Best Buy Takes a Flyer on Brammo Electric Cycles
Best Buy has signed on to sponsor Brammo’s electric motorcycle racing team in a deal that could see the consumer electronics retailer sell battery-powered motorcycles alongside laptops and DVD players.
Beyond providing the Oregon motorcycle manufacturer with an outlet for its Enertia street bike. the arrangement gives Brammo the financial support and technical assistance to compete in next month’s zero-emission TTxGP motorcycle grand prix. Brammo is one of 18 teams bringing 23 bikes to the Isle of Man for the June 12 race around one of the most storied courses in motorcycling.
“It’s a great way to show what the future of our product is and to test the technology that will end up in consumers’ hands,” company CEO Craig Bramscher told Wired.com in an exclusive interview.
Best Buy is no stranger to the track, as it already sponsors a NASCAR team. Working with Brammo “is a natural extension of our Best Buy Racing initiatives,” Paul Zindrick, senior manager of event marketing, said in a statement. The company is “thrilled to be part of such an innovative racing endeavor.”
The team goes by the unwieldy name of Team Brammo Enertia Best Buy Racing, and it has assembled two very sweet motorcycles.
Bramscher says he didn’t want to build a wild one-off suitable only for the track, so Brammo started with the stock Enertia street bike the company began selling for $12,000 last year.
“We could have started from scratch and thrown a whole lot of money at the project,” he said. “But rather than go all out, we wanted to show the heritage of the Enertia and show where it is headed.”
The Enertia TTR features the same extruded aluminum frame found on the street bike, but the front end was reworked for more responsive handling. Sapa. an aluminum extruder based in Portland, Ore. built the frame, which houses an 8.1 kilowatt-hour lithium polymer battery packs significantly more power than the street bike’s 3.1 kWh unit, and the technology could trickle down to the street bike soon. Bramscher couldn’t say how much range the battery provides.
“Hopefully 37-1/2 miles,” he said with a laugh. That’s the length of the course. “Having enough gasoline on a motorcycle has never been a challenge. Having enough battery on a motorcycle will be a challenge.”
The battery powers a permanent magnet AC synchronous brushless motor. Bramscher says the bike tops out at 90 mph. That’s significantly slower than the Mission One and other bikes on the grid, but Bramscher isn’t worried.
The course has more hairpins than a beauty salon, so supreme handling is more important than sheer speed.
“Our goal is to be the best handling bike and the one that goes through the curves the fastest so we’ve got the highest average speed,” he said.
Handling is the name of the game, then, and Brammo dealt the TTR an excellent hand.
The fork is custom-made with Traxxion Dynamics internals and an Ohlins steering stabilizer. The rear shock is from Elka. Forged magnesium Marchenisi wheels wear Dunlop rubber stopped by radially mounted Brembo brakes.
It’s all top-shelf stuff, wrapped in carbon fiber bodywork on a bike that weighs 360 pounds. That’s 12 pounds less than the amazing Ducati 1198 S.
“At the end of the day, when the rider gets off the bike, I want him to say, ‘That was a complete blast,’ ” Bramscher said.
The riders are Roy Richardson. a third-generation racer who’s competed in the Isle of Man TT several times. He’s joined by verteran racer and journalist Mark Buckley .
So why team up with an electronics retailer? Because when you strip away the Enertia’s bodywork and take off the wheels, you’re left with a bunch of black boxes, a bunch of cable and a battery. In other words, a pile of electronics managed by sophisticated software.
“It doesn’t look much like a motorcycle,” Bramscher said of the bike’s drivetrain. “It looks like a big server. That was our first inclination that maybe what we’re doing is selling consumer electronics that you ride. Coming at it from that direction opens a lot of possibilities.”
Brammo started discussing those possibilities with Best Buy, which invested in the company and expressed an interest in distributing the bikes.
“We can’t go into too much detail, but they will be testing on the West Coast in June,” Bramscher said. “They’ve committed to testing the bike in stores, and we’re exploring distribution.”
He suggested the retailers Geek Squad of technicians could be used to provide customer service and support for the Enertia bikes. “You can draw your own conclusions on what the Geek Squad could do when they have people in-store and outbound who service electronics,” he said.
Brammo has no plans to sell the TTR to consumers, but Bramscher says the bike “has provided a lot of RD” that will appear on the company’s next two bikes.
“We’ll be announcing two new models within the next six months, and they’ll will incorporate some of the technology we’ve developed for the race bikes,” he said. “We’ll have one bike below the Enertia in terms of price and another akin to the race bike but more appropriate to the street.”
See more of our TTxGP coverage:
- Best Buy to Sell Brammo Electric Motorcycles : Greentech Media
- Brammo Announces – Team Icon Brammo – for 2012 TTXGP Season Business Wire
- Brammo enertia electric motorcycle bikerMetric
- Brammo Enertia Now $5995 in California! — ASHLAND, Ore., April 5 /PRNewswire/…
- Brammo Enertia Now $7995 Or Less PlugBike.com