I had planned on sharing these photos with you at a much earlier date, and now with the fire at the MotoE paddock in Jerez, it feels a bit macabre.
But, on the same token, the moment for electric motorcycles seems never more ready for a pivot, and we would be remiss to share an opportunity to examine one of the more high-level efforts in greater detail.
As such, I bring you details on what is beneath the fairings on the Energica Ego electric superbike.
It should be pointed out that early indications from Jerez are that the MotoE fire was caused by a short-circuit, perhaps in a charging station, though it is certain that none of the 18 race bikes were charging at the time of the incident.
This will set back the MotoE World Cup on its schedule, but Dorna, the FIM, and Energica seem dead-set on holding these races in 2019. Why is that? Partnership commitments and money are certainly at the forefront of the reasoning, but also there is the fact that MotoE has the opportunity to change a lot of minds about electric motorcycles.
This comes in a time where Harley-Davidson is just months away from debuting its first electric motorcycle…and it is a proper electric motorcycle, not some grocery-getter. Zero Motorcycles has just released its first true new model, in the form of the Zero SR/F. KTM and Husqvarna have both offered kid-focused electric motorcycles too.
Many of the signs point to electric motorcycles coming to a boiling point in the motorcycle industry.
There have been setbacks too. Alta Motors closing its doors meant that one of the biggest driving forces in the two-wheeled space for EVs was no longer present, and of course the comments surrounding the MotoE fire highlight the concerns that some have over this new propulsion – not to mention showing the general pushback established motorcyclists have for this new technology. Three steps forward, one step back.
But, the level keeps rising, and part of that high-water mark are the efforts at Energica.
Given a chance to ride the company’s lineup of electric motorcycles, tour its facility, and talk to its people, it is hard not to be impressed with what Energica is doing, especially when you consider the size and scope of their operation.
Looking under the hood of the Energica Ego, we begin to understand the new vocabulary that motorcyclists are going to have to learn when it comes these new machines. Motors, not engines; batteries, not fuel tanks; inverters, chemistries, voltages, amperes, EM radiation concerns – study up, kids.
On the Ego, we can see the high-voltage system lines highlighted by their bright orange rubber sheaths. The length of these cables has intentionally been designed to be at a minimum, for efficiency concerns and for weight.
Unlike many other brands, Energica doesn’t use a dedicated 12V system for the bike’s electronic systems, instead the company draws 12V off their main battery pack for the bike’s dash, headlights, signals, etc.
The high-voltage / high-ampere drivetrain means big horsepower and torque figures for the permanent magnet AC (PMAC) motor, which means that Energica doesn’t need to use a gearbox to hit performance targets. This is the mark for high-level electric motorcycle vehicle systems, with true automotive systems recognized by their 300-volt systems, or higher.
The two-wheeled space is still catching up to the four-wheeled world in this regard, with some electric motorcycle projects still using lower voltage setups. This isn’t the future, and we see the limitations in those designs fairly easily on the spec-sheets, in charging times, and general user satisfaction.
Under the seat, we can see the charging unit for the Ego. Energica is currently the only brand on the market to offer DC Fast Charging (the Harley-Davidson Livewire will become the second motorcycle on the market to do this), and the 3 kW integrated charger expands the options for charging the motorcycle at home or on the go.
It is hard not to miss the bulbous battery pack, which is constructed from two cast aluminum pieces, with a billet aluminum plate connecting the two, and serving as cooling heat sink – note its small rectangular holes to allow air to flow through the two halves of the battery pack.
The battery pack is mammoth, and weights 220 lbs on its own. This is of course the bulk of the Energica Ego’s curb weight, and one of the key areas where the MotoE bikes lose their weight.
While you don’t want that kind of weight on the motorcycle, you do want that level of protection. The robust metal housing is a shield against road debris, shields against electromagnetic fields, and protects the battery in case of a severe crash. It also creates a water-tight seal around the battery pack, to protect against weather, water crossings, and rogue car washes.
Energica is especially proud of its vehicle control unit (VCU), which acts as the brain of the machine, connecting the various electric drivetrain pieces to each other. This piece of hardware also acts as a bridge to other systems, as Energica continues to develop its bluetooth and WiFi connectivity options and smartphone integration.
On the mechanical side, we can see the classic Italian use of a steel trellis frame. The battery is of course a stressed member of the chassis system, just like an engine would be…and on that notion, we can see the electric motor housing is also part of the chassis dynamic.
The long chassis means a short swingarm design, which isn’t ideal, and of course the side-mounted rear shock always strikes the observer. Suspension in the rear is handled by the Italian brand Bitubo, while the forks are more familiarly provided by Marzocchi. Brakes are by Brembo.
We will leave that for now, and let you peruse the high-resolution images in the gallery below. Be sure to call out anything interesting you see. Our words here certainly don’t cover everything that the eye can see in these images.Asphalt & Rubber – All Rights Reserved