2012 Brammo Empulse R – Was It Worth the Wait?

05/09/2012 @ 11:24 am, by Jensen Beeler41 COMMENTS

Launching last night in downtown Los Angeles, the 2012 Brammo Empulse R & 2013 Brammo Empulse broke their cover and officially debuted. Right off the bat from the designations, you can see that Brammo intends for the Empulse R to be a 2012 model, with the base model Emuplse coming out next year (more on that further down). As we expected, the Brammo Empulse R got quite the price bump after its 22-month marination, and will be $18,995 MSRP. Meanwhile when the Brammo Empulse becomes available next year, it will have a slightly more palatable $16,995 price tag.

Featuring a six-speed gearbox the Brammo Empulse R comes with a 54hp motor, 10.2 kWh battery pack (9.31 kWh nominal), and a bevy of brand-name components like Marchesini wheels, Brembo brakes, Marzocchi forks, a Sachs rear shock, and a few carbon pieces (read the full technical specifications here). Getting a revised look, the basic Empulse design is still there with some subtle changes (some for the better, some of the worse, in our humble opinion). Touting 56 highway miles and 120 city miles, the Empulse is going to suffer from the same range-limiting use that other electric bikes on the market are facing, though Brammo has thought to include J1772 Level 2 capability on the bike, which should make for some more rapid charges away from the mothership. We like that.

There is no doubt that Brammo has raised the bar for electric motorcycles, as the 2012 Brammo Empulse R seems to best the Zero S ZF9 in virtually every category (build quality, horsepower, range, etc) — except price. Expected to be out in limited numbers in June 2012, and in volume in Q3 2012, we imagine the $18,995 MSRP cost will carry with it a bit of sticker shock (hey-oh!) for many buyers, especially after the Brammo Empulse debuted with a bargain basement $14,000 price tag roughly two years ago.

The hope from Brammo is clearly that the six-speed transmission, premium components, and comparable segment machines will make the added cost justifiable to consumers, though the reality is at the end of the day, you are paying premium motorcycle prices for a machine that most sport bike enthusiasts are going to experience a very limited range with. With Brammo one of the original manufacturers touting the lack of a need for a gearbox on an electric motorcycle (they make nearly maximum torque at 1 rpm, you know), CEO Craig Bramscher admitted the company’s previous statements at the launch, but retorted that the IET gearbox from SMRE provided an entirely different riding experience from before.

We will have to experience it for ourselves to believe the hype, though before we get too cynical, we do have to admit that many fossil-fuel riders will find their opinions about electrics changed once they experience the surreal “flying” effect that riding a fairly silent electric motorcycle at speed provides. Expect a ride review in the next couple months, with a strong focus on this gearbox technology.

With photos of the Empulse R leaking ahead of the launch, and Brammo already teasing us with the technical specifications, the real surprising news at the LA launch was the added year-long wait for the Brammo Empulse base model. Kitted with some more basic components, the differentiation between the two machines is surprisingly subtle, and we suspect there is good reason for that. With motorcycle riders used to two years or longer between model revisions, the ever-changing electric vehicle industry is experiencing substantial improvements and changes on an almost quarterly basis.

We know that Zero Motorcycles is already working on an “Empulse Killer” for the 2013 model year, which will benefit from cheaper, denser, and more powerful battery technology. Surely realizing that the standard product life periods are not applying to electric motorcycles, it would not surprise us to see the Brammo Empulse R updated for 2013 as well (think 12 kWh, and more hp), with its production line at the current specifications continuing under the 2013 Brammo Empulse banner.

Such a strategy would allow Brammo to keep pace with  its competitors, as well as the changing technology in its industry sector, while at the same time allowing the Oregonian company to benefit from assembly line processes and economies of scale in component sourcing. Of course that is just speculation, but it’s what we would do in their situation. As always, time will tell.

Source: Brammo

  • YES! ;)

  • In with the first comment even! Nicely done Brian.

  • Afletra

    Can I get the brochure? :)

  • BikePilot

    How much does it weigh? Looks cool and might be fun for a short spurt here and there, but still a novelty unless you travel exclusively in cities, then it’d rock I suspect. Performance specs seem to about match my wife’s M620, but range is less than half that of the wee monster and I fear a re-charge might take a bit longer than a fill-up. I wonder if an option to bolt-on a small constant-rpm ICE generator might make e-bikes more useful.

  • Since you apparently can’t click a link Josh…


    weight is 470 lbs (213 kg)

  • Mustafa Ibrahim

    The price of this bike is approaching the price of base model Prius. Even at half this price, I think it would be a tough sell.

  • Where did you get 470 lbs? Brammo’s website says 440.


    I would expect the R would be somewhat lighter due to the higher spec componenets.

    It is a bummer that the highway range isn’t more – I’d never be able to leave town with this bike (or even ride it home) as I live in the high desert – a large community but rather remote.

  • Off the spec sheet Brammo gave me at the launch in LA…

    Maybe Brammo Brian can tell us which is the right number.

  • jimmySmith

    WOw! She looks to be about 8 months pregnant! When is she due! Hmmm $20 grand? I think I’ll buy a used 1098 and put the extra 5 grand towards gas money.

  • Adam

    Very cool, I like how the charger is inserted into the “gas tank”. tech doesn’t come cheap though.
    I am really curious though about one thing with these electric vehicles. what is the power requirements to charge the batteries? I guess im thinking in Kw hours vs. Liters of gas and how that relates to mileage. dose anyone know if this has ever been calculated?

    and to go a little further if all our vehicles are one day replace with electric where is all that energy coming from to power them? more cole plants, nuclear, or those solar and wind fields that cant compete with the output of the first too?

    when I look at these vehicles I think to my self how much is my home power bill going to increase when I start plugin this in every day? if it is less then paying for gas then I think you could sell me on one of these.

  • Adam

    PS, good on Brammo for making a bike that looks like a bike. no gimmicky futuristic fairings etc.

  • Bob

    It’s looks great! I wish I had the $$ to buy it :\

  • Keith

    Nice, so uh…how’s that recharge time again? Oh STILL several hours per charge? Well then, no thankyou keep your kids toy.

  • RGR

    Congrats to Brammo for getting this to market. The technology is still not far enough along to interest me though, especially at this price. 50 to 100 miles is just the start of one of my rides, I could never use this for any real riding and there’s no luggage if you’re just using it as a grocery-getter /commuter. Almost $20k for a bike with no real usable range and subjectively ugly looks? No thanks, but I hope all the early adopters buy them so the companies make money and the technology gets more usable. It would look a lot better with some fairings to hide those batteries IMHO.

  • Ervgopwr

    I, for one, welcome our new electric overlords…

    Anyway, first thoughts; wow, that looks just like my “wee” Monster, red “tank”, black “frame”, black wheels, etc. But then for about 4.5x what I paid for mine. But I’m not one to bash the non-comparableness of current ICE’s versus our pending electric overlords, read the MU article at HFL…

    And finally, if I had the cash and didn’t already have a bike that looks exactly the same, but needed a city commuter/get aounder and can charge at night, I would absolutely get one. Silent hooliganism FTW!

  • chris

    so motus is using a ktm headlight, and brammo is using a yamaha headlight. when will those design wizards stop innovating!

  • Westward

    Are there any tax credits, or did they already factor that into the price.?

    The bike looks amazing, they did a great job, I’m impressed. However, at that price, I could afford to wait and see what Zero has to offer next year, hopefully less expensive.

    Besides, the Ducati 848 Street Fighter is looking better and better, or even the Triumph Street Triple for that Matter. Then too there is MV Agusta and their 675 line-up.

    The novelty of electrics aside, the Yamaha FZ8 would be the better economical choice. In fact, it makes me appreciate my Monster even more…

  • Pingback: EarthTechling()


    Hey that looks pretty sharp. I’d buy it if it didn’t cost more than my 2012 Focus did. The range is great so long as you stay in town. No canyon carving for you my friends. I’ll keep my Harley for now.

    Very nice design execution though!

  • MotoRay

    If it had some way to carry stuff, I’d be happy to commute on it. Gimme the dual sport version (with a friendlier price tag). Or heck…just gimme one. Way to go, Brammo. Extra proud since they’re in Oregon.

  • Eric

    Looks great, Brammo! Nice job. I can’t wait to see the first ride report.

    Granted, this isn’t going to work for everyone, but then again, it isn’t supposed to. Truthfully, how many miles do most American riders ride per year, on average? For most, I bet if they were honest, they’d admit that they only ride over 100 miles per day a few times per year. For the guys who ride in town, and have access to fast chargers, this would be an ideal machine.

    Regarding the electric power source, one of the great things about electric vehicles is that they don’t care how the power is generated, so we’re not limited to a single fuel source. Wind, solar, nuclear, natural gas, etc. can all be used. As for me, when I can afford it, I’ll be getting an E-bike, and then installing a solar panel large enough to offset my bike’s usage on my house. That way, my bike will be powered by the sun! How cool will that be? VERY!

    Your turn to up the ante, Zero… I can’t wait to see the next move.

  • Damo

    Bike looks pretty good.

    My only current issue with this first crop of electrics is: price and range. Once the former goes down by a bit and the latter goes up by a ton, I’ll line up to buy one.

    I bet total lack of shifting and engine braking will freak me out at first, lol.

  • Tessier

    It looked better the first time they unveiled it. Either way I’ll pass!

  • Will

    Meh…Under 60 mile freeway range for $20k+ including tax, title, setup etc?!? What’s the point? Take it back to the drawing board. Did Mission even sell any of there $80k Mission 1s? I doubt it, and at this price/performance, I think this things is only gonna show up under hollywood celebs trying to look green. Does it come with AAA to charge you up when you get stranded accidentally? For that price it better.

  • Damo

    If you want good gas mileage and a fun ride, start hunting craigslist for a used SV650.

  • Keith

    Damo, the issue isn’t ride distance per charge it’s recharge time. ;^) I can knock out 150mi on 5gallons at uh, above normal speeds and be back on the road in under 20min. I’d LOVE to have an electric motorcycle that could do that, even one that was lucky to go 75mph.

  • @Eric, check out http://www.empulsebuyer.com/pvCalculator.php
    Will help you size a solar PV system for an EV like the Empulse. Also, I put about 3k miles on my Gixxer last season, never went over 50 miles in a day… The Empulse is not for everyone, and I agree, most could really own one with very little compromise if any.

    @Damo The Empulse has a six speed and is designed to feel like a traditional ICE sportbike, engine breaking and all. Yes, the SV650 is more practical than most bikes out there, but it wont command nearly as much attention as the Empulse.

  • Westward

    @ EmpulseBuyer

    50 miles in a day, and 3K for the year? Your GSXR cost you $10-13K, even less than that if you bought it used. Next question, how long have you had your GSXR, and have you spent over $5000-$8000 in maintenance and gas?

    The Empulse is great looking bike, looks a lot like the Monster. But it cost twice as much as it should for what it could do and it’s practicality. The bike should not cost more than a Ducati Monster 696, and with state and federal incentives, it should be even less.

    When that day happens, Brammo would sell 100x more than they are going to. The Empluse could easily inspire non-traditional riders into motorcycling, but that price tag is jumping the shark…

    Good thing they scrapped the 6.0 & 8.0 models, cause that would’ve been embarrassing with their less than 30 mile HWY range…

    If you want to command attention, get a Thuxton or an Enfield and save $10k…

  • MikeD

    “Was it worth the wait ?”….no make that…..”Was it worth it all the HOOPLA-DOOPLA and HYPE created about this bike OR ANY OTHER e-Bike ?”

    Not yet, by a long shot. (^_^)

  • @Westward… to each his own. Im the kinda guy that would happily spend 50k on a Bimota DB8, not because it would perform any better than a Ducati with the same engine, but because I appreciate the design / exclusivity. Thats hypothetical of course, because I simply dont have that much disposable income…. but if I did, I would love to have one.

    Sure the Empulse is more expensive than a comparable performing ICE bike… but people need to understand that nobody is buying these bikes with practicality in mind, AT ALL. Not sure why people keep arguing the practicality angle. People buy Ducatis and other Superbikes with no intention of taking them out onto a track, that doesnt mean they made a stupid purchase, or should have bought something else. Besides, I dont see any other production electric bike out there that can touch the price / performance / quality / technology package the Empulse brings to the table…

    Bottom line, if Brammo priced them too high, the market will respond accordingly… we will have to wait and see. I still want one.

  • “50 miles in a day, and 3K for the year?”

    To clarify up to 50, at most a day. Riding season isnt that long here in Colorado either. I had no scheduled maintenance for my GSXR 750 as it had less that 9k on the odo. Just a few oil changes, chain lube, I did myself… Im not completely helpless :) Guess what though, I didnt buy the Gixxer to save money… if I wanted to save money I would have not bought a motorcycle period.

  • mistasam

    Aside from being able to go 100mph (which doesn’t matter at all when you’re trying to conserve power) and having a 6-speed, the new Empulse does NOT beat the Zero ZF9 models in any other way.

    * The Empulse is 130lbs heavier (you read that right)
    * It’s chain-driven as opposed to belt on the Zero, which means cleaning/lubing maintenance every 4-500 miles
    * It’s water-cooled, while the Zero is air-cooled.. just another maintenance cost and system to fail
    * It takes an hour longer to charge, and at 70+mph has a WORSE range than the Zero
    * The Zero is $5k less

    Now that a real comparison has been made, you can make your choice. I test rode a Zero S and DS a few weeks ago, and had a blast! If you commute to/from work at around 50-70 miles round-trip a day (which most people do) it’s a great option. Also, operating an electric bike ends up costing you 1.3 cents per mile ridden. Someone did the math and found out they saved $1800 a year compared to riding a normal ~45mpg streetbike. Food for thought.

  • Damo


    I am actually kind of excited about no gear box believe it or not. When I finally get an electric bike, I dream of a silent rocket with a plank flat torque curve.

    Hopefully those days aren’t too far off.

  • Bill

    @ Zero, ahem, excuse me. “mistasam”

    You are comparing an electric bicycle with an electric motorcycle.

  • mistasam

    I obviously expected more from an electric motorcycle.. since an electric bicycle’s specs are still beating it.

  • protomech


    Oh really.

    Zero’s 63 mile “highway commuting” range claim is 50% highway miles, 50% city. Compare that to the Empulse 77 mile combined range. Pure highway range for the ZF9 is 43 miles.

    9.3 kWh Empulse is 440 lbs per brammo.com, $17k base, $19k R. 5s 0-60, 3.5 hours charge time. 56 miles highway, charges 16 highway miles/hour.
    7.9 kWh S ZF9 is 340 lbs, $14k. 10s 0-60, 8 hours charge time. 43 miles highway, charges 5.4 highway miles/hour.

    Yeah, if you add $1500 in chargers then you can get the S down to a 2 hour charge time. I think the fast chargers are useless for most, can’t really bring them with you and an overnight charge is fine with the onboard charger.

    The Zero is less expensive, weighs much less, is simpler to operate and has less parts that can fail. But in trade, it’s less quick, slower, charges much more slowly, has much cheaper parts, and loses a lot of the standard equipment on the Empulse (fast charger, 12v power point, passenger pegs, etc).

    In all fairness to Zero, they’ve been selling their bikes for almost five months now. We won’t see the non-R Empulse for probably another six months at best.. and the R Empulse is in another price category all-together.

  • Westward

    Practicality is an aspect of a consumers decision when it comes to purchase. “Empulse” is the perfect name for the bike if that is demographic of consumer that Brammo is aiming for…

    The Empulse is a nice bike indeed. Component-wise, it’s in the area of a Ducati Monster 696, I think the average consumer would expect a similar price tag, if not lower. For that reason $10,000 is around practical consideration for purchase of this machine, give or take a couple of hundred dollars…

    So after all the “Impulse buyers” have made their purchases, and the price comes down to reason, I would be happy to buy one, even at the given specs.

    I would really like to see Brammo succeed, honestly. So even though they will not be getting my money at this point in time, I hope the make a reasonable amount of sales, that at least keeps them in business long enough for me to eventually buy into one.

    Though the only real feature that is missing, that would help facilitate that decision besides price, would be a belt drive vs. chain…

    It just seems more practical, or dare I say logical component-wise. Maybe, it would be something that I could convert myself to make it truly maintenance free…

  • protomech

    “The Empulse is a nice bike indeed. Component-wise, it’s in the area of a Ducati Monster 696, I think the average consumer would expect a similar price tag, if not lower. For that reason $10,000 is around practical consideration for purchase of this machine, give or take a couple of hundred dollars…”

    Certainly sales will improve as the bike drops in price. I’m not convinced equivalent pricing to ICE is the tipping point – I think consumers whose range requirements are well-met by EVs will accept paying somewhat more (lower than the current premium) than ICE .. and consumers whose range needs are not compatible with EVs aren’t in the market for an EV.

    I think if the Leaf and Volt prove to be pretty reliable (per Consumer Reports) then sales will start to pick up. Right now EVs are still too weird for the mainstream, the more exposure people have to EVs the more sales will pick up.

  • Lloyd Reeves

    Great looking Bike! For those wondering on the value of a 6 speed look at the Dyno numbers in the June issue of Cycle World for the Zero. You will notice that peak torque falls off with RPM a lot. The 6 speed will allow the bike to be driven in more peak torgue at lower RPMs so it gives you better acceleration and lower RPMs in top gear (more range) too bad about those extra 100 + pounds.

  • Andrea

    When would it be REALLY avalilable in Europe? Most of the brands don’t reveal new models till they’re really shown at least at a big fair. Brammo has been announcing the Empulse for years without goving any real indication ot it real availability in the different markets… I’m saving money to buy it, but my fear is that the iflaction will finish them before I can see the first Empulse to the closer seller.. Please Brammo, hurry up!!

  • k.s.

    Comparing the price of a state-of-the-art production electric motorcycle, its limitations of range and charging to the established paradigm of a gasoline motorcycle is quite unfair. What did cars cost when they were first introduced, how many gas stations were present at that time? Only the wealthy could afford to buy them, fuel them and service them. The difference between then and now, is that electric techonology is advancing at a faster rate as the article suggests. I applaud companies such as Brammo for risking to be one of the first and showing us the greatness of their ingenuity and bravery to go where few have gone. All the limitations the electric motorbike has now are merely challenges to be overcome…remember how mercilessly were the Wright Brothers ridiculed for their vision? Electric power is now the technology of the now, and of the future…Thank you for making an electric motorbike that looks like a motorcycle! And for those complaining about the cost, it is the same as Ducati, also a premium ride; so stop whining that your pocket book is not big enough for the latest techonology to grace our streets!