There will come a time when we have pulled the last drop of oil from the earth. Maybe not in my lifetime, but that time will come. European emission laws are also getting stricter, thus pushing the move to alternate propulsion. All the major car brands have some form of electric or hybrid car but motorcycles have been lagging behind the curve. Yes, you get electric scooters and small commuter style bikes, but nothing that can truly excite the motorcycle fraternity at large. Until now, that is.
I have just had the privilege of riding the Energica electric motorcycles and they were a revelation! Energica is the company that supplies the bikes for the MotoE championship, so they know a few things about making electric bikes go incredibly fast.
The local importer of Energica bikes delivered two bikes to my house. They are the EGO and EVA. The EGO looks like a sport bike with clip-on handlebars and rear-set footrests. The EVA is more upright with traditional handlebars and a far more relaxed riding position. Apart from the look, they share the same underpinnings. The EGO has a slightly more aggressive mapping for the drivetrain and it delivers slightly more power and torque than the EVA. Both bikes are fitted with the optional Öhlins suspension. Brembo callipers provide the stopping power.
The dashboard is a full colour TFT screen and it contains a wealth of information. There is even a layout that shows a lap timer, so Energica is serious about its racing pedigree. From here you can set four rider modes and select how invasive the traction control must be. You can also set the amount of regenerative power the engine produces when you close the throttle. This simulates engine braking while at the same time replenishing the battery. Speaking of the battery, it takes up a lot of space and is very heavy. You feel the weight when you lift the bike off the side stand.
To bring the Energica to life, you pull the front brake and press the starter button for two seconds. All that happens, is that a small green light on the dash comes on, and you are ready to go. There is no clutch and no gear lever to clutter up the controls. It is a good thing too, because, in your right hand, you hold a detonator. Yank on that and you had better be prepared for what follows. Because the engine is electric, you have 200 Nm of torque at your disposal instantly. The electronics keep everything in check and funnels all that torque to the rear tyre. The resulting acceleration is simply staggering. I have never felt anything like it. And it just keeps going. According to the importer, the EGO will accelerate at this pace until it reaches its governed top speed of 240 km/h. I simply did not have the courage to try that on our roads, but having spoken to people who have ridden this bike on a track, that claim is not far-fetched.
Unfortunately, the limited size of the battery does mean that the term “range anxiety” is ever present. Riding the bike in town though, adds to the range as the engine replenishes the battery on deceleration and braking.
The Energica Ego is the first electric bike that can compete directly with a superbike and will probably be able to outrun anything currently on the market, provided it is a short sprint. The charging times are also plummeting with Energica themselves announcing that a 15 minute charge time is not far off. Riding it like a sportbike will seriously cut down on your range though. Another inhibiting factor is the price. With our currency rolling around in junk, the cost of these bikes could be around the R500 000 mark.
I have now tasted the electric drug, and nothing will probably come close in the near future. But if this is what we are in for with electric bikes, then I simply cannot wait!