Tesla and Elon Musk have made electric cars cool.
And not content to make them just cool — Musk & Co. have made them even cooler! The recent media spectacle surrounding unveiling of the all-wheel-drive, 0-60-in-3.2-seconds Model S P85D supercar is a case in point.
But of course as far as the electric car market goes…the situation is rather grim. Tesla kind of has the space to itself, as major automakers have trimmed back their ambitions and startups have faded away or gone bankrupt.
Electric motorcycles, on the other hand, have hung in there. Harley-Davidson rolled out a concept, and both Brammo and Zero continue to make and sell bikes.
The big issue for EVs has been limited range. Tesla has solved that problem by building its car with a big, expensive battery that serves up roughly 300 miles. Most other EVs only deliver 80-100 and are aimed at commuters.
Electric motorcycles, by contrast, are designed for fun. And one of the most fun is the Energica Ego 45 — a superbike, made in Italy (Modena, to be precise), that’s starts at $US34,000 and goes all the way up to $US68,000.
It’s the brianchild of CEO Livia Cevolini, whose grandfather started a company that supplies components to Formula 1 and NASCAR racing teams. She makes no bones about Energica’s DNA — it’s Italian, it’s luxurious, and it’s exclusive. Cevolini’s ambitious have a clear precedent: Ferrari.
Ducati is the Ferrari of motorcycles (even though it’s run by Audi-owned Lamborghini).
Energica wants to be the Ferrari of electric motorcycles. (There’s an American company, Mission, that’s trying to be the Tesla of electric motorcycles — and that has a bike that competes with the Ego on performance.)
One thing that Energica has going for it on this front is that, like Ferrari, Energica’s parent company, CRP, has been developing electric racing bikes. Ferrari grew out of building race cars, so Energica is following a similar, and quite Italian, script.
If you want a very well made, very fast bike that producing no tailpipe emissions but that can match the world’s fastest supercars — Ferraris, Lamboghinis, Porsches — in a 0-60 sprint, the Ego 45 is something that you’ll want to sample.
I did. It’s beautifully designed and executed, quite comfortable to ride, and blisteringly fast. Is it a growling, whining noise machine? No. But it’s still thrilling.
Electric motorcycles have a feature that’s more appealing on two wheels than it is on four. You don’t have to shift gears. On regular gas-powered bikes, this is achieved using a clutch on the left handlebar grip and your foot. But electric motorcycles, like electric cars, have only one speed, so it’s all down to your right hand, twisting the throttle to make the bike move.
And like electric cars, electric bikes have massive torque available from a standing start — so their acceleration is downright frightening. Or exhilarating. It all depends on your perspective.
You might not want to drop the price of a couple of Honda Accords on a plaything like the Ego 45. But if you want to ride a motorcycle and would rather not deal with the gearshifitng business, an electric bike could be the way to go.
In any case, if you ride motorcycles of any sort, you owe it to yourself to give the Energica a try.
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