The Energica Ego Electric Bike Reminds Us How Fun Electricity Can Be
Electric vehicles can appeal to enthusiasts too.
Traditionally electric cars have been considered economy minded appliances. The Tesla Model S has begun to break that stereotype with its available Ludicrous Mode, but the average consumer is more likely to consider a more affordable Nissan Leaf or Chevy Bolt. Neither of these cars appeals to performance car enthusiasts, nor are they intended to. Though at first glance it might look like we're doomed to a future where boring electric cars bear a closer resemblance to a toaster than a traditional sports car, a look at the world of motorcycles gives us some hope for our electric future.
The idea of an electric motorcycle may bring children's toys to mind, but these bikes are serious business—serious enough to race at the Isle of Man TT. The fastest TT Zero bike this year was a Mugen ridden by Bruce Anstey to a lap time of 19:13.924 at an average speed of 117.710 miles per hour. For comparison, the fastest bike in the Lightweight class was a Paton ridden by Michael Rutter to a time of 19:01.842 at 118.955 MPH. An electric TT Zero bike is almost as fast as a traditional 650cc sport bike.
The Energica Ego looks very much like any other sport bike. Its riding position, suspension design, and beefy brakes resemble many other popular sport bikes available from Europe and Japan, but closer inspection reveals the lack of clutch or gearshift levers. The Ego doesn't need them because it's electric. It's also fully street legal, and Rocket Moto Sport was kind enough to let me take its demo bike for a spin to try the electric life for myself. I was not disappointed.
Aside from my left fingers and foot having nothing to do with no gear changes, the first thing I noticed was the Ego's weight. At 569 pounds, the Ego is porky compared to other sport bikes thanks to its batteries. But out on the road, it strangely doesn't seem to matter. The suspension handles the extra weight with ease, and it handles and stops as well as any other sport bike I've ridden.
The main difference, of course, is the power delivery of the electric motor. Four different riding modes are available, which determine how quickly the power comes on and how much you get. Energica claims their 136 horsepower motor takes the Ego from 0 to 60 in just three seconds, and though I did not measure it for myself, I believe those claims. Even better, the Ego's full 144 foot-pounds of torque is available from a dead stop the moment you twist the grip. That's the beauty of an electric motor and why they dominate in acceleration tests.
The Ego both looks and rides like a genuine performance vehicle. It's different than a traditional gasoline-powered sport bike, but the suspension design and the electric motor's gobs of torque make up for the extra weight of the batteries, providing a fast and fun riding experience. It gives me hope that if and when the internal combustion engine is rendered obsolete, the concept of driving enjoyment doesn't have to be. Companies with serious sporting pedigrees like Porsche and Aston Martin are making serious electrification efforts, which bodes well for the performance capabilities of future electric cars and their enjoyment for enthusiasts everywhere.