He of the Kushitani leathers and Union Jack Arai, Alan Cathcart, just became the first motorcycle journalist to take a KTM Freeride E prototype for a spin. He liked it, but the real news here is word of production dates, prices, configurations and future electric KTMs. E-Duke anyone?
“We plan in July or August of 2012 to build 500 pre-production bikes, then gather feedback from non-professional riders after they've run the bike in different conditions and in different climates, from Spain to Sweden,” KTM CEO Harald Ploeckinger told Cathcart. “We plan to learn as much as we can from this, because we don't want to have a new technology that creates problems for the customers, but to develop it properly under all conditions. And then towards the end of next year we will start production of the Freeride E at a price below or comparable to what you see already with a four-stroke Enduro - so it has to be below 10,000 ($13,500), including battery."
KTM actually plans two variants on the Freeride E theme. That street-legal enduro and a motocrosser sans lights, indicators and other niceties. Cathcart also reveals that a supermoto version is planned, complete with smaller wheels and road tires and firmer suspension. His E-Duke monicker is likely just a bit of fun though, we’d expect the company to stick to variations of “Freeride.”
Like the KTM Freeride 350, the E isn’t going to be a “race-ready” competition machine. Instead, it’ll be focused on attracting new riders, putting fun over performance. “We wanted to start out by offering something to those customers who want to ride off-road but not in competition — nothing extreme, just to have fun on the bike,” Ploeckinger continued to Cathcart. “I compare riding the Freeride E to cross-country skiing, where you use a different set of skis than when you go alpine skiing downhill. Each is fun — just one is more extreme than the other.”
Tantalizingly, Ploeckinger hints at the potential for faster electric KTMs in the future. “The battery pack is scalable, as a combination of parallel and sequenced cells, and as long as you don't change the voltage you can use the same controller and motor, so we're looking towards urban mobility concepts, as well.”