Who’s ShockingBarack? Rider #1: Brian Wismann

brian_headshotBrian Wismann – Lead Designer, Brammo.

It’s pretty easy to write about Brian Wismann.  He joins Dave Schiff, Creative Director with advertising agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky, in a trek which begins today in Detroit, Michigan.

Wismann has been with Brammo since the days when it was known as Brammo Motorsports and it was building the Ariel Atom, a testosterone-boiling supercar that looked like a cross between an 1960s-era Formula One racecar and a plumber’s nightmare.

When Brammo CEO Craig Bramscher tried to shift the Atom over to electric motors, he faced some licensing obstacles and decided in 2006 that he, along with Wismann, would design a plug-in vehicle from the ground up.  They also determined that current battery technology pointed to lightweight vehicles as the proper direction to head.  Specifically, motorcycles presented an ideal weight/power combination.

Wismann’s design, the Enertia, has been seen in some varied and unexpected locations:

  • on display at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry in the Smart Home exhibit.
  • in Jay Leno’s Garage

And, perhaps the oddest place of all: Best Buy Superstores.  According to the anecdote, Bramscher and Wismann and some other members of the team were looking at an early prototype of the bike without tires or forks or trim.  “It looked more like a computer server or a piece of consumer electronics” than a motorcycle.  Shortly thereafter, Bramscher approached Best Buy with an innovative plan to sell the Enertia amidst the retailer’s usual collection of computers, televisions, CDs, and appliances.  Best Buy must have liked the plan because it became a venture partner of Brammo’s, investing $10,000,000 in the company.

Wismann, second from left, wheels the TTR to the starting gate.

Wismann, second from left, wheels the TTR to the starting gate.

Wismann also had a hand in designing the Brammo Enertia TTR, a racing bike that brought home a third place trophy from the Isle of Man last June.  Wismann had been perusing some websites and saw an early announcement of the first zero-emission motorcycle race, dubbed the TTXGP, which would take place on the 37-mile course on the Isle of Man.  The story of the genesis of the bike’s design is chronicled in a must-read article in Motorcyclist Magazine, so I’ll leave it to the pros to fill in the details of the design of that bike.

Wismann has been very responsive to questions I’ve relayed about regenerative braking and has even responded to more in-depth questions posed by a potential customer.  He also posted a couple videos of his “daily commute” on an Enertia.  (Just an aside, here: based on my correspondence with him, I can tell that, beyond being knowledgeable and psyched about the bike, Wismann is just downright nice.)

Most recently, Wismann has shared the story behind one of his recent purchases, a Brammo Enertia LE.  BriansLE_1

According to Wismann:

When I finally tucked the bike into my garage for its first night alone in the dark, I realized that I’ve been dreaming about this day for almost 3 years now.  There was surprisingly little celebration though, as all the hard work that’s gone into the product has meant that this delivery is no different than any other delivery nor this production bike built differently from any other (aside from being an LE).

He recently answered a question I asked him about this picture:


These are the two bikes that Wismann and Schiff will be riding from Detroit to Washinton.  I asked Wismann if the grey bike was his, and he responded that “ol 7” is back home in his garage.  Aside from the excitement of today’s commencement of the journey and the possibility of meeting the President, I wager that he’s looking forward to getting home to his “baby.”

Don’t forget to follow him on twitter: @brammodesigner



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