Victory Motorcycles has turned a new page by unveiling its first fully electric motorcycle. The 2016 Empulse TT is a road-legal electric streetbike based on Brammo's Empulse R. The company's entry into the electric market follows its successful participation at the 2015 Isle of Man TT Zero race, where its Empulse-powered racebike emerged as the fastest US electric motorcycle.
Oregon-based Brammo's electric motorcycle business was bought in January by Victory's mother company, Polaris Industries, so common sense dictated that it was a matter of time before an electric motorcycle would emerge from either Victory or Indian – or possibly both. After all it was Harley-Davidson that had drawn first blood with its project Livewire. Now that the production version of the electric H-D has officially been put on hold, Polaris has an opportunity to take the initiative.
The Empulse TT is effectively a rebadged Brammo Empulse R. The naked electric sportbike features a twin-spar aluminum frame, fully adjustable suspension with an inverted fork and a single rear shock, dual-disk brakes at the front and lightweight cast aluminum rims all around. A notable difference from the Brammo model is the change from 180 to a 160-section rear tire.
It is powered by a Permanent Magnet AC Induction electric motor, peaking at 54 hp (40.3 kW) and 61 ft-lb (80.7 Nm). The power source is a Brammo Power Li-ion battery, with an output of 10.4 kWh; a marginal increase over the 10.2 kWh of the 2014 Empulse R. It requires 3.9 hours for a full charge with a Stage 2 charger, which is available as an accessory. With a Stage 1 charger the same process will need 8 hours.
These output numbers are a far cry from the 150 hp this motor was making in race trim at the 2015 Isle of Man TT Zero (the obvious inspiration in naming the Empulse TT).
Victory Electric Product Manager Joshua Katt describes the Empulse TT as a "versatile motorcycle that can be used for impressively sporty riding or as a casual commuter" – this is a road going motorcycle and, as such, inevitably subject to practical demands. Although it is capable of top speeds over 100 mph (160 km/h), it needs to deliver a viable range with a single charge. Victory informs us that the Empulse TT battery is sufficient for a range of about 65 miles (104 km), though a maximum of 100 miles (160 km) is achievable with throttle management and use of the motorcycle's regenerative charging. During testing the Empulse TT delivered a "combined 70 mph (112 km/h) highway and city range" of 57 miles (91.2 km) according to the Motorcycle Industry Council's standards.
The electric motor can be operated in two modes; the Eco mode is sufficient for everyday riding, while the Sport releases 20 percent more battery power for stronger acceleration.
A central feature in the Empulse TT is the use of a six-speed gearbox mated to a wet multi-plate clutch. It is designed to enable the rider to take full advantage of the engine's potential, while at the same time allowing for a more efficient use of the bike's battery. Downshifting assists in creating regenerative power – even more so in Sport mode – and also mimics the engine braking effect that most riders are used to from conventional motorcycles.
One could argue that six gears are far too many for an electric motor; two or three should be more than enough. Interestingly, in this transmission neutral is found between second and third gear, as the third is used for most riding speeds and conditions. Starting the Empulse TT translates to turning on the power, selecting third gear (without using the clutch) and just twisting the throttle. Evidently the bike's rider will rarely run through all six gears.
The clutch is another feature that will not see much use. It is needed only when shifting between gears, not for taking off or coming to a stop.
Apparently this transmission system is also designed to provide familiarity for the typical motorcyclist who is not used to a single gear electric motor.
The Empulse TT is scheduled to be available in the US by the end of 2015 at an MSRP starting at US$19,999, complemented by a line of Genuine Victory Accessories that include Victory performance forks, frame sliders, tall and short windscreens and panniers. Victory says it will determine its international sales plan according to the global demand for the bike.
Watch the Empulse TT in action in the official promo video below.