Energy

Riding The Brand New Energica Experia Electric Touring Motorcycle — CleanTechnica Review

Recently, I got a chance to ride the brand new Energica Experia, a green touring bike built for the long distance rider looking for a comfortable riding position, long range, carrying capacity, and without compromise on performance. Energica delivers it all with this bike, and then some. The bike is offered with a full outfit of gear, including a number of carrying cases to hit the road with all you need for some epic adventuring.

The frame, battery, and motor were redesigned from the ground up for this new bike, Energica’s fourth model, following the Esse Esse 9, the Ribelle, and the sporty racing bike, the Ego. According to Giampiero Testoni, Chief Technology Officer for Energica (my podcast with him coming soon), it’s fully reimagined — not just a redesign or a tweak of the existing infrastructure of their current models. The bike sports less rare earths, 10 kg less weight, and yet 1kW more storage.

“We have focused on building a complete new motorcycle,” said Testoni. “We started with the feedback [from customers of the existing models], and the points they were thinking to improve….but these were merely the starting points for the redesign….99.5% of the bike is new.” It took 1.5 years from inception to rollout, according to Testoni.

The mass is more centered, and the seat is lower, so the bike is more comfy for slightly shorter riders than the rest of Energica’s models…very important when moving slow or stopping. It has the longest range of any electric motorcycle (261 miles city, 130 highway, 161 mixed use), as Jo Borras noted in his previous article on the Experia launch (and Jo knows the tech side better than I, so I’ll let you read his review as well, if you’re interested in more on that side and more from Energica’s Experia page).

My Ride & Review Of The Energica Experia

One of the things I love about Energica is that they know how to light a journalist’s fire. Their approach is simple — we could tell you all about it, but instead let us just take you for a ride so you can experience it yourself. So I joined about 20 other journalists in the Dolomite mountains in Northern Italy to ride a loop around some of the most gorgeous terrain the world has ever created, with lots of hairpin turns. It’s a motorcycle enthusiast’s dream trip.

My ride was nothing short of stunning. Because an electric motorcycle allows you to spend more time focusing on the ride and less on running the bike, I found myself browsing the scenery whenever traffic allowed, and breathing in to the moment of sitting on a high performance machine seemingly built for this exact ride. The weather gods, well, they also smiled upon us — there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the temperature was perfect.

I’ll confess I’m not much of a tech guy — I’m much more the business guy here at CleanTechnica, and I leave the nuts and bolts to people like Jo, Johnna, Zach and the rest. So I look at rides like this as an enthusiast and potential “mainstream” customer would. The first and most prevalent thing that was obvious about the Experia was its rideability. You can lean way in and feel no discomfort — see the photo below from my camera mount. The center of gravity is lower than previous models, and it handles a hairpin without flinching.

The acceleration is similar to other Energica models — that is, to say, insane. So coming out of a hairpin U-turn and popping the throttle to catch up to the gang was a thrill each and every time. At one point, I hit 125 kilometers per hour on the Experia (granted, short of the 136 I hit in the morning ride on the Eva Ribelle), and consistently, it was up to 80 between turns with just the slightest twist of the throttle.

The next thing that any electric motorcycle rider will tell you is that the regenerative braking simply rocks, especially in terrain like this. Not only do you not have to think about shifting, I hardly touched the brakes on a ~2 hour ride. I am a novice rider compared to many journalists in the group, many of whom have been riding for 20+ years and some, like Andy Greaser of Revzilla, who have been building and rebuilding bikes for a decade or more. But many of these folks are still new to electrics, and this was one of the primary comments we discussed over dinners and happy hour drinks after the ride. I pegged the regen at B2 (second highest level), and that seemed to really do the trick.

I could easily see doing a long trek on this bike, getting up to Yosemite for a long weekend, or doing a trek through the Andes and visiting villages for coffee and recharging. It has a great, comfy riding position, and my hands, which often get numb on more sporty bikes if I am leaning on them too much, were happy and full of good circulation for the duration of this ride.

I will say the Experia doesn’t seem to handle as well as the Ribelle or even the Esse Esse 9, but those are more performance bikes, so this is not really a criticism, but rather an observation that it is simply less sporty and built for longer rides. Other journalists with more experience and technical know-how observed that the ABS can’t be turned off as an option, which they suggested needed to be in place for longer rides, and I noted that the rear brake seemed much softer than I wanted it to be. In our press event, someone asked a question about updates, which are still not possible over a wifi connection, meaning that riders should expect to take their bikes in to the dealership for updates a couple of times in the first few years of ownership. The only other criticism I heard in conversations with other journalists was the price point, which, at ~$25K fully equipped (all the cargo boxes etc) and $23,750 base, might be a little out of the range of some riders.

Overall, though, I believe the performance is incredible, the range is best in class, and the ability to charge on Level 1, 2, or 3 offers a lot of flexibility (Energica is still the only company offering all three levels of charge standard on its bikes).

Florian Neuhauser, of Roadrunner Motorcycle Touring and Travel Magazine, originally from Austria, has spent a lot of time riding the Dolomites, and after 20+ years riding, said “I’ve been able to enjoy the Dolomites frequently. I’ve had a lot of ride time on a gas motorcycle here. The big difference is the fun factor, really. On a gas bike, you’re constantly working the motorcycle, there’s so much traffic here, one switchback after another… whereas on the Experia, you can really just focus on the road. The motorcycle just rides itself,  you just twist the throttle and go.”

“This was the funnest ride you’ve ever done in the Dolomites?” I asked. “I would say so,” he said.

 

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