2014 KTM Freeride E

Watts With All The Amps?

 


Story By Chris Denison · Photos By Jonty Edmunds

2014 KTM Freeride E

Tiny cars. Small but powerful cups of coffee. Fanny packs. Diesel gas. Techno. Europe is known for a lot of items, mainly because the quality of these items is better than anywhere else in the world. That’s not to say that small automobiles and bumping sound beats are completely unique to the area, but it can be argued that Pounds own these markets purely mainly because they’ve chosen to. Similarly, both United states and Asian companies have already created several iterations of electric motorbikes, and many of them are decent attempts at bridging the gap between performance and technology. However , as it happens that the Europeans are already several actions ahead in the electric bike video game, thanks to the dedicated efforts of KTM’s engineers in Austria. But in contrast to a high-octane cup of flavored coffee, you can’t get your mitts on one of those bikes if you live on the left side of the Atlantic.

2014 KTM Freeride E

The only cause I got to test one of the KTM Freeride E machines was by being in the right place at the right time plus knowing the right people. While in Austria for the Erzberg Rodeo, I was offered a chance to ride one of only 500 preproduction KTM electric bikes, which are scheduled to be available in 2014 but just in Europe. According to KTM US, there is a lot of interest in the Freeride (both the electric and 350cc four-stroke–powered models), but it’s nevertheless up in the air if KTM will bring these to the United States. The preproduction run is a test of kinds to see how the European market will react.

2014 KTM Freeride E

I’ll cut straight to the chase: This is by far the best electric off-road motorcycle that I’ve ridden, and I’ve pretty much tested them all. What makes the Freeride E so good is that it was actually designed by off-road motorcycle-experienced engineers, and the battery plus motor technology used are both high quality. I’ve ridden electric bikes that were built by moto-savvy engineers, however the motor package has typically already been subpar. On the flip side, I’ve experienced fantastic electric technology in a chassis that is better suited for a toy shop. Never before have I ridden an electric bike that combines both performance and leading-edge technology, and the end result is as capable and fun while you would expect.

2014 KTM Freeride E

When you first swing a leg over the Freeride E, you notice that all of the components are natural feeling; despite the nontraditional powerplant, the perimeter steel-aluminum composite frame and ergonomics put the rider in a good place. The seat height is around 35 inches, so the bike is fairly midsized, feeling more like a tall 85 than a 250F. The handlebar and footpegs are properly spaced, and apart from the flat seat, the bike is more like a normal dirt bike than you’d initially expect. Interestingly enough, KTM’s electric bike borrows technology from Husaberg by way of the hi-strength plastic subframe. Additionally , the Freeride E uses the fork of an 85 SX, so the handling is not only proven but also stable enough to deal with the bike’s claimed 209-pound bodyweight. When charging into rough areas or barreling down a slope, I noticed excellent hold up in the front side and surprisingly good bottoming level of resistance. The WP PDS shock had a somewhat quick feeling to it, nearly as if the stroke were a few inches too short, yet it nevertheless maintained enough progression to settle in turns while not blowing through too rapidly when pushed hard.

2014 KTM Freeride E

The permanent magnet synchronous motor on the Freeride E features three different roadmaps. The No . 1 setting provides a mellower curve that takes some of the hit out and makes the bike more manageable. I preferred the No . 2 setting, which is one of the most aggressive of the three and allowed for extreme acceleration when traction was present, while the No . 3 setting was middle of the road. Like a spooled-up remote-controlled car, the single-speed Freeride E will break loose in slick terrain if you simply pin it, and the claimed maximum output of 30 horsepower causes the bike to haul butt once traction is found. With some moderate brake dragging and a slight quantity of finesse, you can harness this reactive delivery and put the power to the ground in a deliberate manner. Even in the aggressive map mode, the motor is easy enough to modulate that the bike can negotiate rock areas and nasty obstacles. I certainly not thought I’d say this regarding an electric bike, but the Freeride Electronic could definitely be made to go around a good EnduroCross track. From the mid to the top-end, the motor continues to increase in output before topping out at full throttle. It’s not that it signals off suddenly or dies; the acceleration just kind of ends. Another cool feature of the KTM is that there’s much less of a delay between the throttle and the back tire than other electric bikes, which have a “freewheeling hub” sensation of the motor catching up to the rear wheel’s velocity. This in itself is one feature which makes the Freeride E feel much more dirt bike-like than most e-bikes.

2014 KTM Freeride E

Contrary to what most people think whenever they see the left-side lever on the Freeride E, this KTM is not pre-loaded with a clutch. That’s actually just a rear brake over there—and a clear , crisp one at that. Correspondingly, the front brake (over on the right side, where it belongs) is one of the grabbiest and most precise of any bike I’ve ever ridden; the KTM mechanics warned me about this many times. With a claimed charging time of 90 minutes, the Freeride E’s lithium-ion battery held a charge plus felt strong during the 45-plus minutes of photos and trail driving that I rode it for, and that was after it had been used by a then-injured Taddy Blazusiak to search around the Erzberg Rodeo Arena. Naturally, this is one fun little device, and the fact that it was built by those who ride and understand the tech side is significant. Cross your fingers that KTM decides to begin importing these, because the Freeride E would be a fun and certainly dominant addition to the US electric bike market.

2014 KTM Freeride E

Want to see this bike in the US? Send KTM a good e-mail and let the company know that you will consider buying a Freeride E if this were available at your local dealer!


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