KTM have just unveiled the new Freeride E-XC at Hangar-7 in Austria (a collection of all things Red Bull), which they say is their statement of intent. KTM want to sing loud and proud about ‘urban mobility’ and they say this is their next step along that path. But with €20 million invested and only 3000 bikes sold, will this model convince more people to hand over their hard earned cash?
One of the chief complaints about the old bike was its range and calling a bike Cross Country is a bold move if you’re not going the distance, so a lot of the work going into the new bike is to address that issue. The new battery (supplied by Sony) gives the bike a 50% longer range, so KTM say the E-XC is good for around one and a half hours of riding. With the bike in Eco mode and regenerative braking on, that figure can be pulled out to around two hours.
If you want to ride all day, the battery can be swapped out in a few minutes and you can ride off into the sunset while the other is on a fast charge. The new battery is good for a long time too – KTM claim that the battery still retains 70% of its original capacity after 700 charge cycles and by the time you’ve reached that, we’ll probably all be flying everywhere with personal jet packs anyway.
The water-cooled electric motor has been updated too with the new bike and KTM say it delivers easy to control, linear power. Officially it makes 9kW (12hp), which means you can ride it on an A1 licence. In reality the peak power is 18kW (24.5hp) and the torque 42nm, so it rides like a 250 two-stroke without all the ring-ding and horrible maintenance. In fact the only maintenance you need to do is swap out a tiny bit of gearbox oil after every 50 hours of riding.
It’s not just the electrical gizmos that have received an update – there have been changes to the other hardware too to improve the handling and generally make the bike ride more like its petrol-powered brethren.
It’s all change in the suspension department with new WP Xplor 43 forks, bolted into a stiffer triple tree, offering improved performance. To match the fork is a new WP PDS Xplor rear shock, which continues KTM’s tradition of mounting straight to the swing arm to avoid the complexity of a linkage system.
The front brake has been sharpened up thanks to new pads and a braided hose, while a reduction in piston size at the rear is said to improve feel at the bar-mounted lever. The tyres have also been swapped out for Maxxis TrialMaxx, which are not only less damaging to the surface they’re ridden on but also offer a little more cushion to the ride. The Freeride E-XC also has wider handlebars and wider footpegs, also to help improve control.
No new bike is complete without a facelift either, so the E-XC has got brand new modern graphics plus a new digital speedo. The ignition lock has also been relocated behind the right side of the front light for more convenience.
The chief stumbling block with most electric bikes is the price, so KTM have tried to bypass this by aping the model that Gogoro have used in Taiwan. To keep prices sensible, you’ll buy the bike from the dealer for the same price as an equivalent petrol-powered bike, and then lease the battery and charger from KTM. They say that the monthly cost is about the same price as you’d spend on petrol and because KTM own the battery, they’ll swap it out if something goes wrong or the technology advances.
Interestingly KTM say this bike is the first in a new range of electric motorcycles that will bring the gap to electric bicycles and will be the future of ‘urban mobility’. At the same time they also said that they have no plans to develop this technology for regular road bikes (despite the spy pics we’ve seen of an electric Duke), which makes you wonder if KTM are heading in the right direction. Is an electric enduro bike really what we’re all desperate to ride to work on?
The Freeride E-XC is available to order immediately (pending confirmation of the UK price), with the first round of production beginning in January 2018 and delivery to follow shortly afterwards.
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