Its another storybook sunny day in Malibu, and Im doing one of the things I love most in life. With the Pacific behind me and the canyons ahead, Im threading a powerful sportbike through tight corners at velocity, flicking from apex to apex. But inside my helmet is a fret I cant shake, and its got nothing to do with going down. My concern is annoyingly logistical: Do I have enough battery power to get home?
Electric motorcycle technology has leapfrogged itself over the past decade, evolving from glorified mountain bikes with janky suspensions and laughable scope to fully viable alternatives to gas-powered motorcycles. While Californias Zero Motorcycles leads the charge with a full lineup of dirtbikes, supermotos, and every sub-genre in between, an ambitious outfit in Modena, Italy has focused its efforts on constructing a high-end electrified sport motorcycle stimulated for go-fast bon vivants.
Energica Eva Electric Sportbike
Quite maybe the worlds easiest-to-ride sportbike; no clutch? No problem. Inventive Italian styling. Wont watch another one coming the other style. Pilings of torque.
Porky at 617 pounds. Brakes could use more bite. I dare you to hypermile this thing. Costs as much as a Tesla Model 3.
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Unlike the Egos aggressive ergonomics, the Eva ditches clip-ons for a handlebar that enables a more upright sitting posture. Throttle mapping has been revised, and suspension geometry changes include a lower front end. Seat height has fallen a tad( to 31.3 inches ), attaining the Eva more accessible to vertically challenged folk, and the position from the saddle includes a multifunction TFT display with the requisite battery nation/ riding mode info.
Energica says the Eva can ride up to 90 miles at highway velocities, deliver 100 miles of range in the city, and go a full 124 miles in eco mode( if you dont mind a mushy throttle ). Zero to 60 mph is estimated in the three second range, and top speed is a claimed 124 mphnot quite the blister stats produced by top tier petrol-powered superbikes, but fully respectable for something that spews zero emissions.
Swift,( Mostly) Silent
My ride started in downtown Santa Monica, a traffic-clogged urban enclave. Though the Eva is a tad heavy to lift off its side stand, its easy to creep along at slow velocities while lane-splitting between Priuses. The connection between throttle twisting and forward motion on the Eva is intuitive, inducing power modulation at around 20 mph a cakewalk. Unlike gasoline powered steeds with pistons flying inside cylinders, theres no reciprocating mass inside the Eva, which constructs its chassis almost entirely vibration-free as it glidings down the road. As with any battery-powered steed, theres a certain satisfaction to cruising around in near-complete stillnes surrounded by the citys raucous thrum. Incidentally, my electric ride described a generous share of approving glances from passersbynot surprising, since Santa Monica is Southern Californias epicenter of eco chic.
At 617 pounds, the Evas no lightweight, so it takes a second or two to feel its full power. But once you reach the urban escape velocity of around 25 miles per hour and keep the throttle distorted, the Eva pulls ahead with gusto, producing a long, sweet sweep of power and acceleration that challenges the best of the internal combustion motorcycles. There are also no gears to row, which can leave experienced riders grabbing for a nonexistent clutch lever. But not having to focus on shifting gears also distills the riding experience: though you lose something something satisfyingly mechanical( the clink of the foot shifter, the springy feel of the clutch lever ), theres also a simplicity that enables a more fluid connection between rider and machine. Stripping away the purposes of the act of gear selection enables the rider to focus on the essentials: acceleration, deceleration, and turning.
What the Eva absence in scope, it induces up for with ardent, if imperfect, performance.
Like other modern rides, the Eva offers urban, eco, and rain modes, all of which deliver smooth but comparatively drab power delivery. I stuck to sport modeits more fun, and thats how I ride in real lifeand especially enjoyed the onslaught of torque between 30 and 60 mph. The Brembo brakes dont deliver much bite, but defining the motor regeneration to its most aggressive situate eliminates the need to tap the brakes under most riding conditions, constructing it easy to control the motorcycle solely through the throttle grip.
Though it feels light under acceleration, the Eva handles like the heavy motorcycle it is. It takes a bit of effort to set up for a corner, and a committed course once youve decided your line. Release the throttle( carefully, so the regen doesnt upset the motorcycles balance ), and the bike leans nicely as it enters the bending. Though it coped with mild bumps reasonably well, my testers suspension seemedtunedfor a heavier rider, which stimulated “the worlds biggest” ripples and undulations on Malibus Piuma Road somewhat jarring. You can make up for the loss in velocity with an aggressive spin of the throttle when exiting a corner, but the Evas handling isnt nimble or supple enough to match that of a focused upright internal combustion weapon like the Aprilia Tuono or KTM Super Duke R.
Returning to Base
For my ride, Energica proposed a 35 -mile round trip through the city, up the Pacific Coast Highway, and into the canyons of Malibu. But once Id escaped the city andfound my happy place in the hills, I couldnt resist a few extra canyon corners. As I basked in the apparently endless torque and lack of engine noise that let me actually hear birds chirping, the scope nervousnes finally set in.
Still, I pressed on because, well, thats what you do when youre in the zone. There may have even been a roadside burnout or two along the way. But once the prospect of sittinghighwaysidewith a 600 -pound brick outweighed the fun of carving, I turned around. Credit to the bikes park-assistant feature, which reverses the motorcycle at about two mph, for stimulating it easy to back the heavy bike uphill.
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Accumulating regeneration on the downhill and riding conservatively on the freeway, I bought back some scope and returned to base camp with more than a few miles of extra charge. But my takeaway remains: with a prescribed commute and the discipline not to veer off course, two-wheeled EVs make a lot of sense. They deliver effortless, quiet operating power without tapping into the worlds petroleum supply, a task the Eva handles with more lan than the next motorcycle. As an electric car owned, I understand trading ultimate scope for efficiency.
Until you factor in wanderlust. Astride the Energica Eva, I couldnt assistance but dip deeper into the canyons than I should have. Passionate Italian machine, dreamy roads, go figure. By rides objective, I likely would have eked out between 50 and 60 miles with my aggressive ride. But what the Eva absence in range, it stimulates up for with ardent, if imperfect, performance. Ultimately, this particular combination of technology and soul paints an intriguing scene for the future of motorcycling, one that involves silence, velocity, and perhaps a sense of adventure tinged with some careful route planning.