When it comes to creating a successful sportbike, you need three things: speed, handling, and styling. Buyers are willing to overlook painful ergonomics, atrocious repair bills, and even eye-wateringly high prices to get the latest and the fastest. Those buying the new Energica Ego, the all-electric sportbike from Italian firm CRP, won't have to make many compromises -- but they will have to write a very big check. $34,000 is the starting for the base model, and a whopping $68,000 if you want one of the limited-edition launch bikes, of which only 45 will be made. (For European buyers, the price starts at €25,000. No Australian pricing as of yet.)
What do you get for an amount of money that would buy you a reasonably well-equipped luxury sedan? You get yourself a finely crafted piece of cutting-edge Italian machinery. CRP Group is a conglomerate of companies mostly focused around the interests of computerized creation -- 3D printing, CNC machining, and so forth. Experts in the area of precision rapid manufacturing, their products have found uses in Formula One, MotoGP, NASCAR, and other top-tier motorsports.
In 2010, the company launched an effort to go racing in the fledgling electric motorcycle circuit. That bike, called eCRP, won the championship, and four years later we're sampling the fruit of that labor. The street version is the Energica Ego, and while the company is still making a few final tweaks, the prototype I rode (the third iteration) is very near completion.
It's a fully-faired sportbike, wrapped in sculpted bodywork that terminates in a decidedly stubby, race-like tail. There is a seat back there, though, if you have a very adventurous passenger. Adventurous and flexible. The bug-eyed projector headlights on the front will likely split opinions when it comes to aesthetics, but overall it's a modern design, one that thankfully doesn't scream "Look at me, I'm an EV!"
In fact, at a quick glance you'd be forgiven for thinking this was a gas-powered machine. What looks like a radiator behind the front wheel is actually the battery pack, split in the middle to allow cooling air to better pass through the innards. Meanwhile, the cooling fins you can see ahead of the swingarm at the back cool more electrics and a powerful motor. 134 horsepower, to be exact, though the torque figure is more impressive: 144 ft-lbs, all available from zero RPM.
That's about 50 percent more torque than another bit of Italian exotica, Ducati's outrageous 1199 Panigale. However, the Ego has a lot more of something else, too: weight. It hits the scales at 569 pounds, a 200-pound penalty over the Duc. So, while there's plenty of oomph, there's plenty to move, resulting in a bike that will do the 0 to 60 sprint in about 3 seconds. Fast, but not preposterously so.
Throw a leg over the bike and turn the key and, other than a slight whir somewhere deep in the bowels of the machine, the only sign of life is the small LCD instrument cluster coming to life. Here you can see vital stats like speed and remaining range, along with a bar indicating current draw or regen, and battery temperature. Bluetooth and cellular connections enable the bike to send data to a smartphone app, while integrated GPS means you can log your lines and times around a track.
A simple mode control on the left grip toggles through one of four throttle maps: rain, eco, standard, and sport. With each, total available engine power changes, as does the throttle response.
You're also asked to choose how much regenerative braking you want, which is basically how quickly the bike slows down when you unwind the throttle. Four settings again: off, low, medium, and high. Interestingly, the Ego also offers a reverse mode, something rarely found on motorcycles unless you're a member of the Gold Wing fraternity. Moving backwards is implement in EVs (the motor can just spin in the opposite direction), and it's an appreciated feature here given the weight of the thing.
There's no shifter, as the engine has plenty of RPM to get you up to a (limited) top speed of 150 MPH. But, there is a starter button, which turns on a little blue light on the dash. After you retract the kickstand that is, which is so heavily sprung it truly lives up to its name. Finally, a gentle twist of the wrist and away you go.
Despite all that torque the bike is easy to ride slowly, even in Sport mode. The throttle is quite gentle at first, not really opening your eyes until you give it a proper wrench. Which, of course, I would do. Multiple times. Acceleration feels like it would fall somewhere between a 600cc supersport and 1,000cc superbike. That is to say: ridiculously fast in the grand scheme of things, but about average for a modern performance bike.
The sound, however, is anything but average. At low speeds the Ego makes a groaning noise that isn't quite pleasant, but wind it up a bit and it screams. Most EVs make some sort of a whine, but this bike is a proper banshee. Not every fan of internal combustion will enjoy this, but it certainly got my blood pumping.
As did trying to hustle the bike over some damp pavement that was badly in need of repair. The Ego neither crashed over potholes nor shook its head on mismatched sections of pavement. Its Marzocchi forks up front and Ohlins shock in the rear offered a compliant ride, too soft for the track but fine for sporty touring. (And, yes, adjustable if you like.) Similarly, the riding position was aggressive but not abusively so, with stubby pegs at a comfortable height and handlebars mounted on short risers, still giving a sporting position but taking a lot of weight off your wrists. That said, the ergonomics aren't perfect. The seat, though comfortable, forces you up on the tank, so hanging off in the corners is a bit of work. Also, in a tuck I found my helmet smacking into the windscreen. Taller riders may need to sit up a bit.
Overall, a very nice ride. Sporty, but without the punishing ergonomics. Fast, without being intimidating. But, still, expensive. Again, $34,000 for the base mode. The limited edition Ego 45, with its carbon fiber bodywork and full-fat Ohlins suspension, costs $68,000 (€50,000). Either bike will take you up to 90 miles on a charge at 50 MPH. You can go further if you go slower, of course, but take it to the track and you'll be looking to top up every 30 miles or so.
Three and a half hours on a Level 2 charger will get you back to full status, though the Ego can optionally be configured to support DC fast charging, which would give you an 85 percent charge in 30 minutes. That sounds like a recipe for gas-free track day heaven to me.