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MD Double-Take: 2013 Brammo Empulse R

Used to be, electric bikes were a novelty. Lead-acid batteries meant that silky-smooth power and plug-in convenience was possible—for short rides. Thirty miles was too far to venture with an e-moto, unless your S.O. was following with a very long extension cord.

And now it’s 2013. Electric vehicles have come a really long way—which means you can go a really long way. This Brammo Empulse R, for instance, can go something like 56 miles at a steady 70 mph—121 miles at around-town speeds, and the actual riding we did on the bike made me think the estimates (which now have SAE guidelines) are fairly realistic. Top speed is over 100 mph, and unlike some of the e-bikes we’ve seen over the years, it actually looks like a motorcycle, with an Italian-built twin-spar aluminum frame, conventional Marzocchi forks, Brembo brakes and radial sportbike-spec tires. It even has a clutch and six-speed gearbox.

Riding an electric motorcycle is the most appliance-like experience you can have at 100 mph. Smooth, silent, easy to ride—that’s a given with an electric. But fast? Oh, yes; the Brammo can whip past gas-powered bikes with just a move of the wrist. Riding on a twisty road is a good time, as well, as you don’t have to worry about gear selection. Your only worry is the little battery icon on the instrument panel—if you buy this bike for sporting weekend rides, you may be disappointed. Until range gets longer and charging stations become ubiquitous, electric vehicles are best for trips of defined range.

Which brings me to the gearbox. I don’t get it. It’s adds little to the experience, if you ask me. Neutral is in between second and third for some reason, but you don’t really need neutral—the bike rolls freely in gear with the clutch engaged. Come to think of it, you don’t really need the clutch, either, although it does make getting under way smoother, a role throttle-management software handles on other e-bikes. I found myself shifting out of habit, but it felt like I was playing a video game with a disconnected joystick. I’m sure if I was doing a track day—or just spent a lot more time on the bike—I would start to figure out how to best use it, but my quick impression is Brammo should bin the clutch, make the transmission a two-speed (city and highway), and carve 40 pounds off the bike—or use the extra space and weight for more battery capacity.

Motive power and odd gearbox aside, the Brammo really feels a lot like an ICE bike. The steering is easy at any speed, but it holds a nice line in turns—it’s really well balanced and the chassis numbers feel familiar if you spend a lot of time on middleweight sporty-bikes. I really felt the weight; it’s 470 pounds, and though you don’t really feel the weight most of the time—the CG is comically low, like a scooter’s—you know it’s there. Oddly, the almost-silent ride (you do hear the motor zinging along, and the chain clanks over bumps) heightens the bike’s flaws.

So I’m surprised I’m saying this, as I’ve been champing at the bit to ride this thing for years, but I found it to be too much like a conventional motorcycle. Clever engineers could give it sound, vibration, engine braking and any other effect to mimic an internal-combustion machine, but then what’s the point? Aren’t consumers paying the premium to get a plug-in electric motorcycle, not an electric simulation of a gas-powered bike? Still, this is by far the most fun and exciting mass-produced electric bike on the market and deserves serious consideration, even a test-ride, before dismissal.

It’s not cheap, at $16,995 (the R model is $2000 more—you get carbon-fiber bodywork, along with higher-spec suspension), but you do get some dough back from Uncle Sam ($1700-1900) and Uncle Jerry ($900) and you won’t buy gas again. If you ride 10,000 miles a year on your commute, that’s $1000 a year saved compared to a 40 mpg bike at $4 a gallon (and it’s only going to go up from there). And it’s really fun to ride, giving up little to any middleweight commuter I’ve ridden. Would it be a rational purchase? Not really. But what motorcycle really is?

Second Take: Alan Lapp

I was eagerly awaiting the debut of this model for one reason alone: it has a gearbox just like a traditional bike.

With new bike releases, like in life, the key to happiness is to manage your expectations. I was weak in this regard: I had hopes. What I wanted was an electric analog to a traditional bike. What I got was an odd mix of traditional-bike and electric-bike behaviors.

The Empulse R is equipped with a tach: the electric motor is very quiet and balanced, therefore it does not provide much feedback. Surprisingly, I found that there is a rev limiter that stutters the motor at maximum rpm, virtually identical to a traditional engine.

It was disappointing how the motor controller—the computerized brain that examines rider input, and manages bike output—steps in and nannies all the fun out of having a clutch to play with. Should a rider try to do a wheelie (the motor is definitely powerful enough) by revving the motor and dumping the clutch, all that results is a lurch as the controller compensates to eradicate this hooliganism.

Regarding the transmission, more oddness ensues: neutral is between 2nd and 3rd. The ratios are very closely spaced, and launching the Empulse R in 1st gear results in satisfying acceleration. However, launching in 3rd or 4th gear does not blunt the acceleration very noticeably. I suspect that most riders will tire of the notchy, clunky shifting and leave it in 3rd around town, only shifting to 6th on the freeway.

I’ve previously compared e-bike performance to mid-sized dual-sport traditional bikes. This comparison is less-apt now: the Empulse R is far, far nicer to ride on the freeway than any dual-sport, and has confidence-inspiring chassis stability, even over grooved pavement. The brakes are fantastic, and the design is handsome. It seems to me that e-bikes are maturing rapidly, but are suffering some growing pains.

96 Comments

  1. LectricBill says:

    It’s staggering to read how many people dismiss the transmission on this bike without ever riding one or without riding it long enough to get into how to use it properly. As an owner of an Empulse, you may want to dismiss me as a “FanBoy”, but, FWIW, here’s my experience:

    I’ve put 2K miles on the Empulse as a daily commuter from South San Francisco to San Francisco. I also ride it around SF all day long, 5 days a week, on my job, then home at night. Although I’ve been riding motorcycles for only 44 years, this is one of the best-handling and most exciting machines I’ve ever been on.

    More to the point: It may be the ultimate “street fighter”, that is, urban transportation that feels wicked quick off the line, nimble, quiet, fast, narrow and flat-out fun. Oh yeah, and it corners like it’s on rails, the most confidence-inspiring bike in the twisties I’ve ever been on. It just happens to be electric.

    Its sound level is dangerous? Not in my experience, but then I’ve ridden bicycles around cities for many years. When the Empulse is in Sport mode and decelerates in 1st gear, it throws out a very distinctive whine that makes most pedestrians turn their heads to look. If I need more sound for cars, well, I always replace any bike’s horn with an aftermarket tweeter for more db’s. Face it: 98% of drivers’ situational awareness comes through their eyes, not their ears in closed cars with the stereo blasting. But this is an old debate that we aren’t likely to solve here.

    Cost? Well check out this cool online calculator:

    http://www.empulsebuyer.com/tcoCalculator.php

    Personally, my commute runs 30 to 50 miles a day and my “fuel” bill will run about $15 a month. I absolutely love noticing the price of gasoline and laughing on my silent way by the stations. Then there’s the cost savings I pass on to others’ lung health by my not spewing carcinogens into their faces. (You can thank me where you’re a lot older!) OK, maybe that was a cheap shot!

    No engine oil, no oil filter, no fuel filter, no air filter, no valve adjustments, no carb syncs, no sparkplugs, no alternator, no coil, no 12V battery every 2 years, no throttle body adjustments. Just brakes, chain, and tires. Even if you do all the work yourself (I do), the cost of parts and fluids really add up; not to mention busted knuckles! Did I say no valve adjustments?!!

    A sport bike not practical? Brammo will release Givi side cases and mounts shortly. Those and a planned top case should handle my work and recreation needs.(It’s not a tourer!) For now, a largish pack carries all my work stuff and I add a messenger bag for groceries. (I don’t own a car.)

    Now for the tranny: When I test rode this bike, I thought the 6 speeds were overkill, kind of like moving around a disconnected joystick on a video game (great line!). But I’ve come to experience that there really has been some solid thought that went into making this transmission work with this power train. And there’s some subtleties that I didn’t pick up on until after a few hundred miles in the saddle.

    First, to say you can’t dump the clutch for a wheelie is to totally misunderstand the nature of an electric motor: there’s no spinning mass (flywheel) to give you instant momentum transfer. It’s not the software that’s limiting hooliganism; it’s the nature of a relatively light electric motor. Granted, the software IS set to prevent pure power wheelies, but not by much (about 10%), but that’s OK by me. I’ve seen enough squids really mess up themselves with wheelies and stoppies on the streets. And with the instant torque of this motor… well I’d hate to see the results, much less clean it up.

    So why have I grown to appreciate 6 speeds? Three reasons:

    1) It’s the nature of electric motors to either have grunt off the line OR high top-end, but not usually both at the same time, unless you’re talking about $$$ racing machines with high voltage batteries, expensive controllers etc. Brammo chose to go with a relatively small motor (54 HP, 60 ft. lbs) and get both a “shot from gun” experience away from stop lights, and an honest, sustainable high end, with no thermal cutbacks, thanks to water-cooling. It takes a gearbox to do that, in lieu of higher voltages and expensive motors and controllers. Personally, having test ridden anemic-off-the-line electrics prior to the Empulse, I’m very grateful for their design choice. And the gear box helps with range while doing all this, something the $45K electric track bikes don’t have much of.

    2) The Empulse R motor has two energy sweet spots: 5000 RPM for the most energy efficiency (range) and, for max power, either 6000 RPM for Sport mode or 7000 RPM for Normal mode. With a multi-speed transmission I can keep the motor running at any of those goals, regardless of vehicle speed, within reason. For example, here’s what I’ve experienced:

    1: 38 mph @ 5000
    2: 47 mph @ 5000
    3: 57 mph @ 5000
    4: 66 mph @ 5000
    5: 77 mph @ 5000
    6: CHP @ 5000

    Now I admit, I haven’t needed 6th gear very often; and I wouldn’t put my speed in print! But these are good speeds for urban/freeway riding and the 5K point maximizes my range. Can’t quite do that so nicely with 2 gears, or even an extra battery, I’d guess.

    For the power end of things, every day on my way home, I have to merge across 4 lanes of freeway in a fairly short distance, starting at the right and ending in the No. 1 (fast lane). The right lane where this happens is always slow and I’m usually lane splitting at that point, say 35 mph in 1st. If I start around 5K RPM, I’m using the motor efficiently. As I goose the throttle and change lanes, I can run up to 6K for power, do a slick clutchless upshift through the gears until I’m doing about 65 mph in the fast lane and never leave that band of efficiency. Can’t do that with 2 gears. (It’s possible those guys up in Oregon actually thought about this!)

    3) Then there’s regenerative braking, which in Sport mode offers significant “engine braking,” the degree of which I can dial in with the throttle. Having gears to slam down through as I come off a long downhill exit ramp every day is pretty sweet, going from 75 mph to 15 mph before needing to get on the brakes. Again, I think I’d definitely miss that granularity with 2 speeds.

    Finally, why is neutral between 2nd and 3rd? I have no idea, but it does eliminate false neutrals when driving around town, so I like it there just fine. The bike is noticeably easier to roll around in neutral and I find neutral useful for lubing the chain on a track stand. Mostly what I use it for is to allow friendly gawkers to hear the sound of the motor when I’m about to leave from my parking places around the City. Having a neutral is also rumored to satisfy a legal requirement, but, while I’ve been called a lot of things, “lawyer” is not one of them!

    I hope you guys have some more time in the saddle of this fun, practical, sweet machine. She will reveal much more charm over time. And arm-chair pronouncements about the gearbox’s being silly, useless, overkill, affectation, etc. won’t seem like nearly so much fun as blasting around cheaply and with the sound of the Starship Enterprise’s flux capacitor being charged. (Yeah, I’m a geek!)

    PS to Gabe: The demo model you rode has much less power than the later production models. My Normal mode accelerates like the demo’s Sport mode. Let me know if you want to try mine sometime.

    Seeya on the streets.

  2. Lloyd says:

    I test rode one of these at Bartels and had a blast, I went back 3 weeks later and they let me take it out again. I agree with the 2 or 3 speed idea. I suggest that everyone that thinks electrics are a joke should go try one first and if you don’t have a good time then knock em. The test ride is free. Check out the footage starting at 7:40 and tell me that doesn’t look fun!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NXmqzzGBPM&list=PL258E0E8358EFF896

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  3. Sabu says:

    Riding this bike in a big city is suicide – cars, pedestrians, and bikes can’t hear you coming and will always be cutting in front of you. When are they going to add a noise option to these bikes?

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  4. pistoldave says:

    I am not an electric vehicle kool-aid drinker, nor do I have any legitimate use for one of these bikes as a commuter. Having said that, I really do want one just for the novelty of it, now that the performance of the bikes is up to a place where they look like they would be a hoot to ride. If they can get them down to about the 6k$ ish range without sacrificing performance through the miracle of mass production, I will have one of these. Until then I will just have to sit on one of my IC bikes in the garage and make whirring electric motor noises.

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  5. Jeremy in TX says:

    I wonder how much that battery costs to replace. $10,000? $14,000? It would be a neat commuter, but their is no way this thing would ever come close to being economical for me having to replace that battery every few years. E-bikes are slowly getting there, though.

    • john says:

      If you read the specs on the batteries you would never have to replace them…unless you plan to put more than 500,000 miles on the bike.

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      • Jeremy in TX says:

        The specs say 1500 charge cycles. For my commuting uses, I would need two 60% charges per day for a total of 1.2 cycles per day. If I used the bike 300 days out of a year, that gives me a max useful life of five years assuming it makes it to spec.

        The statement was made in reference to my usage needs. I completely agree that the battery can last a long, long time depending on how the bike is used.

        • john says:

          But the 1500 cycles you are quoting is only to 80% SOC, not 0% SOC(that takes another 6000 charge cycles). So therefore you could ride the bike for alot longer than 5 years.

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          • Jeremy in TX says:

            True, but 80% is the level I would need to get to my office and still have a little reserve for safety’s sake. So at that point, it is no good for me. Like I said, this post was only with respect to what I personally would need out of the bike for commuting. I am not taking a stab at the Empulse or ebikes in general and am in fact happy to see the progress being made. The Empulse is a big step forward.

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  6. Craig says:

    Gearboxed e-bike seemed like a good idea but I think I’d opt just for the clutch and just one speed. I think brammo and zero are heroes because they are providing these bikes when you’d think Honda, Harley, or any of the others that have the big bucks would be the logical developers of this type of tech. These e-bikes haven’t made it to Nebraska yet but I eagerly await them. Maybe they will show up at Sturgis this coming summer.

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  7. jamie says:

    at 16K they need to drop the name “brammo” and go with a name like “whammo”. i’m in for around 6k.

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  8. As an owner of a current Brammo motorcycle I can tell you the people behind the machine is what will make or break a new age technology. That being said the boys/girls @ Brammo have been beyond helpful to answer any question or problem that arises.

    Electric motorcycle, Electric car I converted, Solar electricity on the home, just basic common sense. I have all of these but not all is required to make a difference in this world. It’s time to support the people here in the USA and stop outsourcing jobs, materials and entires industrys overseas.

    Peak torque @ 0RPM is a hoot. Not stopping at the gas station is even better!

    All the best,
    Aaron Lephart

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    • Gary says:

      I’ll agree Aaron, but unfortunately, the Empulse as far as I know is the only Brammo bike that is presently being made in the USA, the Enertia’s are made overseas I think in Thailand.:-(

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  9. George Krpan says:

    I live in the big city and something like would be totally useful/doable.
    I saw an electric motorcycle going down the street and it was neat. No cacophony of noise like a gas motorcycle makes.

    Electric cars make more sense. A local dealer is advertising a lease on a Chevy Volt for $199. That is less than most people spend on gas. I reckon electricity is about 1/10 the price of gas. That’s like rolling the price of gas back from $4 to 40 cents. Gas is $4 here.

    Many employers have parking spots for electric vehicles only and it is free to charge your vehicle.

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    • Nick says:

      “Many employers have parking spots for electric vehicles only and it is free to charge your vehicle.”

      “Many” might be overstating it. Taken as a whole I think it’s more like some or a few having free charging, if there’s any charging at all.

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  10. rex says:

    I think the Brammo and the Zero Motorcycles are light years ahead of the rest. The Brammo looks great to me, and feels good. I have not ridden one, but I will shortly.
    I think the two speed sounds reasonable, if you cannot feel the difference. I would think an around town gear would be good, and then one for the highway.
    Price would be a big key for most folks, but until they can get higher numbers of production, that will not come down, I don’t think. I would love to have one, and would have to use both fed. and state offers to help bring down the price. Probably 5,000 to 8500 might be where most folks, might be willing to buy. Problem, just to get across phoenix to get to riding areas, would be 50 plus miles, at least. I belong to the AZ Cafe Racers, and we meet weekly. It is usually 50-60 miles one way just to meet the folks for dinner, and then another 50-60 miles back….
    I would love to save on filling up with gas. Hopefully we can get more electric stations. the rest of the world has them, just not the USA.
    Someone is supposed to be riding an electric bike across the United states to show it can be done.

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    • Jeremy in TX says:

      I think their market is limited to someone whose daily use is about 50 miles and to commuters up to 40 miles one way whose places of work have a place / allow the bike to be charged during working hours. And novelty buyers too of course.

      I don’t think it is made for people who want to “get to riding areas”. Heck, you probably can’t even use them in riding areas. I imagine that spirited riding nets well under 50 miles before the battery is used up. Good progress from just a few years ago, though.

      As far as riding one across the US, I am sure it can be done. I also bet you could bicycle across the US faster.

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    • Gabe says:

      $5000 for a motorcycle that easily exceeds 100 mph, accelerates as fast as this Brammo does from 60-80 mph, AND you get free gas for life? What bike is that? I need to test one…

      Also, check this out for a cross-country electric riding experience: http://www.facebook.com/lifeoffthegrid?fref=ts

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  11. bikerrandy says:

    Electric bikes are for city slickers. I live in the boonies.

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  12. Rick in Tempe says:

    Gabe, Good report–at first the gearbox seemed a good thing, but after reading this, I’ll agree with you. And I like the jacket, piping especially–what kind is it? Thanks.

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    • Gabe says:

      It’s from Johnson Leather in San Francisco: http://www.johnsonleather.com/

      Mine is one of a run of horsehide sportbike jackets the shop made a few years ago. They will custom-make anything you want, and as they use Forcefield Armour, USA cowhide and make the suits on premises, it’s the best protection you can get…at pretty reasonable prices. Tell ‘em I sent you if you call…

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  13. mowakumba says:

    Don’t get me wrong… it is promising… but there will be minimal saving in the long term. Once E Bikes become the norm… the registration price, or purchase tax and fee’s to own an E bike will have to match what the G bikes are paying in road tax/gas taxes, they will still need to get the revenue. Thats probably a long way off but when they realize they are loosing xxx amount of dollars from lack of G tax, it will increase to price to own an E vehicle… but still will probably be cheaper than a G vehicle.

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  14. mowakumba says:

    2 wheeled golfcart is what it is, I will take G-bike over E-Bike any day of the week. Until gas is over 8.00 per gallon… Buying an E-Bike is novelty. For city folk it may be a good idea. Lets see,.. 4k for 75+mpg vs 15k for E Bike… 11k difference… how many miles can you go with 11k gas card on a 75mpg+ bike @ 3.25 per gallon?? Just curious.

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  15. ben says:

    I will never buy or ride an electric bike.

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  16. Dale says:

    The new Kawasaki Ninja 300 looks better by the day….

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  17. T. Rollie says:

    Would rather give my tax dollars to buyers of these new bikes than give my tax dollars to Exxon and BP as I’m doing now.

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    • Dale says:

      http://www.exxonmobilperspectives.com/2013/02/15/raising-big-oils-taxes-will-cost-jobs-and-hurt-the-economy/

      “The truth about the oil and gas industry is that we pay a lot in taxes – more than $86 million per day to the federal government in both income taxes and production fees. And as the American Petroleum Institute points out, “U.S. oil and natural gas companies pay considerably more in taxes than the average manufacturing company. In 2011 income tax expenses (as a share of net income before income taxes) averaged 40.6 percent, compared to 25.1 percent for other S&P Industrial companies.”

      The irony is that there are plenty of energy companies receiving subsidies in the form of direct grants and other favoritism from government. But these are usually “green energy” companies whose ability to compete is unproven, or whole industries that are kept afloat by government mandates requiring consumers to buy their products.

      Do “Big Oil” companies like ExxonMobil get special treatment from Washington? Only in the form of punitive, targeted attempts to penalize a handful of large, investor-owned entities. Those policies would single out our peers and us from how virtually every other American manufacturer or producer is treated under the federal tax code.”

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      • Dave says:

        LARGE bunch of crap that article is. The big oil companies pay 14-15% after all of the tex breaks they buy with their lobby (their lobby to tax benefit represents a 5000% return on investment) after which they collect in the neighborhood of $100 billion in profit which peaks when price at the pump is highest and we’re hurting the most. They are the most profitable companies in the world and do not deserve anyone’s sympathy.

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    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Oh, please. Exxon’s tax rate is usually between 40% and 45%. They are contributing a to much larger portion of that e-bike buyer credit than you are.

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      • T. Rollie says:

        Facts are so annoying to true believers in the virtue of big business: “…But Exxon Mobil’s tax rate is “lower than the average American’s,” Daniel Weiss, an energy expert at CAP, countered in an analysis that put the company’s U.S. federal income tax rate in 2010 at just 17.2 percent.”

        It’s comforting to go through life knowing things that are actually lies.

        http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2011-05-11/business/35264658_1_federal-income-tax-rate-tax-benefits

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        • Jeremy in TX says:

          It’s comforting to go through life knowing things are actually lies? I wouldn’t get too comfortable then.

          You are referring strictly to income taxes. I wasn’t. Exxon pays $1.27 in US government taxes per every $1.00 in earnings they claim. (Those earnings will eventually be taxed a second time as well when paid out as dividends to fat cats and average Joes alike, but that is another story). If you wanted to restate that figure as an overall tax rate against income for comparison purposes, that comes to 60.5% – and that is only to the federal government. Do you know many “Average Americans” lining Uncle Sam’s pocket like that? I don’t. And those numbers are not from some pro-big oil website – this is from the same article you cited. I have to agree with the article – that definitely doesn’t look like a fair share to me. Looks pretty unfair. Just because we don’t call it an income tax doesn’t mean that they aren’t paying the taxes.

          Your post made me curious what just the income-only tax picture was for Exxon overall. I didn’t see 2010′s numbers at the top of my search list, but here are 2011′s:

          $27.3 billion in income taxes on $41 billion in earnings. 42%. That is a lot. Exxon has operations all over the world, so of course not all of that is paid the IRS. The effective US tax rate is probably close to what your article cited at 17%. That is because they are paying extraordinary income taxes (as high as 70%) in many of the nations where production takes place which they can use to offset taxes paid here… which any multinational company big OR small is allowed to do.

          You can feel however you like about “big business” and feel “comforted” in whatever you choose to believe, but I’ll do my own research and decide for myself what is and isn’t a lie.

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          • T. Rollie says:

            get your facts straight and apply your own brain cells for a change: “ExxonMobil pays tax of just 13% or so on its U.S. profits. …oil companies’ domestic manufacturing tax deduction of 6% of the value of oil and gas they produce in the United States…”

            That’s 6% deduction most Americans would rather not give to oil companies.

            Read beyond the slanted headlines and ideological spin. Do you really care that Exxon must pay high income taxes to Angola? It’s the US I care about, and we should jack up their US Income taxes to repair all the pollution and damage they walk away from.

            Read it all here in a very conservative magazine:
            http://www.forbes.com/sites/christopherhelman/2012/04/16/which-megacorps-pay-megataxes/

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          • Jeremy in TX says:

            I didn’t have the effective US tax rate for the 2011 year and just assumed it was around the 2010 number you cited. I stand corrected on that, but it makes little difference in that Exxon is paying a substantial amount of taxes both in terms as a percentage of their earnings and total dollar value. A much, much larger percentage than you or I do. Use your own brain cells and you would see that immediately from the original article you quoted.

            With respect to the 6% manufacturing tax deduction, EVERY manufacturer gets that deduction only any other manufacturer that isn’t an oil company can claim 9% – 50% more deduction than an oil company. And it is a deduction, not a credit. Your tax dollars are not getting diverted to Exxon’s bank account.

            And I care what every company that contributes to the US economy has to pay in taxes here and Angola. I want them to be competitive on the world scene and have incentive to keep as many jobs on US shores as possible.

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  18. ROXX says:

    If you have to steal my tax dollars to sell these low range vehicles then your are nothing more than thieves and charlatans!

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  19. ROXX says:

    “Uncle Sam & Uncle Jerry”? Say what it really is. Your neighbors taxes!
    If this was such a good idea it would not require stealing from the already tapped out taxpayers!
    Meanwhile Nancy Pelosi says “we don’t have a spending problem…”.
    This is the kind of garbage that is bankrupting the country.
    Build it with your own money and stay out of my pockets!!!

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    • Fred M. says:

      So sidewalks aren’t a good idea because building them requires “stealing from the already tapped out taxpayers”? You have no problem when some guy who doesn’t even own a car has his tax dollars spent on roads you drive on, right? You’re fine when his tax dollars go towards subsidies for the oil industry? You think it’s peachy when some guy in Maine has to pay for the Border Patrol to keep Mexicans from crossing into the U.S. — even though the net result for him is higher prices for strawberries?

      And, really, why are you “tapped out” when tax rates have been falling for the last 50+ years?

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      • Wayne says:

        “Green energies” are ‘subsidied’ much much more than fossil fuels are. And taxes for sidewalks are not the same as using taxpayers’ money to pick winners and losers in the marketplace.

        My taxes have not been falling for the last 50+ years!

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    • Gabe says:

      Spending I like: Wise use of tax dollars and constitutionally mandated.

      Spending I don’t like: Theft!

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    • Hefner says:

      I think the telephone was a great ides, which was heavily subsidized by the government. Yes, it probably would have happened eventually if left to free enterprise, but it would have been prohibitively expensive as the telco’s would have had to recover the entire cost of building out a national network, not to mention the incompatibilities that would have arisen as each region doing things their own way.

      At the end of the day supporting electric vehicles reduces our dependance on foreign oil, and may end up stimulating our national economy in the form of infrastructure upgrades. Plus, since it puts more reliance on our power generation capabilities, it would probably end up boosting coal (because we’re afraid of Nuclear), and don’t you republican nut jobs love coal?

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  20. Tom R. says:

    Needs to be a “cool” looking scooter with a compartment to hold stuff like laptop/tablet, lunch, a few grocery items, for limited urban jaunts. As designed and presented, this traditional sport-oriented concept will never sell in profitable numbers.

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  21. BarryB says:

    Agree on the gearbox but these electric vehicles need to redefine motos by having a roof and windscreen for protection and the extra bodywork/space will give enough space for more batteries… they will get there soonish I guess!

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  22. tyggyr says:

    One of my concerns here would be acid spillage if you drop the bike.

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  23. bikerrandy says:

    Surprised it doesn’t recharge the batteries when your coasting or riding down hill.

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  24. Don says:

    Seriously, drop the extra weight and cost of the wholly unnecessary six-speed gearbox and they might have something. I could see a two-speed gearbox so the motor could be in it’s most efficient range while doing 75 on the highway, but even for that, I’m not sure if there’s enough difference in efficiency with RPM for an electric motor to justify the extra weight and expense. There is certainly no need for six-speeds. That’s just dumb.

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  25. Dave says:

    The gear box and looks means they’re still trying to sell this to motorcyclists who while the most immediately accessible, are unfortunately the wrong customer.

    Lose the gearbox and performance aspiration and sell it into the smarter urban utility markets where scooters rule. That’s the opportunity. As long as people continue to hang the priorities of long range and performance around the neck of this thing it will continue to choke.

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    • Jeremy in TX says:

      I agree that these things in there current form are only practical in the urban markets (not sure what makes them “smarter”) where range and performance are not terribly relevant.

      However, you have to keep demanding range and performance, or it will never get there. Us more stupid motorcyclists dat don’t live next door to any of dem smart hipsters might wants a ‘lectric motorbike sum day, too!

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      • Dave says:

        My point is that they’re going after a market that demands something that they can’t deliver.

        By “smarter”, I mean global urban markets that are using light two wheeled transportation mush more than we do. There are millions of cars in the US that get driven less than 10 miles at a time by a single occupant. We’ll get there. Gas is going to likely stay expensive from here on out.

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    • john says:

      That would be their other model the Enertia for the urban commuter.

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  26. Vrooom says:

    One more vote for 2 speed gearbox with extra space used for additional battery capacity. 100 mph, 100 miles range, and 10-12K in price and I’m so there. This is really close.

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  27. Hair says:

    A capacitor on wheels. Every year another 5 grand gets you 5 more mph and 5 more miles down the road.

    I can’t wait until one of these short out, energizing the bike and the rider, lying in wait until the rider puts their foot down.

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  28. goose says:

    +1 on ditching the six speed, it is silly on an E-bike. A two speed would be great but six is a waste.

    Still, E-bikes are getting closer and closer.

    Once they get the range up to say, 200 miles on a charge out and the price down I look forward to my first E-bike. With the low maintenance and easy riding they are perfect for commuting and general around town riding. Still, I’d keep my touring bike for longer rides.

    Goose

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    • mugwump says:

      I will settle for 100 miles at 55 to 65 miles per hour between recharging. Then I will start looking. My current commuter gets 50 mpg and will reach 100 mph + for over 200 miles before it needs to be fueled. That is their competition.

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    • v says:

      In what way is it low(er) maintenance? Modern ICE bikes are alreaady low maintanence, engine oil change and a new air filter once a year and that’s about it for the ICE part. Other components need maintenance too, but electric bikes have those parts too. And if the bike has a gearbox then it has most likely gearbox oil too and that would need changing too sometimes, even if the electric motor was “maintanence free” (might not be).

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  29. Jeremy in TX says:

    I think it is a good looking motorcycle. It definitely says “motorcycle” while at the same time declaring it’s difference. It looks much much better than the Zeros which to me resemble what a Transformer’s turd might look like.

    I like the idea of a gearbox personally. A single ratio is fine for bopping around town or the neighborhood but isn’t enough for real road work though admittedly the range of these things wouldn’t allow real road work anyway. That said, I have to admit that six, closely spaced gears do not make much sense. A three speed would be plenty. And offer different levels of power management like current sportbikes rather than just having it set to nanny.

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  30. Jay says:

    Why make it look like a sportbike? It should look like a practical cat. It should look like a scooter or a moped or some simple around town thing, because you aren’t going to go that-a-way if you have to come back this-a-way. you have to stay within 1/2 the range it gets so you can get home. How long does that take to charge up, anyway?

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    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Why make it look like a sportbike?”

      because humans choose mates on appearance first. people will buy dog poop so long as it comes in a slick and stylish package.

  31. Johnne Lee says:

    The laws of physics have not changed; the air is still breathable, and fossil fuel is still readily available and affordable. Until all of that changes dramatically electric vehicles are an over-priced novelty.

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    • Gary says:

      fossil fuel affordable??? I assume you mean gasoline. You must make way more money than most of us, or travel very little.

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      • 80-watt Hamster says:

        Gasoline is absolutely affordable. Is it as inexpensive as we’d like? Not even remotely, having doubled in price over the last ten years and tripled or quadrupled in the last twenty-five. But it so far does not cost enough for the majority of people to significantly change their consumption habits, which means that people can still afford gasoline, which makes it by definition affordable.

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        • Norm G. says:

          re: “Is it as inexpensive as we’d like?”

          and therein lies the $64,000 dollar statement. ’cause NOTHING is as inexpensive as we like. we’re irrational. secretly inside we’re hoping the “gub-mint” intervenes in all commerce (bar none) and declares free lunch across the board. “nothing for everything” is our behavioral objective. which of course, if this were to ever happen, it’d cause a rip in the fabric of time and space and destroy all life as we know it.

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    • Dave says:

      It is a pity that we must wait until our air quality “dramatically” changes to do something about it. Embarrassing, actually.

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    • Daytona James says:

      So by your logic Johnne Lee, we should keep going until we DON’T have breathable air? …until we’ve sucked every last drop of oil out of the ground and burnt it up, releasing millions of years of stored carbon into the atmosphere where it will cause our planet to overheat beyond liveability?? …that’s what we should do? Hmm. Interesting perspective you have there.

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    • ROXX says:

      The air is better than it was 20 years ago. It’s not getting worse.
      All you greenies do your homework before you bite.

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      • Dave says:

        re:”The air is better than it was 20 years ago. ”

        How do you think that happened, by just sitting around and waiting for it to self-correct? With China (now the world’s largest coal-burner) and India emerging as the industrial centers of the world where do you think that will go?

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  32. stratkat says:

    “… which means you can go a really long way. This Brammo Empulse R, for instance, can go something like 56 miles at a steady 70 mph—121 miles at around-town speeds”

    really? 56miles at 70mph? a long way????!

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  33. superjetin says:

    You can buy a ZERO S for about $8000 now with their $2500 rebate and the federal and state tax credits. Pretty much half price of what they sold for last year.

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  34. Tom Right says:

    Rode a (different brand) of electric motorcycle the other day for the first time…interesting, with decent performance. But these machines are minimalistic and expensive. Yes they go pretty fast when the battery is full, but they have little actual practicality. No windshields or panniers, and any passenger would have to be jockey-sized. And the limited range before the required overnight recharge makes these just an expensive curiosity that can be ridden for no more than an hour or so at a time. It would be quite easy to accidentally get too far from home and not be able to return.

    Defenders and apologists for current electric vehicles seem to abandon much of their common sense when discussing them. The current concept just doesn’t pencil out.

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    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Defenders and apologists for current electric vehicles seem to abandon much of their common sense when discussing them. The current concept just doesn’t pencil out”

      as the wisemen say, “looks good on paper”.

      the only practical application i see of electrifying vehicles is on car side. this, for no other reason than the physically larger dimensions allow fitting of ALL the necessary technology that adds value while offsetting the shortcomings. ie. large battery packs, hybrid gas/elec powertrains, solar cells, etc.

      however, talking about any of this in the form factor of motorcycling borders on the ridiculous. own a fisker, tesla or a prius…? sure why not, but more than likely my next new car purchase will be a diesel. chevy cruze D…? mazda skyactiv anyone…? sure, “electrification” has it’s place, but it isn’t in bike world.

      tom right, ain’t wrong.

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      • Dave says:

        I think the motorcycle/scooter makes even more sense but as has been pointed out on all of these threads, it needs to be a commuter, not a sport machine. Tame the performance and the range goes up. For urban utility this could be great but gas is still too cheap so consumers don’t want to entertain it.

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  35. Crusty Kris says:

    I’ll wait until the bugs are worked out and it sells for $5995, a price that is more in line with what you’re getting. Also, who’s in charge of the design department? They’re trying to hard to look futuristic when all they need to do is make it look like a MOTORCYCLE.

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    • Fred M. says:

      So you think the price should be set by the performance, not by the manufacturing cost or the drastically lower operational costs?

      And how is $6,000 more in line with what you’re getting.? Show me a $6,000 gasoline powered motorcycle that’s almost silent. Show me one that requires as little maintenance as this bike. Show me a gasoline-powered motorcycle that gets close to 300mpg (the Brammo Empulse is rated at 279MPG-e efficiency/cost).

      It costs more than a gasoline powered motorcycle because is costs more to manufacture an electric powered motorcycle. There’s no reason to believe that somehow there will be a magical halving of the cost to make an electric motorcycle. The battery technology is reaching a level of maturity where massive gains are not to be had. Electric motor controllers and electric motors are very mature technologies.

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  36. todder says:

    Clutch? Neutral? I never expected those even to exist on this bike. I’m also with ditching the extra weight of the gearbox, they could add another battery in its place. I want one.

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  37. MarxMythJr says:

    Looks really good and and is probably a great ride but the price may hold it back. Still, I suppose if enough of these sell and battery technology gets cheaper (and more convenient) this would be a great way to get Gen Y into motorcycling.

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  38. Fred M. says:

    I was a vocal opponent of the gearbox affectation when they first announced it. It adds weight and complexity for no real benefit.

    I might have been able to get behind a two-speed gearbox (especially with motor control to precisely match gear speeds and avoid the need for a clutch) which could cut revs, and, hence, bearing wear at highway speeds.

    But this thing is just silly, especially when they claim it’s to provide a more conventional motorcycle experience and then they put neutral between second and third.

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