Well it didn’t take us long to get to the bottom of the reason as to why Brammo will be racing at the AMA Mini Moto SX in Las Vegas this week, as we speculated the Ashland-based company has got dirt bikes on the mind, and today is launching its dirt/supermoto line of electric motorcycles. Debuting with the full-sized Brammo Engage MX & Supermoto, along with the Brammo Encite MMX mini moto, Brammo has a robust off-road offering to its name now.

Behind the new product launch is another big step in the electric motorcycle industry, as the Oregonian company is debuting its new Brammo Engage and Brammo Encite motorcycles with an Integrated Electronic Transmission (IET). Developed by Italian engineering firm S.M.R.E., the IET is basically a six-speed gearbox designed specifically for use on electric motorcycles, and should help lure current ICE rides to the dark side of electrification. With today’s news, we think someone just put Zero Motorcycles on notice.

The Italian firm has been developing this transmission technology on a mini moto and supermoto prototypes for over a year, and now those pre-production models appear to have become the basis Brammo Engage and Brammo Encite prototype motorcycles. S.M.R.E.’s Integrated Electric Transmission technology is being labelled as a mechatronic propulsion unit (whatever that really means), and mimics the feeling and performance of a traditional internal combustion engine and transmission. According to the company’s specs, the IET unit is capable of regenerative braking, which would be another first for the Ashland compan, and sought-after feature by enthusiasts.

S.M.R.E. in the past has touted its design as being able to reduce the need for larger batteries, as it keeps the electric motor in a more efficient state as speeds increase. Brammo is touting the electric motor and transmission as enabling the Brammo Engage and Brammo Encite to accelerate hard from the line and reach a high top speed, which the company says isn’t possible with a single-ratio electric motorcycle. Of course Brammo touts the single-ratio design as a feature on its Enertia sport bike, so which side of the coin the Oregon company is landing on could be debated. We’ll have to wait for a response from Mr. Brian Wismann, Director of Product Development at Brammo, for that explanation.

As we reserve our judgment about that debate until we get to swing a leg over an IET-enabled Engage or Encite, the technology is intriguing, and at the very least will appeal to current motorcyclists who are accustomed to shifting a motor, operating a clutch, and grinning ear-to-ear. For this reason alone, Brammo’s partnership with S.M.R.E. might be worth its weight in euros gold, as we’re slowly watching Brammo shift (pun intended) from novice/non-motorcycle buyers, to current motorcyclists as its target demographic. Interesting things all around, but there’s no word yet if the Integrated Electronic Transmission will make its way onto other Brammo products, like the Enertia and Empulse.

Brammo is taking pre-orders on its Engage and Encite motorcycles, though we haven’t gotten word on when they will be going into production and made available. The Oregonian company has hinted at an upcoming dealer network announcement, which is likely being helped by this latest news of a more complete and full motorcycle line-up. Pricing on the new Brammos is as follows:

  • Engage MX – Full-sized dirt bike competing in MiniMotoSX – Anticipated Price $9,995
  • Engage SMR – Supermoto Racing – Anticipated Price $9,995
  • Engage SMS – Supermoto – Anticipated Price $11,995
  • Encite MMX PRO – Mini-dirtbike competing in MiniMotoSX – No Price Announced

Be sure to check out our coverage on the Brammo Engage and Brammo Encite with this news break as well.

Photos of the Pre-Production Brammo Dirt Bike Prototypes:

Source: Brammo

  • BikePilot

    Cool, but I fear they might be missing the boat. Dirt bikes really struggle as it is to carry enough fuel to get adequate range and power – more so than street bikes. I think this might be the most challenging possible application for an e-bike until batteries can pack the same amount of potential for forward thrust per unit volume as a dead T-Rex.

    Where Brammo could really make huge strides is with an e-trials bike and this could provide a great platform to transition to a trail bike oriented toward the light, technical side of things.

    Trials bikes have a few advantages for an e-bike maker – they require very little power and are operated primarily at very low percentages of their peak power. They aren’t expected to have much range and they must have very controllable power delivery. For example my HRC-built Montesa carries about 2 liters of fuel (at best) to keep its 250cc two stroke motor spinning and, reportedly, makes 17hp at full tilt. I can essentially ride all day on those two liters as trials riding is so slow you don’t need a lot of energy from the bike.

    Another advantage comes from the business perspective. Trials bikes are currently made only by very small companies in small quantities. It’d be much easier for another small company, dealing in small volume production to be competitive in this market than in the dirt bike market where you’ve gotta compete with the Big Five (or Six or Seven depending on how you count…). Trials bikes sell for as much if not more than full blown MX racers, but have comparatively simple engines and suspensions – surely lower-cost to manufacture for a given economy of scale.

    Of course the difficulty is that the market for them isn’t huge, at least not at the moment. Even so, Brammo might do better to succeed in one small market than fail miserably in a larger market. Success in trials would help the concept of e-bikes gain acceptance and, as battery technology makes an e-dirt bike feasible, Brammo would be well poised to capture that market as well.

    Whatever the case, the transmission and clutch is encouraging and likely key to off road success. Its unlikely that sufficient control over thrust could be obtained without a clutch, particularly for technical riding where taking advantage of stored kinetic energy in the flywheel tends to be the focus rather than applying power via the throttle as its needed. Just watch (and listen) to how a rider controls a trials bike when hitting a kicker for a big splatter. Of course the clutch is absolutely critical to be able to shut down quickly enough as well (provided that there’s at least some modest rotating inertia in the drive system/motor).

  • Ed Gray

    I am shocked at the lack of study of standard practice. The countershaft sprocket is much too far from the swingarm pivot. When designing from first principles this is an easy target now it may be an expensive fix. I am also concerned by the relative location of the foot pegs to the swingarm pivot, which seems quite different from SOP.

  • Is this the reason that the Empulse has been delayed until 2012???