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Mini Review: Brammo vs Zero Electric Motorcycles

  Posted at 06:00:00 PM
  File under  Electrical Zero Motorcycles Brammo Product Review
  Author: Arvid Elias
  Location: Seatlle, USA
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Arvid Elias, based in Seattle, USA wrote this review initially on the Electric Motorcycle Forum and allowed us to republish it on our site.

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The 2014 Zero SR mini review was originally published on the Electric Motorcycle Forum Open Electric Motorcycle Forum in a new window.

Click here to read the original review of the Brammo vs Zero Open Electricmotorcycleforum link in a new window
A friend of mine has a Brammo Empulse RBrammo Empulse R motorcycle that we have been talking about comparing to the Zero SRZero SR.

Today was a sunny day and we both had some time over before the Super bowl game started so we decided that we would go for a ride.

We started off looking at the general design and comfort of each bike. The Brammo has a really nice seat that is more narrow at the front, compared to the seat on the Zero. The benefit of that is that it's easier to reach the ground firmly for short riders. But the downside is that it can be somewhat uncomfortable for male riders on long trips. Worth noticing is also that there's less margin for the rider to slide back and forth on the Brammo versus the Zero.

Brammo vs Zero logos

Since we were both relatively familiar with our own bikes we started out switching bikes. We're both experienced riders and decided that we'd both start with the bikes in sport mode since that's how we would normally ride them.

My initial impression of rolling away on the Brammo on a parking lot is that it's a lot more masculine. I know, it's a weird way to describe it.

The chain and the transmission slack in first gear made the start a bit less smooth than I was used to from the Zero, with its direct belt drive. Once I remembered that the Brammo has a clutch it made things much smoother. I also realized that starting in first gear, as I'm used to with gas bikes wasn't necessary with the Empulse R. In fact, for normal street use it's much more comfortable to start from 2nd gear.

I know from reading about the Brammo bikes that they have a unique gear position that I was somewhat worried about. The layout is as follows 1st, 2nd, neutral, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th gear. I think my worries were around finding neutral when stopping at a read light and accidentally putting the bike in neutral when up shifting.

It turns out that none of the above actually happens in real life. Finding neutral at a red light isn't needed since the electric motor comes to a stand still when stopped and accidentally getting into neutral just never happened.

Once we were riding down surface city streets I realized that the Brammo is louder than the Zero. I think some of it is due to the chain drive. But even the sound of the engine was louder I think. Some of it could have been due to the speaker system that Brammo has installed inside the "tank". It makes a very futuristic sound when you turn the bike on and I think it's actively generating sounds while riding.

Brammo vs Zero

While navigating city traffic, turning at intersections and breaking behind cars I realized that the Brammo handles really well. It starts to turn without having to be wrestled down and the suspension and braking were both top notch. Driving over pot holes and crossing railway tracks was a joy (well maybe not "joy" but I'm sure you get what I mean) and the stopping power was always there and felt well dimensioned for a day at the track. It almost felt like an overkill after riding the Zero SR* for a while. Especially when comparing the rear brakes.

*Note: Don't get me wrong. The brakes on the Zero SR are fine for daily driving but I'd keep an eye on them after an hour on a track.

Drag Race
We were now getting pretty comfortable with the bikes and decided that it was time for a drag race. We switched back to our own bikes and found a good long straight, away with no traffic, no intersections and a good safe view to both sides.

We did several tries. From a rolling start, from a stand still and in different modes. The most interesting result was from a stand still. With both bikes in sport mode, turns out that even though the Zero SR should have a lot more torque, the Brammo still has gearing on its side when starting from a stand still. Another factor is that Brammo is far less limiting in the software when in sport mode.

Anyway, what happened was this:
Starting from 0 mph, we counted down from 3 we leaned forward and hit the throttles hard. Both bikes accelerated hard but were still in parallel up to around 20-30 mph (about a second or so into the race). After that the Zero SR came alive and just flew away from the Brammo Empulse R.

The results when accelerating from a rolling start (about 5-10 mph) were very similar. They were neck to neck until about 20-30 mph and then the Zero picked up speed much faster than the Brammo, even when it was left in first gear.

After an hour or so of playing with the bikes we both had places to go and bikes to charge. Speaking of which: the Zero SR started out with 100% charge and at this time it had 90% left. The Brammo, having been parked without being plugged in, started at 36% and had at this time only 20% left. It's not really a fair comparison but I found it interesting.

Brammo vs Zero

I've tried to compare gas bikes before and have never come to a point where I'd say this bike is better than that, because it's never a comparison of apples and apples. The same is true this time. The Zero SR and The Brammo Empulse R are both awesome bikes! They both have a very unique feel, sound, handling and everything else that makes a bike so much fun to ride. I only wish that more dealerships would take the risk and could afford to carry demo versions of both these bikes. They would undoubtedly sell a lot more of them if they did. I know I didn't make the decision to buy one until I've had a go on one.

One thing that my friend and I realized both Brammo and Zero has in common is that it's really hard to get any kind of support from local dealerships. I expressed how unhappy I was with the experience I've had with my dealership and he told me that I was lucky to even have someone in the state who wanted to touch it. He has to ship/ride his out of state to get to the closest (but still incompetent) licensed dealership.

2014 Zero SR Open 2014 Zero SR link in a new window
2013 Brammo Empulse R Open 2013 Brammo Empulse R link in a new window

Via: Electric Motorcycle Forum

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