Zero Is Working on a Brammo-Killer for 2013

04/20/2012 @ 2:54 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

The nearly two-year wait for the Brammo Empulse is nearly over, as the Ashland-based company is set to debut the Brammo Empulse and Brammo Empulse R in Los Angeles (and online) May 8th. It should come as no surprise then that the A&R Bothan spy network is picking up on murmurings from Zero Motorcycles, and that the Californian company is working on an Empulse-killer for the 2013 model year.

Said to be building a proper electric sport bike, as well as suitable electric dirt bike package, Zero is seemingly finally on the verge of sunsetting its current motorcycle designs for more mature motorcycle offerings, and is putting companies like Brammo and BRD squarely in its sights.

The timing of the news is surely a bit of payback for the Scotts Valley company, which saw its pre-order list for the Zero S & Zero DS virtually vanish when the Brammo Empulse was unveiled. As the Brammo Empulse R is about to be publicly unveiled, Zero may be wanting to give potential Brammo purchasers something to think about before plunking down for the latest production electric motorcycle from the Oregonian company.

There has been no word on figures yet, but the 2013 Zeros are quietly being regarded as a make-it-or-break-it moment for the company’s management. Under tight control from investment firm Invus, Zero Motorcycles is said to be on a short leash, with a bevy of metrics and milestones laid out for the current administration to meet or exceed. Our sources report a mixed bag of those milestones being met, which could make the success of the 2013 line an even more important component for the company.

The Invus Group, the same private equity firm that brought you Weight Watchers, is not known for abandoning the companies it invests in, but has a healthy legacy of quick-failing the management teams in its portfolio companies. With the 2012 Zero Motorcycles line internally considered to be an unwelcomed legacy from the previous Saiki/Banman regime, the 2013 line will be a “no excuses” test for the current Zero management lead by Karl Wharton.

Considering the bevy of bred-out-of-the-motorcycle-industry-executives currently residing at Zero, next year’s models should be considerably different from the current Zero line. Chewy.

Source: Bothan Spies

  • Sean

    Hopefully when Zero and Brammo both have mature sports bikes they will put their bikes up a real test like the TT-Zero race. The IOM2012 had a press launch this week and in the press pack they mention 18(!) electric bikes will be racing this year, including Motoczysz, Mugen(Honda) and ‘Kawasaki-Zytek’. If Zero could beat a Mugen or a Kawasaki that would get mainstream bikers interested.

  • Weight Watchers, eh? Maybe _they_ can tell EV moto makers how to shed some weight without running low on energy…

  • But what about Brammo’s 2013 Zero Brammo-Killer Killer? :)

    We did go to the Isle of Man in 2009 and finished on the podium as the top American team. We will return, but not this year. Best of luck to the teams competing – it’s a truly life-changing experience to attend the TT.

  • RSVDan

    I spoke to someone from Mission today and asked why they hadn’t brought their gorgeous race bike to market in street trim now that I have seen it running around the streets of San Francisco. They reckon it would take many millions of capitol to ramp up production, and even if they could, the bike would likely come in around $40K! They said once peak production was achieved, they could bring the price down to around $25K, but they don’t think anyone is willing to pay that for an electric sport bike at this time. They hope to some day, but are sticking with building drive trains for OEMs for the time being. I guess the idea of a true electric superbike for the street is still a bit of a dream.

  • 18 bikes at the IOM huh. Well the year before that it was over 20, 9 actually showed and 5 finished. The IOM is a very cool event, and quite the feat to accomplish, but I prefer to watch the consistency of a road race championship (TTXGP and e-Power) and see how these folks compete race after race. Lighting has WAY more rep in that area than Zero, who has little to no participation in the any road racing series, much less the IOM.

    My biggest concern is Zero possibly shooting themselves in the foot by letting news like this get out? I mean, the current models sold like hot cakes. By letting everyone know that yet again there will be a much better bike out next year from them kill this year’s sales?

    Sorry Brian, but from my interview with you, and an interview I saw with Mr. Bramscher, it seems to me that Brammo is on a more typical 2-3 year development cycle. Which I would think would allow them to sell strong for at least a year and a half on one model before replacing it. Letting things leak now seems more like they are taking a shot at taking Brammo down with them, rather than taking them down a notch. Really, Brammo can’t refute the “vaporware” tag until people are actually receiving their Empulses, but its looking like Zero and Hollywood Electrics may have to eat some crow after earlier statements. It’d be nice if they just talked about their product and how good it is from now on, and left the attitude behind.

  • Westward

    I hope Zero keeps the Buell like belt drive and adds a perimeter brake system too. I’m still in the market for an electric, but also waiting for the second hand, 1000 miles or less version, for less than half original MSRP model. Which should be 6 months to a year after launch…

  • mxs

    Second hand with 1K for less than 1/2 MSRP??? …. chances are slim you are going to run into an idiot who is willing to sell it at that price …. :-(

    People who buy these will be keeping them to get their huge money investment back. Look for deals with ICE bikes, but not in electric …. in 10-15 years maybe?

  • Sean


    Don’t get me wrong I’m all for the ttxgp/ePower series, especially its international aspects, but for media impact and comparability against ICE bikes then IOM or Pikes Peak works better. At the IOM race the elctric bikes are hitting speeds near the gas bikes (for short times) and as the track is so tight they look just as fast even though there is no aural cue, in the ttxgp it is hard to judge quite how fast the bikes are going and the gaps can be large meaning little action (timetrialling doesn’t suffer from that). TT-Zero gets coverage on TV of millions of bike fans here in the UK on race weekend – albeit less than the main gas races, but maybe more if they break 100mph average this year. Pikes peak is also good as it will be the first venue where electric will beat gas, and that will be big news.
    ps – BTW I wouldn’t bring up numbers of competitors when you are making a case for ttxgp against IOM. And the fact that some don’t turn up is unfortunate but also reflects that the race attracts university, privateers as well as professional teams.

  • Westward


    There will always be those people who will buy for the novelty of it, or the rush to be the first on the block. Then for some, the practicality of their circumstances will not be compatible for ownership, and the hassle of recuperating cost is more of a burden then they can bare. Lets face it, it you buy one of these you can afford it, cause you are paying a premium. It’s not like your dropping your last dime on technology that has not proven itself for decades.

    In short, I’m looking for that guy. I will find him, it might take up to three years, but I’m patient. But for $14,000, right now, make mine Ducati Street Fighter 848, or an MV Agusta F3…

  • paulus

    This is similar to the SEGWAY… but more people walk in their daily routine than ride motorcycles.
    it is a niche product. More expensive for less performance.
    There will be some early adopters… but it will take long term cash and the right market price to get it to mass acceptance.

  • Tessier

    Brammo screwed themselves big time by showing there hand and then promptly taking 2+ years to finally produce them. This gave Zero ample time to come up with something big to counter with. Sure is getting interesting hopefully no one gets zapped lol!

  • Denis

    Kingston Uni News for the IOM:

    Two bikes involved this year!

    And I’m absolutely sure that we are going to break the 100mph average speed.

  • Spiffster

    @Tessier I think the production Empulse to be revealed on May 8th will be very different than what was revealed 2 years ago. Both companies currently bring very different products to the table, but that may change soon. Things will get interesting this year indeed.

  • sgh

    Sigh… in the E.V. world of big hype and not enough funding, “working on X for 2013” means that at the moment this bike is a collection of whiteboard sketches and Wild Ass Guesses and we’ll not see it til 2014 at the earliest…there will undoubtedly be some delays/excuses to come. Why even talk about this now? For goodness sake, just pretend like you’re a normal industry and announce a product when it’s ready!

  • mxs

    Why to talk about it? It’s called start up funding. They are all start ups if you think about it. So, I wouldn’t be necessarily chastising them for it. Nobody is forcing anybody …. if you believe what I am planning to sell, you are more than welcome to invest. It’s all good in my opinion. Plans fail all the time in the world of investments, nothing new.

    There might not be enough funding right now, but wait when oil shoots up again. It doesn’t really take that much to be honest with you, in this speculative world of stock and commodity pricing.

    Now, if one of the big established company promised X and didn’t deliver, like Honda, Suzuki etc. surely that would be unacceptable, but they are not starting up from scratch. These are companies with deep R&D pockets. The reason they are not going a full tilt just yet is because a) oil price is too low for us to be lining up for electric product 2) battery as a fuel is holding them back (reliability, warranties and price could kill a large manufacturer). Once those two obstacles are removed, watch out for them to take off. That’s what I see in my crustal ball anyways … LOL

  • sgh

    Yeah, to be fair, this is a “leak”, not an announcement. Though many leaks are not accidental.

    Brammo appears to be building momentum and Zero appears a bit desperate. I have not seen any positive reviews of the new Zero bikes. Brammo has connected solidly with a viable target audience with the Empulse. Zero seems to struggle with finding their niche. The bikes are not “cool” enough for serious motorcyclists, unfortunately. I don’t think they wanted their buyers to all be Silicon Valley Enginerds but that’s about the only type I’ve ever seen on one.

    Westworld – loving the belt drive? perimeter brakes? what? wanting a half price new electric bike? what? I am trying hard to understand you but I just can’t…. you seem to have very unrealistic expectations for e-bikes at this stage.

  • @sgh – If you haven’t seen positive reviews of the Zero bikes, perhaps you’re not looking in the right places. I think that most of the reviews I’ve read of the 2012 bikes have been at least generally positive, if not glowing. The belt drive has always been reviewed as a great feature of the 2012 bikes and, although I’m aware of the downsides of a belt, I sometimes wish my 2010 Brammo Enertia had it instead of a chain. Anyway, there’s room in the market for all types of bikes, and although I prefer the styling of the Enertia (and the Empulse) more than the bikes from Zero, the bikes are being sold to many happy new owners.

  • Dr. Gellar

    I think this is great! I’m very interested to see what Zero comes out with as an answer to Brammo’s Empulse. Personally, I think a little bit of competition and rivalry between these two brands (and any others who want to play) is a good thing, and will eventually benefit customers greatly as the products of both companies will likely improve as one tries to best the other.

    Is there any word if Zero intends to reboot their entire model line in 2013 in one fell swoop?! I can see the 2013 Zero S and DS staying relatively unchanged cosmetically while the rest of the line-up is reborn, but this is purely S.W.A.G. on my part.

  • Arffy

    It will be the management at 0, that takes them down the drain. To late with design changes to capture the market that was there for the taking…….several years with a leg up on the competition, and nothing to show for it….sad.