Energica EVA EsseEsse9 (2018) | First Review

 

Roughly three years ago Energica launched its Ego electric sports bike, and BikeSocial concluded it was broad a success. An expensive and exotic success, but a success nonetheless. Fast, achingly high-tech and from a small but very serious Italian outfit with a proven track record in the aerospace and automotive sectors, the only thing that could really be complained about was the weight and equally bulky price tag.

 

EnergicaEsseEsse9 BikeSocial Review

 

And if you still had any doubts over Energica's small-company legitimacy, then you may have heard of Energica in the news lately: it's been named the supplier for the single-manufacturer Moto-E World Cup Series, a new class joining the MotoGP roadshow in 2019. That means we'll have electric bikes doing their thing alongside the main MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3 events for 6 European races per year. It doesn't take a genius to see where this is all heading.

At EICMA 2016 Energica teased us with a new bike to sit alongside the existing Ego and Eva bikes - the EsseEsse9 - named after a road that runs through the heart of Italy's "motor valley" from Piacenza in the North, to Rimini on the Adriatic coast, but we'd have to wait a full year to ride it. Time flies, and having travelled to Italy's coastal Portofino, we've done just that.

 

EnergicaEsseEsse9 BikeSocial Review

 

The EVA EsseEsse9 is billed by Energica as the first 'old school electric motorcycle'. While it runs on exactly the same frame, motor and battery as the Ego, the fairings, clip-ons and single-seat have been ripped off and replaced with a single round headlight, a leather bench seat, a set of high-rise handlebars and rear sets that re-position your feet from somewhere near your ears to roughly where you'd expect them to be on a bike that's meant to be a relaxed, easy ride. I'd say most would agree it doesn't exactly look old-school in the same way that a Triumph Thruxton R does, but I can see what Energica were going for given the context of an all-out electric bike. It looks just fine to my eyes, and I really love the inverted front and rear wheel colour scheme on the Special model.

Speaking of models, it's available in two flavours - Standard and Special. They both make exactly the same torque and power, and have the same brake setup, but the Special has spoked rims, Ohlins suspension front and rear, and slightly less fairing to expose the battery and motor a smidgeon more than on the standard version. Other than that, there's no difference, price tag excepted.

 

EnergicaEsseEsse9 BikeSocial Review

 

The EsseEsse9's power and torque output is set at 109 HP and 133 lb-ft (180Nm) respectively. That's down from the Ego's 145 HP and 148 lb-ft (200Nm) by a not inconsiderable margin, but it also makes total sense. As you might've guessed, the EsseEsse9 is intended for a much more relaxed riding style than the all-out knee-sliding, apex hunting hero action that the single-minded Ego has the appetite for. Believe it or not though, the frame geometry is identical, as is the wheelbase (1465mm), seat height (795mm), length (2140mm), width (870mm) and height (1220mm).

 

EnergicaEsseEsse9 BikeSocial Review

 

Walking around the EsseEsse9, you're immediately struck by two things:

First, the physical size and presence of the EsseEsse9 is identical to a "proper" bike - something like an Aprilia Tuono V4 1100, Yamaha MT10 or Triumph's Speed Triple. Other electric bikes - Zeros especially - seem a bit small and toy-like by comparison, but not the Energica, as it has all the size and presence of a proper big bike rather than a 500-600cc commuter.

Second - and this is no exaggeration - it is dripping, utterly *dripping*, in Gucci componentry. Everywhere you look there's CNC’d aluminium, top spec brakes (Brembo M4.32), top spec suspension (Marzochhi forks and a Bitubo shock on the standard model, Ohlins front and rear on the Special model), carbon fibre, braided hoses, hand-stitched leather, deep, quality paint, and there's not a filament bulb in sight - anything that is a source of light is an LED. Get on your hands and knees and look where you ordinarily wouldn't and you'll still find CNC’d brackets, high quality fixings and magnesium and carbon this, that and the other. I'll say it again - the level of finish and kit is just staggering and at times borderline unnecessary. Of course, the price tag is sufficiently steep to reflect all of this bling, and the up-side is that it's all very light weight and helps to offset the weight of the battery - but we'll get to that later.

 

EnergicaEsseEsse9 BikeSocial Review

 

Riding the EsseEsse9 is of course what we all want to hear about. And hear it you will, because unlike most electric bikes, the rear wheel is driven by the motor via a gearbox which gives off a whirring noise not too dissimilar to a jet engine spooling up. You can't change gear - that's to say it's a fixed ratio - and so you won't find a lever by your left toes, but that gearbox serves two purposes. First to gear down the motor and keep the final chain drive sprockets to a normal looking size (16/44), and second, to output the aforementioned whirring noise which was specifically tuned by Energica's engineers. It's different, increases in pitch as the motor revs higher and higher, and certainly turns heads before you've even been seen as you're riding along.

 

EnergicaEsseEsse9 BikeSocial Review

 

The weight that you experience standing the EsseEsse9 up off its side-stand mostly disappears as you set off, and I'd wager that the battery's almighty weight is held higher up than you'd expect - and certainly higher than where a Zero holds its weight. But that weight, all 258 KG of it, comes back swiftly when you're on the brakes or negotiating a corner. The bars are high, wide and swept back a fair amount, which provide a healthy amount of leverage with which to act on the yolks to get the bike pointing in the right direction, but they still require a bit of a shove - and even more of one if you're getting a move on.

 

While anyone riding the EsseEsse9 and expecting it to be like a petrol-powered bike will ultimately be disappointed, I'd challenge anyone not to grin from ear to ear while twisting the throttle to the stop. As previously mentioned, it makes as near as damnit to 110 HP and I'd say it feels exactly like 110 HP. That might not sound like the most exciting thing in the world, but the torque on tap is on another level entirely. It's available right from 0 RPM and delivered without any lag, stuttering or hesitation, and it'll push the EsseEsse9 to a limited top speed of 125 MPH. Acceleration is blistering, despite the weight disadvantage, and you'll have to keep your behaviour in check because the forward thrust on tap, combined with the jet-engine-like noise is an intoxicating mixture. But weirdly, it doesn't feel all that fast, even if it definitely is. There's no sudden rush of power to kick you in the guts, instead it's delivered smoothly and linearly. The throttle response is buttery smooth, reminiscent of a well set-up carburetted bike, but somehow even better.

 

EnergicaEsseEsse9 BikeSocial Review

 

The Brembo brakes and Ohlins suspension work very well together - there's plenty of stopping power available with just one or two fingers worth of pressure, and the weight of the bike helps to smooth over lumps and bumps in the tarmac. I expected the suspension to be overwhelmed and overworked by the weight of the bike, but it's absolutely not the case. A trick up the EsseEsse9's sleeve is its reverse operation. Hold the 'starter' in for a couple of seconds and an 'R' appears on the dashboard allowing you to ride backwards at up to 2.5MPH. It's dead useful, and will go forwards too - handy for manoeuvres in car parks, and turning around on tight roads.

 

EnergicaEsseEsse9 BikeSocial Review
EnergicaEsseEsse9 BikeSocial Review

 

As you might expect, the EsseEsse9 pulls no punches when it comes to its electronics package, aside from the lack of electronically adjustable suspension. There's four riding modes which are Eco, Urban, Sport and Rain. They're all hopefully fairly self explanitory, offering appropriately different amounts of torque and throttle response, but the trick up the EsseEsse9's sleeve is customisable regenerative braking in each mode - all the way from off, to as much as would have you convinced the brakes are binding. I found the medium setting (from off, low and high) to be the most effective. What's more, the rear brake light will pulse when you're off the throttle and the regenerative braking system is generating sufficient resistance as to be equivalent to you applying the brakes. There's no traction control, however, as Energica say they don't yet have a traction control system which is good enough, and they'd prefer to not offer traction control than offer a bad traction control system. That's a good thing I'd say, as anyone who has experienced a bad traction control system will confirm - and, anyway, the throttle is so smooth and predictable that in all but the most inclement of conditions, frankly you just don't need it. ABS comes as standard and is switchable. There's an app, too, which works on iOS and Android which will sync up to the bike via bluetooth to allow you to perform diagnostics and download data from the onboard logger.  The LCD dashboard is fully modern, offering a number of different views depending on the bike's power mode, as well as plenty of battery, range and other nerdy statistics.

 

Speaking of the battery, it's the only electric bike on the market to use the CCS (mode 4) charging port which means combined AC+DC charging. That means it uses the same system as four-wheeled EVs, just like those Teslas that seem to be everywhere at the moment. And in turn that means you can charge the EsseEsse9 to 100% in 30 minutes, or to 85% in about 25 minutes, which is mighty impressive - and we witnessed this in a demonstration on a CCS4 charger. However, that relies on your ability to find such a charger. In central London there's only three, and the next nearest are 55 miles away in Oxford, but with time they'll get more and more common. Otherwise, you're limited to the much more readily available standard EV charger (mode 2 or 3 - 110-230V) which will take 4 hours to charge to 100%.  Energica claim the range is approximately 95 miles on combined riding, and based on my ride I'd say that's about accurate. If you ride it like you stole it you'll cut those 95 miles in half, and if you ride like a saint, with gravity and the wind on your side, you'll probably add 10%.  Energica guarantee the battery for 31,000 miles, which sounds like a lot but if used for commuting perhaps isn't - something to be wary of, as a replacement battery, I'd guess, might come in at approximately 50% of the cost of the bike itself.

 

EnergicaEsseEsse9 BikeSocial Review

 

Of course, the bad news is the price. Shield your wallet's ears and take a deep breath: the price tag on the standard model comes in at £19,600 and the Special model with the Ohlins suspension and spoked Oz rims will cost you a further £1,700 - bringing the balance up to £21,300. There's no getting away from it, that's a massive amount of money. Bleeding edge tech is always going to cost dearly, and Energica say they are aiming at the very upper end of the market with no desire to build lower spec, cheaper models. High end is their forté and they're sticking with it. Granted, you get a lot of fancy blingy bits in exchange for your hard earned, but the Achilles heel is the relatively scarce availability of the mode-4 ultra-fast charging points. Four hours on a standard charger isn't too bad, but it'll limit you to relatively contained rides, or a huge amount of planning before a longer ride.

 

Where does this leave us? Well, clearly, we'd probably all like an electric bike at half the cost, half the weight and double the realistic range. The good news is that with things like Moto-E World Cup and the ever-advancing pace of technology, perhaps that won't be too far away. Racing has a brilliant side effect with its trickle-down effect making what's high tech now everyday tech tomorrow, and it takes companies like Energica, chasing cash-rich customers, to make that happen. If you've deep pockets you can enjoy a bit of the future right away - but for the rest of us, we'll have to wait... but hopefully not for too long.

 

EnergicaEsseEsse9 BikeSocial Review

 

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATION

 

MOTOR

Permanent Magnet AC, Oil Cooled

MAX SPEED

Limited at 125 mph (200 km/h)

TORQUE

133 ft lb (180 Nm)

POWER

80 kW / 109 Hp

RANGE

93 miles (150 km) (combined)

RIDING MODES

4 Riding Modes: Urban, Eco, Rain, Sport

 

4 Regenerative Maps: Low, Medium, High, Off

PARK ASSISTANT

Back and Forth (1.74 mph – 2,8 km/h Max Speed)

BATTERY CAPACITY

11.7 kWh – lithium polymer

LIFE

1200 Cycles @ 80% Capacity (100% DOD)

WARRANTY

3 years on vehicle / 50.000 km – 31.000 miles on battery

RECHARGE

30 min (0-85% Soc) Mode 4 Dc Fast Charge

 

3.5 h (0-100% Soc) Mode 2 or 3 Charge

FRONT AND REAR WHEEL

Cast Alluminium: front 3.5” x 17” / rear 5.5” x 17”

TYRE

Pirelli Phantom – front 120/70 ZR17 / rear 180/55 ZR17

FRAME

Steel Tubular Trellis

SWINGARM

Cast Aluminum

FRONT SUSPENSION

Marzocchi Ø43 mm, Adjustable Rebound and Compression Damping, Spring Preload

REAR MONO

Bitubo Rear Mono Shock Adjustable Rebound, Spring Preload

CHAIN

(16/44) 525 O-Ring Chain

ABS

Bosch Switchable

FRONT BRAKE

Brembo, Double Floating Discs, Ø330 mm, 4 Pistons Radial Caliper

REAR BRAKE

Brembo, Single Disc, Ø240 mm, 2 Pistons Caliper

VEHICLE CONTROL UNIT

A Vehicle Control Unit implementing a multi-map adaptive energy and power management algorithm manages the vehicle. It constantly monitors batteries, even in key off position

DASHBOARD

4.3” WQYGA 480×272 TFT Color Display with internal memory for datalogging, integrated GPS receiver and Bluetooth communication 16.7 million colors; 9 Warning Lights; 6 + 6 Current Consumption Lights; Ambient Light Sensor; Real Time Clock; GPS 10Hz. Possibility to view the closest charging stations when connected to MYEnergica App.

CONNECTIVITY

Bluetooth Low Energy

BATTERY CHARGER

Onboard, [110-220]V [50-60]Hz, 3 kW. Conforms to Standards SAE J1772 and IEC 62196-2 with pilot signal for charging station interface

LPR FUNCTION

Long Period Rest: allows the maintenance and automatic balancing of the batteries during long period of non-use

SEAT HEIGHT

31.3 inches (795 mm)

WHEELBASE

58.9 inches (1465 mm)

LENGTH

84.2 inches (2140 mm)

WIDTH

34.3 inches (870 mm)

HEIGHT

48 inches (1220 mm)

COLOURS

Lunar White, Shocking Blue, Metal Black

PRICE

From £19,600 (Special mode: £21,300)

 

EnergicaEsseEsse9 BikeSocial Review
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