Is the future now? KTM is betting on it. With the launch of its Freeride E in other markets around the world in 2014, the Austrian company claims to have sold more than 3,000 units and also claims to be the world’s largest electric motorcycle manufacturer. We are already talking about the second generation of this bike with plenty of changes.
Via live webcast, KTM informed the world motorcycle media about overall how the company is doing and more specifically how excited it is about the 2018 Freeride E-XC. For a look and review of the previous model Freeride E, click here, but understand that there are many changes to the 2018 model, which we will get to presently.
First off, the power. The ’18 model gets a new battery made by Sony (previously Samsung) and it is claimed to hold 50 percent more power. It is rated at 3.9 kWh, which gives the rider an estimated 1.5- to 2-hour range. But that varies wildly and the presenters made it clear that many factors, including the size of the rider, the mode selected, the terrain, the aggressiveness of the rider, all contribute to the range. To put in terms of a gas bike, the engineers claim that it has about 25 hp and makes 42 Nm of torque, close to what the KTM 250 EXC-F makes.
New for 2018 is “regen” (the ability to regenerated electricity and put it back in the battery) in the mellow ride mode. Out of the three ride modes—mellow, Standard, and Sport—the Mellow ride mode is the only one with regen, and the engineers explained that it adds a lot of engine-braking that would be detrimental to extreme riding.
The chassis is unchanged. It still is part steel and part aluminum with a composite subframe. What was interesting is that the engineers explained why they added the aluminum section since KTM has always been a firm believer in a steel chassis. While the steel chassis adds comfort and positive flex characteristics, according to KTM, the aluminum was added to stiffen up where the battery sits because an all-steel frame moved too much for the battery.
Suspension-wise, the ’18 Freeride E-XC will have the WP Xplor fork and shock, which is what is on its EXC-F and XC-W models. The techs didn’t say what size (mm) the fork is so it might not be the exact same, but they did say it is still a split-function closed-cartridge fork with compression damping on the top of one fork tube and rebound on the other. There is no linkage and the PDS shock should be identical to what is on the EXC-F/XC-W models. This is exciting news since the previous model was lacking some performance for serious riding. Braking power was also increased by way of upgrading the brake components, adding a wider bar, using the MX front fender, and adding the standard KTM handguards and front mask/light, all to move the bike more toward serious off-roader from playbike.
The presenters said that production would start in January 2018 and bikes should be available shortly after that. They did not say how much it will cost, but if the 2017 bike is any indication, the price tag will be just north of $8,000. You can buy more than one battery and KTM’s goal with swapping batteries is to make it just as fast as putting gas in a normal gas tank. But that will cost you a whole bunch more dinero. Lastly, the presenters said that since e-bikes are the innovative frontier of motorcycling, we should expect to see many more electric models, but they will most likely come under the Husqvarna moniker.