Brammo Empulse R | A ‘Hip’ LA Unveiling

2012 Brammo Empulse (R) Unveiling

Usually, introductions of new motorcycles are a boring affair. A bunch of journalists are herded into a conference room, we get a PowerPoint presentation, and then the cover comes off the bike. Woo-hoo!

I like it that way. It’s usually fast and efficient. No time is wasted, and I can get back to riding, writing, and shooting photos – that’s what I do for a living.

Brammo invited me to the unveiling of the new Empulse R electric sportbike at Boulevard3 in Hollywood (just a couple of doors west on Sunset Boulevard from the late, great Club Lingerie of the 1980s). I was told to be there at 7 p.m., so I dutifully arrived at 7 pm. And in LA, getting into Hollywood at 7 in the evening means battling seriously ugly traffic.

However, instead of being ushered into a presentation, Brammo preferred that I stand outside in line with a few fellow moto-journalists and hundreds of people I had never seen in my life. And, to make matters worse, they looked like they were ready for clubbing, not motorcycling.

My iPhone tells me it’s 7:20, and I’m still outside. That’s not how I roll. As Johnny Rotten wisely noted as lead singer of the Sex Pistols, “Blind acceptance is a sign, of stupid fools who stand in line.” I’m giving Brammo 10 more minutes before I follow Johnny’s words of wisdom.

Fortunately, the line starts to move and inside I go. Lots of flashing lights. Repetitive faceless techno music. Girls with hors d’oeuvres (some of them quite good). An open bar. A few scantily clad girls. Some probably famous woman with a camera crew following her around. You get the idea – everything but a motorcycle.

After standing around for over an hour hanging with my moto-journalist buddies, things move into a large room with a stage, louder music, more lights, and hundreds of beautiful people. The journalists stand out like sore thumbs, except Basem Wasef of (and a contributor to Ultimate MotorCycling). Basem and his comely wife know how to dress appropriately for a Hollywood nightclub event at Boulevard3.

First up is a dance troupe of guys. They were quite professional and danced with robotic precision, but they weren’t talking about motorcycles. Next on stage is some guy with a fake-sounding urban accent doing some sort of street poetry. It was about Brammo motorcycles in some sort of way and the hype was being ladled on thick.

He thought he was hip, and the hipsters in the crowd recognized one of their own and whooped it up for him. Okay. Next, please.

Then, Brammo CEO Craig Bramscher shows up on the stage. He tells us about the new bikes, and it’s clear that he’s really there to schmooze the customers.

It seems 1000 people have pre-ordered the Brammo Empulse R and they were invited to this soiree as a “thank you” for handing over $18,995 for a 54-horsepower, 454-pound motorcycle that can go 100 mph and 100 miles before needing a few hours to fully charge up again – not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Finally, Bramscher tells them to unveil the new Empulse and Empulse R. Without any question, they are both fine-looking machines. Lots of high-end components are used, including Brembo brakes, Marzocchi forks, a Sachs shock, Avon tires on Marchesini wheels, and Brammo’s own E-Beam Aluminum frame made by Accossato in Italy – good stuff, to be sure.

The biggest news is the IET 6-speed gearbox, something we haven’t seen in electric bikes. According to Bramscher, this gives you a more exciting riding experience. I have no doubt of that, and look forward to testing one for Ultimate MotorCycling.

Still, my main concern about electric vehicles is range and recharging. I’ll even give up some range compared to an internal combustion vehicle, but I don’t want to wait 10 minutes to every 5 miles of range to be added, and that’s with a special charging dongle.

With just a standard outlet, you have to wait 8 hours to go another 100 miles.

While I may sound negative, these numbers are improvements and electric vehicles aren’t going to get the range and refueling numbers of internal combustions overnight (or anytime soon). That doesn’t mean they aren’t viable vehicles – it just means they have a serious shortcoming for some people.

So, as soon as the bike is unveiled, I high tail it out of there, having had my annual dose of hipster. Oh, wait. It wasn’t quite over. Reading the press release for the event, my guilty conscience about driving somewhere was assuaged: “True to Brammo’s devotion to zero tailpipe-emission transportation, the Empulse launch event was carbon-neutral. Brammo has worked with to purchase carbon offsets to mitigate the greenhouse emissions generated by transportation, electricity use, and other resource-intensive activities associated with this event.”

I feel so much better. Whew!

For a full technical report on the new Brammo Empulse and Empulse R, click here.