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KTM Goes Electric

At the Tokyo Motorcycle Show this week, KTM is displaying two “near-series prototypes”, including an enduro and a supermoto powered by electric motors featuring KTM patented technology that enhances battery durability, water resistance and handling.

KTM has already anounced a production schedule and a pledge for competetive pricing that should result in the electric machines being available at a cost similar to combustion driven alternatives. The first production units should be available roughly 18 months from now in Europe.

The production enduro version should weigh less than 200 pounds, comparable to a 125cc 2-stroke motocross bike. Currently, KTM expects 30 peak horsepower, a maximum speed of 43mph, aproximately one hour of riding time per charge and 90 minutes to fully charge a drained battery. Battery units will be swapable, so a rider could drain one battery and swap in a charged unit.

If you think about it, it is logical for KTM to become the first major OEM to introduce a production, electric full-size motorcycle. With its heavy emphasis on offroad machines, KTM sees clearly the opportunity to expand riding areas into densly populated cities with a low noise, zero emission electric motorcycle. Offroad riding parks could be as accessable as the local park with a swing set for your youngster. We will see how quickly other major manufacturers respond, but currently full size electric motorcycles are largely the domain of smaller companies like Zero.

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MD Readers Respond:

  • I applaud KTM’s technological advances evidenced by their foray into electric motors. On a related note: As the owner of a fuel-injected 2008 Yamaha WR250, I will never consider the purchase of a new, normally carbureted motor again, such are the several obvious benefits of injection, especially for someone who lives at 4900′ elevation. I respectfully advise the motor “press” and makers of motorized transport to strongly consider this, especially those such as KTM who strive for the top tier market position. IMO any motor company marketing carburetor “technology” (fully abandoned by the automotive universe several decades ago…annual advances in the world of technology are gargantuan) can not be taken seriously as a “premium” contender. A carbureted motor vehicle is purely and solely an anachronism and nothing more; to the extent the motorized press presents any other viewpoint to their readers (including the motor companies) they summarily fail all concerned parties.   James
  • The peg height is extraordinary. It looks impossible to sit on.

    What possible design decision lead to such massive ground clearance, thus the impossible peg height?

    I see no brake pedal for the rear brake. Well how could one be used with that nutty peg height.

    No engine braking with an electric right. Sure needs a rear brake in the dirt.

    Total lack of engine braking must take some getting used to. It is a good energy saver.

    I know KTM knows what they are doing with cycles. Far more than other electric start up shops. But still this peg height and ground clearance bug me. More than anything it looks like a trials bike. Looks like you have to stand to ride it. Fine for a dirt bike I suppose. But a street bike?

    By the way, why no trials coverage. Today’s riders are astounding.

  • There was a question about the lack of a rear brake pedal. That’s because there’s no clutch on an electric bike, so the rear brake is operated by a left-hand lever, just like on a scooter.

    As for the peg height, don’t sweat it. This is a prototype image (and probably a computer-generated one, at that), and by the time the bike hits production status, I’m sure all the specs will be in the “normal” range.

    I’d be very interested in an electric dirt bike. I have trails all around my property, but if you make any noise at all, the neighbors get into an uproar, so riding my 450 is out of the question. This might be the perfect solution!  Scott

  • Dear Editor,

    In response to ‘Peg Height Guy’ the Electric Enduro’s foot rests are
    virtually identical in altitude to KTM’s 125 EXC the ground clearance
    is about 2″ higher and the seat around 2″ lower. The wheelbase is
    about 55″ compare to 58″ on the 125. Front and rear wheel travel
    looks to be approximately 250 mm. Claimed weight between the two is
    about 15 pounds (plus gas for the EXC) lower on the Zero Emission
    bike.
    The very trick looking radially mounted rear disk brake caliper is
    operated by the left side hand lever (mountain bike style). Also, the
    electric motor could approximate something like engine breaking if it
    has a regenerative breaking or free wheeling mode. I’m surprised no
    one mentioned the 43 mph top speed: a little more top end would be
    good.

    Cheers,  

    Kevin

  • I am amazed that a major manufacturer has picked this up and ran with it. I think they are right on the money and this will be a much bigger hit than people realize. Think of it as the IPOD of motorcycles. There are more people that enjoy bicycles than motorcycles. There is a more likeable comparison between an electric motorcycle and a MTB. As battery technology progresses and become smaller, lighter and more efficient these designs will get even better yet, think lighter and stronger frames. Plus these bikes will be welcome to more and more riding areas. The tree huggers will have nothing left to complain about accept for erosion control. It is excellent for the sport and will no doubt attract a whole new group of consumers. I would love to have an electric dirt bike I could ride and watch all my neighbors have absolutely nothing more they can complain about. No sound, no exhaust, just like my MTB!   Brian
  • In response to one of your reader responses there’s no clutch lever so the the rear brake is clearly controlled on the handlebar you can see the brake line running up there. In my opinion having both brakes on the bars like a bicycle is awesome. Also I think the footpeg to seat ratio isn’t that bad and it’s mostly an optical illusion.  Louis
  • I think it’s fantastic that KTM is entering this market. Electrics have tremendous promise, especially in the dirt bike space. The more companies trying it out, especially established names like KTM, the sooner the costs of the technology will come down to mainstream levels. I am especially impressed with the street/supermoto version which is a really daring departure from established motocycle styling, but a very pragmatic approach to weight reduction that borrows from other sports like mountain and street bicycles. Cost and range will only improve, so this is a great glimpse into the future. I would love to throw a leg over either bike; I bet they’re a blast!  Marc
  • In response to a previous reader response on the KTM Electric. No traditional rear brake pedal? Well there are no gears and no clutch, brakes are all hand control levers like a scooter. The foot pegs look like they’re the right height for the bikes purpose – off road and supermotard. I’d like to try one out. It would be great to ride off road and not have the neighbors call the cops on me for noise. I could sneak up on game, trespassers, etc.  Nick