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Dirt Bike for Kids to be First Electric for Kawasaki?

Kawasaki is teasing an electric motorcycle to be unveiled on June 7. From the teaser video (below) it is pretty clear that this is a youngster’s dirt bike. Although dust could still be an issue, near silent running promises the potential for backyard dirt tracks for your youngster – not to mention your friends who want to have a go on a mini-moto.

Kawasaki is reportedly well along the engineering path toward full-size electric motorcycles, but it looks like the first production model available to the general public will be aimed at the youth market. Stay tuned for a report from MD on June 7.

17 Comments

  1. Rick Claypole says:

    Only took the verge of WWIII to get a major manufacturer other than KTM to offer a electric motorcycle. Sorry Kawasaki your only 15 years late ….🙄

    • Jeremy says:

      Well, if they are the second major to move on the platform after KTM, how much does it really matter if they are 15 minutes late? They’re still ahead of most of the industry.

  2. motorhead says:

    years ago I wrote here on this website that a bike manufacturer should set up public off-road and kids motocross tracks for e-bikes-only in urban areas. You know, vacant lots, woods, whatever. Looks like Kawasaki took my advice!!! Thank you.

    • Mick says:

      Unfortunately the fun police always find a way to clamp down on people who, heaven forbid, are actually smiling because they are happy. There is no greater sin!

      This article makes me think about my time in Netherlands. I rode observed trials while living there. There is a club right in Breda where I lived. There were a bunch of kids roasting around on their little electric Ossa bikes having a big ol’ time. It seems that the major markets are finally catching up to the trials market. It so odd that all these different markets seem to be living off in their own little universes totally unaware of each other’s existence.

      I have been watching Epure. It’s a French electric trials and trail bike manufacturer. I like that they offer bikes with a clutch so you can ride them like an ICE bike. Seems like a no brainer, but no so much if you look at the market.

      • Jeremy says:

        Yamaha’s electric trials bike also uses a clutch.

        • Mick says:

          Yeah, you have to do some pretty crazy things on a trials bike. Maybe someone who never had a clutch could figure something out. But I, fossil that I am, had a tough enough time learning trials with a hyperspace lever.

          I’ve crashed often and hard enough. No thanks.

          I think trials will be a tough nut to crack against the ICE bikes. Those bikes are pretty light and quite powerful. A pro electric bike would need a small powerful battery that they would have to swap out a lot. An amateur would need what would probably be a pretty heavy bike because of the batfery, at least for now.

          • Jeremy says:

            I haven’t truly ridden trials, but I have played around on trials bikes. I certainly don’t see how they can do without a clutch. I imagine the clutch action could be simulated via the controller and possibly a capacitor added to the system in the event the battery can’t deliver the required dose of juice fast enough. But that would be a lot of trouble to go through when a manual clutch gets the job done just fine. Maybe with proper gearing alone it could be done if you relearn the techniques in a new way as you suggest?

            When I was reading about the Yamaha a while back, engineers determined from test rider feedback that the bike needed not only a clutch, but a flywheel, to help address comparative deficiencies in traction and balance compared to the ICE bikes. So the Yamaha prototype they’ll be campaigning at competitions this year also has a flywheel.

            I’ve tried the defunct Alta and a Zero FX in an off-road setting, and I really enjoyed the experience overall. My biggest complaint (beside the obvious issue of range) is that they don’t have a clutch. It’s perfectly fine most of the time, and it would probably be fine all the time in a groomed environment like an MX track with some minor recalibration of the brain. On more technical trails though, there are enough times I really need that instant-on burst of power to hop up or over an obstacle that catches me off guard. The Zero in particular was a little anemic at tight single track speeds and could have also benefitted from lower gearing in addition to the clutch. I can’t help but roll my eyes a little when e-bike fans sing praises about “instant torque” or “max torque at zero rpms.” I really don’t think they know what that truly means and what it is used for.

            I get the feeling that the electric dirt bike of the future might work best as some hybrid between downhill mountain bikes and dirt bikes. With frames sized to riders and sub 120 lbs weights, we’d probably get away with quite a bit without using a clutch.

          • todd says:

            That’s what I always tell people. You want “instant torque”? Rev the engine and dump the clutch. “Instant torque” has always been available with manual transmissions. I think people are so used to driving cars with automatic transmissions that they are used to this huge disconnect between when your foot drops the hammer and when the vehicle accelerates. On motorcycles and vehicles with manual transmissions, everything is instantaneous and there is no waiting for things to make up their minds and eventually do what it thinks you want, if it thinks it’s ok to do it.

  3. Tommy D says:

    As a boomer that lived through the 60’s mini bike proliferation that spawned a generation of motorcycle riders, I find it odd that not one of the large manufactures are targeting this segment with electric motorcycles. STACYC is one example that is selling well at local dealers. Why isn’t Honda and others producing their own? These bikes make it past the mom’s worried about burning hot motors and neighbors not wanting to listen to a CRF50 in a backyard. This is the pathway to more riders while building brand loyalty.

    Imagine parts support and upgrade kits for real electric motorcycles. Sure the KTM stuff is top shelf and available but for those on beer budget you would think Honda would come out with a CRF sized electric and not have to use some small outfit to slap their plastics on it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    • Dave says:

      STACYC is owned by HD.

      There are electric junior sized trails bikes in Europe but trials isn’t very popular in the US. For kid’s motos it makes a lot of sense. With low weight, it’s easy to get enough battery in it for ride duration long enough for kids and smaller battery = faster charging and lower price.

      I think it’s mostly that they’ve been using the same tooling/parts to make their minis since the 80’s. It’s a wonder that electric power hasn’t come to junior motos sooner.

      • Jeremy says:

        I think the Japanese OEMs have been way too slow to get on that bandwagon, too.

      • joe b says:

        HD only just recently bought Stacyc. Its not like they created the item. Maybe there is hope for HD.

        • Dave says:

          HD couldn’t have bought them much less recently, they were a very new company when HD acquired them.

    • Mick says:

      As one of the boomers who was riding those mini bikes. I have long watched Harley have failure after failure in delivering a compelling product that wasn’t what the one thing that they have been doing forever.

      Their problem is that nobody there has a pulse. If someone with a pulse would have tested the dirt bikes that the sold back in the day, they would have found that even if they could keep it running long enough to evaluate, they would have easily seen that everything else easily outperformed them in every way.

      Anyone I know that had a Harley dirt bike had just one, almost never rode it, because it broke on every ride, and they never got another bike. Except one guy who got his next bike when he was forty.

      There is a right way and a wrong way to do kids bikes. And Harley has never been good at learning from their mistakes. Selling the same thing for decades makes them arrogant.

  4. Doc Sarvis says:

    Quiet will go along way to at least retaining or maybe expanding access. The prospect of no vibes and no noise gets me rather excited. Both are extremely fatiguing.

  5. Stuki Moi says:

    By making it much easier to ride where most people actually live; this is THE one area where electric bikes hold the greatest promise. Small-track dirtbikes, parking lot supermoto…. Range isn’t a big issue, and neighbors won’t complain about loud pipes and fumes the way they are wont to with gas powered bikes.

    In the US, the sheer cost of cutting the ambulance chasers in on anything by now, may render it moot regardless. But in less oppressive locales, anyone from school kids being part of their school MX team, to office workers backing it in during lunch break, will benefit.

    • Tom K. says:

      The only negative with having kids on dirt bikes in their own neighborhoods, is that we oldsters will have to constantly stand on our porches and holler, “Hey, kid, get off my…” well, you know.

      But your idea of having schools involved through clubs or actual sports groups? Now that’s a winner, providing, as you noted, acceptable insurance rates are available. But part of that is “our” own fault, via juries awarding huge awards for accident injuries since the 1960’s or 70’s, which insurance purchasers end up paying via high premiums.