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2017 KTM Freeride E-XC | First Impression

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This electric bike is built on the same chassis as the KTM Freeride 250R. Still featuring 21” and 18” wheels, at first glance you think it’s a full sized bike but once you climb aboard you start to notice it’s just slightly downsized, let’s call it maybe 10%. Seat height is 36 inches and a wheelbase of 55.8 inches. The only thing that is not downsized is the weight at, 238 pounds it sounds heavy but keep in mind you don’t have the mass of a crankshaft and flywheel spinning between you legs. The biggest feature over the gas engine motorcycle is its almost silent operation and zero emissions output. Some other noticeable differences are that clutch lever and master cylinder are replaced with a handlebar mounted rear brake, and the rear brake pedal is removed. There is shifter as this is a one speed motor, however, it does have radiators as the motor is liquid cooled.

The 360 cell, 260 volt lithium-ion power pack (made by Samsung) is housed in a robust die-cast aluminum casing. This power pack has a range of up to one hour of riding. It can be charged remaining in the motorcycle via the connector located below the seat in 80 minutes (or 80% charge 50 minutes). It’s expected to last more than 700 discharge and charge cycles and still provide 80% of its initial capacity. Spare power packs are available for $3600 and can be changed in less than two minutes.

The BMS/ECU (battery management system/engine control unit) is built into the power pack battery on the Freeride and guarantees that the bike provides a spontaneous yet controllable power. A multi-functional instrument display located between steering head and seat offers the selection of 3 different modes, each providing different power delivery from soft to more aggressive. KTM refers to them as Mode 1 (Economy), Mode 2 (Enduro), and Mode 3 (Cross). The multifunction display also informs the rider about the charge of the power pack with an easy to read on the fly light display. Green indicates a full charge, orange means a 40 to 20 percent charge, red means 20 percent or less, and when the red light flashes that’s ‘bring you home’ mode.

My first impression was that this is a fun bike to ride and that it’s 238 pounds are not felt like you would expect. I didn’t know what the machine weighed before I went out, and when I got back I would have guessed much lower than 238. The chassis’ slightly shorter than normal wheelbase lets you turn in areas tighter than you would not expect. The 3 different power modes are quite noticeable. In mode 1, this bike would be a fantastic motorcycle for a rider to learn on. Modes 2-3 are much more aggressive and fun for even the most advanced rider.

Without a rear brake pedal I completely blew over several berms, but after a few minutes my brain began too remember the rear brake was where the clutch is supposed to be. If you prefer a rear brake pedal, you can install the rear brake system from a Freeride 250R gasoline bike. Under braking is one area where I would say you notice the weight of the motorcycle. These are not the Brembo units you might be familiar with on the full size KTMs, they are the Formula brakes from the 85SX, a bike is much lighter than this one.

We shot a few photos and then it was time to hit the trails. It does take some time to adapt to the electric motor’s power band. The acceleration of an electric motor is deceiving and that might also help explain my feeling that the brakes were a little weak. When chopping the throttle coming into corners or just over and obstacle, the weight transfer from the motor braking was just about right. The suspension was quite soft and bouncy but that is expected; this motorcycle is designed for play, trail, and trial riding. It is an all around fun bike and for that type of riding, the suspension works well.

Overall this bike certainly hits its intended target. It’s a “mid-sized” bike that fits a super-sized group of riders. From a complete beginner to a pro racer you can really have fun on this bike. Because it’s electric you can ride it in areas that would never happen if you were on a gas power bike. Its fun to ride, you can push it as far as you want, but it still knows its limitations. Priced at $8,299, it’s competitive with most smaller bore, full-sized motorcycles. I am not sure if this would be the first bike in my garage but as a second play bike, it could easily be at the top of the list.

For this pilot program, KTM has certified 11 dealers in the U.S. to sell and service these motorcycles. They are available in limited quantities through the following select authorized KTM dealers: 3 Bros KTM of Orange County in Costa Mesa, Calif; Moto City KTM in Avondale, Ariz.; Solid Performance KTM in Downingtown, Penn.; KTM of North Texas in Arlington, Texas; CJ KTM of Murrieta in Murrieta, Calif.; Edelman’s KTM in Troy, N.Y.; KTM of Roseville in Roseville, Calif.; Larsons Cycle in Cambridge, Minn.; Adventure Powersports KTM in McKinney, Texas; Malcolm Smith Motorsports in Riverside, Calif.; and Elite Motorsports KTM in Loveland, Colo.

  • No noise – no emissions
  • Fits a huge range of riders
  • Very fun to ride and opens up many areas you can’t go on a gas powered motorcycle
  • Riding time is maximized with easy and fast battery changes
  • A little heavy
  • Brakes are a little weak for the more aggressive rider
  • As gas bike still has a much longer range
  • High-end pricing for a play bike