Victory Launches 2016 Empulse TT (w/video)

JUL 29 2015 BY TDILLARD 25

Victory launched the (mostly Brammo) Empulse TT last night, and didn’t shatter much earth in the announcement, though it’s being touted as a “… street legal electric race motorcycle.”.  In what’s essentially a very slightly altered Brammo Empulse, at more money, they beat Harley Davidson to the punch but in so doing reinforced some price points that are going to be a tough sell (as demonstrated by Brammo sales, or lack thereof). Pricing and range aside, the hurdles may be surmountable simply by virtue of the fact that Polaris/Victory is offering the product now, with all the support and dealer network that would come with.

Victory graphics

Victory graphics

Here are the specs – not much different from the Brammo:

Specifications
ABSNot Equipped
Dry Weight470 lb (213 kg)
EmissionsNone
Engine and Drivetrain
BatteryBrammo Power Lithium Ion
Charging System3.9 hrs (Level II / 0 to 100% SOC) | 8.9 hrs (Level I / 0 to 100% SOC)
Drive/Driven ClutchHydraulic activated wet clutch
Transmission Type6-speed gearbox with multi-plate
Battery Capacity10,400 watt-hour
Battery Voltage103.6 volts / 117.6 volts (max)
Engine TypeInternal Permanent Magnet AC
Suspension
Front SuspensionAdjustable 43mm Inverted Forks
Rear SuspensionAdjustable Direct-Acting Shock
Performance
Peak Power54 hp
Peak Torque61 ft-lbs
Max Speed100+ mph / 161 km/h
Brakes
Front BrakesDual 310mm Brembo floating disks with twin 4-piston Radial Mount Brembo Brake Calipers
Rear BrakesBrembo single disk with dual piston Hydraulic Brembo Brake Caliper
Brake System TypeRegenerative Braking- extend driving range and provide familiar rider feedback
Tires / Wheels
Front TiresContinental Sport Attack II 120-70 ZR17, 58W
Rear TiresContinental Sport Attack II 160/60 ZR17 69W
Rear Wheel17” x 4.5”
Front Wheel17” x 3.5”
Dimensions
Ground Clearance7.3” / 18.54 cm
Rake/Trail24°/3.8 in (96.52 mm)
Seat Height31.5” / 80.0 cm
Wheelbase58.0” / 147.32 cm
Overall Length (in./mm.)81.3” / 206.5 cm
Carry Capacity368 lbs / 167 kg
Features
Colors (Base)Titanium Silver and Havasu Red
InstrumentationLCD display; speed, tach, odometer, gear position, energy consumption, battery status, estimated range and system status
Windscreen...

windscreen…

Is it just us, or does that windscreen look like something out of JC Whitney?  No matter…

So what exactly are the changes?  First, notably, is a reduction in the beefy rear tire size – from the Brammo180/55-17 rear tire to the Victory’s 160/60.  According to Motorcycle.com’s first ride report, this gives you “dramatically more agile steering responses. The Empulse still weighs about 460 lbs, but it feels almost 70 lbs lighter just from the change in wheel/tire sizes. The only downside is that the rear hugger fender now looks overgrown for the skinnier tire”. 

You also get a slightly bigger battery pack, increased to 10.4kWh – a 10% increase over the Brammo – and an ever-so-slight increase in onboard charging.  You also get a starting MSRP of $20K, a boost over the $17K price before the “fire sale”, and a significant pop over the $16K Zero SR pricing.  You still get a tranny, clutch, and associated oil, and you don’t get ABS brakes, a huge hit considering the Zero ABS offered in the 2015 SR.

Make no mistake, however, this is the very first offering of an electric motorcycle by a major manufacturer, and we saw how that went when Harley offered the LiveWire – a bike that paled by comparison to both the Brammo and the Zero, and a bike that, out of the gate, Harley made clear they had no plans to release as a production machine.  It’s going to be an interesting year, what with the (significantly more beefy) Energica hitting the streets in a few months.

Victory Empulse TT

Victory Empulse TT

…in the meantime, enjoy the video:

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25 Comments on "Victory Launches 2016 Empulse TT (w/video)"

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Still with the 6-speed gearbox are they? The uselessness of a gearbox is easily seen when this bike is compared to the Zero S ZF12.5. They have pretty much the same specs and the same performance – range, top speed, torque, etc. but the Zero has no gearbox – and is $6000 cheaper!

Indeed, the best change would have been to get rid of the complexity and the uselessness of the gearbox.

Yeah, I don’t understand the gearbox/clutch. Just more things to have to deal with and possibly go wrong.

Not that this bike, or the Zero, are cruisers, but seems like if it didn’t have a clutch it would be very simple to implement cruise control on an EV. It would just be software with a simple feedback loop.

Other than adding a sensor to disengage when the clutch is squeezed (same as for the brake), it is no more or less complicated to implement cruise control than on a bike without a clutch. Cars with manual transmissions have had cruise control for many years, including my 13 year old Honda.

The systems currently in use on bikes that use throttle by wire should be trivial to adapt to an EV.

For an EV, it could likely be implemented in software on the motor controller with little if any changes to the hardware.

I would like a 2-speed gearbox for the simple fact, that you could change from city-/out of town-driving and get a bit more range and lower revs for out of town.
That’s what I miss on my EV-car.

Yeah, a transmission could potentially have real value on an EV. The one used in this rebadged Brammo though is the equivalent of a vestigial tail.

Two gears are just not worth the added weight, cost, complexity, drivetrain lash and loss of efficiency. If you need more power, put in a bigger battery and a bigger motor instead, much simpler and most likely cheaper, too.

For now, I’d have to say yes. But I’ve seen some magnetic transmissions that are potentially really awesome. No mechanical losses, essentially no friction of any kind. Too bad they’re not being made for automotive applications at this time.

Why the 6 speed gear box?

1) Sure they get the same or better performance by replacing it with a larger motor, along with a larger controller and higher C-rated batteries to supply the larger motor. All of this would take additional engineering, time, and money. Better to get what you have to market than constantly chase perfection.

2) Go ride one before you call it useless. The gearbox was a significant part of why I own an Empluse R rather than a Zero SR. I like having the gear box and I love the torgue I get off the line. The gearbox is not for everyone; if its not for you then you have other options, such as Zero, to choose from. Some people like loud bikes that rattle; as this does not appeal to me, I don’t buy one rather than make armchair criticisms.

“They have pretty much the same specs and the same performance”

The Empulse is both quicker and faster than the Zero S – tested at a bit over 4s 0-60 and sustained 100+ mph vs 80 mph on the S.

And that’s despite the higher weight due to the gearbox, the liquid cooling system, and the more powerful onboard charger.

The Zero SR is a better comparison point because it uses the same motor controller as the Empulse. And it is slightly quicker, though the difference disappears on the Power Tank model which weighs about as much as the Empulse.

Personally I prefer Zero’s approach; it’s mechanically and operationally simpler and with a liquid cooling system and slightly tweaked gearing ratios would likely be both quicker and faster in sustained speed than the Empulse.

But the performance comparison against the 40 kW Zero S clearly shows the benefit of the gearbox vs no gearbox.. just not whether it works better than adding a bigger motor (a la Zero SR).

According to a test by Cycleworld:
http://www.cycleworld.com/2013/10/31/brammo-empulse-r-vs-zero-s-electric-motorcycles-comparison-test-specs-photos/

Zero S has quite a lot better range (62 mi vs 45 mi)

Brammo is quicker 0-60, though only by .4 seconds (4.8 sec vs 5.2 sec)

Brammo is a hair quicker (0.04 sec) on the 1/4 mile (13.97 sec vs 14.01). It’s effectively equal.

Zero S has 3.6 horsepower more (56 vs 52.4)

Brammo has a higher top speed (103 mph vs 90 mph)

The major differences are range (adv: Zero) and top speed (adv: Brammo). So, the gearbox gives you somewhat higher top speed – which you can’t use legally anyway unless you ride on a track – for much shorter range. I think that is pretty useless.

The low range on this particular Empulse apparently was due to bad firmware loaded on the battery modules: they were reporting low SOC too early. Other tests I’ve seen put the Zero S ZF11.4 slightly ahead of the Empulse, but not 50% ahead.

Cycle World also performed an instrumented test of the 2014 Zero SR with power tank here:

http://www.cycleworld.com/2014/05/09/2014-zero-sr-electric-motorcycles-first-ride-review-photos-specifications/

The SR is a little faster 0-60 and MUCH faster than either the S or Empulse through the quarter mile.

It’s not just a higher top speed – which I agree should only be a detriment on the track – but also a significantly higher sustained speed. And while 80 to 85 mph should be fine, that’s assuming level ground with no load or headwind.

hmm with no ABS they will not be able to sell it in Europe next year, as by 2016 all Motorcycle in Europe must include ABS
so either there will be an early upgrade to include ABS or they only plan to sell it in the US/CA

These could be the US specs, with the EU bike getting different specs for 2016.

This certainly wouldn’t be the first time that we can’t get something that people in the EU can.

What is the range on this?

Here were the old range numbers from Brammo. I don’t see any new range numbers from Polaris/Victory.

City: 128 miles* / 206 km
Highway: 58 miles** / 93 km
Combined: 80 miles*** / 129 km

*SAE City Riding Range Test Procedure for Electric Motorcycles
(variable speed, 19 mph / 30km/h average)

**SAE Highway / Constant Speed Riding Range Test Procedure for Electric Motorcycles
(70 mph / 113 km/h sustained)

*** SAE Highway Commuting Cycle (.5 City weighting, .5 Highway weighting)

Various reports put the city range at 140 miles. No official spec, so it’s not clear if that’s speculation or what.

I would expect to see range around 140 miles city, 65 miles steady 70 mph, 90 miles combined.

A fair bit behind the base Zero SR specs at 151 city, 77 highway, 102 miles combined.

But both bikes make a joke of the Livewire’s 50 miles “light” range.

Why compare either of them to a non-production bike? Should we compare them both to the Mission RS?

Because Harley-Davidson is a direct competitor of Victory. Mission, not so much.

Because after H-D took Project Livewire touring around, they later announced they couldn’t build the bike at a cost and range their customers would pay.

“The cycle delivers power and nimbleness in a quiet-riding package. Its range is 50 miles, but customers are looking for 100, Levatich said. If the electric bike were mass-produced today it would sell for 50% more than customers would want to pay, he said.”

No word on exactly what their price target is .. but the middle Zero S bike is 102 miles of combined city/highway for $14k.

Even among motorcycle enthusiasts, most have barely heard about electrics, nevermind actually getting to ride one. A well-known manufacturer releasing a sporty electric with about 100 miles of range is pretty significant. And even if the price is still far too high for most, it does make the ludicrous numbers Harley had batted around seem somewhat silly.

http://www.jsonline.com/business/harley-makes-quiet-entrance-at-sustainable-business-confab-b99402306z1-284653301.html

The spec sheet says this:

Battery Capacity 10,400 watt-hour

But they don’t specify whether this is nominal or max. The Brammo specs showed both:

Battery Pack Capacity 9.31 kWh (nominal), 10.2 kWh (max)

So there may be little to no difference in the battery pack. It could even be the exact same battery pack. It could just be the difference between max vs. nominal, with a more optimistic measurement of max.

Various journalists have reported it is a 10.4 kWh nominal capacity, and additionally that capacity has increased by approximately 10% from the previous 9.3 kWh.

I wouldn’t put any stock in what journalists say, they just copy/paste what the company tells them.

Wow, i was so excited when i heard Polaris(Victory) bought what was left of Brammo. What a letdown though! The Empulse didn’t sell for $17k, its really not gonna sell for $20k. Ive owned a 2013 Zero S and it was the best motorcycle ive ever had (i worked at a MC dealership for 20 years and had alot of bikes) I rode the Empulse R before i got the Zero and rode the Livewire after i had the Zero for a while. A plain Zero S is a way better bike than either of these. So why did i just sell it to a fellow EV enthusiast? To get a 15 Zero SR of course. The SR is lighter, faster, simpler, and goes further than the Brammo (victory). So it must cost more right? Nope the 15 Zero SR is the same price i paid for my 13 Zero S $15995. The Zero line gets better and better each year and they just LOWERED their prices. The big name motorcycle manufacturers have alot of catching up to do. I am glad to see another player in the EV motorcycle market, but they will have a hard time selling it… Read more »

The other way to get the equivalent of the transmission, but to do it without a transmission, that is electronically, is how ZEV Electric does their big bikes. The controller lets the rider vary the amps and the volts. With amps being the torque factor, and volts being the speed. A little momentary push button on the right had lets you rip up through the “gears”. There are two ZEV Electric motorcycle first of production bikes running around now with full fairings looking a bit like a Kaw ZX10. Same size battery as the Brammo. That same battery gets the ZEV LRC 12 down the road 140 miles at 55 mph trumping the 94 miles of the ZERO 12. kwh pack or the 115 miles of the 16 kwh SR Power tank. So it should do well in the motorcycle. Steel tube chassis. The letters out to followers and dealers discussing the initial model launch indicate a price under $10,000.