Pic: Energica Experia; muscular tasty all electric goodness
Recently, my friend and fellow Livewire owner Ed Darmanin got the chance to take an all new Experia on a 400km test ride and detailed his experience in this great review. Enjoy!
On Wednesday 15th February I was given the opportunity by Australian Electric Motorcycle Company (AEMC) in Burleigh Heads QLD to do an extended test ride of the brand new Energica Experia. Even though I have already ordered one of these electric motorcycles, Tobin Page the MD and owner of AEMC was keen for me to ride this machine to hear my opinion of the bike based on the extensive touring I have done on the HD Livewire and other motorcycles over the years.
My son and I flew into Gold Coast airport and hired a car to drive to Ballina for work the next day. The idea was to take the bike down to Ballina and back varying the ride between freeways and the many mountain roads to the west. We met with Tobin around midday and after a quick run through the bike’s features and completing the necessary paperwork I headed off into the hinterland west of the Gold Coast.
Before I describe the riding experience, here are a few interesting facts to compare between the Livewire and the new Experia. The power and torque figures of both bikes are very similar. The Livewire does a claimed 0-100kph in 3 seconds compared to the Experia’s 3.5 seconds. More on this later. The Livewire is a naked sports touring bike with a 15.5kWh battery (13.6 usable) and weighs 249kg compared to the Experia that has a 22.5kWh battery (19.6 usable) and weighs just 11kg more at 260kg. I think that what Energica have achieved with the Experia is a quantum leap above the Livewire in that they have designed a physically bigger bike with 30% more suspension travel, has exactly the same wheel and tire sizes, a 45% bigger battery and a full fairing for just an 11kg increase in overall weight compared to the Livewire.
If I had the Experia instead of the Livewire during my trip across Australia in 2022, I could have sat on the 100 and 110kph speed limits on all legs of the trip rather than hypermiling the Livewire to get between stops. In this respect, the Experia is a game changer for electric motorcycle touring, particularly as the DC fast charging network expands. It is no longer the range holding EVs back but rather the lack if charging infrastructure that is playing catch up. range Anxiety is no longer the issue but rather in is ‘Charging Anxiety’ about whether or not the charger you are counting on in in use or out of service.
The Experia riding experience did not disappoint. It took me about an hour to get comfortable with the different riding position, higher bars, mirrors, controls etc particularly as the mountain roads were wet after earlier rain. Also the bike was brand new so the tires had not been scrubbed in so I took it easy until I got to the dry roads further west.
For those of you who own or have ridden the Energica road bikes, the Experia transmission is a lot quieter. I think this is because the Experia motor spins in the opposite direction to the wheels so it has one less rotating shaft than the other Energica bikes meaning one less straight cut gear so 50% less noise? Once cruising at 80kph or above it is fairly quiet on board. Later in the day, my son following me in the car on the freeway at 110kph said that the bike was quite loud presumably because of chain noise combined with drive train noise? From the riding position, the Experia transmission noise is about the same volume as the Livewire but has a constant rather than whirring sound particular different at low speed, with the pitch changing as the rpm increases similar but different to the livewire. I like it!
The Experia does not have the instant brutal acceleration that the livewire has off the mark, but it’s rolling acceleration feels about the same, possibly even quicker than the Livewire. I think that this is the difference between the quoted 0 to 100kph times in that the Livewire probably gets the jump on the Experia off the mark with the Experia making up a bit of ground after that. A side by side test would be required to compare performance traits but both bikes have more than enough power for blasting between corners and the Experia is still plenty fast off the line.
We spent the night in Ballina, got our work done early in the morning then headed back up the coast. I fast charged at The Farm in Byron Bay where the Experia charging power peaked at 24kW. My son continued up the freeway in the car and I headed west up into the hills towards Murwillumbah. After a few wrong turns and detours due to road works I ended up having to ride about 20km on narrow winding dirt trails across the mountains to a town called Uki. The Experia handled the dirt and gravel roads very well even though I was riding in a custom setting using sports power mode and maximum B3 regen. The road wasn’t very rough but lots of gravel and a few ruts and corrugated corners tested the suspension. All good! The best part about this unplanned detour was the fun awaiting on the other side where I got to push the bike much harder on dry sealed roads through a variety of tight and sweeping corners with and without mid corner bumps. The Experia was rock solid in every situation at speed. Great handling, precise breaking and no wallowing through corners. Just as much fun as any sports tourer and certainly no compromise from my point of view. Plenty of futuristic Sci-Fi propulsion sound added to the thrill under hard acceleration and deceleration.
The Experia is a bigger motorcycle than the Livewire and similar to a Ducati Multistrada, but with unique seating position that I think is a blend of sports touring and adventure bike that remained comfortable for much longer than on the Livewire which has a cramped forward leaning riding position by comparison. I am about 178cm tall (5’ 10” ) with short legs and can comfortably flat foot straddling the bike, but I found that the bike can easily get away from you when pulling up or setting off if not concentrating on keeping it upright. The weight is low down but still makes itself felt as the bike starts to lean over needing you to move your foot further out to brace as the weight increases with the lean angle. Message to self….keep it vertical when stopped or manoeuvring to charge or park.
The instrumentation on the Experia is not intuitive particularly compared to the Livewire. You need to flick between menus on the screen using a combination of short and long presses of the mode button and back button on the left hand switch block. I figured out most of the functions after much trial and error but it would have been a better experience if I had read the manual first! Do this before you test ride an Energica. The Experia has cruise control but it needs interaction with buttons on the right and left switch block to change speed settings and overall is cumbersome to use compared to the Livewire. This is not a deal breaker for me. Fit and finish on the Experia is very good, but the Livewire is a little more refined with little touches like concealing all the wiring to the switch locks within the handle bars where the Experia cables are neatly cable tied to the underside of the handle bars.
I deliberately left the issue of range until last as this is usually the first question I get everywhere I travel on the Livewire. What is the range followed by how long does it take to charge? Virtually no one ever asks about how it rides, but this is what really differentiates good electric motorcycles from good petrol bikes. Not that either one is better. That is a personal preference. But riding an electric motorcycle is very engaging in a different way. In the 80’s the term UJM (Universal Japanese Motorcycle) was often used by motorcycle journalists because all of the bikes in each class from the big 4 manufacturers were much the same. Then in the subsequent decade or so a considerable number of buyers shifted towards Ducati’s Vee -Twins and other exotic brands for their impressive flat torque curves and different riding experience so the Japanese manufacturers developed their versions of the big Vee-twins to compete that we still have today. After another decade or so, enter high performance Electric motorcycles. A totally new and refreshing riding experience like no petrol bike can deliver - flat torque curve from 0 to max rpm, instant acceleration, no clutch or gears to distract you during approach, through or exiting a corner, just always in the right gear with 100% torque on tap! What’s not to like about that. But what is the range and how long does it take to charge? About as long as it takes to wipe the grin off your face!
From my not too short 400km experience with the Experia it can comfortably do 200km at highway and freeway speed limits assuming no headwinds or large changes in altitude. With mixed sport riding through the hills at speeds between 60 and 100kph depending on how hard you ride or at a constant 100kph on regional highways you can expect around 250km. At a constant 80kph I think it will do around 300km possibly more. DC fast charging should take around 1 hour starting from around 10% State of Charge (SOC). So 400 to 600km days in about 5 to 8 hours respectively are possible so long as there are fast chargers available on route. Otherwise an overnight charge from a standard power point will see the bike filled in about 12 hours. The Experia can also charge at 3.3kW on a 15amp outlet that would fully charge it in 6 to 7 hours, but a 3 to 4 hour charge at this rate during the middle of a ride would make 400km rides possible where DC fast chargers are not available.
So will I be selling my Livewire to get the Experia? Absolutely! In my opinion the Experia does everything the Livewire can and in most cases does it better. The 45% increase in range is a game changer as it makes the typical 150 to 200km distances between regional towns easily achievable at highway speeds, while opening up 300+ km possibilities with careful speed and energy management. I could squeeze 250km out of the Livewire by riding at around 60kph on a flat road, so in theory the Experia should be able to do around 360km under the same conditions. The Experia has huge luggage carrying capacity and plenty of comfortable space for a pillion passenger that the Livewire simply cannot match. The Livewire is a great motorcycle but I think that the Experia is a much better motorcycle.