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Current Mobility: Riding the Future Today.

The Brammo Enertia


This report, review, random flow of words or whatever you want to call it was originally going to be titled: my WEEKEND w/ ENERTIE. It was going to parallel and draw plot points from that 80s classic movie, Weekend at Bernies, while at the same time I discussed my time with the Brammo Enertia. I decided against that idea because: 1) My time with the Brammo Enertia was much more than a weekend. 21 days and growing as of 12/1/2011. 2) The name Enertie is just horrid and I didnt want to saddle such a fine machine with such an awful name. 3) I realized it was a silly idea at best. At worst? Well we wont mention that in such polite company as this.

Some Background:
How did a fifty year old Pediatric Sonographer living in Albuquerque, NM get a long- term test ride of an electric motorcycle from a small company located in Ashland, Oregon? Well if you ask the nice people over at Brammo Owners Forum (a fan site not officially connected to Brammo: http://brammoforum.com/) they will likely say, With a lot of Whining. I instead say, With an intelligent, persuasive barrage of logicand some mild whining. It actually started when I realized I had a true south facing, slightly tilted roof on my house. I also live at 5300 feet and we have 310 sunny days a year. Strong, beautiful sun beats down on that roof almost everyday. It seemed a crime to not harvest that energy in some way. So I added solar panels to my roof. At that point I realized I could actually use that energy to decrease our household dependence on gas and oil. So I started looking at electric cars. That also led to looking at electric motorcycles (again, 310 sunny days and a 5.2 mile commute to work each way = plenty of days to bicycle to work in the summer and scooter to work the rest of the year). Long, LONG story short (I ordered my first electric car in Feb 2008 and I still dont own an electric vehicle): I pre-ordered a Brammo Enertia Plus, joined the Brammo Owners Forum where I learned tons of information about EVs and posted way too many times and became just a weeeee bit obsessive about owning an electric vehicle (and learned to write run-on sentenceseh, who am I kiddingIve been writing horrid run-on and on sentences and crazy sentence fragments since the first time I could write). After a few e-mails back and forth with the nice people at Brammo (www.Brammo.com), including Facebook, Twitter and various other modern ways to cyber-stalk a company, Adrian Stewart (Director of Sales and Marketing at Brammo) asked me if I wanted to test drive an Enertia. I mentioned the distance from Ashland to Albuquerque and politely inquired as to length of said test ride. A few more emails and the very intelligent people at Brammo decided that it was safer to keep me in Albuquerque than have my stalking move further west. And so an Enertia was boxed up tight and shipped to the beautiful Southwest. And thus began my little adventure.

But enough Background as this really isnt about me (my wife is reading over my shoulder and just walked away laughing and mumbling something that sounded a lot like Ha, Gavin its always about you, but I must have misheard her.)

The Arrival:
After a few obstacles (bike needed to be registered, bike needed platesand most likely people above Mr. Stewart needed to be convinced I wasnt going to get bike and make my way 35 miles at a time toward the Mexican border), I received the email I was waiting for: November 3, 2011: Enertia is registered and shipping today! After a painful weekend of the bike sitting in Fresno, CA for 3 freakin days, the bike slowly moved east and arrived in Albuquerque at 3:22 pm on Wednesday, November 9. And yes, I left work early so I could be there when SHE arrived. And yes, all my rides are female in my mind. It is not sexist. I just think of beautiful things as shes and smelly things that sit and watch too much football with Cheetos stains on t-shirt and hand down pants as hesis that so wrong? Even though I was tracking the shipment hourly like Norad tracks Santa each Christmas, I wasnt sure this would really happen until the box arrived. Heck, even then I thought the box would be empty with just a note saying, Got Ya. After all, why would this start-up company send ME a lovely bike to abuseI mean drive very very carefully? But then I realized it really was happening as the ONE delivery man attempt to move the large, heavy box all by his self. And I also realized just how lucky I was to get this opportunity. After watching the poor delivery guy nearly kill himself and then nearly tip the box over to a nasty 4 foot drop out of truck, I decide to give him a handliterally a hand as my left wrist was still in a brace from my non-displaced fracture of the distal Ulna styloid process.* My first broken bone in 50 years of living.and since it was non-displaced I dont really count it as a fracture anyways. Luckily I had talked the ER into a brace instead of a cast as I knew the Enertia was coming and riding in a cast would raise a few eyebrows. But a nice black brace looks amazingly like protective riding gear.

Poor box ripped from stem to sterngutted like a fishwhat other colorful phrases can we add here?

So somehow the bike safely makes it from truck to nice and safe level ground. The cardboard is dented to heck and torn in a couple of places, but I peek through the hole and the bike looks perfect and intact. And then came my first post-delivery discovery about Brammo Brammo LOVES metal screws. Brammo likely has stock in some metal screw company. Either that or Brammo is mildly sadistic. OMG, 30 minutes later and Im finally removing the final screw that holds cardboard to metal frame. I want to get at the bike so badly and each little screw is taunting mebut I had promised to keep the box and frame nice and intact for when I return the Enertia to Brammo. Without that promise cardboard ripping would have commenced immediately and with Great Gusto. This, strangely enough, was the name of one of my Great Uncles. With a name like that, one might think, Circus performer? Nope, just an Accountant.

First peek at bike. Beautiful. Damn you metal screwsI want to sit on her NOW.

Finally, cardboard is removed and bike is bare for the world to see. First impression is that she is a beautiful and well put together motorcycle. A REAL motorcycle and not some DIY project bike. This is a theme that will be repeated many times over the course of many days and with many other motorcyclists. Most think of electric as either cheap or unfinished in quality. Everyone is surprised at just how well the Enertia is put together. The repeated comment is: Wow, that is a real motorcycle. To which I reply, Yeah, that is what Brammo wanted to make. A real motorcycle that just happens to run on electricity instead of gas.

Frame comes off surprisingly easy. Of course after those damn metal screws a root canal without Novocain would seem easy.

Intentional LENS FLARE effectI had just re-watched Star Trek the night before. PSThat bottom metal frame is HEAVY.

After that it was merely release the two tie-downs and push bike off frame and done. 4:30 pm and the bike is sitting in the driveway as my wife comes home and asks how long cardboard and frame will be in street and driveway. I promise her not more than a week. This garners the expected remark of, Move them now before it gets dark and you find some excuse not to. Sigh. This is when I discover just how amazingly heavy that bottom frame is. After pushing the double hernia back in place and holding it in with Duct Tape (oh Duct Tape, what cant you do?) it is time for a RIDE!

The Bike:
Ok, the meat and potatoes. After all, nobody really is reading this to find out about me or about how the bike was packaged. They want to know about the bike.

First Ride: After a quick read-through of the manual (yes I adhere to the RTfM doctrine) and checking out the cool swag Mr. Stewart had added to shipment (pamphlets on the Enertia, Enertia Plus, and Empulsea SIGNED photo from Mr. Steve Atlas and many promotional photos of Brammo bikes), I was ready for my first ride. And though I have been riding 2 wheelers since I was 5 and been a daily scooter rider for 6 years with over 25 thousand miles traveled, well I have never.hate to admit itnever ridden a motorcycle....Oh the shame.++ So I throw leg over seat and sit for a moment. Good size. Nice weight. Amazing balance (dont let Brammo know but I ride this bike with no hands way too much. Heck she rides easier with no hands than my bicycles. Crazy, steady balance). The workmanship is perfect. No misaligned seams, no misplaced screws, no cheap feeling parts (well not a huge fan of the fenders but they are recycled material, so at least the fenders are green.) I go through the start up steps. Insert key, turn on, push and hold button on tank, lift kickstand, turn on headlights and cycle the throttle on/off switch. Holy crap that is a lot of steps. It gets to be routine, but the first time it is like those metal screws (they still haunt me in my dreams), a long process when all you want to do is RIDE. But now she is ready to goI think. Not a sound, no vibrationis she really on? A twist of the throttle and YES she is really on. The first two blocks are really strange. A slight hum of the motor at low speed. The quiet sound of the tires on road. I can hear the bike chain revolving which strikes me as very strange for some reason. Increase the throttle and that motor hum whines a bit louder. Still the bike feels incredibly stealthy and as I approach people on the sidewalks they sometimes jump a bit when I pass as they had no idea I was there until I am right beside them and then quickly, quietly past. After those two blocks of strangeness, suddenly she just feels right. Great balance. Wonderful weight. Perfect around corners. Steady brakes and CLEAN acceleration. The acceleration curve is very well done. Yes, no wheelies. Yes, no burnouts. But if you want to get off the light quickly and smoothly and leave the cars in your side mirrorswell this is a great bike for that. My first ride was a short one. Basically night was falling and I didnt feel I could do a first ride justice. I took a couple of miles ride around my neighborhood to get a good feel. Nothing over 40 mph. But I knew, thanks to Brammo, that I would have time to really test her right over the next couple of weeks or so. Ive now put over 500 miles on the bike and I can say Ive driven her in almost every condition except hot weather. Ive ridden in snow and sleet (not a hiccup), in below-freezing weather and Ive ridden longish trips (70 miles in one day is my record) and short trips to my daughters house (4 blocks awaywe are a crazy tight family). I have not had a single issue with the bike except that, of course, I would love more range. Come on Plus.

70 mile rideI live at the base of that mountain off in the distance.

Likes:
1) Build quality is very very high. Quality parts, quality construction. No loose parts, no mismatched seams. Just a solid solid bike. 2) The Ride. As said before, balanced, light, flickable ride. Perfect for the city. Great for the suburbs. Not sure about rural riding. Havent done any yet. 3) The Speed. While she is not fast, she is quick. Acceleration is smooth. Winning off the line is easy against cars. Passing cars is also effortless as she goes from 30 to 50 in almost nothing. It is easy to get addicted to 100% torque. 4) The Quiet. While a bit strange at first, it becomes second nature almost instantly. Loud pipes never really interested me, now quiet pipes dont really interest me either. I want near silence on all my rides if possible. 5) I really like that so far everything is pretty effortless. I get on and ride. I stop and charge. Not much else. And getting on and riding is what it is all about. 6) No GAS. I like that Im likely spending 10 to 20 cents a day on electricity. And at home all that electricity comes from my solar panels. Truly renewable and emissions free.

Comments from others:


Good balance, nice low center of gravity: Scooter Mechanic Solid and fun. Like the first time I rode a motorcycle, it was all new again. Great look. I thought it would look rough or cheap, but it is very polished. A real motorcycle look: Motorcycle mechanic. Once you go electric, gas sucks: 70 year old ex-mechanic visiting from Floridahe was talking about golf carts, but it applies here as well Nice ride in this morning. I ran into Gavin and his incredible electric motorcycle. I watched him roll the throttle and watched that bike pull like a slot car, quick and fast!: Caf Racers Facebook post. I love that quote as the bike does ride just like a slot carturn the throttle and ZOOM. Nice. And I had multiple comments from people about how it looks great, a real motorcycle etc etc ME: I ride way too often with no hands to admit to Brammo. Great balance. Heck better balance than my bicycles. And that instant torque is addictive. Going down the road at 30-35 mph and the car next to you is making you nervous because the person is texting and putting on mascara at the same time? Twist the throttle and youre at 50 mph in about a second and the car is already 5-6 car lengths behind you. Great, powerful feeling. So, city and suburban passing is great. Crazy fast and smooth acceleration. Other comments in my notes: Ha, last weekend I did 70 miles on the Enertia in a day. Highway today for the first time. Hit 66 mph, no big issues

Is there anything better than Fall riding?

While I love the quote, Slot car, quick and fast, in reality with a top speed of 66the highest I got the Enertia to go on the short 3 mile highway test I tookwell you cant really call the Enertia fast. But she sure is quick. And that quickness makes her feel fastand that is important. Cityperfect (with some storage). Suburbiaperfect (with storage and a map to help move out of suburbia ). Highwayok for short jaunts if the speed limit is 65. Actually fine for highway use if the speed limit is still 55 as the Enertia can easily hold 55 all day long (or till the battery runs out). Not well suited for any 75 mph speed limit highways. But then she is made for commuting and she does that brilliantly.

Differences and Dislikes


1. The Enertia is colder to ride than my scooters (no leg shield). I never thought about my legs before when doing winter rides. I will have to layer up a bit more this winter. (This is not really an Enertia problemmore a naked motorcycle vs scooter problem). 2. Mirrors. This will be the first thing I change when I get my Plus. They are too small and narrow. (edit. Latest photos of the 2012 models show different mirrors. So I will give them a shot before going bar end mirrors. )

3. Storage. Some would be nice. Under seat storage fits the cord and not much else. Even enough for an extra pair of gloves would be nice (Personally I often use one pair of gloves for the morning commute and a lighter pair of gloves for the evening commute). Cord, gloves and space for a Brake Disc lock would be ideal if it can be done without changing the seat shape too much. 4. Steering Lock. Oh boy do I see why this is complained about. Gah, garage turning is painful. Luckily I hear the new Enertia and Plus have this improved. Turns and moves fine at speed and in traffic, but movement in close confines is hampered quite a bit. 5. Fan. Not a fan of the fan. It came on after less than 10 miles of city driving. It is noisy. And this was riding in 40 degree weather. I would hate to see how quickly it comes on in August. There is also a second, internal fan that comes on when charging. I liked the idea of New York City people taking their Enertias inside, up the elevator and charging them in their living rooms. This keeps the bike nice and safe, no issues with finding parking or locating charging outlets and the Brammo bikes would make a nice bit of furniture art in any apartment or flat. And there is no gas smell, no oil drips, just pretty, clean lines. This seems less likely with the charging fan. (Edit. I have found I can go a farther without the fan coming on by driving a bit less aggressively. Stopping and starting really increases the motor temperature fast. Engine braking increases the temps too. So basically never slowing down or braking is the key. But that just increases the no fan running range from 10 miles to 13.) Still, one of the things I love about the Enertia is the quiet. Both the internal fan when charging at home and the external fan that comes on when the motor gets too hot hurt that quietness. It still isnt ICE loud, but louder than I like. You get spoiled quickly by the quiet. The external motor fan comes on at around 160 degrees. I watch my temp gauge more than I watch my battery status as I try to ride and keep my motor temp as low as possible. I love when people come up at a light and ask me questions. But the whole, Is that electric? Is it on? Wow that is quiet! is lost when they are asking over the fan noise. Home on the Range Range Range: Ah that is almost always the first question, So how far can you ride? Second is, How fast does it go? Third, How much does it cost. Fourth, Stop looking at me creepy old man. Wait, that last one isnt a question. Im getting about 33-35 miles on my commute (It is city riding, but kinda suburban too. Albuquerque is big and lots of city roads of 40 mph or higher). To work is 5.2 miles and I use about 15% of the battery to get to work. Round trip of 10.4 miles and I get home with 68 to 70% battery. Throw in a few errands and I still get home at 50% or more. So range isnt an issue until I do extra riding. The problem is I LIKE TO DO EXTRA RIDING. A lot. So I cant wait for the Plus. But the reality is this: for average commuting the Enertia is a near perfect bike.

Charging: For me Charging takes about 3 hours when I run the Enertia down to about 10%.
Since I usually charge when at around 50%, charging takes about 1 hours. So charging overnight keeps the Enertia at 100% every morning. Lately Ive been charging at work instead of home. Either way is fine, as I always have plenty of charge for my commuting and for my daily errands.

I have found that I can ask and get a charge just about anywhere I go (110 outlets are everywhere. Thank you Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 and New Deal's Rural Electrification Administration). So stopping to eat or hang out with friends easily turns into me having a fully charged bike again. Perhaps it is just my pleasant personality, but not only have I never had anybody say no yet, I have had places go out of their way to help me charge (one restaurant took the bike inside their storeroom to charge for mesuper nice). Now perhaps this will becomes less common as more and more electric vehicles are riding around looking for juice, but right now I have had no issues with any business letting me snag a bit of free juice.

Enertia getting some juice at Rio Rancho High School. And yes I asked permissionno detention for me.

Suggestions: This is a list of suggestions I sent to Brammo relating to my test ridewhether


they do any of these, who knows. This part is taken verbatim from emails sent to Brammo. ME: Ok....150 miles later (edit: over 500 now)...a few suggestions...minor things... The first 2 could easily be implemented on the 2012 model...the other 2 could, but might have to wait for the 2013 model (if you like these suggestions...if not, please ignore as the bike is great...just thought a couple of small things could be tweaked. I'm not getting into things I've heard are already changing with the 2012--steering lock etc...) 1) This is the simplest suggestion as it is just a software change...The start-up LCD screen currently is "Battery Status"...this seems a bit of a mistake...I know that the first time I rode the Enertia I basically stared at this screen as the numbers went from 99, to 98, to 97 etc...it was fairly worrisome the first time watching that number drop pretty darn fast...I think changing the start up LCD display to be the summary page is much better...you get more information and the "BATT" number is just one of many numbers...so it is less worrisome...plus you get the Range (estimated miles remaining) and that is more reassuring..."yes the BATT has gone from 99 to 89, but I still have 30 miles left" is a better thought process running through the drivers brain than, "crap, I've gone from 99 to 89 and it keeps dropping"....range issues go away fairly fast, but that first screen just doesn't give a great first impression (I'm sure it will be better on the Plus and Empulse as the number will drop slower...still I like the summary as a start up screen much better and personally I change it every time I ride).

2) Seat Lock position. This is also simple (though could be more complex...but that is suggestion 5 ). Move lock from kickstand side to opposite side...a small thing, but with the bike leaning on the kick stand the lock faces toward the ground....if moved to opposite side, well now with the bike on the kickstand the lock actually faces up toward owner...makes it easier to access. Especially in a tight garage setting or when opening the seat in the dark. 3). Bigger change and perhaps not doable now...and maybe not ever...but....I dislike having to take off the seat every time I charge...95% of the time I charge will be at home in my garage. I would LOVE for the bike to come with 2 extension cords...one stays under the seat for on the road charging...the other stays at home for at home charging...that is the simple part...now move the A/C power entry connector to a place near the seat lock (now moved to opposite side of the kickstand per suggestion 2 ). This allows at home charging without opening and removing seat. I understand there may be a reason not to have the power entry connector outside the protection of the seat, but if possible it would be really nice to do. 4) Under seat storage....I know space is at a premium, but it would be grand if the under-seat area was increased just a bit...perhaps just a bit deeper (I will do a drawing later) But at least deep enough to place cord, manual and a Disc Lock. I lock the Enerita everywhere I go...but that means having to carry the disc lock in my jacket pocket...would LOVE for it to fit under seat. Space for a pair of gloves is nice too. 5) Seat: Now this is a more complex change, but every scooter I've owned has a hinged seat...so it opens, but doesn't come off...The Brammo feels SO well put together, so solid and with amazing fit and finish...except that seat coming off...not a killer, but having it with a hinge (front or back) would make it feel better...at least to me...Now incorporating a hinge without hurting the clean lines of the Enertia, well that is why we pay the designers big bucks Seat lock could also be moved to opposite side of hinge (like on a P150)...but again, this could be a bigger change and likely wait for future models... 6) Under the seat is this "support" area...not 100% sure what it is for....but if you either made the manual a bit smaller, or made the "support" a bit bigger/deeper, well it could be an excellent place to put the manual and registration...have to move the manual each time you charge isn't a huge issue, but a bit of a pain...having it held in place would be very simple and nice and with this "support" area, well you are almost there already. (Edit: as the new 2012 manual will be very big (6 languages?). Could the maintenance/repair portion be a separate book....I don't need the whole manual with the bike, but the portion that contains the maintenance schedule and check off portion is nice to keep with the bike...and would be a good place to keep the bike registration).

End of Suggestions

++Some more Background:


I am a scooter rider. I went for 6 years (43 to 49) without owning a car and only riding my scooters or bicycles. 365 days a year, rain or shinelike a postman, but better dressed and no pension. Thus I approach most of my observations about the Enertia, obviously, from a scooterist eye (well maybe not a scooterist eyethose are usually bloodshot, slightly jaundiced, recently punchedat least in my circle). I never saw myself as a motorcycle rider as it didnt make much sense throwing a leg over a dirty engine when I was commuting to work in Khaki pants. Plus I dont really fit in with either the Harley crowd or the crotch rocket set. But a nice, clean electric bike suddenly opened up that M/C world to me. And it is hella fun. Part of me will always be a scooterist. I love the wind protection. I love the effortless storage (not a huge fan of side bagsthe motorcycle designer goes to great lengths to make a beautiful machine and then we drape bulky bags along the back. Just murders the clean, beautiful lines of every bike Ive seensigh, but whats a rider to do?). And scooters were my first love. But I do love the feel of being more a part of the bike.

Conclusion:
I am way too verbose. In all seriousness this review could have been 2 or 3 sentences. 1) I like ita lot! I have ridden it everyday Ive had it and dont see that changing anytime soon. 2) A well put together bike that requires little maintenance and uses no GAS. 3) If you live in a city, buy one of these. If you live in the suburbs, buy one of these. If you live in a rural area, wait a couple of years and buy one of these (or an Encite/Engage). * My non-medical friends asked me to circle the fracture as everything looks broken to them. That says quite a bit about my friends.

**Disclosure 1: I am not an employee of Brammo, nor is anybody in my family employed by Brammo. I have not received any financial benefit from Brammo, or any benefits other than the use of the Brammo Enertia. ***Disclosure2: I have not driven other electric motorcycles to compare to the Enertia. I am open to doing an extended test and review of other EV motorcycles and cars if any company wishes to send me theirs to test. Zero, Honda, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Ford.any and all are welcome. ****Disclosure3: And this concludes an almost 5000 word review that could easily be whittled down to about 500 wordsha, whittledalways makes be think of the Beastie Boysbut that is only because I confused whittled and wiffle in my head

Enertia in front of Walts House from Breaking Bad.

And now Im off for a Ride.