Brammo has finally started showing the press the production version of their Empulse R electric motorcycle. It’s widely being regarded as the first electric that is on par with a gasoline powered bike in terms of both performance and experience. They key component responsible for the Empulse’s merits is its 6-speed transmission. Electric vehicles generally use a single gear ratio because they take advantage of the fact that electric motors pretty much make maximum torque at all rpm’s. This means that the motors don’t have to be spun up to high rpm to make power but the instant torque can very easily grenade a transmission designed for a gasoline engine that does. Brammo has bought exclusive rights to a 6-speed transmission designed specifically for use on electric motorcycles. The extra gear ratios allows the motor to stay at its most efficient operating point but more importantly it makes the electric motorcycle experience as engaging as what motorcycle riders are used to.
On this episode of Jay Leno’s Garage, Jay’s friend Jason Len from XK’s Unlimited brings by his hot-rodded 1970 Morgan Plus 8. The car has been modified using the Shelby Cobra formula where an American V8 is put into a small British roadster body. The car originally came with a 215 cubic inch (3.5 liter) aluminum Buick V8 which is commonly referred to as the Rover V8 in Europe. This Morgan has the 3.9 liter version of the block with forged internals and Weber carburetors on top. It’s crazy to think of that much power on a car whose frame is made of Ash with suspension designed in 1910, but that’s what makes this hobby fun.
This week’s episode of Jay Leno’s Garage features a restomod 1971 Datsun 510 owned by the prop master of the Tonight Show, Greg Elliot. Greg bought the car as an empty shell and did a full restoration on it. The engine has been punched out to a 2.3 liter and most of the drivetrain has been upgraded to beefier 280Z parts. Jay and Greg also discuss how the 510 is an affordable Japanese classic and then take it out for a spin.
The Local Motors story is a fascinating one because they’ve decided to take a new approach to building cars. They cater to niche markets with small, specialized runs of cars. Normally this isn’t a profitable business case because small runs means barely being able to pay for the expensive tooling required to produce something as complex as an automobile. Local Motors used the internet to build a community to crowd source a lot of the engineering and design development on the Rally Fighter. They use engines produced and EPA certified by established manufacturers as well as a host of accessories like the lighting and door handles to further cut costs. Having the owners come to the factory and assemble the cars under the supervision of Local Motors employees makes the cars exempt from crash testing. The Rally Fighter is an incredible success story of the power of open source communities in probably one of the most difficult industries to innovate in. The president of Local Motors stops by Jay Leno’s garage so Jay can check out the specific details of the car and how the company works. Check it out.