Brammo, the start up electric motorcycle company which just partnered with mega electronics supplier Flextronics, and is working on a second round of funding, is now working on moving beyond Best Buy. It seems the mega-electronics-retailer has not done much to promote Brammo motorcycles, and they are still only available in a handful of stores, a year after the launch where I first rode one.
What’s interesting is that Best Buy Ventures is and always has been an investor in Brammo. So it is in their interest to see these bikes selling, and since Best Buy is not able to turn it into the next Wii, I think it best they leave the sales process to retailers with more expertise—motorcycle dealerships.
Finding a New Business Model For Success
Motorcycle dealers are entrenched in the old paradigm and do not make their money on motorcycle sales. Like most vehicle dealers, their service departments are where the bulk of their income comes from. So what incentive does a gas-bike dealership have to sell a product which takes up as much valuable floor space but promises very little in the way of future income—especially when that vehicle requires a service technician with a completely different mindset and education?
So, any motorcycle dealers out there, I invite you speak up in the comments how you feel about selling electric motorcycles. On my block in downtown LA, there is a realtor and a DJ supply store selling electric mopeds. But these retailers can’t offer aftermarket service, and I wonder who they recommend for that? If you have a particular dealer (or ten) in mind that would be open to selling electric motorcycles, you can suggest them to Brammo here.
Electric Motorcycles—Fun For Both New Riders and Old
Now, the great thing about small electric motorcycles like the Brammo Enertia, or the Zero, Native, etc. is that they’re excellent beginner bikes. Learning to ride a motorcycle requires a heightened awareness of the world around you, and as CEO Craig Bramscher describes it, the “walking & chewing gum” aspect of learning to release the clutch and roll on the gas smoothly is quite distracting for new riders. I know from my own experience and watching an MSF Beginner class one morning that this is true. Electric bikes eliminate that layer of complexity and keep the new rider’s mind free to concentrate on what the cars around them are doing.
As for more experienced motorcyclists, since that first test ride last year, I’ve taken my brother Gary and a friend (noted Mavizen stunt rider Thomas Burbank) on test rides up into the Hollywood Hills on Brammo Enertias and we all had a blast. Both men are significantly heavier than me, so I beat them off the line on acceleration, but they both told me the bike was much more fun and peppy than they’d expected it to be.
Gary and I tested the Zero S as well, and he preferred the Zero while I preferred the Brammo. The suspension felt quite different on each, so it’s worth trying them both. Little nugget if you've read this far: Hollywood Electrics in LA is having a Zero demo day and offering unusually low pricing on Zeros this Sunday only. Swing by Hollywood Electrics and try them all! Even the $17,000 Roehr superbike, if you dare…
I'm seriously thinking I want to buy a Brammo Empulse when they’re released next year, but not from Best Buy. I’m tired of living in a country where corporations have more control over the government than voters—so I don’t want to support companies that work to mold the political landscape of this country to the extent that Best Buy has. Charities need their money, not politicians. I've survived the past 6 months without setting foot in Target, so anything is possible. I'd much rather be “buycotting” a la Carrotmob than boycotting though!
Author's Note: A similar article may have appeared in your RSS feed yesterday and accidentally made it on to Twitter. I wrote that one thinking the deal was finalized then later learned it is not. This article is an addition and correction to that one.