I like writing about electric or moped-like contraptions — cute little bikes that show how clever people can be with green technology, but at the end of the day, little more than novelties. It is through this lens that I view the 2015 Freeride E-SX available in the European market from KTM’s “E-Ride” line, and I gotta say that I like what I see. This is a real bike with real capabilities, and it demonstrates that electric-vehicle technology is beginning to mature – at least enough to see a serious dirt bike join the burgeoning ranks of street style, electric motorcycles.

Continue reading for my review of the 2015 KTM Freeride E-SX.

  • 2015 KTM Freeride E-SX
  • Year:
    2015
  • Make:
  • Engine:
    Permanent magnet synchronous motor in a disc armature design
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    15
  • Torque @ RPM:
    31
  • Price:
    € 10995

Design

2015 KTM Freeride E-SX Exterior
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2015 KTM Freeride E-SX Exterior
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KTM started out with the proven Freeride design when it built this purely off-road machine. Unlike its brethren, the street-legal E-XC and E-SM, this model comes sans lights, and is set up with closed-circuit racing in mind. Ground clearance and suspension travel are on par with comparable gas-powered bikes, and the performance of the electric motor is sufficient for the most aggressive racing moves. Bottom line; it’s a KTM dirt bike, and it looks (and acts) like a KTM dirt bike.

Chassis

2015 KTM Freeride E-SX Exterior
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A chrome-moly frame uses the motor as a stressed member, and has aluminum reinforcement at the critical areas for a stiff, but light, frame assembly. A fiber-reinforced, polyamide subframe keeps the weight down at the seat and rear mudguard. Speaking of weight, you can rotate the footpeg mounts 180 degrees for an 8 mm (0.314 inch) offset that shifts your weight more to the rear for lightning-fast handling and traction in the turns. Seat height is adjustable as well. You can run with the stock, 900 mm (35.4 inch) height, or you can lower it by 25 mm (almost an inch) with the kit from KTM.

KTM took advantage of the “no-clutch” drivetrain and moved the rear brake control to the left handlebar lever, similar to a bicycle.

The factory used the same quality suspension components it would use on one of its similarly sized gas bikes, for comparable performance and capabilities. A WP PDS monoshock damps the swingarm, and 43 mm, WP, inverted forks support and stiffen the front. Both ends of the bike get a full 250 mm (9.84 inch) of travel, so it is well into dirt-bike territory in that department.

Formula brakes bind the wheels via the snazzy-looking, wave-cut discs. The single 260 mm front disc and 230 mm rear disc were designed specifically for the Freeride models, and they combine grippy braking with superior heat dissipation. KTM took advantage of the “no-clutch” drivetrain, and moved the rear brake control to the left handlebar lever, similar to a bicycle. While I am sure that one can get used to that, I fear my muscle memory would have me locking up the rear end every time I grab a fistful of “phantom clutch.”

Drivetrain

2015 KTM Freeride E-SX Exterior
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Now we get to the onion, folks. So far the bike has looked like pretty much any another dirt bike. This changes radically when we start talking about the mill. KTM went with a brushless, permanent-magnet electric motor to make the rear wheel go roundy-round, regardless of the conditions. The motor cranks out a respectable 16 kilowatts (21.5 horsepower), and a whopping 42 Newton-meters (30.9 pound-feet) of torque. Best of all, the torque doesn’t “come on,” it’s there from the start! As soon as you crack the “throttle,” the torque is there in all its glory, so you have instant power at your command whenever you need it.

The motor cranks out a respectable 16 kilowatts (21.5 horsepower), and a whopping 42 Newton-meters (30.9 pound-feet) of torque.

The battery pack consists of 360 lithium-ion cells that take about an hour to deplete, depending upon your riding style, of course. You can fully charge the battery in about 80 minutes, or you can quick charge it to 80 percent in about 50 minutes. Theoretically, you could ride continuously all day with a second battery and a power source for the charger. Mercifully, the battery is designed for easy removal and installation, so you won’t have to waste valuable time monkeying around with your bike on race day.

The relationship between the motor and the battery is managed by the Engine Control Unit (ECU). This little water-cooled gem monitors the load and the available power to keep motor output stable under varying conditions. A compact display on what would normally be the fuel tank displays the remaining battery power, and acts as a rider interface allowing you to choose one of three riding modes to moderate the available power and prolong battery life.

Price

You can score the Freeride E-SX for €10.995, and that price includes the satisfaction you will garner from being a good steward of the environment.

He Said

“I realize there are several manufacturers exploring the electric streetbike market, but there seems to be something exceptionally tough about an electric dirt bike – especially one that claims to be ready-to-race out of the box. Bikes like this bode well for the future of electric-vehicle technology.”

She Said

My wife and fellow writer, Allyn Hinton, says, "I was just looking at Energica bikes, and marveling at what they can do with electric motors now, so it doesn’t surprise me that off-road machines are so mean. Watching these fly effortlessly across the terrain, it’s like watching a motocross video with the sound turned off. There is no obnoxious scream of the engine, just a tinny whine as they power through the hills and mud."

Specifications

Electric Motor: Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor In A Disc Armature Design
Output (Rated Maximum): 11 Kilowatts (15 Horsepower) at 5,500 Rpm / 16 Kilowatts (21.5 Horsepower) at 4,500 Rpm
Torque: 42 Newton-Meters (30.9 Pound-Feet) From 0 rpm
Cooling: Liquid Cooled
Battery: Lithium-Ion KTM PowerPack (Easily Removable)
Voltage (Rated Maximum): 260 V / 300 V
Capacity: 2,600 Wh
Charging Time: 100 Percent in 80 minutes / 80 Percent in 50 minutes
Charger Rated Voltage: 230 V/50 Hz
Charging Current: Quick Charging 13 A, Normal Charging 10 A
Frame/Subframe: Perimeter Steel-Aluminum Composite High-Strength Polyamide, ABS Plastic
Front Suspension: WP USD Ø 43 Mm
Rear Suspensions: WP PDS Shock Absorber
Brake Front/Rear: Formula Disc Brakes Ø 260/230 Mm
Wheels Front/Rear: 1.60 X 21 inches, 2.15 X 18 inches Giant Rims
Tires Front/Rear: 2.75-21 inches; 120/90-18 inches
Wheelbase: 1418 ±10 Mm (55.8 inches±0.4 inches)
Ground Clearance: 340 Mm(13.4 inches)
Seat Height: 910 Mm (35.8 inches)
Weight Ready to Race: 106 Kilograms (233.7 Pounds)
Price: €10.995
What do you think?
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