New Brammos Feature 6-speed Drivetrain

May 4, 2011
Bart Madson
By Bart Madson
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Bashing away at the MotoUSA keyboard for nine years now, Madson lends his scribbling and editorial input on everything from bike reviews to industry analysis and motorcycle racing reports.

The Engage SMR  Super Moto Racing  and SMS  Super Moto Street  expand Brammos street-legal offerings - the latter model homologated for use on public roads.
Brammo Inc. has announced two additional model lines, including the supermotard Engage SMR and SMS models. All of the new designs make use of a new 6-speed drivetrain.

Brammo Inc has announced two additional model lines, featuring dirt bike and supermotard designs. The Ashland, Oregon-based company also revealed a novel feature for the burgeoning electric motorcycle market, its latest models equipped with a six-speed transmission. The patented drivetrain technology was developed by Brammo’s new strategic partner, Italian engineering firm SMRE.

The Engage SMR (Super Moto Racing) and SMS (Super Moto Street) expand Brammo’s street-legal offerings – the latter model homologated for use on public roads. The Engage MX shares its siblings basic structure but with an off-road specific application. The final model is a minimoto dirt bike, the Encite MMX Pro. The company will debut both off-road models and campaign them in the upcoming MiniMotoSX race in Las Vegas on May 6, 2011. (Brammo will also contest the May 15 TTXGP doubleheader at Infineon with MotoUSA’s Steve Atlas at the helm – read more in our Electric Superbike Racing: Brammo Part I)

6-Speed Electric Drivetrain

The four Brammo models make use of what SMRE dubs an Integrated Electric Transmission (IET). Like a traditional internal combustion motorcycle, riders engage/disengage the clutch via a left handlebar lever. The IET gearbox mounts behind the motor, transferring rotary power to the rear wheel via chain final drive. Brammo perceives the six-speed drivetrain will deliver a more familiar feel to traditional riders, as well as significant performance gains.

Brammo will contest the upcoming MiniMotoSX at Las Vegas with its new Encite MMX Pro minimoto.
The Engage MX is Brammos take on the off-road dirt bike application.
Brammo will contest the upcoming MiniMotoSX race at Las Vegas with its new Encite MMX Pro minimoto (Top) and the full size Engage MX dirt bike (Bottom).

“It’s a traditional hydraulic clutch, with six-speeds. It’s just like a traditional bike in terms of how it feels,” said Brammo founder and CEO Craig Bramscher on the eve before his new bikes made their media debut. “You can dump the clutch and pop a wheelie, or you can put the front brake on and smoke the tire – all the good stuff you want to do on a motorcycle.”

The introduction of a multi-speed transmission always represented one potential aid to the electric motorcycle’s lagging performance capabilities. But adding a gearbox to the electric powertrain presents design challenges of its own, so Brammo started looking for an outside solution.

“We’ve made very, very fast bikes with single speeds, like the one we’re going to race at Infineon,” said Bramscher. “But we knew intuitively that a gearbox solution would be a good one to go with. So we were doing a bunch of research and talking to vendors and found these guys (SMRE), and realized they were a couple years ahead of everyone else in terms of a powersports solution.”

SMRE lends its IET system to Brammo in an exclusive international licensing deal. Bramscher and his SMRE equivalent, founder/CEO Samuele Mazzini, both refer to their relationship as a strategic partnership, and the Italian firm will aid Brammo in research and development projects.

“You had to pick which you want more: Do you want to go 65 mph, or do you want to go 45 mph and pop a wheelie,” said Bramscher on the limits of a single-speed drivetrain. “With this [IET] you don’t have to make those choices anymore. You have acceleration because the engine is in the best possible position in each one of the gears, in terms of performance, matching the revs to where the power is. It’s a little bit like riding a 2-stroke – the powerband is fairly narrow, the motor where it catches. It shifts pretty quick and all of a sudden you’re really flying.”

The new units are still prototype models, however, and Brammo declines to list top speed or range data.

The 6-speed Integrated Electric Shift requires riders to pull a clutch lever and select gears like a traditional motorcycle.

Battery Power

Brammo is also mum on the energy density and capacity stats on its new battery powerpacks. “We have developed a new flexible module that allows a lot of ability to change the voltage or the storage amount. It’s essentially Brammo-powered new designs, and that’s the fruit of our labor with Flextronics,” said Bramscher on the new battery pack, referring to the September 2010 deal with the global electronics manufacturing company. “We’ve got what we believe are by far the best batteries in powersports.”

Bramscher describes the company’s battery composition approach as “chemistry agnostic.” The new powerpack design allows Brammo to be somewhat flexible, fine-tuning the specifics of the lithium-ion chemistry depending on the particular powersports application. “There may be case when different chemistries make better sense,” notes Bramscher, “The battery you want on a motocross bike that you want to be able to do back flips and last 20 minutes might be different chemistry than what you put in an ATV that’s going to pull 700 pounds in the sand.”

Following the cue of rivals like Zero Motorcycles, the latest Brammo models will also allow for quick battery swaps. Bramscher claims the current prototypes take about 10 minutes to switch out power packs, but the company is working on quick-change connectors that could cut the time from minutes to seconds. Again, no details are forthcoming on battery range, capacity or recharge time.

Brammo is actively pursuing a more traditional brick-and-mortar dealer distribution network to sell its now 9-model lineup - including the upcoming Engage SMR supermoto.
Riders will start seeing Brammos on dealer floors, provided the company’s new dealer strategy goes as planned.

Pricing and New Dealer Distribution

The new Brammo motorcycles are prototypes of 2012 models. Bodywork is still not 100% finalized and final tuning of the engine and battery spec is not set. There are, however, MSRP listed for three of the four models: The Engage MX and SMR will retail for $9995, the street-legal SMS $11,995, with the SMS model featuring more battery capacity and extra costs for street homologation. The Encite MMX PRO pricetag is yet to be announced.

While Brammo made news trying to shill its inaugural Enertia at Best Buy stores, the company is actively pursuing a more traditional brick-and-mortar dealer distribution network to sell its now nine-model lineup. The company recently announced San Francisco’s Scuderia West will sell its creations in the Bay Area, the City by the Bay likely one of the most lucrative markets in the country for the fledgling electric powersports industry.

“I’ve got several hundred dealers that have signed up on the website, and are going through the vetting process,” claims Bramscher. “We’re going to focus on the top 30 and then the top 100 as quickly as we can.”

Late summer and early fall are targeted as possible dates for limited amounts of the new models to arrive on showroom floors.

Stay tuned for more Brammo news, including Engage and Encite details as well as how our man Atlas fares at Infineon right here at Motorcycle USA.

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