Brammo gets electric motorcycles in gear

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Production electric motorcycles have been on the U.S. market for three years, but sales have yet to take off. Their high price, coupled with limited speed, restricted range and an all-but-stalled economy, have relegated them to the realm of moneyed early adopters and hardcore greenies.

But Brammo, in Ashland, Ore., announced Wednesday what it hopes will be a game-changer. In an effort to reach the enthusiast market, it is partnering with an Italian firm to add six-speed transmissions, and a performance edge, to its electric motorcycles.

Brammo’s one existing model, the Enertia, does not have a transmission. It’s a direct drive, single-speed, as are all the other production electric motorcycles currently on the market, including those from Zero Motorcycles in Santa Cruz and Native Cycles in Oakland.

‘The transmission moves electric motorcycles from being the electric part of the category to being at least the same or in some cases way better than gas in terms of performance,’ said Brammo founder and CEO Craig Bramscher. ‘Now you can pull in the clutch and rev it just like a regular motorcycle. When you dump the clutch, you get all the benefits of a gas bike: fun factor and rideability.’


The new integrated electric transmission, or IET, will be incorporated into four new off-road models Brammo announced Wednesday -- the $9,995 Engage MX mini moto; the $9,995 Engage SMR super moto; the $11,995 Engage SMS super moto; and the Encite MMX Pro mini moto, pricing for which was not announced. The new dirt bikes will go into production in 2012.


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-- Susan Carpenter