American electric motorcycle maker, Brammo, has built in sound to its vehicle. The chips that manage the operation of this electric motorcycle will create sounds to let folks know you're there. There's a special sound for the acceleration from zero to 10 MPH. You can then customize your cycle's "running sound." Want to sound like a steam train? The clip-clop of a shod draft horse? Low-flying plane? Suit your fancy. You can even put a pencil cam on the front and record your travels. Brammo's currently building their Enertia cycles in preparation for retail sales which will begin at some Pacific Coast BestBuy stores this summer. The price will be about $12,000. Brammo got some publicity earlier this year when they entered two cycles in a zero-emission race in Britain. Here you can see YouTube video of the winning cycle. Brammo finished third. And here's one of the two Brammos that ran on Isle of Man. RAMPING UP I spoke recently with Brammo's Adrian Stewart at the company HQ and factory in Ashland, Oregon. He says Brammo can build a new cycle each hour on the assembly line. They have space and plans to run two lines simultaneously. An assembly team was working on new Enertias while we talked. The Best Buy distribution requires each participating retail location to have trained sales and service personnel and each site must get the appropriate state license as a car dealer. Brammo is deep in the licensing and training process with its BestBuy partners. Much more costly and complicated than online sales. Brammo is looking forward to various retail rebates to buyers. The federal goverment will give a 10% on purchase price, says Stewart. California will refund allsales tax. He expects such programs will spread. Italy gives a 30% rebate on electeic sales there, he pointed out. THE MACHINE Top speed: 50 MPH. Range: 35-45 miles. Recharges in less than 3 hours, making it an ideal commute vehicle for urban workers. The Brammo is American designed and assembled. The batteries come from Valence, assembled in the U.S. using cells made in China. Valence is based in Austin and makes batteries for a variety of uses, military and civilian. Each Enertia model uses six Valence lithium-ion phosphate batteries in a custom-designed chasis. The chasis and the operating software and much of the control system is custom designed and specifically built for Brammo. The chasis is aluminum, the fenders strong, lightweight plastic. The tires, axles and other standard mechnical parts are off-the-shelf. The bikem, says Stewart, is put together for 34 speraret syub-assemblies. Any one of those can be quickly replaced if needed, eliminating the comoplex and costly part-by-part mystery search needed to fix standard gasoline or diesel engines. Here you can see Brammo's specs on their Enertia cycles. They calculate the equivalent of 354 miles per gallon of gas. They calculate less than one-sixth as much carbon emission for Enertia as for a standard cycle, less than half of a Tesla Roadster. OTHER ELECTRIC MOTORCYCLE COMPETITORS Electric Motorsports, winner of the Isle of Man race. They are based in Oakland, California, and sell their cycles and scooters online. A sales rep there said they have a handful of brickand mortar dealers in the U.S. and two in Europe. This is their second year of production. Then there's Mission Motors which proclaims its mission is to change the world. Rhode Island's Vectrix debuted their plug-in scooter earlier this year.Clearly the electric two-wheeler race is on in the U.S. We are not alone. As Stewart pointed out, China built and sold to its domestic market over 20-million electric bikes, mopeds, last year alone. SCOOTER OR CYCLE? Stewart explained to me that the legal and po[pular teminology for what's a motorcycle and what's a scooter is complex, confusing and inexact. Each state motor vehicle agency has differing standards. In general the scooter has the smaller engine, the cycle is larger but the demarcation line varies. When you get into international definitions, it's even hazier.