I’m riding through one of the world’s most famous playgrounds for motorcyclists and outdoor enthusiasts alike. As I zoom past hundreds of fellow riders, their jaws drop. My bike silently whizzes by them. I’m part of a small group of journalists riding Energica Experia—the world’s first electric touring bike—through the Dolomites.
Energica has sold electric motorcycles since 2014 and has been the sole manufacturer of the FIM MotoE racing series since 2019. The Italian company is all about electric mobility, though. Specifically, Energica was founded by motorcyclists who put the motorcycle riding experience above simple technological feats. The firm has three sporty road models already, all category-leading in power, torque, DC fast charging, and sustained speed. Now, with the new 22.5 kWh battery and motor, Energica is bringing the world’s first electric touring motorcycle on the market, with a relatively substantial range to boot.
The Dolomiti Experience
The northern part of Italy is a special place. It’s officially Italian, but it’s at the cultural crossroads of Austria and South Tyrol. You’ll easily get by speaking Italian, German, or English. Riding through here every year as part of my tour guide duties for Blue Rim Tours, I know the roads well and am no stranger to the views. Still, waking up and seeing a blue sky and the beautiful massif outside my hotel balcony, I’m in awe. It’s almost the same feeling I got when I received the press materials. An electric touring bike?
In our June ‘22 issue, we dove into Zero and LiveWire. It was clear that they are solid choices for commuting and day rides. Touring, however, was not a word you could use in the same sentence with them. Harley-Davidson even hesitated to loan us a bike, since we’re a travel-focused publication. The world seems to spin a little faster these days, because just a few months later, we get an electric motorcycle capable of touring.
I know what you want to know, so let’s just get right to it. The Experia has a 261-mile city range and a 160-mile combined range. More on that later. Considering my main squeeze is a Triumph Scrambler with about a 160-180-mile range, the Experia does indeed appear tour-worthy. But can it live up to the expectations?
The Black Box
We pile into a taxi van to reach the launch site for our test ride. There are no straight roads here, and it’s either up or down. The taxi driver expertly navigates the uphill switchbacks one after the other. Squeezed to the window seat, it takes all my focus to keep my breakfast down.
I walk into the presentation room, and instead of finding a cutaway engine display, I look at a large black case surrounded by the motorcycle frame, the motor, and the inverter. It wouldn’t be until I actually ride the Experia that my juices start to flow. The feeling, and appreciation for the engineers, is apparently much greater when looking at an internal combustion engine.
It’s not fair. Energica’s engineers are wizards, too, but I’m still standing here looking at a black box. What’s inside? It’s their new battery, with a rechargeable energy storage system geometry, increased capacity, and more centralized mass. At 22.5 kWh, it has the largest battery capacity out of any motorcycle on the market today. As the only bike with a Level 3/DC fast charger as a standard option, the battery takes 40 minutes to charge from 0-80%.
Why 80%? To elongate the life of a lithium battery, you should always be between 20-80%. Too low or too high will shorten its lifespan.
On the back of the battery is the motor, and it’s a brand-new design weighing 22 pounds less than the previous one. With both old and new on display, the Experia’s motor looks only half as big. It has a fun acronym—PMASynRM, or Permanent Magnet-Assisted Synchronous Reluctance Motor. This type is also the way electric cars are going. It’s safer, greener, lighter, and cheaper due to the need for fewer magnets. The old motor would lock up in case of a short, while the new one will freespin. It sits much lower in the chassis, improving the handling. The Experia tips the scale at 573 pounds, making it 40 pounds heavier than a Ducati Multistrada V4 and 70 pounds heavier than a BMW S 1000 XR.
Riding the Experia
Considering Energica has been around for less than a decade, I’m impressed with the Experia parked on its kickstand. It looks really good, not that I expected anything less from an Italian manufacturer. I try to fiddle with the seat to see what’s underneath. One of the techs assures me there’s nothing important. Great. One less thing to worry about. On the left side of the “tank” is a flap with the CAN bus port, while the charging port resides on the right side.
I’m on a pre-production bike, but the handlebar looks homemade. The routing of cables and the zip ties show the Experia is still in its teething phase. The handlebar controls provide a good tactile experience. The buttons are all quality, and straddling the bike, surfing through the menu displayed on the five-inch TFT color display, I’m delighted with the relative simplicity. You can choose between seven riding modes (Eco, Urban, Rain, Sport, and three custom modes), select from four regenerative braking modes (high, medium, low, and off), and pick one of six traction control modes. You can’t deactivate the eABS completely because Euro 5 only allows that if there’s an off-road map, and this is a street motorcycle. It’s great to see they went with Bosch, the leader in this technology, instead of developing their own.
Set to Sport mode, high regenerative braking, and medium traction control, I hit the starter button. Silence. I’m ready to go!
My test bike has 98% battery. Immediately, switchbacks let me demo the easy handling of the Experia. The 17-inch wheels no doubt help, but at no point do I give the weight any thought. The 33-inch seat height with a narrow midsection lets my legs reach the ground planted during stops and starts.
The regenerative braking at the highest level provides wonderful “engine braking.” The Dolomites can turn into a traffic jam with bicyclists, cars, buses, vans, and motorcycles all enjoying the same tarmac. I’m only using a little throttle going downhill, closing it ahead of the switchback before opening it again. At these relaxed speeds, there’s no need to touch the Brembo brakes. I glance down on the dash and see I’ve gained 2%. In all my years of riding, I’ve never been able to gain gas on the go. My smile is so big it’s digging into the pads of my helmet.
The roads around here are technical. On a regular motorcycle, I’d be constantly shifting gears, braking, and generally paying attention to my inputs. On the Experia, I’m mainly using the throttle. Switchbacks are a breeze. The motorcycle doesn’t get upset by a myriad of inputs and the whole riding experience is smooth. You won’t have to worry about knocking helmets with a passenger on an electric bike.
The test ride consisted of only one-and-a-half hours—entirely too short to actually test the Experia’s tour-worthiness. It has a cruise control, which I couldn’t try out in the neverending curves. I returned the bike with 77% battery left, so I didn’t have the chance to ride it out and go through the charging process. Given the quarter of the battery I used and the mileage I rode, I surmise a 180-mile range is achievable.
Energica engineers spent a lot of time in the wind tunnel to improve the bike’s aerodynamics. Their daunting task was to provide wind and weather protection riders expect from a touring bike without negatively affecting the range. According to the spec sheet, the bike should please a touring rider looking to ride 150-200 miles per day. After looking at all of the average speeds stored on the motorcycles in our garage, it seems that 40 mph is what to calculate with. Traveling curvy mountain roads with regenerative braking should make for a fun and full day of riding. Only if you start riding on the highway at 80 mph will your range drop to 130 miles.
While the electric vehicle (EV) charging network is expanding, most charging points are still in towns and along major highways. A touring motorcyclist, at least in North America, travels along backroads where fast-charging stations aren’t as quick to appear. A lunch-time recharge at 22 kWh would make this worry moot, but having to only rely on an overnight charge complicates planning.
Of course, it’s achievable. Our own John Flores rode coast to coast on a Zero DSR years ago when there were even fewer charging stations. There are also dozens of apps for finding and paying for a charge. Energica is working on its own app, and I hope this aspect of the EV industry will become more user friendly.
For all the things the Experia does well, there is some room for improvement. The location of the kickstand is hard to get to, but the seat is one of the most comfortable OEM seats I’ve ever parked my butt on. Talking about parking, a parking brake would be a nice feature as the Experia can roll without a gear holding it. The TFT display is beautiful and even worked great in direct sunlight. You can choose between seven riding profiles, but turn signals aren’t self-canceling.
We look forward to receiving a long-term test unit at the office to take it on tours through the southern Appalachians. For $23,750, it sure does look like a competitive option for a fun touring motorcycle. The bike’s ergonomics, extremely comfortable seat, and ease of riding sure put this in my own strong consideration set.
2022 Energica Experia
+ world’s first electric touring bike, 26,000-mile service interval, lots of value for the money, quality out of the box
– no preload adjustment knob, tour-worthiness not fully proven
Distributor: Energica Motor Company
Power: 85lb-ft (115 Nm), 664lb-ft at the wheel, 12500rpm redline
Load Capacity: 436.7lbs, GVWR 1,009.7lbs
Seat Height: 33.3in
Battery: Maximum capacity 22.5kWh (19.6kWh nominal)
Charge Time: Fast charge DCFC Level 3 Mode 4, 248mi/h or 4mi/min; Slow Charge Level 2 Mode 2/3, 39.5mi/h
Riding Range: 261mi (city), 160mi (combined), 130mi (80mph)
Colors: Bormio Ice