eBike Technology: Charging Forward | UP TO SPEED

Aiming for the podium improves Brammo’s production machines.

In 2009 Brammo decided to go roadracing. “And we’ve been reaping the benefits ever since,” says Brian Wismann, Brammo’s director of product development. “Through our racing activities we’ve seen improvements to battery power, capacity, and cooling, all of which we’ve leveraged into our production bikes.” It’s said that racing improves the breed, and Brammo is proving that to be true.

Brammo's race team includes pro riders Eric Bostrom on an Empulse-based production racer and Shane Turpin on a full-prototype machine (see Brammo Empulse RR At AHRMA's Sound of Thunder here). Shane's Empulse RR serves as a test bed for new ideas, while the production bike is used to vet technologies before they go to production. "Running both bikes has really helped accelerate development," Wismann says.

I met up with the Brammo crew at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, where both riders were competing in an AHRMA event. I’d come with helmet in hand to take the RR out for a few laps in morning practice. From the high, hard seat the RR feels like any other race-spec superbike, with loads of rear ride height and low, wide clip-ons. After flipping a few switches to wake the bike up, I was rolling silently onto hot pit.

Weighing a claimed 470 pounds, putting an alleged 150 hp to the ground, and cranking out nearly 200 pound-feet of torque at the motor spindle, the RR fired onto the track with alarming speed. Functionally, the RR was completely transparent and fantastically intuitive. My knee kissed the pavement the third turn in, and two curves later I had the rear slick spinning against the traction control as I rolled the throttle to the stop. I was grinning like an idiot in my helmet and relishing the fluid power and razor-sharp handling of this eerily silent and freakishly fast machine. The only impediment to faster laps was weight, as the bike proved challenging to slow down and hard to transition from full lean one way to full lean the other.

With power in spades and terrific handling, for the RR weight is the biggest obstacle to overcome, Turpin says. “It weighs 100 pounds more than my Ducati superbike,” he says. “It’s harder to slow down and get turned, but I love riding it. We make it better every time we go out.”

“If you race, your product will get better,” Bostrom acknowledges. “So much of what we’ve learned from racing has gone into the production bike, like how to keep the motor cool and the power consistent.”

“Both Shane and Eric have been great in making our electric product feel like a proper motorcycle,” Wismann says. “We collect a lot of input from all our employees—they all ride—but these guys have the final say.”

When you have pros like Bostrom and Turpin twisting the throttles and the director of product development and various other engineers and techs on site to absorb feedback and make changes, you’re bound to be successful.

And sure enough, the team has had success at Laguna Seca, Indianapolis, Daytona, and now Miller. Shane defeated a fleet of gas-burning literbikes to take the win in Sound of Thunder, while Bostrom outpaced the electric competition in the eSuperSport class. Not only did the Brammo team members leave the track with trophies, but they took home a stack of notes and lots of ideas for ways to make the bikes better.