2015 Energica Ego First Ride

July 31, 2014
Adam Waheed
By Adam Waheed
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Will all-electric powered sportbikes really be that fun and exciting to ride? You be the judge in the 2015 Energica Ego Quick Ride Video.

Lustful exotica and motorcycling have always gone hand in hand. Once again Italy leads the charge, this time in the electric motorcycle segment with its sharp-looking Energica Ego Superbike ($34,000). Sporting an array of technologies, the Ego looks to entice motorcyclists seeking the fastest petrol-free e-bike on the road.

Italian styling is rightly praised, so it’s no surprise that the Ego has plenty of charm. It mixes sharp symmetrical angles with flat surfaces giving it a fast, muscular appearance. Fit and finish is surprisingly good, too — especially considering this is CRP’s first production motorcycle.

Visually, you’d be hard pressed to notice differences between the Ego and a conventional piston-driven bike. Still, subtle cues exist including the electric motor’s cooling fins that protrude past the swingarm, as well as the absent shift and clutch lever (the powertrain is direct drive, single speed, with a conventional chain final drive).

Sitting down at the controls the Energica feels every bit an authentic sportbike. Its girth is similar to an Inline Four-powered Japanese Supersport, as is its 31.9-inch seat height. It feels short front-to-back, however, a look at the spec sheet proves otherwise with it utilizing a rather lengthy 57.6-inch wheelbase (for reference a GSX-R600 is 54.5 in.).

Deep cutouts in the pseudo fuel tank and midsection foster an intimate interaction between man and machine. The hand controls are mounted in a racy but not overly demanding position. The intricately machined and highly adjustable rear sets are another nice touch. A bright and colorful 4.3-inch TFT display keeps track of the bike’s vitals and is manipulated via the Domino-sourced switchgear in a straightforward manner.




(Top) The Ego’s electronics and motor/battery management systems were all developed in-house by CRP in Modena, Italy. It’s impressive how intuitive the systems work making the motorcycle very easy to ride. (Center) The charging inlet is located underneath the rider’s seat. With access to a 220-volt power supply, the Ego can be charged to 80% in 3.5 hours. Range depends on usage and road conditions but Energica claims its capable of traveling 93 miles at a constant 50 mph. (Bottom) The Ego wears top-shelf braking hardware from Brembo. Considering that it weighs a claimed 585 pounds, it certainly needs heavy-duty stopping power.

At a stop there is no hiding the Ego’s heft, with it weighing close to 585 pounds (claimed). But once under way the Ego is surprisingly agile for a motorcycle of its size. True, it feels porkier than a typical sportbike (and a wee bit top heavy, too), but it isn’t so much that it compromises the handling or fun factor at a medium pace. The Ego is outfitted with a conventional damping and spring preload adjustable inverted fork from Marzocchi and an equally adjustable Ohlins shock. Due to packaging requirements, the shock is offset to the right side of the bike, mounting between the steel-trellis frame and the cast aluminum swingarm, without a linkage. It rolls on a set of Superbike-sized (3.5-inch wide front, 5.5-inch rear, 17-inch diameter) aluminum forged Marchesini wheels shod with Pirelli Diablo Rosso II tires.

Turn the key and hit the ‘run’ switch and Energica’s electronics power to life. The vehicle control hardware and software was developed in-house. The advanced electronics package generates so much heat that it requires dedicated cooling in the form of a small conventional air-to-water radiator located behind the front wheel.

Grab a hold of the front brake lever for a second or two while pressing the ‘start’ button and the electric motor comes online silently with a green ‘GO’ indicator illuminating in the color dashboard. Additionally, the Ego offers a clever and easy to use reverse function (a’la Honda’s Gold Wing) which proved to be a great feature when maneuvering out of a tight spot.

Gently twist the throttle and this Italian-built e-bike rolls forward smoothly with a direct feel. Synchronization between throttle and motor is certainly one of the highlights and most impressive features of the machine. Yank deeper on the twist grip and it rushes forward with an immediate stump-pulling tidal wave of torque—the kind you experience as a roller coaster sprints up to speed. Acceleration is instant and so forceful that it induces a giddy, butterflies-in-your-stomach feeling. At lower speeds, the Energica accelerates every bit as fast, if not faster, than a modern gas-powered 1000cc Superbike. This thing is the real deal.

Yet, the riding sensation is different than a gasoline-powered motorcycle with it feeling less organic and not as connected with the road. No doubt, added seat time would help reduce this feeling.

Energica claims that the top speed is limited, electronically of course, at 149 mph. Four power modes are offered (‘Std’, ‘Sport’, ‘Eco’, and ‘Wet’), however due to our limited riding time (less than 15 minutes) only ‘Sport’ mode was selected.

The Ego is propelled by a huge oil-cooled alternating current (AC) permanent magnet-style motor. Its torque rating is nearly 144 lb-ft from zero to 4700 rpm. Above that it generates a maximum of 100 kilowatts (134 horsepower) from 4900 to 10,500 rpm. The motor sucks energy from an 11.7-kilowatt-hour rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack (direct current). Claimed range is 93 miles at a constant 50 mph. However, its racetrack graded range of 31 miles might be more applicable for everyday stop-and-go riding in many urban areas.

Braking hardware is typical top-shelf sportbike featuring Brembo-sourced four-piston monobloc calipers latching to a pair of 320mm cross-drilled rotors. The rear brake consists of a 220mm drilled disc that’s pinched by a twin-piston caliper. The front and rear brakes are actuated independently via hydraulics. Anti-lock braking hardware from Bosch also comes standard, however for our test ride it was disabled since the software is still being fine-tuned. Considering the bike’s sheer mass, the brakes have a lot of work to do, but in action they performed well with well-calibrated feel at both ends.




(Top) The Ego looks, feels, and performs like a real motorcycle. It’s astounding how fast it accelerates at lower speeds. (Center) The Ego is powered by an oil-cooled alternating current-style electric motor capable of producing an astronomical 144 lb-ft of torque from 0 to 4700 rpm. (Bottom) Sporting top-shelf components from Marzocchi, Ohlins and Brembo, the Ego is a seriously capable sportbike despite being powered by electricity only.

One might assume that an electric bike would be virtually silent, but that can’t be further from the truth. True, it lacks the conventional sounds of a piston-driven machine, but it offers a highly entertaining soundtrack that sounds like a high-pitched electric whistle. It’s especially pleasing during full throttle maneuvers.

The battery pack has a duty life of 1200 charges and can be juiced up in 3.5 hours via its included three kilowatt AC charger (requires a 220-volt power supply). An optional DC charger reduces charging time to just 30 minutes. The charging inlet is easily accessible underneath the rider’s seat. The power cell benefits from three-way adjustable regeneration modes, ‘High’, ‘Medium’, and ‘Low’ (plus ‘Off’). The system lets the spinning motor recharge the battery during deceleration when the throttle is closed.

When the power pack inevitably reaches the end of its life cycle, Energica is working on a “Second Life” battery replacement program. Due to the duration of our ride being short, we only used approximately 25% of the battery, so it’s not possible to comment about the Ego’s actual range.

Despite our limited seat time the Ego certainly made an impression on us. Perhaps the most noteworthy feature of the bike is how it functions as a whole. This isn’t some hodgepodge prototype. This is a real, quality machine capable of delivering authentic Superbike-like speed electrically without the use of conventional fossil fuels.

Energica Ego Highs & Lows
Highs
  • Near perfect throttle response
  • Astounding acceleration performance
  • Feels like a bona fide sportbike
Lows
  • Real world range and charging availability is an unknown
  • 150 pounds heavier than a typical gas-powered sportbike
  • Offers a unique riding feel (versus gas-powered bikes) that takes time to acclimate to

 

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