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For years, electric motorcycles have existed as a quirky footnote to the rest of the motorcycle industry. Tiny startups sold literally dozens of emissions-free, high-price commuters. But the electric motorcycle is no longer a novelty, a relatively major manufacturer is now making one. This is the KTM Freeride E and it’s set to electrify the masses.

KTM understands the big picture appeal of electrics, stating: “The revolutionary concept is one possible step in bringing off-roading closer to the metropolitan areas, as well as establishing new parks and riding areas in places where that used to be unthinkable. Ideally, this could draw the use of the sporting equipment closer to home. In addition it opens up opportunities to inspire new target groups with the fascinating world of off-road motorcycling.”

But, it also understands where other electric motorcycles have fallen short. “In accordance with the company’s philosophy, the Zero Emission motorcycle embodies that genuinely competition-oriented vehicle design typical of KTM. Like all KTM motorbikes, the Freeride E incorporates the latest design features and top-quality components throughout.”

That quality and ruggedness should apply to the powertrain too. “Developed by the KTM R team in Mattighofen, Austria, the completely new electric powertrain sets standards. Not just will the performance be on a level comparable to a conventional 125cc two-stroke bike. KTM’s new integrated battery/powertrain unit, patented worldwide, also offers a unique solution to notorious problems of electric mobility regarding wear and tear, resistance against moisture, riding range, handling and especially safety.”

That proprietary drivetrain develops 29.5 peak horsepower and 31lb/ft of torque. Not bad, but the tiny battery capacity — just 2.1kWh — is only enough for 90 minutes of riding, tops.

Should last though. “KTM also went to a lot of effort to fully seal the complete drive and
energy unit. Motor, power electronics, battery – any and all driveline components have
been 100 per cent dust and water proofed. This means that neither tough terrain nor
fording pose limits to the technology. It also means that the bike can be cleaned with a
regular pressure washer in typical off-road fashion.”

That tiny capacity is going to be a huge problem for the KTM unless they’ve engineered some as-yet-unseen hot-swap capability. The current Zero X carries 3.0kWh, good for just 38 miles. Range is a frequent complaint about even larger capacity Zero motorcycles.

That comparison to Zero continues to be less than flattering. That little X makes far more torque, 50lb/ft in fact, while weighing in at just 213lbs. KTM's name, reputation, market penetration and dealer network will give it a huge advantage, but we'd like to see a very strong product nonetheless.

Weight and price have yet to be quoted, we’ll update you with more info when it’s available.

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