Never doubt the will of passionate Italians, especially when it comes to their passion for speed. Energica has become the undeniable world leader in electric superbikes. Its technology was bred and proven on the world’s racing circuits, and it’s now crushing the competition in sales. Classic “race on Sunday, sell on Monday.” The Energica MyElectric Academy, a new rider experience program, aims to make a believer out of the masses.
An Overnight Success 10 years in The Making
Think back to 2010. Steve introduced the iPad, Nissan introduced the Leaf, Tik Tok hit #1, and a few Italians started an electric motorcycle company. I called them crazy, and I knew a few things about electric motorcycles.
In 2010 you’d have found me wrenching on electric superbikes at the Isle of Man TT races. I was lead engineer for team Motoczysz, and we were on the bleeding edge of electric development. It was brutally hard work building and prepping race-bikes. After a winning season, an investor asked us about taking it to production – and I told my boss Michael to politely F*** off. Production manufacturing is a different type of hell than racing and I wanted no part it, especially in a global economic downturn.
That same year an Italian woman with a vision decided to take that hard path. Livia Cevolini was racing electric too. Her team launched the eCRP concept bike and proceeded to dominate the TTXGP European racing series. Within two years the company was now fittingly called Energica, the feminine form of “energetic” in Italian.
In 2012 the Energica “Ego” made its debut at EICMA, the International Motorcycle Exposition in Milan. It was not exactly a show-stopper. Moto enthusiasts are petrol addicts. Without the smell, the sound, the vibration of Ducatis and Motoguzzis, it just isn’t riding. Italians wouldn’t be caught dead on a sewing machine with wheels. Even if you were sold on the instant torque, you could travel just 100 miles on a charge, and in 2012 public chargers were rarer than Supermonos.
Winning Races is Easier Than Winning Hearts & Minds
Fast forward 10 years and Energica has exploded – sales are up 200% this year. If you hadn’t been following, they seem like an overnight success. Like most “overnight successes” it was a long hard decade in the trenches. It takes time and persistence to change cultural perception – it’s a fool’s errand. But changing perception is core to turning petrol heads on to electric.
Energica MyElectric Academy
Riding is believing, and that’s why Energica started the “MyElectric Academy.” If you can forgive the dorky name, the MyElectric curriculum sounds amazing. You’ll get a full track day with pro rider Alessandro Branetti. “Branna” has more track experience on electric motorcycles than anyone. He’s taken multiple European championships and is Energica’s in-house expert rider.
Your day at the Academy starts with a morning of espresso and theory, energizing your mind before your motor. After lunch you head to the Modena Circuit. You’ll spend a few hours learning the basics of these Italian thunderbolts before logging hot-laps chasing Branna on any Energica you want.
The classes are small- just five to a group, and while the price tag of $1,100 is substantial, it’s not outlandish for such a unique tailored experience. As a bonus, the fee is waived if you buy an Energica – and did we mention the espresso? We’re already booking our tickets.
Electrified Motorcycles: A Different Type of Beast
If you’re already an experienced rider, this might be a tougher sell. You’re probably thinking that electric riding must be easier – everything is simpler, right? No shifting and an all-you-can-eat torque buffet. In practice, it’s a bit more nuanced.
Torque is in abundance, but you’re still at the limit of your tires. Without rotating pistons, there’s no gyroscopic effect to balance going through the corners.
Another feature of an electric powertrain is control of throttle mapping and regenerative braking to suit your preferences. You also have to remember that all machines have limits – electric bikes will reduce your torque (read: increased lap times) if the motor or battery temperature climbs too high.
Last, these are big Italian machines – like ossobuco with a side of carbonara big – almost 600-pounds big. It takes a different kind of rider to sling that much weight around gracefully.
The Elephant in The Stable
Weight is still a deal-breaker for many potential customers, and we asked Energica about this specifically. Right now all riders are asking for longer range. Range means batteries, and batteries are heavy. Electric still feels risky – you can’t fill up at every 7-11 – and more miles feels safe. In reality, most electric moto riders rarely use the bulk of their range.
Giampiero Testoni, Energica’s CTO, agreed with us that the technology exists to make a really good track bike in the 400-pound range that can still go 100+ miles, but customers just aren’t asking for them. As battery performance improves and charging networks grow we’re hopeful that a truly lightweight electric finds its way into the pipeline soon.
More Italian Stallions
If you’re not ready to visit Europe, good news. Energica promises that the MyElectric Academy will be coming to the US in the next year. Americans are snapping up 40% of all Energica sales with models starting at $21,600.
If you’re more inclined to buy American, be sure to check out Zero motorcycles SR/S, which starts below $20,000.
The demand for electric motorcycles is skyrocketing in all markets and you’d be surprised at how bad for the environment gas motorcycles can be. If you haven’t yet given electric a go, you’re running out of excuses!