Reviewed: Energica Ego - Can E-Superbikes be fun?
Words: Shaun Pope Images: Energica/DHL/Allianz
Chances are if you've even clicked this link and got this far, you may not be a sceptic. I've put a few teasers of the Energica Ego on social media and it's been a torrential backlash of ignorance, hatred and indifference. I'll do my best to clear up any myths and be honest about the bike and the tech.
Opinion 1 : "The range is rubbish"
I've now ridden quite a few e-bikes, so knew to expect a tonne of torque and a fun experience. For those new to electric motorcycles, it's an experience in itself and even if you don't want to buy one (yet) just go and have a demo ride on one, you won't regret it I promise!
Starting with the range. The bikes were at 98% capacity at the start of the quite brisk ride. I'd say the pace was that of one of my usual Sunday blasts, combined with a few bimbles through the towns around San Marino. We covered around 70 miles and ended up with 20% battery remaining.
But (and it's a big but) - here's the game changer. The Ego takes just 20 minutes to go from 20% battery to full using a power charger, like those found at motorway services etc. A full "tank" will cost you about £2.
2: "They sound rubbish"
Slow mo. I'm faster than that - honest.
It's not a growling V4 I'll give you that, but the noise is definitely more pronounced on the Energica bikes than Zero for example. The Ego uses straight-cut gears which gives a shrill whine that increases with speed. There are no gears of course so there's no need to drop down when you need to overtake. One thing they certainly are NOT is silent.
3: "They're expensive"
This is one thing that is hard to avoid. Yes, you'll save money on tax, maintenance and petrol in the long run, but dropping around £20,000 on an Ego (depending on options) is a big commitment. It's also tricky to decide when to buy. If technology moves on next year, you could end up with a very expensive and obsolete toy that'll be impossible to sell.
I think this is the main hurdle for current e-bikes. People are waiting for the Tesla moment - when price, range and performance are all at an acceptable level to make the leap. The latest Model 3 Tesla has hit that mark, and in the motorcycle world I think that moment is closer than ever.
More about the bike
The Ego is very similar in performance to a 600cc supersport bike. It's quite a bit heavier at 260kg but the weight is low down, although not too low to affect the initial turn in.
Engine braking, or the lack of it is initially quite apparent, however there are four modes to choose from. Off is like riding a 250 two-stroke, whereas the strongest setting regenerates the battery the most and is akin to letting off the gas on a big V-twin. There's also a reverse gear for tight parking spots!
There are lots of fancy options for the Ego including Marchesini magnesium wheels, Ohlins suspension (Bitubo as standard) and fancy Brembo calipers. The handling is seriously plush even on the standard Bitubo forks and shock, which must've been a challenge considering the weight. At big lean you can feel the weight, but it's super stable and doesn't flap around like a flyweight sportsbike would.
They corner as well as anything I've ridden, and I'd love the chance to take one out on a weekend to hunt sportsbikes in the twisties. Flat out you'll see over 150mph!
The experience of having no clutch or gearbox makes it uniquely addictive. These are things you think you'd miss but instantly get used to not having. The Ego has to be the world's easiest bike to make overtakes with, boasting 240Nm or torque available from 0 rpm - no need to drop a gear or wind up the engine, just twist and disappear.
So, would I buy one?
I don't think the technology is there just yet, but with Energica competing in Moto-E, the bikes will only get faster, lighter and the range longer.
We're not far off seeing an electric superbike that'll do 200mph - 200 miles between charges - weigh 200kg and take ten minutes to charge. THEN you will start to see them out and about.
Superbike owners are a fickle bunch, and if an e-bike whizzes past them on their latest Panigale, they'll be heading straight down to the electric bike dealer to buy the latest and greatest thing on the market, no matter what powers it, I guarantee it.