Energica Eva First Ride Review
To the untrained eye, the Energica Eva could easily be passed off as any number of brooding, fire breathing, trellis-framed streetfighters, while still remaining distinctly Italian in design. Angular, yes, with hard lines and sharp corners jutting out, the electron-locomoted Energica Eva has more in common with extreme concept designs that we all see, but are never able to physically touch or own.
For a long time, I’ve heard seasoned riders debate the potential of electric bikes. While most conversations agree that they’d be great as commuting machines, performance has been a bridge too far for many purist two-wheeled enthusiasts. What the argument comes down to for many is this: “Nothing beats an internal combustion engine.” But is that true?
I can’t say I have a personal stake in this. We’re living in a time where we see transitions coming in all forms of life—socially, economically, politically. Things are progressing at a rate that is unprecedented. So, why is it that the motorcycle, a device that has seen countless innovations applied to it as of late, must remain untouched? Like many riders, I understand the appeal of a finely tuned internal combustion engine, but having ridden the Energica Eva, there is something beyond a deep-connection fuel-fed engine.
Visit the Ultimate MotorCycling electric motorcycle page.
Under the Energica Eva’s plastic panels sits a permanent magnet AC oil-cooled motor that produces a claimed 95 horsepower and 125 ft/lbs of torque. On paper, the Energica should already appeal to anyone who enjoys a good thrill, and those numbers fit in line with performance-minded streetfighters on the market, especially the all-important torque output.
With power duties being handled by an 11.7 kWh lithium-ion battery, you’ll see about 1200 charging cycles out of it, according to Energica. For a full charge at home, you’ll be looking at a 3.5-hour wait. If you’re near a quick-charging station, you can get an 85 percent charge in about a half hour. Range is a claimed 124 miles in Eco mode, but that’s likely to be optimistic and almost exclusively dependent on your riding style.
Because the Energica Eva has an electric motor, the muscular torque is omnipresent. Power builds progressively, pulling you through traffic with a level of serenity that is unmatched. To be so smooth and powerful, while lacking the visceral feeling of an internal combustion engine, is almost unnerving. But, above all, it is freeing.
Having never experienced an electric motorcycle before my Eva ride, let alone one with numbers that piqued my interest, the feeling of rolling throttle on to its end and focusing on what is in front of me has an untold amount of charm—and that’s something I’ll get to in just a moment.
The Energica Eva has four riding modes—Urban, Eco, Rain and Sport—all of which impact the power delivery, as well as safety controls. The Eva has four regenerative maps. Their functions are in the names; these maps regenerate battery power with settings of Low, Medium, High, and Off. While this isn’t a common feature, the result is something we’re all quite aware of—engine braking.
With a full color, LCD dash, all of your vital information is present, and adjustable at the flip of a switch. Whether you’re interested in changing the regenerative braking settings, riding modes or ABS, it can all be done easily, without any needless confusion.
I took off from Santa Monica’s famed Ocean Avenue, and soon dropped down to Pacific Coast Highway, making my way into the canyons of Malibu. At its core, the Eva isn’t alien, and my preconceived notions about what an electric bike should be, began to fall away. I assumed it would take more than three blocks to relinquish my need to reach for a clutch, but because of how inviting the Eva was, that need to reach for a clutch and shift lever was replaced by a need to get to the canyons as fast as I could.
Energica Eva braking duties are performed by dual 330mm rotors up front, clamped down on by Brembo calipers, as well as a single 240mm disc in the rear. That gives you quite a bit of stopping power, and, to control all of that, there is a Bosch ABS system, which is common on many machines these days.
Hitting a road like the PCH is great for warming up to an unfamiliar bike—lots of boring straights with a few decent bends that will let you get to know the machine. In terms of suspension, Energica didn’t skimp on the Eva. Up front you’ll find fully adjustable 43mm Öhlins forks and in the rear, a Bitubo shock with rebound damping and spring-preload adjustments.
When soaking up massive pothole hits, the suspension performed wonderfully. However, the performance was off under heavy braking. I found the Eva’s front end diving excessively in emergency stopping situations. Given the superb Öhlins forks, this had me questioning whether or not the suspension had been set up properly. However, with a claimed 617 pounds rushing forward at a stop, the challenges are obvious.
In the face of that, the Energica Eva handled impeccably. Once I settled into a familiar canyon, I immediately found out that Eva is more than amicable when the throttle is being served up in massive helpings.
With seat height of 31.3 inches and an upright seating position, the Eva is roomy, allowing the rider to slide from side-to-side with ease, while still allowing plenty of anchor points for your legs. Getting the Eva tipped in is wonderful, as well; the bike is predictable, compliant, and can easily pull off more lean angle than I’d be willing to offer.
Even through some warped sections of the road—areas that have taken years of abuse from the Southern California sun and uncompromising land movement—the Eva is unflappable, soaking up inconsistencies with ease. Applying throttle at the apex is confidence inspiring, pulling you through the corner without introducing headshake. I never felt as if I was pushing beyond my limits. Of course, the Pirelli Diablo Rosso II tires are of great help under both braking and acceleration.
The Energica’s 57-inch wheelbase does quite well in rounding out the handling, finding a balance between performance and usability. Despite its stout weight, the Eva behaves as if it were much lighter. According to Energica representatives, most of the battery weight has been distributed low and forward, which translates into a confident-feeling front end while pushing hard into corners.
A few miles into the canyons it dawned on me—the Energica Eva delivers motorcycling in its purest form: Two wheels, movement and the thrill of testing your skill in the elements. The Eva achieves that by stripping down the sport to its core values, letting the rider focus on what matters—speed, body positioning, corner entry, and braking by removing potentially upsetting variables.
Many new riders become flustered by shifting, a concept that veteran M1 holders would balk at. But, if you’ve ever been behind someone that didn’t rev-match well or went into too high of a gear, seeing the result become visible in a terrifying wheel hop, you’ll know that these things delineate a skilled rider from an amateur.
Those factors aren’t there on the Energica Eva. Throttle and brake – those are your two variables. There is no gearbox to upset a chassis, no risk of downshifting through a corner into a brutal high-side (or more gentle low-side); it is riding, simply put. With those variables out of sight and out of mind, it allows someone to focus on what really matters – the ride.
Whether you want to test your fate and your local radar guns or do the grunt work of commuting, the Energica Eva is perfectly suited for both. That is a bold claim and one we’re perfectly happy to stand behind. At parking lot speeds, concepts like feathering a clutch don’t exist, so the rider can simply focus on getting a tight turn completed. If the electric bike has one massive advantage, it is that it will make quick work of DMV tests. The Eva also has a reverse gear, which is wonderful for moving the bike around in tight spaces.
There are problems, of course, and they come in the form of the obvious—battery life, recharging times, weight, and price, coming in at $34,544. The biggest detractor for electric bikes, as it stands in 2016, is battery life. Gasoline is available everywhere, and yet charging stations, unfortunately, are not, and it takes a lot less time to fill a gas machine than to top off a battery…for now. All of those things are changing, though, and as battery technology improves, so too will the viability of electric performance machines with the added bonus of lower price points to match technological advances.
In racing, they’ve proven themselves, having done well in the Isle of Man TT, and the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (breaking into the 10s last year). The electric motor is a resource in the world of performance that is just beginning to be tapped.
When a motorcycle can perform well in both aggressive and mundane settings, you’re beginning to tread into the territory of greatness. Describing electric bikes as having potential seems inadequate when I consider the statement. For a machine with this kind of power, to deliver such a controlled and beautiful ride, there is more than potential. Aside from technological limitations, which are already being improved upon, I don’t see the downside. Sadly, I was only able to spend a few hours with the 2016 Energica Eva. But, in the future, I have a feeling we’ll be seeing plenty more like it.
Action photography by Don Williams
- Helmet: Biltwell Gringo S LE Tracker
- Jacket: Roland Sands Designs Zuma
- Gloves: Biltwell Bantam
- Jeans: Held Hoover
- Boots: TCX X-Blend
2016 Energica Eva Specs
- Engine: Permanent Magnet AC, oil-cooled
- Torque: 125 ft/lbs
- Power: 95 horsepower
- Maximum speed: Limited to 124 mph
- Range: Up to 124 miles in Eco mode
- Riding Modes: Urban, Eco, Rain, Sport
- Regenerative Maps: Low, Medium, High, off
- Capacity: 11.7 kWh
- Life: 1200 cycles @ 80% capacity
- Recharging: 3.5 hours (0-100% SOC) in Mode 1, 2 OR 3 charge; 30 min (0-85% SOC) in Mode 4 DC Fast Charge
- Battery charger: Onboard, [110-220]V [50-60]Hz, 3 kW. Conforms to Standards SAE J1772 and IEC 62196-2 w/ pilot signal for Charge Station Interface.
- Short Range Connectivity: Bluetooth 3.0 Module, range 100m; Long Range Connectivity: LTE/ UMTS/GPRS Module, SMS, TCP/IP, FTP, SOCKET, HTTP Communications
- Dashboard: 4.3” WQVGA 480×272 TFT color display (16.7 million colors) w/ internal memory for data logging, integrated GPS receiver and Bluetooth communication; 9 warning lights, 6 + 6 current consumption lights. Real time clock. Ambient light sensor.
- GPS: 10 Hz.
- Bluetooth: Dual mode 2.1 e 4.0.
- Frame: Steel tube trellis
- Swingarm: Cast aluminum
- Front suspension: Fully adjustable inverted 43mm Öhlins forks
- Rear suspension: Spring-preload and rebound damping adjustable Bitubo shock
- Front wheel: Cast aluminum, 3.5 x 17”
- Rear wheel: Cast aluminum, 5.5 x 17”
- Front tire: Pirelli Diablo Rosso II; 120/70 ZR17
- Rear tire: Pirelli Diablo Rosso II; 180/55 ZR17
- Front brakes: Radially mounted Brembo calipers; 330mm floating discs
- Rear brakes: 240mm disc w/ Brembo caliper
- ABS: Bosch switchable
- L x H x W: 84.3 x 48.0 x 34.3 inches
- Wheelbase: 57.7 inches
- Seat height: 31.3 inches
- Claimed curb weight: 617 pounds
- Colors: Electric Green; Dark Blue
Energica Eva Review – Photo Gallery