Brammo beginning to release details of the Empulse and Empulse R electric motorcycles
Yesterday, Brammo finally released some details on the Empulse. The bike was first unveiled at the e-Power electric motorcycle race, July 24, 2010, Laguna Seca. But Brammo's people later decided to change the design to incorporate a 6-speed transmission, causing a delay from the originally announced production date in 2011 to a date in 2012. It's 2012 now, and Brammo is starting the marketing rollout to launch the bike. They've released a video (below) and a teaser picture (below) and released specs for the bike. The links below are to the coverage I've done on this bike, as well as the press release.
The choice of adding a 6-speed transmission is controversial to some. I don't quite get it myself, because there are plenty of really fast electric motorcycles that do not have a transmission. However, my electric car has a transmission that I use every time I go on the highway. It's quite useful to switch to a higher gear at higher speed. I can see having two or three gear ratios, but six?
Indeed, 6 gear ratios is complete overkill even for such a fast motorcyle. 2 or at most 3 should completely suffice for greatly enhancing hill climbing ability, acceleration and high speed riding. I strongly assume they took an exisitng 6-speed gearbox design and adapted it to fit to their electric motor of choice...
That's even worse then - what a waste of valuable resources?! Or maybe they were intent on using a tiny cheap motor that would have to heavily rely on different gear rations in order to get adequate performance out of it? But the most plausible reason is that they are targeting old school bikers that will not settle for anything lacking clutch and many many gears to shift through...
I strongly assume they took an exisitng 6-speed gearbox design and adapted it to fit to their electric motor of choice...
And you would be strongly wrong ;-) ... the IET 6-speed comes from this Italian company, and "IET" means Integrated Electric Transmission, meaning it was designed explicitly for electric bikes. Go figure.
Actually, that doesn't necessarily mean that it doesn't have underpinnings in a traditional gearbox design.
I thought much the same thing about the number of ratios being excessive. However, one of the things recently explained to me is that one of the reasons for having many smaller ratios rather than a couple of big steps is for reliability. Apparently it's hard to make a gearbox that will survive the shock of torque introduced by a large shift of gear ratios. That seems to make sense.
Another possibility is that one of the reasons they want 6 speeds is to recreate the riding experience of a sports bike. All that downshifting is downright fun when hustling a sports bike along a twisty road :-)
These bikes are targeted at motorcycle riders who aren't going to lose track of what gear they are in - assuming they don't have a Suzuki-style gear indicator. Sure you don't need 6 speeds to achieve adequate acceleration, but you may well need them to achieve *maximum* acceleration. It's relaxing to ride a hub-motor bike, but I'd love the chance to actually get *excited* while accelerating again. As it is, most motorcycle riders who try out an electric "motorcycle" walk away pitying the people who are willing to settle for their performance. That needs to change for the market for real electric motorcycles to expand.