First hand accounts of an Empulse test ride via

By now you may have seen this picture, but I also found this gentleman’s review on the brammoforum:

Shinysideup keeps the rubber side down!

The bikes were fresh off the chargers and looked stunning. Yes, they have the orange power wires coming out of the motor, but somehow they aren’t nearly so noticeable on the real bikes as they are in the photos. The eye is just too busy taking in all the other 3-dimensional goodness, I guess.

Great, spirited test ride on sunny afternoon with slightly cool air in sparkling San Francisco.  Charging through the fast sweepers of upper Market St., then turn right onto the “back”(south) side entrance to Twin Peaks, past the tourist lookout point, and down the north side and back to the shop.

Flar and I met there and chatted with James and Jake from Brammo. Jake lead our group of three on the ride. I noticed that when we were sitting utterly silent behind him at traffic lights, his gasser sounded SO primitive. I mean, really, how gauche!

BTW, Flar and I were totally outridden by this young beautiful female employee of Scuderia West. In all fairness, she was a 1/3 the weight we were and rides the course every day to and from work on an Enertia. Plus she WAS riding the all black bike which we know is the fastest! Truthfully, she was just a more aggressive and confident rider than I. I figured that if she could throw this puppy into turns, then so could I, dammit! So I ALMOST kept up with her.

First impressions of the ride:

Seating position (6’1″, 31″ inseam) was very neutral with slight weight on the hands and a knee bend I could live with, though I suggested to Jake that they consider offering a peg-lowering kit for us old farts. I don’t think I’d want to bring the bars back at all, since I won’t be doing long-distance touring on this bike. The seat was comfortable enough, but of course our ride was short.

The shocks were excellent, soaking up San Francisco’s infamous potholes, yet feeling well-planted in the twisties. They definitely felt set up on the “sport” side of things, as compared to the “cushy” ride of, say, a big Honda. The frame felt rock solid and I do believe they’ve got the geometry dialed in.

The bike does feel noticeably heavy as you lean it over a bit, but that disappears quickly once underway. Very sure feeling in the turns, though obviously heavier to flick that the TMax scooter that’s been my ride for the last year. In all fairness. the TMax has a 500cc parallel twin flat on the ground and is one of the most flickable rides I’ve ever been on. I’d say the Empulse’s handling slightly exceeded  my BMW R1200R with Wilbur shocks, which is high praise indeed.

WOW, the acceleration with strong torque on tap, absolutely anywhere, is a surprising thrill, especially after riding the 2012 Zero bike a few months ago. Love that whine to go with it. It really did exceed my expectations. In absolute 0-60 terms, maybe not terribly impressive (though fast enough for me), but the actual EXPERIENCE of that straight-line torque curve got my blood pumping during a couple of times of full-right-wrist-twist.

Although, as we all know, a relatively quiet bike, the motor and drive train produced more whine in a pleasing visceral sort of way than the almost totally quiet Zero, even at low speeds. Nothing objectionable at all, and kinda cool on take-off.

I felt some pronounced lash in the drive train. Would take me a few days’ worth of riding to finesse my throttle control. But again, I’m coming fresh off an auto CV tranny, and not my R1200R shafty with the famous ker-CHUNK gear box.

Regen in first gear (good up to 60 mph) is VERY pronounced which is just perfect for my San Francisco hills. I barely needed to use the brakes in ordinary traffic. Matter of fact, lacking refined throttle control on this bike, I found 1st-gear regen a bit much on the flats, and found I preferred to ride all the time in 2nd gear in the urban areas. I also tried starting off in 3rd which the motor handled just fine thank you. Noticeably less acceleration had me going back to 2nd, however for the rest of the ride. I would use first pretty much only for hole-shot situations and for braking on our very steepest hills. Gears 4,5,6 I’d guess would be for the freeway. The tranny shifted smoothly and surely, though my foot couldn’t feel the click as clearly as on some bikes I’ve ridden. The gear-shift indicator on the dash seemed to lag a moment with each shift.

Speaking of brakes, the Brembos up front does the job with one finger. I had to grab it fairly hard as a light changed on us at about 50 mph, and all the stopping had total progressive certainty and right now.

Don, the owner of Scuderia West, along with Jake and James interviewed us after the ride for a brief chat out on the sidewalk to get our impressions. All 3 riders had big grins. Many thanks to Brammo, Jake, James, and Don for a great experience.

Summary: I want this bike! Now!

PS: My wife came along (not on the Empulse ride) and even agreed with my choice of the white color scheme. How lucky can I get? How much confirmation do I need, to know that I need to buy this bike right now?!


And this gentelman’s [Flar] addition:

Shinyside summed it all up pretty well.

I’ll note that I was in for quite a shock on the peg height, but that is *only* because I’ve grown accustomed to my R1200RT following my F650 – both of which have pretty nearly 90 degree knee positions.  That, coupled with my sedentary lifestyle made it an unfamiliar action to get my legs up, but I was used to it by the 3rd stoplight.  If you are more familiar with a japanese sporty standard then it should be just what you are used to.

In terms of low speed stability, I was able to keep my feet on the pegs to well under a walking pace at the lights with no wobble at all (compared to my RT which, after a few hundred miles experience, I find to be very good at low speeds, but still needs a few adjustments as I get down to walking pace).

I lagged a bit on the twisty bits up to Twin Peaks primarily because the road surface is fairly rough there and I weigh over 50% more than the standard rider that they’ve been testing with.  The suspension may be very adjustable, but we didn’t adjust it before we took off.  When we went over ripples I didn’t feel I could trust the traction at all and I was definitely getting shaken, not stirred.  Don at the shop said that it would likely require new springs to really perform well for someone of my size.  (Does this bike make me look fat? Wink

The primary issue I had with low speeds was not throttle control but rather regen control.  I didn’t find the regen in 1st gear to be “too much” per se, but it was very touchy and kicks in very suddenly when the throttle gets to home position.  The throttle was also very light so I found that sometimes when I was rolling to a stop I would kick in and out of regen just by shifting about and not paying attention to wrist position.  I would love to have a reverse twist position to manually invoke regen (possibly with a very light regen at neutral for familiarity).  Perhaps adjusting the regen throttle position cutoff point to allow some wiggle room and maybe having slightly more spring force at the home position may make it less touchy.  I did try second gear for a bit, but didn’t really evaluate the regen in that gear.  I figured I’d stay in 1st for efficiency (since it’s good to 60MPH and not likely to hit the knee of the efficiency curve in city riding).

One thought on “First hand accounts of an Empulse test ride via

  1. Interesting comments on the gearbox, it seems more and more now that necessary for a normal rider. I doubt it has so much benefits.
    Brammo should sell two version of the EMPulse, one withou and one without the gearbox if the price difference is noticable as right now this fantastic bike is a bit too expensive to reach the consumer.
    And the main point of these evbikes is the torque, so drop the gearbox and let teh rider enjoy the ride by a simple twist.

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