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Brammo revs up with six-speed EV motorcycles

Six-speed transmission offered on motorcycle EVs in partnership with Italian engineering company SMRE could be game-changing.

Brammo's Engage electric motorcycle with a six-speed transmission. Brammo

Brammo will offer its electric motorcycles with a six-speed transmission beginning in 2012, the company announced today.

The bikes will be unveiled this Friday in Las Vegas shortly before competing in the MiniMotoSX race.

Motorcycle manufacturer Brammo could make a big impact on the motorcycle world with this change.

While electric motorcycles have been around for some time, and even had their own race on the Isle of Man in June 2009, up until now they've mainly been seen as bikes for early adopters interested in green tech, or those who might otherwise consider a moped.

Electric motorcycles are relatively quiet, have a limited range, and arguably offer limited speed and performance when compared to comparable racing bikes with internal combustion engines. They're also fighting an image problem in a market famous for exuding a longstanding sexy, powerful, and adventurous appeal.

"Electric motorcycle design has always been a bit of a balancing act in direct drive systems where great acceleration performance comes at the expense of low top-end speed," Brian Wismann, director of product development at Brammo, said in a statement.

If Brammo's new line of six-speed electric motorcycles are finally able to join the ranks in terms of image and performance, an Italian engineering firm may be to thank.

SMRE's Integrated Electric Transmission (IET) which Brammo has exclusively licensed. Brammo

SMRE Engineering has patented what it calls the Integrated Electric Transmission (IET), which allows a battery-powered motorcycle to have a six-speed transmission, and perform more closely to a traditional racing motorcycle.

"The IET is a mechatronic propulsion unit that emulates the feeling and performance of a traditional internal combustion engine, with a specially developed electric motor, clutch, and gear shift, that enables Brammo motorcycles to accelerate hard from the line up to a high top speed, something that is just not possible to achieve with a single ratio electric motorcycle," Brammo said in a statement.

That's quite a change from the single-speed electric motorcycles currently made by Brammo, Zero Motorcycles, and Native Cycles.

Brammo has acquired an exclusive international license to use SMRE's tech in its bikes, the company also announced today.

The line of Brammo motorcycles including the new technology (see video) will go on sale in 2012 and range in price from about $10,000 to $12,000, not including possible federal or state incentives offered for EVs.

Brammo already sells its Enertia all-electric motorcycles at Best Buy. No word on when or if the electronics retail giant will also offer the six-speed version in 2012.