Tonight I took a test drive on the Brammo Enertia electric motorcycle in Tribeca, but it didn't smell, feel, or sound much like a motorcycle: There were no exhaust fumes, the bike was light (though it weighs 285 pounds), and there was barely any engine noise--only a slight whirrr--even at a top speed of 50 miles per hour. "It's almost silent," says John Farris, Director-Marketing, Brammo.
Built in Ashland, Oregon, the Enertia will be available in Best Buy's Portland store starting July 5, and later rolling out in 1,200 other U.S. Best Buy locations, as well as 1,800 Best Buy locations in Europe via The Carphone Warehouse Group. "We do R&D, manufacturing, and design all in Ashland and can get up to 1,000s of production vehicles at a time depending on the demand at Best Buy," says Farris. Best Buy Capital was an early investor in the Enertia.
With the Enertia, Brammo is aiming at the urban consumer, as it combines reduced operating costs, environmental consciousness and the fun of a motorcycle. The plug-in Enertia has no clutch, no gears and no shifting, so it's simple to ride, reaches speeds up to 55 miles per hour, travels 45 miles on a charge and takes just over three hours to re-charge. "We want to make it as accessible and as approachable as possible," says Farris.
Selling at Best Buy instead of a motorcycle outlet was founder Craig Bramscher's idea. Looking at the Enertia without it's wheels and torque, it looked just like consumer electronics to him, so Best Buy seemed like a perfect match. The Enertia Standard motorcycle will feature an aluminum chassis, injection molded plastic body panels and fenders, plus a durable vinyl seat for $11,995, with a 12 months warranty and 10% tax credit for electric plug-in vehicles. Bramscher says they're also working on getting an additional 10% in some states, like New Jersey.
After my ride, some camera guys from CNET approached me to do an interview asking me to compare the Enertia to a regular motorcycle. I talked about the ride around Tribeca and my trying to top out on the West Side Highway. To sum it up, here's what I told them: Besides it not smelling, feeling, or sounding much like your everyday motorcycle, I also found it to be very easy. In fact, it was one of the easiest rides I've ever had in my life--it was just like riding a bike, well, almost.