2016 Energica Ego
Welcome to our brave new world, where clean (green?) energy is finally emerging from under the corporate boot heels of big coal and oil interests. Technological leaps come quickly, and the various industries can scarcely keep up with the improvements as they scramble to take advantage of it. Recent advances in battery technology are giving rise to truly functional vehicular designs, and the 2016 Ego from Energica is an excellent example of just how viable electric bikes can be, at least as far as raw performance goes. In fact, this battery-powered adrenaline mill could give many dino-juice sportbikes a run for their money – as long as it was a short race, anyway.
Continue reading for my review of the 2016 Energica Ego.
At first (and second) glance, the Ego is pure sportbike, and the full body panels even tipple it toward the superbike range, a trend that extends to the performance envelope (more on that later). Energica took care to conceal much of the guts, and what little is exposed barely suggests at what resides under the “hood,” unlike so many other manufacturers that clearly give their products away as being non-conventional by displaying the innards, or otherwise concealing them (poorly) in some way. The lines of the Ego design would not look out of place in any group of sportbikes, be they Japanese or European in origin. Standing still, only the cooling fins visible behind the engine shroud and unusual swingarm/shock setup give it away as not just another sportbike, making this a good option for those interested in a “green” ride without necessarily announcing it to the world.
A steel, tubular trellis frame cradles and protects the electrical innards, and much more. According to the factory, the inherent flexion of steel frames actually stores energy, much like spring (or a hard-swung golf club), and the release of this stored energy contributes to acceleration. If this sounds unlikely, I invite you to look at some stills of a slapshot and get back to me.
Marzocchi provides the ride at the front end, with 43 mm usd forks that come with adjustments for compression and rebound damping, as well as preload. A coil-over Bitubo monoshock acts directly on the radical swingarm sans linkage, and it too comes with adjustable rebound damping and spring preload. Not quite as top-shelf as the Öhlins suspension featured on the exclusive Ego45, but still pretty doggone good by anybody’s standards.
Brembo four-pot calipers bind the massive 330 mm front brake discs, and a twin pot Brembo grabs the 240 mm disc in back. The braking forces are moderated by the Bosch switchable ABS that also comes with a nifty anti rear-wheel lift up function to prevent pulling a moonshot at the wrong end when you grab a fistful of front brake lever. Pirelli Diablo Rosso II tires round out the chassis (if you will forgive the pun), providing a large, sticky contact patch from sidewall to sidewall for plenty of lateral traction for aggressive cornering.
Finally, we come to the onion with the electric motor and drive system. A permanent-magnet AC (PMAC) electric motor provides the drive. It cranks out 136 ponies from 4,900 through 10,500 rpm where the rev limiter kicks in, and a soul-crushing 143.8 pound-feet of torque from zero to 4,700. Yes, you read that right, from zero! One of the benefits of electric drives is full torque is available from the first crack of the throttle, giving a whole new meaning to the phrase “low-end torque.” The sum of these performance numbers brings us to the impressive bottom line; 0 to 60 in less than three seconds, and a top speed of 150 mph!
Motor management falls to the Vehicle Control Unit (VCU) that comes programmed with four separate riding modes (standard, sport, economy and rain) and four regenerative maps for absolute control over power delivery and conservation. The battery rated for 1200 cycles can take a charge in 3.5-hours or less, as low as 30 minutes for an 85-percent charge depending on level of discharge and which of the four charging modes you use. Charge time and range are the hot-button topics on electric vehicles of any sort, and the Ego gives up around 93 miles at an average speed of 49 mph, which is fine for around town, but you can forget about any kind of road trips at high speed.
A reduction gear replaces the transmission and eliminates the need for a clutch, or even a shifter, so acceleration is smooth and constant, surpassing even the fancy-schmancy quick-shift features on some of the other top-end sportbikes. Straight-cut gears in the reduction assembly produce a whine that, while not as sexy as the full-throated roar from a smoker bike, should allow folks to hear you coming, an important safety feature in my opinion. (Loud gearboxes save lives?)
Another nifty advantage of the drive system is that it allows for a “Park Assistant” mode that, when selected, limits speed to 1.74 mph in forward and reverse.
U.S. buyers can expect to drop around 34 grand on an Ego if last year’s prices are any indication, and it comes in Matte Pearl White or Matte Black, both with some really green highlights; a fitting detail for such a “green” bike, don’t you think?
The field is still a little thin for electric sportbikes, so I am forced to return to the SR ZF12.5 from Zero for my head-to-head. Both rides conform to sportbike convention as far as overall form goes, though Zero wraps the guts completely with body panels and the factory didn’t bother trying to camouflage it in any way like Energica did. Based on curb appeal alone, the Ego pulls miles ahead of the Zero SR.
Likewise, performance skews heavily toward the Ego with its stupidfast top speed of 150 mph versus a more modest (saner?) top speed of 102 mph on the Zero. Grunt falls off on the Zero as well, but it’s still impressive at 106 pound-feet, if a little lower than the 143.8 pound-feet from the Ego. Power comes at a price, however, a fact that tells on the Ego. With a range of just under 100 miles at 49 mph, Energica has shorter legs than the Zero, especially if you get the Power Tank accessory that will give you up to 141 miles at 55 mph in combined city/highway driving.
Ego recharging is fairly brisk, much quicker than the Zero with its 8.6 and 1.9 hour charge time, depending on battery state and number of accessory chargers. Caveat: I recently saw an aftermarket quick charger for Zero bikes that reduces that charge time quite a bit, but since it’s not a factory device, I won’t reflect those charge times here.
Energica takes a hit on price. At $34,000, it’s well proud of the Zero with its modest $15,995 sticker. Even with the $2,495 Power Tank accessory, and Quick Chargers at 600 bucks a pop, the SR still slides in on the more economical end of the spectrum.
“All good stuff. I love how clean technologies are finally making their way into the mainstream, and even though this ride is just about as good as it gets, I think battery power is just a stepping stone. The real future is hydrogen-cell technology. D’ya hear that Energica? By all means, perfect the chassis and motor, but be ready to shift from limited battery capacity to a power cell that will allow for your awesome performance with the range and convenience of dino-juice rides. It’s coming!”
My wife and fellow writer, Allyn Hinton, says, "Energica is based in Modena, Italy. If that sounds familiar, it may be because you appreciate the quality and precision of names such as Ducati, Ferrari and Lamborghini. We expect excellence from that neck of the woods, and Energica doesn’t disappoint. I love the torque right out of the hole. It’s almost scary. I’m still a little concerned about the low noise level, though. To be safe on the road with cagers, they really need to be loud."
|Motor:||Permanent Magnet AC (PMAC), Oil-Cooled|
|Maximum Speed:||Limited at 149 mph|
|Maximum Torque:||144 Pound-Feet from 0 to 4,700 rpm|
|Maximum Power:||136 Horsepower from 4,900 rpm to 10,500 rpm|
|Range:||118 miles at 37 mph/ 93 miles at 50 mph/ 62 miles at 62 mph|
|Four-Riding Mode:||Standard, Eco, Rain, Sport|
|Four-Regenerative Maps: Low, Medium, High, Off|
|Reverse Mode:||For Easier Handling at Very Low Speed|
|Life:||1,200 Cycles at 80 percent Capacity (100 percent DOD)|
|Recharge:||3.5 hours (0 to 100 percent SOC) Mode 1, 2 or 3 Charge, 30 minutes (0 to 85 percent SOC); Mode 4 DC Fast Charge|
|Front Wheel:||Cast Aluminum 3.5 x 17 Inches|
|Rear Wheel:||Cast Aluminum 5.5 x 17 Inches|
|Front Tire:||120/70 ZR17 Pirelli Diablo Rosso II|
|Rear Tire:||180/55 ZR17 Pirelli Diablo Rosso II|
|Front Suspension:||Marzocchi 43mm, Adjustable Rebound and Compression Dampening, Spring Preload|
|Rear Mono:||Bitubo Rear Monoshocks Adjustable rebound, Spring Preload|
|Reduction Gear Ratio (Secondary)2.75|
|Chain:||(16/44) 525 O-Ring Chain|
|Front Brake:||Brembo, Double Floating Discs, 330 mm, Four-Piston Radial Calipers, 5 mm Thick|
|Rear Brake:||Brembo, Single Disc, 240 mm Two-Piston Caliper, 5 mm Thick|
|Vehicle Control Unit:||A Vehicle Control Unit implementing a multi-map adaptive energy and power management algorithm manages the vehicle. During drive, system carefully monitors and adjusts 100 times per second the motor’s power, starting from; throttle command; chosen engine map; battery status and speed. System also handles regenerative engine braking and regenerative electrical brake, interfacing with the ABS unit. This allows for a superb efficiency in battery energy management and a great drive performance and experience. It constantly monitors batteries, even in key off position in order to ensure battery protection even in long winter storage. Vehicle Control Unit is based on a redundant architecture in order to grant the state of the art of safety and performance.|
|Dashboard:||4.3-Inch WQVGA 480×272 TFT Color Display with Internal memory for datalogging, Integrated GPS receiver and Bluetooth communication 16.7 ml colors - nine warning lights - 6 + 6 current consumption lights - GPS 10Hz - Bluetooth dual mode 2.1 e 4.0 - Real Time Clock - External light detector|
|Connectivity:||The vehicle is equipped with a communication platform based on the Bluetooth and UMTS / GPRS Standards. The vehicle is able to offer “short range” and “long range” connectivity services. - In particular: Short Range Connectivity - Bluetooth 3.0 Module, range 100m; Long Range Connectivity - LTE/ UMTS/GPRS Module, SMS, TCP/IP, FTP, SOCKET, HTTP Communications|
|Charger:||Onboard, [110-220]V [50-60]Hz, 3 kW. Conforms to Standards SAE J1772 and IEC 62196-2 with pilot signal for Charge Station’s Interface.|
|Colors:||Matte Pearl White, Matte Black|
|Seat Height:||31.9 Inches|
- Energica Ego