I have been lucky in my career to ride some of the finest one-off electric motorcycles ever created. I was the first to ride the Mission R street bike from Mission Motors, and first of two journalists to swing a leg over the Isle of Man winning MotoCzysz E1pc.
I was the first to ride the Alta Redshift SM prototype, back when the company was still called BRD Motorcycles, one of only a handful of souls can lay claim to riding the Lightning LS-218 around a race track, and one of the first to swing a leg over the Energica Ego.
Coming to the Valencia track in Spain, I knew though that I would be adding another one of these special machines to my list, as Energica had invited Asphalt & Rubber to ride its MotoE race bike, the day after the Valencia GP.
Five flying laps on the Energica Ego Corsa is all that we would get this day at the Spanish track, which didn’t include our out-lap and in-lap, which I have to admit disappointed me.
Even if we round up, these seven laps aren’t nearly enough to evaluate something as unique at this MotoE racer, especially on an unfamiliar race course like Valencia. But like The Dude, I abide.
In my eleven-year career at A&R, prior to this day I had a grand total of 60 minutes of making laps around Valencia, which works out roughly to be just over 30 laps of experience. That is not a lot of experience to work from.
With that, I would say that the day was a bit disappointing, as all one wants as the sun sets on the Spanish hillside is to spend more time on the Circuit Ricardo Tormo with the Energica Ego Corsa.
I thought about this with each passing lap, as the grand prix course slowly started to come back to me, and the MotoE racing machine started to feel more and more familiar.
If I had to distill the day’s events into a single thought, I would call it a glimpse of what is to come in the future, both because my time on the Energica Ego Corsa was far too short, but also because the potential seen here is surely where the motorcycle industry (and motorcycle racing) is headed.
An Apple from a Familiar Tree
I didn’t come into the experience blind, however. Earlier this year I spent a race weekend on an Energica Ego street bike, which had been upgraded with the braking and suspension bits from the race bike (Energica calls this its “Corsa Clienti” package).
That experience showed me how similar the two bikes are to each other, which speaks to Energica using its street bike offering as the basis for its MotoE competitor.
Both bikes are heavy, but the Energica Ego Corsa holds its weight a bit better, and noticeably lower in the chassis. The weight isn’t really the Achilles heal of the MotoE bike though, as instead I spent most of my five laps struggling with the chassis setup on the electric superbike.
I had encountered the same issue while racing the street bike, and it seemed for every millimeter of ride height we added to the rear shock, another second dropped from my lap time in our local club racing series.
Out of the box, the Energica Ego Corsa felt closer to correct than its road-going sibling, but the bike still noticeably under-steered going into the corners and felt vague from the front-end. This was most noticeable at the tight right-hander of Turn 12, which I never did find a proper line through on the MotoE bike.
With a full racing chassis, this problem is easy to overcome, but we come back to the core issue…we have just five laps.
The Quickest 15 Minutes of My Life
While I wouldn’t accuse the Energica Ego Corsa of being the most nimble motorcycle that I have ever ridden, I do think the MotoE bike can rival some current superbikes in the handling department, especially when it comes to side-to-side transitions.
That is interesting when you consider the sizable heft that comes from the onboard batteries, though it speaks volumes to our lack of perception regarding rotating masses, which the Energica has few of (tires and chain are the bulk of it).
One interesting note though is the differences in engine braking, which can catch out some riders who are used to letting the engine and transmission slow a bike into a corner, especially while trail braking the front calipers.
This setting can be adjusted on the dash of course, but savvy riders find a similar effect by adding more rear brake to help the bike finish the corner entry.
With narrow-band 330mm T-Drive discs from Brembo, and monoblock GP4 calipers to match, braking on the Energica Ego Corsa is not an issue when doing the up-and-down work, as the ample braking power is able to wrestle the nearly 800 lbs of rider and machine to stop with relative ease.
It helps too that the MotoE bike has “only” 160hp or so (Energica is shy about releasing an actual horsepower figure, but says that the bike has more than 120 kW on tap), which means manageable top-end speeds down the fast sections of Valencia.
But, where the electric bike can be intimidating is out of the slower corners. Energica is again not forthcoming on an exact spec, but more than 167 lbs•ft (200 Nm) or torque is available to the rider, with no traction control to get in the way.
This makes for an interesting experience from a heavy motorcycle, as the bike excels at getting out of the corners like a superbike, but loses power on the butt dyno as speeds increase down long straights.
Part of this sensation comes from the fact that the torque curves from electric motors aren’t truly flat, despite what people often say.
While they do indeed make gobs of torque from the get-go, that turning force on the rear wheel tends to diminish at a certain point in the rpm range and drops more as you go further (just like on a thermic bike), which in our application leads to the motorcycle losing acceleration (note: not velocity) about halfway down the Valencia front straight.
The standout for the Energica Ego Corsa though is that this race bike can hit these performance figures all race long, with the bike’s power limited to these numbers to assure race-day performance parity between competitors – an important factor in spec-bike class.
This factoid is of note though, as the street bike version of the Ego cannot make a similar claim.
Both bikes, I would say from my experience, have similar one-lap potential, but the street bike could only hold its pace for about 1.5 laps in a six-lap race at my home circuit. Contrast that to what the Energica Ego Corsa was able to achieve over a whole race distance at Valencia.
The issue is heat, and the difference in this regard comes in the form of the battery pack that is used in the MotoE World Cup.
With more than 50% more battery onboard, the Energica Ego Corsa is able to create less heat per lap than its street bike counterpart, primarily because the current draw necessary for this use can be spread over a greater number of battery cells.
With each cell in the battery being used less rigorously, the performance required by the rider can be maintained for a longer duration. The guesswork then for the FIM, Dorna, and Energica is to figure out how many laps at full-speed this means the MotoE riders can have at each racing round.
It is of note thought that the 2020 model year Ego sees its battery pack increased from 11.7 kWh (nominal) to 18.9 kWh, which should significantly increase the street bike’s ability to handle thermal issues and maintain performance.
A Word About Glorious Sticky Michelin Tires
Before we get too far talking about performance though, we should make it clear that it is the tires that are actually the real limiting factor when it comes to spinning laps on the MotoE bike, as Michelin has built special units for the race class, which are super, super soft.
The rear tire construction is more similar in philosophy to what you would find in the World Superbike paddock, largely because of the added weight that comes from the Energica Ego Corsa, whereas the front tire is built around a MotoGP design approach.
Both tires give immense grip though, but do so at the cost of only living for a short number of laps thanks to their high-performance compound. Coming back into the pits after the session, each MotoE bike had absolutely destroyed its set of Michelin tires, with huge gobs of rubber balling up on the shoulders of each hoop.
Engineered to live for 10 laps or less, the Michelins were truly impressive to use, but you do have to mind them on your out-lap.
Designed to be taken off warmers and immediately put into the hands of racers, keeping the heat in the tires was priority #1 on our out-lap at Valencia, as we had already seen the day before during the MotoE race what happens when you don’t keep the Michelins up to temperature.
If a track day after a grand prix, on a purpose-built race bike, didn’t already make one feel like a grand prix star, then the super exclusive GP rubber from Michelin certainly did the trick. We could have probably spent a whole day just learning the performance envelope on these exceptional tires, but alas…just five laps.
Yeah, But Would You Buy It?
I always end these reviews with the same question prompt in the heading, which asks: would I buy this motorcycle with my hard-earned cash?
That seems a funny question, considering the subject of this review isn’t actually for sale. But, I think the idea is valid because I do want to buy something like the Energica Ego Corsa.
For starters, I quite like the bike’s overall design, as I find the sleek front fairing and tail section much more appealing than what is on the street bike model.
The weight is still an issue, and it is clearly well above 500 lbs (the street bike tips the scales at 568 lbs, mind you), but you don’t notice it as much once the bike is moving. It is really only under braking that Sir Issac Newton reminds you of his First Law of Motion.
Doing a 15-minute session at Valencia and returning with 40% of my charge still remaining suggests that a couple more laps at the Spanish track could have been possible, and likely still without performance limiting.
That means the Energica Ego Corsa is capable of handling your typical session at a track day, and with around 10 kW of juice available from one of the many RV outlets found at most tracks, a full day of track riding on this electric bike is certainly possible when recharging between stints.
This starts to make the brain wonder.
The riding experience on the MotoE bike is quite high, and though my time was short, it was well-enjoyed.
If the metric for whether a motorcycle is good or not is based on how badly you want to get back on it, then the Energica Ego Corsa scores quite high.
The rocket ship torque is quite addicting, and the connection between rider and machine is much higher when you take away the distractions of shifting gears and blaring engines. The idea that you could have night track days, under the lights and stars, without offending the neighbors is intriguing as well.
Overall, the Energica Ego Corsa is an impressive package, and it is easy to see why the MotoE races have been good racing, with close-fought battles all the way to the finish.
I would still like to see another 50 lbs taken out of the bike, and maybe another 5 kWh of energy onboard to truly justify the likely $40,000+ price tag that would have to come with it, but it’s not hard to imagine how the next incarnation could hit this sweet spot.
We know for the 2020 season, the MotoE race bike will remain the same, but Energica has already teased to us that the package will make a technological step forward for the 2021 season.
If for the 2022 model year a consumer model of the Corsa was made available from Energica, I could easily see it being a sought-after machine for track day and racing enthusiasts, who were looking for something a little different in their paddock tent. Heck, I’d buy one.