Recently I got a chance to play on an Energica EVA. Not the new Ribelle, but a shiny white EVA 80. I ended up liking it a lot more than I was expecting to. It all started when I noticed some inconsistencies with the SOC gauge on my Energica SS9. I let Energica know; they said they would like to inspect the logs of the bike and wondered if I would be willing to bring it up to their HQ. "Any excuse for a ride," I said, and headed North.
My bike tried to make casual friends with a Premium Zero SR/F. The owner never came by, so I continued on my way.
I was lent an EVA for a week. This was not ideal in my mind, as I grew up with dirt bikes and things like KLRs. I was used to upright seating. I rode the trails of Colorado. I did not grow up on the road, so the SS9 was the most familiar. For those unaware, the EVA is Energica's naked streetfighter. Over its history it has come in 3 versions: EVA80, EVA107, and the new EVA Ribelle (Rebel). The EVA 80 has the same programming as the SS9 . You can identify it by the white frame. Then they made the EVA107 which had the same uncapped power as the EGO. You can identify it by the red frame. I was lent an EVA with the white frame.
Energica bikes are all built upon the same powertrain. The Ego has the highest pegs and clip-0n bars. It's basically a track bike. The SS9 has lower pegs, higher bars, and a giant, plushy seat. The EVA has lower bars, higher pegs, and a lower, aggressive seat. It's almost daring you to go do something exciting with the vehicle. I told myself, "I can live with an EVA for a week. Then I can get back to my uber-comfy SS9"
During the ride home I stressed my wrists by putting a lot of pressure on them because I was riding wrong. I was then encouraged to utilize both core muscles and my legs to wrap on the tank. Both of these displeased me. And then I hit Highway 17. Oh. Ohhhhhh. I get it now.
I'd ridden Hwy 17 on my SS9 before. Truth be told it was one of the very first roads I traveled upon after picking up my Energica. It's full of fun, sloping twists and turns over a slight mountain range. This is where the EVA started to come alive. The small changes of higher pegs and lower bars really puts you in a more perched position that truly digs you into corners. Handling feels lighter and the ridiculous twist and go power of these bikes turns to joy. There's even a CCS station on this road at the aptly named Summit House.
Yeah. I guess the proverbial scales have fallen from my eyes. I've talked to multiple people who have ridden both bikes and they all nod at me dismissively like I was an idiot for not knowing how much fun the EVA is. A week and 500 miles later I returned the bike to Energica and got back on my SS9 in full working order, which is still utterly lovely but just not the same in the corners. I really need to take an EVA on CA Hwy 9, but I'm a little afraid if I do so I may just keep riding and never come back. The next day was an AHRMA event at Laguna Seca which included Formula Lightning, their electric division. It promised to have Zero and Energica riders having a go at the course, along with every other vintage bike under the sun. Zero had a booth which, as I understand it, was sort of last minute. It was the same weekend as The One Show in Portland, of which Zero was sponsoring flat track racing. This means they were spread thin, so it was Kenyon Kluge, winner of Refuel TT 2019, and a couple engineers with SR/Fs that wanted a track day.
There was also the appearance of a high-end custom electric race bike designed by Brian Wissman, the man responsible for much of the design of the Brammo Empulse as well as the handsome new SR/F. It's called the Lightfighter, named after a road around Laguna Seca. The name actually has military origins as the now-defunct military base Fort Ord surrounds the area nearby. I pass this road every day on my commute, so when I first heard the name I did a double take. It is a handsome machine. No surprise there.
Rider and journalist, Troy Siahaan, put up some impressive lap times on the first day. Please note the dash that periodically displays, "GO TROY" while the bike is charging and being prepped. The best lap times at Refuel TT 2019 were around 1:44. Troy was reported getting into the 1:36 range with this bike on Saturday, which is significant. Unfortunately, the bike did not complete the race on Sunday. Troy was leading the pack of riders, but on the final turn of 3rd lap or so the bike cut out. No injuries, no crashes, but I was standing at a higher vantage point with owner Brian when Troy limped past at 3 mph. "Huh. I guess we're done for the weekend." he sighed. Such is the life of test bikes.
I would also note that the electric racing was a bit... confused. AHRMA's rules break the electrics up by voltage, not by bike weight or power output. This meant all Zeros raced against each other and Brammo bikes, but Energica could not compete against Zero because it's in a different class. The only other electric bike in the same voltage class was the experimental Lightfighter. In the above picture displaying the dash, you'll see "410" listed. That's the peak voltage, which goes all the way down to 300 when empty. Energica bikes range between 280-330vdc. Because it's hard to justify monopolizing the track for a couple bikes, they lumped ALL electrics into the same race along with all the gas bikes they couldn't classify for whatever reason. It was a bit of a strange sight, truth be told.
It was very nice connecting with old friends at the track and making new ones, and it's especially nice to see people of all ages with big, stupid grins on their faces as they race motorcycles. It's hard to ask for more than that.