I got some hate mail when I panned the Brammo Enertia last February. One reader pointed out that the Enertia, statistically speaking, would accommodate 90% of America’s workforce commute. I’d have agreed with him if the original Enertia’s range was the 40 miles claimed; unfortunately, at wide open throttle the range is about half that number. I had an issue with the price, as well: spending nearly $8k for a bike that had limited functionality made no sense to me, especially when there are fuel-efficient, do-all bikes (like Kawasaki’s KLR 650) available for far less money.
Here it is just eight months later, and Brammo has addressed all of my issues, except price, with the Enertia +. To be available in early 2011, the Enertia + gives you 80 miles of range under ideal conditions (what they call “urban commuting”, 60 miles under normal conditions (what they call “sub urban commuting”) and even 40 miles under wide open throttle (their “high speed commuting”). Brammo’s done this by increasing battery capacity from 3.1 kWh on the original Enertia to 6.0 kWh on the Enertia +, while keeping the battery size and weight the same. The Enertia + has all the advantages of the Enertia, but now has (in my opion, at least) a functional range.
The price, unfortunately, has gone in the wrong direction. The Enertia + stickers at $8,995, or a thousand dollars more than the original Enertia. A 10% federal tax credit for electric vehicles drops the price to $8,095.50, which is still a lot of money for bike with limited functionality. A KLR 650 costs about $2,100 less; riding 10,000 miles per year, at a fuel economy of 50 MPG, means you’d burn 200 gallons of gas with the Kawi. At a price of $2.75 per gallon, it would take you nearly four years to recover the price difference between the Enertia + and the Kawi.
I suppose that’s really not the point of buying an electric bike. The Enertia + finally makes sense as a commuting vehicle, and the buyer can feel good about doing their part to reduce dependence on oil. I’m still not sold, but I am curious; I had no interest in riding the original Enertia, but I’d really like to throw my leg over the Enertia + or the Empulse sportbike.