As we’ve mentioned before, Brammo is clearly hitting the consumer market. Selling bikes through BestBuy puts them in a Consumer Electronics venue, and they’ve made comments in various places that the bike, because of it’s electronics sophistication and features, is a very comfortable fit in that neighborhood. I’d say the Owners Manual supports that statement. A lot of the readouts and interfaces you get feel more like digital cameras than motorcycles, and I, personally get the feeling that the stuff is there, well, because they can, not as much because you need it.
…of course, I’m a man who thinks that all a car radio needs is an on/off volume knob and a tuning knob.
Let’s have a look at the Table of Contents. If you click on it you’ll see it at full size, and should be able to read the copy…
The whole feel of this manual is kind of a “Welcome to your first motorcycle…” flavor, and that’s fine considering the market. You get your usual callouts for controls and maintenance points, but I’ve got to love the way the subjects were put together- You’ve got your “Getting the bike ready” parts, and then an “Are You Ready to Ride?” page. There, along with discussions of protective clothing and rider safety, you’ll find this:
I think this is a remarkably responsible statement for any motorcycle manufacturer, and in particular one that sells in a venue like BestBuy. My personal opinion is that BestBuy should partner with the MSF in some official way to promote safety training and rider education. It could be a great service to motorcycling in general, and position BestBuy in the motorcycle market- the entire motorcycle market- as a responsible supporter of the sport. Besides that- they have all those awesome huge parking lots… but that’s a subject for another post.
They go on to talk about the basic operations- turning the bike on, and charging. Again, considering it can be as simple as flipping a switch on a bike as basic as my home-build, kind of an elaborate procedure, but one that protects the operator as well as bystanders. The charging procedure is about protecting the operator, and also the battery system.
Fair enough… the batteries and BMS on any system are probably the most critical and delicate systems aboard the bike, and the danger is the impression that the system is “disarmed” when it’s sitting there charging. In fact, it’s very much a potential disaster without protective interlocks.
Here’s a look at the charging information screen. This is very interesting from a Service perspective, but you have to think most consumers are just wanting to know if the thing is ready to ride or not. More on that in a minute…
Here is the coolest thing about the Brammo manual. The Error Code readout. If you take a good look at it (and if you can see from this screenshot), you can see that they list all the Error Codes as well as what to do when you see them. It can be as simple as checking a switch or interlock, or something that’s complicated enough to require a service call.
First, it’s great to see that the system is set up like this. If you’re going to build something with complex electronics you have to build it with some way of diagnosing those systems. There’s no reason not to make these codes available to the user. (OK, I’m just coming off a 2-week tech support nightmare with HP on one of their printers. Can you tell?) At the very least, the user can tell a tech what the code is so the guy can get a grip on how to proceed… Assuming the Geek Squad at your local BestBuy is working on the bike, it gives me a nice warm feeling about how the Service network is set up to fix this thing.
Finally, there’s arguably the most important part of the book. Where, and how to get Service and Support, and the Brammo book falls very short. Maybe when you buy the thing you get a nice email from Service telling you what to do and when, but this is all you get in the manual:
Now, let me put this opinion into perspective. When you buy an Epson Pro Graphics printer- any of those big inkjet things, you’ve spent over $5000. Besides everything else, you get a nice little booklet and a self-adhesive plastic hook to stick on the printer. The booklet is a 4-page thing telling you how to get help and support. As a buyer of this printer, you’re automatically eligible for the Epson Pro Graphics Support, with a dedicated telephone number, website and email address. It sets the standard for consumer electronics support, and it is, in my humble opinion, the very least you can do for a customer who just parted with thousands of dollars to support your product.
(Ted gets down off soapbox.)
Oh, wait… one more thing, a question. Why is there no reference of the Geek Squad at BestBuy offering support? I’m guessing it’s some political, legal or other issue… maybe if you send in a request, you get referred to the closest Geek?
Now, at the very end of the book are a couple pages of “Quick Reference”. A handy thing, a nice thought, but a little unnecessary in a book that’s only, what, 84 pages or so? Maybe a little 2-sided laminated card that the owner could carry onboard would be nice?
All in all though, the Brammo Owners Manual is a very clear, concise introduction to the product, and to motorcycling in general. It certainly has enough meat to justify a good readthrough, and is certainly enough to give a novice a nice feeling of confidence.
As an owner, I think it’s got a nice balance of information, and a tone that at once introduces the product to the novice, and gives enough information to the experienced motorcyclist or EV enthusiast to help get the most out of the bike.
The final rating of the book? “Useful.”