Old Empire Motorcycles was founded in 2010 through an absolute and enduring passion for everything two-wheeled. It’s one of the coolest and most respected custom motorcycle builders in the UK.
They create a handful of one-off custom bikes annually, some of the most beautiful and innovative custom motorcycles in the UK. So beautiful in fact, they have been exhibited at Harrods London and at the Saatchi Gallery and won numerous awards from titles such as; Silodrome, Pipeburn, MCN and Cafe Racer TV plus they won the coveted Malle Mile Best of show. They have even won a Salon Privé award.
A couple of years ago, Alec, the owner of Old Empire, embarked on a new venture, English Electric Motor Co or EEMC.
EEMC is now one of Europe’s premier electric motorcycle retailers, yes electric motorcycles. Electric motorcycle sales are going through the roof. By the end of the 1st quarter 2019, registrations of electric mopeds, motorcycles and quadricycles were up by 71% in Europe. Ok, so the number is still pretty small but growing very fast.
EEMC has jumped in with both feet and are taking the bull by the horns.
I received an invite to try some of their bikes recently so I thought I’d go and see what all the fuss was about.
They laid on a range of their electric motorcycles to try. I could go on all day about them all so, long story short, I’ll tell you about the top of the range, the Energica EVA EsseEsse9.
It’s a naked bike, I guess like an Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 factory or Yamaha MT-10 SP.
As you can see, there’s no fairing, and you sit fairly upright. It’s all pretty typical. It looks slightly unconventional, with a battery pack and motor where the engine would usually sit, but other than that, it’s pretty familiar stuff.
Energicas EVA EsseEsse9 makes 110 bhp which isn’t bad, however, it makes 180nm torque. An Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 factory, the benchmark naked bike, only makes 120nm torque.
Suspension is top of the line, quality stuff. Marzocchi 43 mm, fully adjustable for preload, compression and rebound damping.
At the rear there’s a very nice Bitubo rear mono shock, also fully adjustable for preload, compression and rebound damping. It’s a quality setup and does a brilliant job.
Brakes are very impressive. Brembo front and rear with awesome feel and very strong.
Front brakes are Brembo double floating 330mm discs with big 4 pistons radial callipers.
The rear brake is a single 240mm disc with 2 piston calliper.
Tyres are Pirelli Phantom which are a good all-rounder but I would consider something more performance-oriented personally. The front is pretty typical 120/70 ZR17 and the rear is 180/55 ZR17.
As is typical on top-end motorcycles, there are a host of electronics.
Switchable Bosch ABS is standard and there are 4 Riding Modes: Eco, Urban, Rain, Sport.
Energica, like some other electric motorcycles and cars, have regenerative braking. This generates electricity when you are on overrun or braking. It genuinely makes a difference too. I saw the battery % rise a couple of times! Regenerative braking is adjustable on this bike; 4 regenerative maps: Low, Medium, High, Off.
Advanced traction control has six levels of intervention so you can dial it right back if you’re brave. Cruise control is standard too and uses the electronic brake to maintain speed and increase braking energy.
A couple of the key differences between the Energica EVA EsseEsse9 on the competition are the oil cooled electric motor, meaning the motor temperature is controlled and there is less chance of thermal overload under heavy load. The controlled is water cooled for the same reason.
That’s all great but what’s it like to ride?
Honestly, it’s amazing.
The cycle parts are all excellent. Brakes, suspension and steering are all superb. This bike corners hard and stops very well.
When you first pull off it’s pretty odd. More or less silent apart from some electric motor whine which is more pronounced on the Energica than on some other electric motorcycles. It has a chain drive too rather than the belt drive on most competitor bikes. I certainly feel safer with a chain taking 190Nm torque.
There are no gears and no clutch so you just twist and go…..and it really goes.
Acceleration is breathtaking and relentless.
On the Energica EVA EsseEsse9, from the moment you twist the throttle, you have maximum torque. It’s the way electric motors deliver their power.
It means that every time you accelerate, you have an unrelenting, jaw-dropping acceleration. It just doesn’t stop.
Overtaking a car, for example, just wait for a gap, snap the throttle open and hold on’
A conventional bike would have to change down a gear or two which takes precious seconds. In no time, the Energica is just a dot on the horizon. It’s like you’re always in the right gear at the right revs.
It accelerates as hard at 80 mph as it does at 40 mph too. It’s like nothing you’ve ever ridden.
It is absolutely brilliant and completely addictive. Accelerating out of corners, away from lights, in fact anywhere, it’s outrageous. I doubt many conventional bikes could live with it.
The two main criticisms of electric motorcycles are usually the lack of noise, and range/charging Infrastructure.
Noise is a double-edged sword. Anti-noise pollution legislation is becoming increasingly stringent, but it’s not an issue on an electric motorcycle.
Riding through a local village, I was completely unheard and didn’t interrupt anyone’s day. The same goes for track days; no issues with noise pollution if you’re on an electric bike.
However, On a quiet country road, I passed some dog walkers and cyclists. Neither heard me coming until I was basically on them.
As for charging, the Energica with recharge from 0-85% in just 20 min with a level 3 34kW fast charger. Or you can charge 0-100% on a level 2 charger in 3.5hrs.
With a full charge, you can get around 70-120 miles, depending how you ride. Motorways on high load, higher speeds use more battery power and around town and on b road blasts, you get much more range.
What about the cost?
It’s not cheap. You need to factor in that this is a very well built motorcycle with top quality components. You also need to remember you have very low running costs as there are hardly any moving parts, but most significantly, you don’t have to buy petrol ever again.
The EsseEsse9 Standard is £20999 OTR* (*includes £1500 government subsidy)
The EsseEsse9 Special is £21999 OTR* (*includes £1500 government subsidy) English Electric Motor Co have a demonstrator EsseEsse9 Standard for sale at the moment with only 960 miles on it for just £18990 (0% finance available)
If this is the future then I can’t wait. It’s brilliant.
I would recommend anyone goes to their local dealer for a chat and a ride. In the UK give English Electric Motor Co a call. They’re awesome and really friendly.
English Electric Motor co