Brammo Electric Motorcycles FAQ

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Questions:  
How much does regenerative braking contribute to range?
Answers 
Regen adds about 5% depending on riding style. And of course it also improves the handling of a high performance bike like the Empulse R – so the Empulse rides like the best street fighter you have ever ridden.
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Questions:  
You claim 105 mph top speed…is it really that fast?
Answers 
Yes it is. All but the heaviest riders will achieve over 100 mph on the Empulse.
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Questions:  
Where will the Empulse R be assembled?
Answers 
Production is getting underway at our facility in Ashland, Oregon, USA.
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Questions:  
With all this performance just how economical is the Empulse R
Answers 
In mpg terms it’s the equivalent of 480+ mpg-e
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Questions:  
What will it cost to ride an Empulse?
Answers 
Assuming 13 cents/kWh for electricity

  • The Empulse would cost 1 cent / mile to operate ridden as per CARB urban riding loop.
  • The Empulse would cost less than 2 cents a mile (1.7 cents) ridden as per US06 highway riding schedule.
  • The Empulse costs about $3 to go 300 miles

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Questions:  
Charge time level 1 vs. level 2
Answers 

Level 1 charging => limited to 12 Amps from a standard 120Vac North American wall outlet = 8 hours

Level 2 charging => 3.5 hours

European charging => EU household voltage is more like Level 2 in the US, therefore = 3.5 hours

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Questions:  
Can the regenerative braking be adjusted? How much battery is recovered via regenerative braking?
Answers 
Regenerative mapping is set at the factory. The Empulse has a “normal” and “sport” map that is detterminede by the customer on the dash. “Normal” mode has about 20% less regenerative braking than “Sport” mode, which makes for a smoother in-town riding experience during repeated on-off throttle application. The amount of regenerative energy recovered is highly dependent on the type of riding and the riding environment (i.e. hills, speeds, stop/starts…). On a long city speed ride, with some hills, we would expect regenerative braking to recover about 2% of battery capacity. The maximum amount of regenerative energy recoverable is probably around 5%.
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Questions:  
What is dealer vs customer adjustable? (ie- regenerative braking)
Answers 
The customer is not expected/allowed to make motor controller setting changes. These settings are critical to the performance and safety of the motorcycle and our extensive validation testing is only valid based on factory settings. As Brammo develops improved firmware and software settings, these updates will be rolled out to dealers to update through the service diagnostic interface on customer motorcycles. In most cases, the update will be issued as an “at-will” upgrade for the customer to improve some function – for example, more reliable SOC indication, or a non-critical bug fix.
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Questions:  
Why a chain and not a belt?
Answers 
A chain is a very efficient means of transferring power to the rear wheel. Belts can come close to the efficiency of a chain, but require additional tensioning pulleys and more expensive “sprockets”. Belts require a break in the suspension assembly because they cannot be “broken” like a chain can for removal. Belts are more expensive, costly to repair, and require more packaging space. Changes in final drive ratios are also more difficult. Most performance bikes choose chain drive over belt. The Enertia Plus and the Empulse are designed to be “quiet” but not “silent”. All drive systems have pros and cons. Some riders prefer chains, some prefer drive shafts and some prefer belts.
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Questions:  
Why not LED lighting?
Answers 
LED main beam headlights are not broadly available yet and are very expensive. The main challenge with an LED main beam (not accessory or driving light) is that the cone of light needs to be quite broad and even, which is difficult to achieve with LED’s. Although LED’s are more efficient than halogen or incandescent lighting, the difference is a drop in the bucket for a battery as large as the one on the Empulse. As an example, the difference for a headlight is roughly 30 Watts. Therefore, if you were riding for an hour with the headlight on, you would save 30 Watt-hours. The Empulse has a 9,300 Watt-hour battery pack, so the energy savings would be 0.3%. Brammo does use an LED brake light. LED turn signals are readily available in the aftermarket and can be easily swapped by the dealer or customer.
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Questions:  
Why a 6 speed transmission?
Answers 
In a nutshell - to maximize the available performance from the motorcycle. A direct drive forces you to make a gearing compromise – i.e. either gear for top speed or for acceleration. With a transmission, we can have the best of both worlds and get all the performance the motor has to offer. Six-speeds gives more flexibility to operate the motor at peak power and efficiency for any riding speed AND prevents the motor from being forced through too large of an rpm change, which could damage the motor or motor controller. Many motorcycles have a similar top speed to the Empulse and also feature 6-speed transmissions. Because of the significant torque available from the motor, the Empulse is more tolerant to being in the “wrong” gear, but there is definitely a “right” gear to be in for a particular speed and road load. Shift lights illuminate on the Empulse dash in sequence from about 6,000 rpm to 7,000 rpm. Brammo, and other companies (Mission Motors, Lightning, and Motocyzsz), use direct drive on our race bikes, but these are different beasts as they operate at very high voltages – i.e. 300 to 400Vdc. We use that voltage to overcome the back EMF (the motor’s own generated magnetic field that resists spinning) of the motor to get both good low-end torque AND good power (speed x torque). High voltage systems are too expensive for everyday motorcycles right now.
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Questions:  
Battery life and detailed explanation by model (Enertia / Empulse) of life span / SOC) (ie how much does battery degrade over time?)
Answers 
Enertia Plus – rated to 1,500 cycles to 80% of its original capacity. At 50 miles average range per charge cycle, this equates to 75,000 miles. The Brammo 44/70 battery pack is designed to last the life of the vehicle, which is typically assumed to be 10 years. The typical customer will travel 3,000-4,000 miles per year, which equates to only 80 full charge cycles per year.

Empulse – also rated to 1,500 cycles to 80% of its original capacity. At 70 miles average per charge cycle, this equates to 105,000 miles. The battery pack is designed to last the life of the bike, typically assumed to be 10 years. The typical customer may travel up to 6,000 miles per year, which is still less than 100 full charge cycles.

Other Notes:

  • Using the motorcycle year round (in warm climates) is good for the batteries - i.e. they prefer to be used than stored.
  • If the bike is to be stored for extended periods, then the batteries should be less than 70% state of charge to reduce capacity loss due to storage.
  • There is no harm done by “topping off” the batteries even if they are at 100%. This actually helps extend the life of the battery pack.
  • There is no “memory” effect as there was with the old style NiCad electronics batteries. No lithium-ion battery has “memory”.
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Questions:  
Can batteries be replaced/updated and at what cost? What are projections for cost of replacement in the future?
Answers 
The battery of both the Empulse and Enertia Plus are covered under warranty for 2 years. i.e. there would be no cost to the customer to replace if the battery failed within this time frame. Future battery upgrades are possible, but our assumption is that the cost would be prohibitive and in most cases, the customer would prefer to purchase a newer model year product instead and receive the benefits of continued development of motor, motor controller, and other systems on the motorcycle. If under extreme circumstances, a full battery pack were required to be replaced outside of warranty, the cost would be roughly ½ the retail cost of the bike. The labor required to install the battery packs would be quite expensive, given that the wiring harness and many subassemblies would need to be removed and re-installed. Rather like upgrading your Ducati 848 to an 1199 engine. Technically, it’s feasible, but you’d be much better off just buying an 1199.
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Questions:  
Will the rider be able to set the brake lights to flash when using regenerative braking?
Answers 
No. We looked into this and although it is relatively easy to implement we do not believe it makes a contribution to road safety.
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Questions:  
Why does engine RPM drop to zero when shifting?
Answers 
Because no idle speed is required. You can’t “stall” an electric motor. The best way to shift the Empulse is to “power shift” – i.e. back off the throttle to unload the gearbox and then pull the shift – without the clutch. Use the clutch to downshift. There is absolutely no need to use the clutch when starting or stopping.
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Questions:  
Why steel and not aluminum swingarm?
Answers 
Steel tube structures are very strong and efficient. As an illustration, the Empulse swingarm weighs in at 10.5lbs. While the cast aluminum Triumph Street Triple R swingarm weighs in at 13.6lbs.
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Questions:  
Does performance degrade in extreme temperatures (hot or cold)?
Answers 
Yes. Cold weather is a bigger concern as the cold reduces the ability of the battery to deliver current. Below freezing temperatures, customers will likely notice that the bike feels “sluggish” until it warms up. The batteries essentially “self-heat” as they deliver current, so they’ll warm as the ride continues. Best case would be keeping the bike in a warm garage overnight so the batteries don’t become “cold-soaked”.
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Questions:  
The Empulse VIN plate shows tire pressures as being 42 front/42 rear. The VIN plate picture in the manual shows the same. Why are the pressures so high?
Answers 
These are the pressures suggested by Avon for running maximum loading on the bike. Our experience has shown that most riders will choose to use less pressure (say 34 F / 36 R) for typical loading and street riding.
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Questions:  
Is there a rev limiter on the Empulse?
Answers 
Yes. There is a software imposed rev-limiter that will prevent over-revving the motor. Try powershifting the upshift when accelerating aggressively. Back-off the throttle momentarily to remove load from the gearbox and simultaneously pull the upshift, without using the clutch. This results in a faster, cleaner upshift, with less wear and tear on the clutch and motor.
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Questions:  
Given most electricity is generated from fossil fuels does this really make a difference?
Answers 
Yes it does make a difference. Here is why: Electric motors are much more efficient than internal-combustion engines. They use much less energy (in joules) per mile or kilometer, and can also recapture the kinetic energy of the motorcycle when decelerating. Also, combined-cycle power generation is almost twice as efficient as a small diesel engine. Considering losses of transmission, batteries, and motors, the well-to-wheel efficiency of an electric vehicle that runs on natural gas is still better (albeit marginally) than the well-to-wheel efficiency of liquid petroleum gas-fueled internal-combustion-engine vehicles. So, electric vehicles are still good for the environment without renewable power generation or carbon capture.
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Questions:  
Are Brammo motorcycles waterproof?
Answers 
Yes. The wiring harness is built with automotive grade, fully sealed connectors. There is no risk of shock or damage by riding in the rain. However, Brammo definitely does not suggest riding through standing water or using a power washer to clean the motorcycle.
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Questions:  
What happens to the batteries when they are used up?
Answers 
Lithium ion batteries are the most recyclable batteries in the world. Over 90% of the components can be broken down and reused in other ways or they can be kept in their current state and repurposed to service solar cell energy banks or computer network back-up systems.
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Questions:  
What other advantages are there to commuting on my Brammo?
Answers 
Tests comparing car and motorcycle performance on real journeys suggest that traveling by motorcycle can shorten journey times by as much as 33 minutes of every hour for town center and city travel, and 20 minutes of every hour for travel through a mixture of built-up and non-built-up areas. Source: Motorcycle Industry Association
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Questions:  
What is the e-mpg for your motorcycles?
Answers 
Everything below is calculated by using the equivalent that gas/petrol is equal to 33705 Wh/gallon.

  • The Enertia Basic has an MPG-e of 434.9
  • The Enertia Plus has an MPG-e of 481.5
  • The Empulse and Empulse R has an MPG-e of 420.4 using the CARB urban riding loop
  • The Empulse and Empulse R has an MPG-e of 253.7 using the US06 highway riding schedule
  • NB this is based on a US gallon
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Questions:  
Do you offer finance on your motorcycles?
Answers 
Yes we do. Here are the rates as at March 2013. Please check with your local dealer as finance offers change.

  MSRP 8.9% 72 Months 6.9% 60 months 3.9% 36 months
Empulse $16,995 $303 $334 $499
Empulse R $18,995 $339 $373 $558
Enertia Plus $10,995 $196 $216 $323
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