Over the past few years, while we've seen a slow and steady increase in the number of electric cars available on the market, the electric motorcycle industry has positively exploded.
Primarily designed to satisfy the commuting needs of inner-city residents, most electric motorcycles and scooters are aimed at first-time riders, keen to benefit from scooter-like handling and stylish good looks, qualities you'd not associate with a traditional gasoline motorcycle.
Now Oregon-based Brammo Motorcycles is promising to make electric motorcycles more appealing to mainstream motorcyclists with the 2012 Empulse and Empulse R, two sports bikes it says will be in a class of its own.
Due to be officially unveiled in Los Angeles on May 8, the 2012 Brammo Empulse and Brammo Empluse R are both based on the 6-geared Brammo Empulse prototype we saw last year.
The first electric motorcycle firm to break away from single-speed transmission, Brammo claims the Italian-engineered IET 6-speed transmission gives the Empulse a faster acceleration time, higher top speed and longer range than would be possible without it.
Disappointingly, while Brammo is keen to tell us about the Brammo Empulse R’s 40 kilowatt peak, water-cooled AC motor, 10.2 kilowatt-hour battery pack and 3.5-hour Level 2 recharge time - not to mention the 6-speed transmission - it hasn't listed either motorcycle's 0-60 time yet.
2011 Brammo Empulse. Official Brammo Photograph
But with 46.5 foot-pounds of instant torque from standstill combined with a decent set of gear rations, we think the 2012 Brammo Empulse and Empulse R should both post 0-60 times nearer to what you'd expect from a 500 cc motorcycle than a 125cc machine.
Mysteriously, top speed is also missing from Brammo’s pre-launch press release. Although the firm is keen to emphasize that both the Empulse and Empulse R can achieve speeds in excess of 100 mph, we can only assume it wants to save actual performance information until launch.
As for range? Depending on how it is ridden, Brammo quotes anything from 56 miles on the highway at a sustained 70mph to 121 miles in city traffic.
With competitors like Zero Motorcycles constantly revising and upgrading the specifications of its range of electric motorcycles year-on-year, the Brammo Empulse and Empulse R are much-needed additions to Brammo’s aging range.
More importantly however, if the Empulse and Empulse R can deliver sports-bike performance and big-bike feel without nannying the rider -- and do so at a reasonable sticker price -- it could offer hardened motorcycle fans the excuse they need to go electric.
Will they? We’ll have to wait until May 8 to find out.