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KTM Freeride E-XC Electric Dirt Bike First Ride Review
With so many electric dirt bikes like the Stark Varg becoming commonplace, it only feels right to review all of the models that are breaking out of the gas-powered mold. Next in our lineup is the KTM Freeride E-XC electric dirt bike, which packs considerable power in comparison to some other electric models. There are more than a few differences to speak of that set the KTM Freeride E-XC apart, and we’ve done our best to ensure you’ve got all the answers in this guide.
Though we can’t speak to any rumors of KTM discontinuing this model, we always aim to be timely in our reviews so you can make the buying decision that’s right for you.
First Impressions of the KTM Freeride E-XC Electric Dirt Bike
The first item we took note of on the KTM Freeride E-XC was the serious likeness to a normal dirt bike. Out of a lineup, we’d be pressed to tell this model apart from its standard gas-powered counterpart. This was exciting from a few different angles since the element of surprise can be useful on race day, and existing parts mean more ways to make it your own.
As far as customization, the KTM Freeride E-XC electric dirt bike can be outfitted with different kits depending on your specific preferences. KTM’s enduring legacy means that their parts offerings are vast, and they’re likely to fit both motocross and off-road setups alike. While Stark is undoubtedly innovative, their lack of customization means what you see is what you get, and that can be a drawback if you like a tailored ride.
Once we got down to business, the first thing we noticed was how top-heavy the KTM Freeride E-XC felt. Even though the battery is situated in a similar area to where an engine would be, the battery sits slightly higher in comparison. This placement also affected the overall maneuvering of the bike, since many gas bikes have a slightly lower center of gravity than this KTM electric dirt bike. This new setup may take some initial rider adjustment, but it’s only an outright concern for smaller riders who may have difficulty picking up their electric dirt bike after a spill.
Other than this placement, the feel of the KTM Freeride E-XC isn’t much different from other KTM machines. Neken handlebars and no-dirt footpegs are standard as always, and you’ll find a built in speedometer and map mode display easily accessible from the saddle. While Stark’s idea of a phone as your dashboard is innovative, it can be another item to mess with before a race. We appreciated the simplicity of this KTM electric dirt bike for staying true to what works. There’s also a convenient lock-on left grip ready to go so you don’t have to worry about the pain of installation.
We found the KTM Freeride E-XC to be more comparable to a 250cc dirt bike for its size, so it might not match your expectations if you’re looking for a sturdy 450. With that being said, its smaller size did not stop us from thoroughly enjoying our riding time. This KTM electric dirt bike might not be a beefy dirt bike like some others, but we loved it for cruising around as a pit bike or with your friends in the backcountry.
It’s important to note that any electric dirt bike you get will be barely audible compared to a gas bike. Although the Varg is technically quieter, the minimal noise on this KTM electric dirt bike still won’t be enough to alert any nosy neighbors to your riding habits.
Power Delivery on the KTM Freeride E-XC Electric Dirt Bike
Even though it was tempting to give it all we had, we wanted to take our time and be thoughtful of the limited battery life on the KTM Freeride E-XC. This is a good metric to follow as you’re learning the ins and outs of your KTM electric dirt bike as well, both for power and responsiveness in different conditions. Especially with it being so top-heavy, we can say that the KTM Freeride E-XC offers a decidedly different experience than a normal dirt bike.
As a guide, we tested out the standard programmed power modes to really get comfortable in the driver’s seat of this electric dirt bike. The zone one (economy) setting left much to be desired, and while that’s obviously a drawback for experienced riders, this mode is great for starting smaller riders or beginners without any serious risks. Part of the reason zone one is so slow is because of the fact that the KTM Freeride E-XC is partially regenerating power in this mode, so it’s not going to be nearly as in-your-face as the other two modes.
Zone two is where things start to get interesting. Mostly built for enduro riding, zone two is excellent for slick conditions and slowly progresses into smooth, steady power. We can verify that you won’t be tearing off the starting line, but full power is easy to come by at the top end of your range.
Conversely, zone three is where the KTM Freeride E-XC outdoes itself. Torque is more comparable to a 300cc at this level, and you’ll top out a bit above 40 mph (65 kph) in normal settings. You may not dust the competition, but you’ll certainly put up a fight. If you’re someone who’s put off riding because you can’t disturb your neighbors, or you want an electric dirt bike to play around with on a day out, the KTM Freeride E-XC is most ideal for you.
As far as distance and battery capacity, it’s no secret that off-road riding will drain this KTM electric dirt bike’s battery more than riding on a smooth track or road setting. Our trek lasted a bit over 16 miles (26 kilometers) on gravelly terrain, but we could see it lasting an additional 5-10 miles if conditions were more uniform. Even with battery life lacking in comparison to the Stark Varg, your battery will drain about as fast as a dirt bike with a smaller gas tank. The important thing is to be aware of these similarities before riding so that you know when to quit and recharge.
You’ll know it’s time to finish up when the built in battery sensor on the KTM Freeride E-XC starts to flash. This flashing indicates that you’ve just hit your 10% battery reserve, and it’s time to take a rest. Your indicator won’t just tell you when it’s time to quit, either. Flashing at different patterns can indicate some sort of error with the dirt bike that requires attention. If you’ve fully charged your electric dirt bike and this indicator is still flashing, you may have another issue that needs troubleshooting before you head out riding.
KTM Freeride E-XC Handling & Responsivity
While tricky terrain isn’t always guaranteed on your time out, we feel comfortable saying that the KTM Freeride E-XC has no problem handling terrain that requires more skill and attention. Compared to the Varg, this KTM electric dirt bike has super steady power delivery, which means you don’t have to worry about twitchy, unexpected movements when you’re not trying for them. Corners aren’t quite as easy to dart out of, but the predictable power tradeoff is worth it in our eyes.
The brakes on the KTM Freeride E-XC got an update for 2021, and though they’re not Brembos, they’re still incredibly responsive. A Formula system now comes standard on this KTM electric dirt bike, complete with floating calipers, two front pistons and one in the rear. No one wants to be stuck in a situation they can’t handle, and this upgrade had us feeling ready for whatever the terrain threw at us.
KTM Freeride E-XC Proprietary Parts & Charging
One drawback of the KTM Freeride E-XC electric dirt bike is the charging mechanism. You’ll need a 230 volt outlet to even think about plugging in, not to mention the almost two hour recharge time required. It’s thoughtful that KTM gets you back to 80% in just over an hour, but timing your rides this way can be a huge hassle when you’re out with your friends.
While you might consider buying an extra battery to dodge this issue, they’ll cost you a few thousand dollars if you can even get ahold of one. KTM is frequently sold out of Freeride E-XC replacement batteries, so you’ll have to be patient and persistent if this is your holdout plan. To say this is inconvenient is an understatement, but we keep holding out hope that KTM will account for some of these power and battery issues in electric dirt bike models to come.If you are able to acquire an extra, just hit the switch to put the seat up and follow the included guide (located under the seat) to switch out your new battery.
Another reassuring feature on the KTM Freeride E-XC electric dirt bike is that it comes standard with a fully sealed electrical system. Even when we encountered rainy conditions on our day out, we felt confident in KTM’s assertion that we shouldn’t worry. Although we did not actively put this part to the test, KTM swears that the E-XC could even be temporarily submerged in water and not have any issues. Pretty exciting, especially if you live somewhere that never quite dries out.
Key Takeaways from Our Time with the Freeride E-XC
Though it retails for just over $11k, the KTM Freeride E-XC electric dirt bike is a good investment for the money. While the Varg might be an exciting newcomer, KTM has always been excellent at delivering quality dirt bikes that rely on performance and stability. The E-XC is no different in this regard, and though it could improve on battery and charge times, it’s one of the electric models at the front of the pack.
Even with the limited battery life, top-heavy feel and slightly small size, we still feel the KTM Freeride E-XC is one of the best options for an electric dirt bike. It’s a super fun ride even for larger riders, and you won’t know the difference with steering after a quick learning curve. The jury is still out on battery improvements, but a bit of advance thought can avoid much of the frustration on a day out.
Next to the Varg, the KTM Freeride E-XC is going to be your more traditional electric dirt bike that hasn’t quite embraced futuristic changes. It’s got the normal instruments you’d come to expect, customization is easy, the power is straightforward without shifting gears, and the whole system is electronically secure.
This KTM electric dirt bike is even more appealing if you already have brand loyalty to KTM. The switch won’t present a ton of learning curves (other than the heightened center of gravity), and you’ll be able to pull a fast one on anyone insisting gas-powered bikes are superior. Plus, the KTM Freeride E-XC is available now and doesn’t require any waiting or wondering in the meantime. We’re always impatient for our next ride, and we know you are too!
KTM is also setting their foot into kids market by developing one of the best electric dirt bikes for kids.
We’ll be back soon with more cutting edge electric dirt bike reviews. Until then, have fun out there!
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