More Power, Longer Range

Power capacity is one of the major hurdles EV bikes have to overcome, and KTM seeks to address that issue with its newest electro-tastic Freeride E-XC. This is a second-generation machine that packs half-again more power than the previous gen along with revised graphics and bodywork for a new look as well. KTM’s off-road experience is evident in the lightweight, agile frame and long-stroke suspension components that make this a truly capable machine that definitely furthers the cause of EV bikes in general.

KTM Freeride E-XC Design

This thing is completely at home once the blacktop turns to brown.

If you ignore the engine area, the rest of the E-XC looks much like a regular, run-of-the-mill motocross machine. Full-on proper knobbies and off-road-tastic wire wheels play right into the look, as does the tripletree-mount mudguard that leaves plenty of room for the front wheel to pump. A compact flyscreen doubles as a housing for the recessed headlight, and the lack of turn signals and mirrors keeps the front end clean and the gear limited to the absolute essentials. In other words; not legal for use on public streets, not even almost. That’s OK though, ’cause this thing is completely at home once the blacktop turns to brown.

Short risers and an almost-flat handlebar place the pilot’s hands right in line with the steering axis in a bid to ensure accurate control and feedback with room to stand on the pegs for technical work. The flyline is a bit unusual since there’s no actual fuel tank, nor is there need for one, and that allows the bench-style seat to extend quite far forward, no doubt to cushion your wobbly bits when pulling extreme maneuvers. It rides in the most subtle of swales as it follows the slightly inclined angle of the subframe with no actual pillion area, just more room for weight shifts to the rear to help leverage the front end.

The subframe itself is razor thin in profile with a stubby mudguard extension to complete the coverage and a tiny taillight nestled in between. It does carry a pair of small cheek fairings that act as a shroud for the radiator and add a bit of that classic spiky panache that marks all of KTM’s products.

KTM Freeride E-XC Chassis

2018 KTM Freeride E-XC
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The chassis itself is typical KTM: capable and sturdy enough for rough terrain.

The perimeter-style frame is made of welded Cro-Moly members with bolt-on, forged aluminum alloy sections and a high-strength polymer subframe to complete the standing structure. A yoke-style aluminum swingarm articulates the rear wheel with a WP PDS (progressive damping system) shock absorber to deliver low-speed compression, high-speed compression and rebound damping adjustments on top of a stepless preload adjuster.

Up front, WP’s Xplor 43 forks take care of business with 43 mm fork tubes and adjustable compression- and rebound-damping features that can be dialed in at the fork caps. Suspension stroke is generous with 9.84 inches of travel at the front axle and 10.23 inches of travel out back that is sure to soak up some pretty severe abuse before it starts to rattle the filling out of your mouth.

The brake discs are of the wave-cut variety with a certain self-cleaning capacity that endears them to the off-road crowd, and rightfully so. Up front is a new, 260 mm disc that’s 1 mm thicker this year and a four-pot, opposed-piston caliper with a twin-piston anchor and 230 mm disc out back that use new pads with reduced-diameter bores to enhance feedback and control. CNC-milled hubs and lightweight aluminum spokes make up the wheels with tubeless Maxxis Trialmaxx hoops to make a positive connection to the terrain with a 21-incher up front and an 18 out back.

Frame: Perimeter steel-aluminum composite frame
Front Suspension/ Travel: WP upside-down Ø 43 mm/ 9.8 inches (250 mm)
Rear Suspension/ Travel: WP PDS shock absorber/ 10.2 inches (260 mm)
Steering Head Angle: 67 °
Front Brake: 260 mm Disc brake
Rear Brake: 230 mm Disc brake

KTM Freeride E-XC Drivetrain

2018 KTM Freeride E-XC
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The new PowerPack stores 50 percent more juice for up to 1.5 hours ride time and full recharge in an hour and 40 minutes.

KTM beefed up the drivetrain for 2018 with a new PowerPack that stores 50 percent more juice than the previous version to deliver up to an hour and a half of ride time. Part of this apparent increased capacity is due to the new regenerative feature that puts some power back into the bank while you’re braking or coasting. The new PowerPack is rated at 3.9 kWh — half-again more than the previous gen — and it’s backwards compatible so you can plug it right into the first-run E-XC models.

As for longevity, the factory claims it will hold up to 70-percent of the full original capacity after 700 cycles. The control unit and brushless electric motor have coolant circulating through them to carry off the waste heat that is then dissipated to the atmosphere through a radiator. Now, I’ve seen some oil-cooled units about, but this might be the first one that actually uses water-cooling to deal with the electronics-killing heat the 18 kW (24-horsepower) generates.

On top of all that, the E-XC rocks a ride-mode feature delivering three levels of performance that extends the range at the bottom end, and at the top end, makes this electro-tastic ride perform on par with comparable smoker bikes. You’ll need a 230 VAC circuit to charge the pack, and you can expect a zero-to-full charge time of 110 minutes with an 80-percent charge in 75 minutes. While the charger’s voltage requirement is less than ideal, the circuit in your laundry room should be able to take care of business.

As for top speed, who cares, it’s a dirtbike. Oh, and it’s a direct drive, so there’s no clunky/heavy gearbox or shifter to deal with.

Torque: 31 lb-ft (42 Nm)
Peak Power: 24 hp (18kW)
Transmission: Single speed transmission
Primary Drive: 1:2.4
Secondary Gear Ratio: 11:48
Chain: 5/8 x 1/4"

KTM Freeride E-XC Pricing

2018 KTM Freeride E-XC
- image 819442
Extra PowerPacks add $3.6k to the already stiff $8.3k price, but are hot-swappable.

The sticker shock is a bit stiff; at $8,299 it falls out at the top of the range for a weekend funbike. Extra PowerPacks will set you back another $3,600, but, if you ride near a charging source, you can hot-swap the batteries and theoretically ride almost uninterrupted for all-day fun.

KTM Freeride E-XC Competitors

2019 Zero Motorcycles FX
- image 812115
2018 KTM Freeride E-XC
- image 819463
It's a stretch for the E-XC to compete against the power and performance offsets offered by other dirt-oriented EVs.

Small EV dirtbikes are still a rarity. Sure, there are a number of cheap Chinese-made rides out there, but they aren’t even a blip on my radar for obvious reasons. As far as competition from other heavyweights, Zero Motorcycles probably comes closest with its FX model, but even that’s a stretch for the E-XC to compete against due to power and performance offsets, especially since the more-capable FX rolls for only a fistful of dollars more.

He Said

“Ya know, its easy to look at this ride and scoff, but I’d point out how far battery-powered bikes have come in such a short time. Plus, one has to consider the rate of improvement as much or more than the current state of things, and in that light, the E-XC looks pretty damn good, at least as a big-boy toy. Don’t believe it? Just look for action shots and try to find pictures with both wheels on the ground. Bonne chance.

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “Ha! Let’s count how many pics show both wheels in the air. That’s telling enough. More power and faster recharge times is imperative and no less important when you’re talking about strictly offroad riding. A generator capable of recharging the battery, if you wanted to drag a generator out into the woods with you, would run you about $2k, but speaking only for myself, I’d think an hour and a half of off-road activity would satisfy my recreational desire for one day. It just makes it more enjoyable for me on an electric bike without the loud BRRRRRRRAAP BRRRRAAAAAPPPP shattering the quiet of the woods.”

KTM Freeride E-XC Specifications

Motor & Drivetrain:
Torque: 31 lb-ft (42 Nm)
Peak Power: 24 hp (18kW)
Transmission: Single speed transmission
Primary Drive: 1:2.4
Secondary Gear Ratio: 11:48
Chain: 5/8 x 1/4"
Chassis:
Frame: Perimeter steel-aluminum composite frame
Front Suspension: WP upside-down Ø 43 mm
Rear Suspension: WP PDS shock absorber
Steering Head Angle: 67 °
Suspension Travel (Front): 9.8 inches (250 mm)
Suspension Travel (Rear): 10.2 inches (260 mm)
Front Brake: 260 mm Disc brake
Rear Brake: 230 mm Disc brake
Dimensions & Capacities:
Range: 77
Wheelbase: 55.8 ± 0.4 inches (1418 ± 10 mm)
Ground Clearance: 13.4 inches(340 mm)

Further Reading

Zero FX

2019 Zero Motorcycles FX
- image 812116

See our review of the Zero FX.

KTM

ALLYN IMAGES - DO NOT DELETE
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Read more KTM news.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: zeromotorcycles.com, ktm.com (photographer credit: F. Montero. R. Schedl)

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