While electric cars are “quietly” creeping onto our roads, the same cannot be said of electric motorbikes.
There is a vast array of electric assisted bicycles out there from shoppers to high end mountain bikes with prices from £150 to £9999, but there seems to be a bit of a gap between pedal bikes and cars.
Well actually there isn’t; potential customers can choose from a wide array of scooters, city bikes and even high performance machines – there is even a surprisingly good prototype from Harley Davidson!
BMW produce the C-evolution, using the technology from their i3 electric car with 100km range and 75mph performance. There is an American manufacturer called Zero that produces a range of lovely e-bikes at prices similar to their petrol powered bretheren, and China is producing cheap and useful e-scooters by the ship-load.
While motorcycles are often seen as “greener” than cars, the truth is most are not – a typical sports machine will rarely better 40mpg – actual eco-motorbikes are no more common than electric bikes, but they are out there and they are usually very good machines.
Honda’s NC 750, the Suzuki Inazuma, and my own Suzuki V-Strom 650 can better 80mpg, destroy traffic jams and give you the giggles when required. However those of a more pioneering nature might find that a good electric bike will suit them more.
I recently had the opportunity to test the KTM Freeride-E for an hour at a specialist electric off-road centre near Runcorn called E-Scape.
KTM have been innovators from the outset. The Austrian manufacturer has decades of success on track and dirt because they push the technology, and are not renowned for playing it safe.
This is the kind of thinking that led to the development of the FreeRide-E.
Given that it took six years for four-stroke engines to become the norm in motorcross despite the many advantages; this is clearly a sport that can be a little “stuck-in-the-mud” so for KTM to produce an electric off roader with a near five-figure price tag is somewhere between forward thinking and downright crazy.
That is right up until you turn the throttle.
This bike is dynamically as sure footed on dirt as any I have ridden. The power delivery is instant, urgent, but incredibly user friendly and predictable. The balance and sensitivity is unbelievably confidence-inspiring. At 110kg and with bottom end power of a 250 I got to try all sorts of combinations of simultaneous smile and scream.
Within a few minutes on-track I was lapping as quickly, if not quicker, than if I were burning petrol. Yet I felt there was much more available if I could push myself – I did, there was, for fifteen minutes I became an indestructible teenager – until my 45 year old skeleton begged for mercy.
What a bike.
Usefulness is not restricted to dishing out skeletal damage however – they are street legal on a provisional licence for 17 years olds and above too – the price at £9999 becomes less of an issue when a stock 125cc machine of this calibre costs around £7000.
Lets not forget too the other huge advantage of an E-bike over one with cylinders. Out in the fields this thing makes less noise than walking your dog. It appears KTM have destroyed motorcross.
They have made it socially acceptable.
Tech Specs words and pics Mark Wolens
ELECTRIC MOTOR – Permanent magnet synchronous motor in a disc armature design
OUTPUT (RATED / MAXIMUM) – 11kW (15hp) @ 5500rpm (A1) /
16kW (22hp) @ 4500rpm
TORQUE – 42Nm from 0rpm
COOLING – Liquid cooled
BATTERY – Lithium-ion KTM PowerPack (easily removable)
VOLTAGE (RATED / MAXIMUM) – 260V / 300 V
CAPACITY – 2600 Wh (around 1hr / 30 miles)
CHARGING TIME – 100%: 80min / 80%: 50min
CHARGER RATED VOLTAGE – 230V/50Hz
CHARGING CURRENT – Quick charging 13A, normal charging 10A
words and model – Mark Wolens