Brammo Empulse Recall

FEB 13 2015 BY TDILLARD 5

We just got notice that Brammo has issued a recall for model year 2013-2014 Empulse and Empulse R models.  It’s for a particularly nasty problem, and one that we consider extremely dangerous, however only (apparently) something that will occur in cold weather, after running the bike at high RPM.  The tranny breather tube will back up, dumping oil onto the rear tire. If you’re an Empulse owner, this is something you want fixed sooner rather than later.  Here’s the recall:

Vehicle Make / Model: Model Year(s):
     BRAMMO / EMPULSE 2013-2014
     BRAMMO / EMPULSE R 2013-2014
Manufacturer: Brammo, Inc.Report Receipt Date: FEB 02, 2015
NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number: 15V053000 NHTSA Action Number: N/A
Component: POWER TRAIN:MANUAL TRANSMISSION
Potential Number of Units Affected: 149
Summary:
 Brammo, Inc. (Brammo) is recalling certain model year 2013-2014 Empulse and Empulse R motorcycles manufactured November 19, 2012, to July 8, 2014. Oil leaking from the transmission breather tube may blow onto the rear fender and tire.
Consequence:
 If oil leaks and contacts the rear tire, a loss of control may occur, increasing the risk of crash.
Remedy:
 Brammo will notify owners, and dealers will install a new transmission breather baffle kit, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin February 12, 2015. Owners may contact Brammo customer service at 1-541-482-9555.
Notes:
 Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

There’s a wee bit more information from MotorcycleUSA.com, here, discussing some details of the recall:

“…if the gearbox is cold (below 10 degrees C), the increase in oil viscosity does not allow oil to properly drain from the breather tube, causing oil to leak out of the breather tube if the gearbox is used at high rpm. Once the oil leaves the breather tube, it can then be transported by air flow over the moving vehicle to the rear fender and tire. If oil reaches the rear tire, it could cause a loss of control of the bike.”

SMRE Integrated Electric Transmission (IET) under Brammo exclusive license.

SMRE Integrated Electric Transmission (IET) under Brammo exclusive license.

You can also read some commentary on it, along with some accounts by owners regarding the problem on the Brammo Owners Forum, here.  You can also read some interesting speculation as to the production numbers for the Empulse models – seemingly in the hundreds for that time period, but we must caution against jumping to any conclusions.  The recalls says “certain models” of the production run, and there’s simply no way of knowing the actual total numbers.

However, this is the link to the actual NHTSA recall notice.  There it says the VINs are sequential, and you have a VIN run of 818 machines for that model year.  Conclude what you will.

Nor is this the first we’ve heard of oil leaks in the Empulse.  On another post on the Brammo Owners Forum, Brian Wismann (Brammo Director of Product Development) talks about some seal problems on his personal race bike project.  Of course, any conclusions or relation of that problem to the recall are merely speculation – however interesting.

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5 Comments on "Brammo Empulse Recall"

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Bummer!

I wonder if the relative simplicity of Zero’s drivetrains makes them less susceptible to these sorts of things?

Anyone know if there is any data about this?

Pretty sure there’s no statistically relevant data, let alone public data — you’re talking a number of bikes in the 4 or 5 digits, over just a few years. Compare that with cars that sell orders of magnitude more, and can justify a lot more budget for testing. This isn’t a problem just with BEV bikes — all motorcycles (small-displacement scooters in Asia excepted) are essentially non-mass-market vehicles compared to cars.

As to your actual question, it stands to reason that the simpler the mechanical design, the more reliable (certainly easier to test).

Not needing a gearbox is one of the commonly touted advantages of BEVs, and I suspect part of the reason Brammo had one is to make things familiar for riders used to ICE bikes (there are almost no auto-trans bikes, after all).

In fact, I’m disappointed that none of the BEV bikes (except scooters) are ending up with a hub-motor design, like many of the electric bicycle designs.

While there may be excellent reasons for that (unsprung weight at least), it does mean more moving parts (primary-drive chain).

High speeds and high un-sprung weight don’t mix well. You aren’t going to see many hubmotors on any serious motorcycle.

Yet sure! But who know’s for thing to come!
Agree with the simplicity of direct drive anyway (with chain or belt for now).
KISS