2018 Energica Eva EsseEsse9: U.S. First Ride
The future is here and it is electric, retro, and ridiculously fast.
I look behind me, twist my wrist ever so slightly, and begin to merge into traffic on Lincoln Blvd. The instantaneous power of the Eva EsseEsse9 propels the bike forward with seamless finesse. My left hand, unsure what to do, fidgets as it reaches for the clutch lever that isn’t there. My left foot as well. It’s strange, but I’m beginning to adapt.
I creep between an array of cars to the front of the queue. When the light turns green, I crack the throttle wide open. What comes next is a mind-blowing power delivery of a Saturn V rocket that just keeps pulling without any violence. It is as smooth as freshly Zambonied ice. The sound it creates as I careen down the road is high-pitched and reminiscent of a turbine spooling up. I realize I’ve hit 60 miles per hour in less than 2.8 seconds in a 35-mph zone. Goddamn… the feeling of uninterrupted acceleration is orgasmic.
I am wrapped up in a sensory experience that’s strange, but familiar. The riding mechanics are as any bike I’ve been on. Once I forget about needing to shift gears, playing with the Eva EsseEsse9 is all I can think about. I become focused on picking my lines, accelerating, and braking. I find myself laughing in my helmet as I get on the throttle. But unlike any bike I’ve ever ridden, my laugh is louder than the machine.
Power delivery on electric motorcycles has always been a concern of mine. I once saw a friend and fellow colleague, a consummate and amazing road racer, get launched off another brand’s electric bike because the torque delivery was too snappy. It left him with a broken shoulder and elbow.
Many of these new electric motorcycles operate without advanced traction control systems. Partially because the technology is still being developed. However, Energica’s Vehicle Control Unit is considered a leader in the field. The unit’s multi-map adaptive energy and power management algorithm monitors and controls everything from throttle input to the eABS systems. In conjunction with a proprietary Bosch interface unit, the system modulates the throttle and torque delivery to counteract wheel hop and slippage to maintain traction. I am no programmer, but whatever Energica is doing it’s working well.
With the Eva EsseEsse9 set in Sport mode for my entire ride, I was in command of what equates to 130 horsepower and 133 pound-feet of torque. And that’s the magic number right there, the torque. The Eva EsseEsse9 has 41.2 more pound-feet of torque than the Ducati Panigale V4, which is considered to be the most powerful production superbike in the world.
The VCU also allows riders to choose from four levels of output: Eco, Urban, Rain, and Sport. After the day progresses and I further wade into the electric pool, I become more confident in this system. Not once did the back wheel step out on me under aggressive, full throttle corner exits. There was no driveline lash or slippage from the rear end. The Eva EsseEsse9 is well planted due to its heft but also thanks to its excellent design and chassis development.
Four regenerative braking settings mimic engine-braking when rolling off the throttle. I kept mine set to Medium for most of my ride, as it was similar to my Triumph Tiger 800XC’s engine-braking. Full regenerative braking was a tad aggressive during spirited riding and is more suited for commuting.
As for riding ergonomics, I’m a snob when it comes to comfort. I might be in my mid-30s, but I’m as crotchety as my 68-year-old father. The deep cutouts in the tank, mid-mount controls, and upright seating position provided a good amount of freedom to move around the bike. Throughout my ride, I never experienced discomfort and I stand at 6’5”.
At 570 pounds, the Eva EsseEsse9 is hefty, but at speed, the EV motorcycle feels planted and manageable in corners. Are we talking the nimbleness of a Triumph Street Triple R? Not exactly. But then again, this is a whole different bike. Tighter, more technical turns are where the weight becomes apparent. I found myself somewhat freaked out, as a result, altering my riding style to drag more rear brake and modulate the throttle to pull off tight slow-speed u-turns and figure-eights. Considerably more body lean was needed to counterweight the bike as well.
The extra mass paired with the electric motor’s eagerness to accelerate like a bat out of hell requires some equally beefy brakes to reign in the Eva EsseEsse9. Braking comes courtesy of twin 330-millimeter floating discs and 4-piston Brembos up front, and a single-rotor, two-piston Brembo caliper out back. Feedback is direct and substantial. Under hard braking, the eABS system modulates power from the engine to maintain traction while also traditionally pulsing the brakes.
What about the elephant in the room regarding range anxiety? According to Energica, the Eva EsseEsse 9 can attain a range of 125 miles on a single charge in Eco mode, though I am uncertain, it would last that long the way I was riding it this day. Under the seat, the Eva EsseEsse9 comes with a CCS-type charging port like the ones you’ll find on the Chevy Bolt and BMW i3. This makes using the existing electric charging infrastructure here in California rather straightforward. Elsewhere, we’re not sure.
Recharge times have prevented me from even considering electric vehicles as practical means of transportation. The only way they become feasible is if you have access to a number of Level 3 or Level 4 fast-charging stations. Hook the Eva EsseEsse9 to one of these, and the bike will fully charge in 30 minutes. If you’re going to plug the motorcycle into a Level 1 or Level 2 charger, recharge times will be lengthened to five hours. This, unfortunately, precludes you from any kind of long-distance journey where travel time is a priority. At least for now.
But can the future of motorcycles be electric? After riding around Santa Monica for a couple of hours, I’m beginning to see the appeal. I still, however, have reservations about having both feet on the electric bandwagon. There’s something appealing about electric propulsion. It’s an appeal so vast and uncharted, I’m going to need more time to figure out my connection and relationship with it. Will Energica’s Eva EsseEsse9, or for that matter, any electric motorcycle like it, replace my regular gas-powered bike? I’m not sure. The future is yet to be made. However, it’s unlikely I’ll ever own fewer than two motorcycles. One of them could be electric.
Additionally, a Bitubo shock resides in the rear and is adjustable for preload and rebound. The front forks are fully-adjustable 43-millimeter upside-down Marzocchi, featuring a pair of four-piston radially-mounted Brembo calipers that chomp down on massive 330-millimeter discs. For those willing to shell out more dough, the Energica Eva EsseEsse9 can be delivered with a full Ohlins suspension package. Every detail is sublime. The engineers and designers took great pains, just as Alcamenes took when he sculpted the bust of Pallas, to bring to market a premium product.
Finally, the Energica Eva EsseEsse9 retails for $22,400. That’s a lot of coin, but so is new technology. In time, that price will go down with new advancements in all things electric.
And while Harley-Davidson can tout their Livewire prototype all they want saying it will be available in the next 18 months, Energica is here now with three finished working production motorcycles. This is a motorcycle is for people who have a healthy amount of discretionary income and a vision of an electric future. When they choose to slap that $20,000 onto the table they will not be disappointed. It’s a damn fun motorcycle and a pleasurable glimpse into the future.
Weight: 215 lbs
Body Type: Svelte and Fit
Helmet: Simpson Bandit in Carbon Fiber
Jacket: Aether Rally Jacket
Pants: Pando Moto Karl Jeans
Boots: Alpinestars SMX Pro
Gloves: Velomacchi Speedway Gloves
Backpack: Velomacchi Giro 35L Roll-Top