KTM Freeride Electric Motorcycle

March 25, 2010
Bart Madson
By Bart Madson
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Bashing away at the MotoUSA keyboard for nine years now, Madson lends his scribbling and editorial input on everything from bike reviews to industry analysis and motorcycle racing reports.

2010 KTM Freeride Enduro
KTM evolves its original electric prototype into the new Freeride, which debuts at the Tokyo Motorcycle Show.

As the nascent electric motorcycle movement surges forward, KTM reveals its own take on the concept with its Freeride prototypes. The Austrian marque will display two versions of the new design, an enduro and supermoto, at the Tokyo Motorcycle Show (March 26-28 – not to be confused with the Tokyo Motor Show in October).

KTM Freeride

A lithium-ion battery provides power to the Freeride’s 2.5KW motor, with peak power claims of 30 hp and 31.7 lb-ft torque. Top speed is 70 km/h, that’s 43.5 mph for stateside readers, with the battery good for “approximately one hour” of “mixed off-road riding.” The plug-in battery can reach full recharge in 90 minutes, “but it can also be simply and quickly removed and replaced with another.” The battery is also good for a 500-recharge lifecycle.

2010 KTM Freeride Photo Gallery

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The Freeride frame uses what looks like steel frame tubes, with KTM PR saying it utilizes forged aluminum components as well. All told the claimed weight is 198.4 lbs (90 kg), lightweight but not as light as the spare design implies on first look, sans fuel tank and exhaust.

Riders of the Freeride won’t be doing anything with their feet except resting them on the pegs as the only inputs are at the bars, with a right-side lever squeezing the front brake and left side the rear. The gear shift pedal is unnecessary with a clutch-less transmission and single-gear chain final drive.

2010 KTM Freeride Enduro 2010 KTM Freeride Enduro KTM Freeride Supermoto

The designs part ways when it comes to suspension and tires. The enduro Freeride looks the part of an off-road machine, with inverted fork and rear shock, the chassis rolling on 21-inch trials tires. The supermoto has a more delicate look to its front end, with shortened fork tubes terminating well below the steering head and an odd little headlamp (or is it a flashlight) strapped on for illumination.

KTM Freeride Supermoto
The KTM Freeride Supermoto features an odd front end, more reminiscent of a bike than motorcycle.

Getting technical assistance from fellow Austrian firm Arsenal Research, KTM developed the Freeride from an initial electric prototype unveiled in October of 2008, and the Freeride concept will continue to evolve until planned production. Describing its enduro and Supermoto Freerides as “near-series prototypes,” KTM expects a finished street-legal enduro to hit Europe by the summer of 2011. KTM is also quite keen of promoting its plans to keep the MSRP under 10,000 Euros.

“With the electric drive system of the zero emission motorcycle, KTM has succeeded in taking a decisive step forward in the future of the motorcycle industry and two-wheel motorsports,” said KTM CEO Stefan Piere. “Above all, emission-free mobility with a motorcycle brings new impulses in the short-term and opens up completely fresh perspectives. KTM remains answerable on two counts. On the one hand we are “Ready to Race” and we want to do that

Zero Motorcycles – The Competition
Zero Motorcycles Electricross
KTM isn’t the first company to delve into electric MX territory, but it is the largest. But how does the Freeride compare to its current competition?

Ambitious California startup Zero Motorcycles are already in production and we just sampled the four-bike lineup at Daytona Bike Week (2010 Zero Motorcycles First Ride). Spec sheet comparison shows the Zero MX claim 23 hp and 50 lb-ft from a smaller 2KW motor, with a range “up to two hours or 40 miles.” Recharge is less than two hours. The Zero also sources an all-aluminum frame and is at least 25 lbs lighter, at a claimed 172 lbs. Plus, at $8295 MSRP for the base version – it’s thousands less than the planned KTM.

with the latest technology, and on the other, as the worldwide number one in off-road sport, we must take care that the sport remains intact, and indeed, further develops!”

Bringing Off-Road to the City

KTM doesn’t presume its Freeride will replace its internal combustion machines anytime soon, rather it sees the electric design opening up a new off-road segment – urban riders. The Freeride’s zero emissions are touted, but not for green reasons – it’s the low noise emissions from the electric powerplant that makes it potentially attractive to urban riders.
With more off-road riding restrictions in general and more municipalities putting the kibosh on loud MX parks in particular, the notion of closed course parks promulgated by electric bikes sounds promising. KTM PR says of the quiet tones from its concept:

“With this development it is possible to bring offroad sport close to densely populated areas, to establish new parks and riding opportunities, where until now it has been unthinkable. The use of this sport machine closer to home may generate interest in the activities of new target groups.”

Whether we’ll see MX parks popping up next to high rises anytime soon remains to be seen. However, with one of the major players in the off-road world foreseeing a future in electric, how soon will it be until another OEM follows suit.

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