Design Genius

Occasionally, I find a post or series of posts that I think just begs to be shared with a wider world.  This design critique from new Brammo Owner “Implovator” about the design of his new Enertia:

Then, Implovator did a much more focused and serious review of the Enertia design, on his own blog:

The Brammo Enertia is a motorcycle of striking design. So much so, that I really didn’t like it when it first starting making appearances on the Internet. It has some wonderful design influences, but for some reason, I just didn’t appreciate them in a modern motorcycle form. For one, it was really tall. I was more accustomed to sportbikes with a low, sleek look and clip-on handlebars.

Ducati Monster from Motorcyclist Magazine.

The Enertia’s tall posture.

Retro Anime?

Immediately, the Enertia struck me as having a retro design. At first, the wide, low-rise, low-swept handlebars reminded me of a flat track bike. Looking a little deeper though, I thought it picked up more subtle design cues from old board track racers: narrow chassis, nearly same-sized front and rear wheels, small tank, footpegs resembling pedals. Heck, the thing could have rocked spoked wheels if they weren’t so heavy.

The profile didn’t fit, though. From the side, the Enertia looks much larger with its tank and lower bodywork forming a full, round shape bisected by the twin-spar frame. Then there’s the modern chopped tail with its plate holder extending way back like a Japanese sportbike. Perhaps I’ve just been playing too much Final Fantasy XIII and watching too much anime, but the Enertia started to look very Japanese too me. I don’t mean contemporary Japanese, I mean fantasy Japanese. In a weird way, the Enertia sort of resembles the following concept from Suzuki with their massive, oversized front ends and tiny, chopped tails.

Suzuki's Anime insprired Biplane Concept

The Enertia's profile is rather large compared to it's svelte figure.

Definitely Freeride MTB Inspired

I was obviously struggling to find out what it is about the Enertia’s style that was captivating me. There was something very familiar and sexy about it. I was obviously getting desperate to explain it, so I kind of gave up on the idea and just rode the damned thing.

After riding it for a few days, I really started getting comfortable with its riding position, light handling, and wide bars. One day, I was headed into a low speed corner that was filled with gravel, so I couldn’t lean the bike in the typical sportbike-style. In a very natural move, I stuck my foot out instead. It wasn’t quite supermoto style though, as I didn’t have the bike leaned way under me. No, it actually felt more like downhill mountain biking. I thought to myself, “Wow, this thing is as much fun as mountain biking.”

That night I was editing some photos that I took while uncrating the Enertia. I realized that I had my freeride mountain bike leaning against the frame of the garage door in one of them…and it hit me like a ton of bricks. The Enertia is built just like a freeride bike, with its forward cage footpegs, low seat, high/steep-ish frontend, and wide bars.

My Transition Preston FR MTB.

Looks a lot like a Freeride MTB to me

So maybe I was full of it with regards to my board-tracking, anime machine theory, but I think I’m right on with the freeride MTB idea. The similarities are startling.

  • Cage pedals
  • Beefy front end
  • Coil-over shock with piggy-back resevoir
  • Ultra-wide, low-rise, low-sweep handlebars
  • Short, stubby stem with raked dropouts on the forks
  • Single front disc brake on the left side
  • Large round motor cover that looks like a bicycle chainring guard

About the only difference is that he seat on my FR bike is high in that photo…whereas normally it’s slammed. Otherwise these bikes are IDENTICAL! Even the angle of the downtube on the FR bike is strikingly similar to the twin-spar frame on the Enertia.

Maybe I’m just seeing the things that I love in the design of the Enertia, but please first consider this. The guys at Brammo live in Oregon, a land of great mountain biking. Oregon’s next door to Washington, which is the home of the Transition Bicycle Company who the Preston FR bike show above. The designer at Brammo lists mountain biking as one of his hobbies onElMoto.net. And the lead engineer is a downhill mountain bike racer. These guys know their motorcycles and their mountain bikes.

And that’s not all. I conjecture that they also appreciate their microbrews as illustrated by this incredibly subtle feature that I found on the Enertia. It has a cleverly disguised, non-slip six pack seat. You can’t deny me this one. That little extension on the front of the seat is the perfect place to rest a six pack without having to keep a hand on it. Although it’s not like your left hand is doing much on an Enertia without a clutch to operate.

Food Beer for thought…

So any guy with half a brain realizes that EV bikes make for excellent grocery-getters even if they don’t have saddle bags. Most EV bikes really don’t have controls on the left side that are absolutely neccessary for very short trips back from the grocery store. So it make perfect sense that you can hang a grocery bag off of the grip, and maybe even cary a six-pack of your favorite microbrew home in your left hand. Well maybe you wouldn’t go on a road like that, but I have a scenic blacktop walkway through the woods that gets me from the grocery store strip mall into my neighborhood.

Anyhow, BrammoBrian is just that kind of guy with well more than half of a brain. I didn’t realize his genius at first. I’d say I even doubted him a little. I used to look at things in his design like the seat, for instance, and wonder to myself, “Why in the heck does is extend up the tank like that? It serves no purpose other than some real estate to embroider the Brammo name on it.”

Well it hit me as I was getting ready to head home from the grocery with my bag of groceries and six pack of Shotgun Betty (insert promo for the great bunch of guys that started LoneRider Brewery in Raleigh, NC). That seat extension is not some silly design element. That’s a non-slip six-pack seat.

BrammoBrian, you’re a giant amongst men. Thank you, and I’m sorry I ever doubted you. 

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