works, it shall forever be known as the “Dort standard”! Forever making me famous. :D No, seriously,try it. Let me know how it works.

  34. Sorry, to clarify, the maximum capacity in kWh.

  35. Singletrack says:

    Electric street motorcycles are a waste of time and money. If you want efficient motorized transportation to get you longer distances, buy any one of the 250cc bikes available. If you don’t want to use gas at all, ride a bicycle and get exercise in the city.

  36. Westward says:

    I’m inclined to agree with “Singletrack.” The best bang for buck is a 250cc bike from whoever. I just would like to see Yamaha or Ducati offer something in that arena…

    Since Brammo and Zero are both in the U.S. I would suggest finding access to one of those Nascar tracks, and twist the throttle at maximum until the bike runs dry. (Top Speed ’til empty)

    Give me those numbers and I could figure out my own range, cause those will be numbers that are unbiased period…

  37. kert says:

    Actually, as a potential customer, i would very much appreciate a reliable full 80mph figure going down 280, because thats where i commute.
    I have no facilities to test it myself, i cant really borrow the bike, hit the highway and let it run flat.