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KTM Freeride E: Hi-Voltage Trail Bike

KTM Freeride E: Hi-Voltage Trail Bike


KTM Freeride E Review – Leading a scramble towards e-biking?

We have a few recurrent gripes here at the evRDR newsroom. You know the kind of thing. Who’s going to change the bottle in the watercooler? Why don’t we still get those nice free donuts? But the biggest office kvetch is: where are all the lightweight e-motorbikes?

Petrolheads can usually find interesting rides in the 250cc range — although, given the decline of utility biking, they’re less common than they used to be. But the nascent e-bike market is divided sharply between mopeds and superbikes. If you’re an adolescent, or a girl racer, or just happen to fancy something sportier than a Zippe but more manageable than a Brammo, you’ll find that your options are, well, limited.

So it’s a real pleasure to see an established European maker building a capable electric lightweight — especially one that’s presented as an integral part of the product lineup, and not a weird concept vehicle. While we’re not sure that the KTM Freeride E will meet huge demand, it’s certainly a brave attempt at shaking up existing paradigms. And, as some have suggested, it might help open up a new domain in urban sports.


All my trails

KTM is an Austrian engineering company that traces its roots back nearly a century. The first KTM motorbikes appeared sixty years ago, and the company’s fortunes then followed a familiar arc: steadily expanding sales driven by growing exports throughout the 60s and 70s, followed by an abrupt crash in the 80s. When the dust settled, the bankrupt firm’s creditors carved up its remaining assets to create a leaner, smaller bikeworks. Unlike the chosen specialities of other 80s reboots, the new company’s focus on offroad sports proved to be a winner. KTM’s fortunes have continued to improve, to the point where it is now taking its first tentative steps back into the roadbike market.

The Freeride E, however, is located firmly within the company’s core enduro/crosscountry lineup. In fact, it’s positioned right alongside the Freeride petrol trailbike, making head-to-head comparisons irresistible.


Dead ringers

The Freeride concept originated at Kiska Design. Forget the e-bike for the moment: the petrol Freeride is in itself a departure for the Salzburg studio, combining the suspension and brakes of a modern trailbike with the light weight and 350cc four-stroke of an older machine. Plus it’s topped off with a tiny five-litre tank, good for maybe a few hours’ riding at best… and it’s expensive, at around US$9,000. Weird, or what?

Well, Kiska certainly know what they’re doing. During an unbroken 20-year run, they’ve created the entire KTM lineup from scratch, everything from little 50cc two-strokes to the hulking rally-proven Dual-Sport. Consensus among industry observers is that the Freeride is a savvy attempt to define a new trail/trial crossover characterized by short, intense rides in which the bike’s 100kg all-up weight and nifty handling justify its price. (The added life expectancy and longer service interval of that overspecced four-stroke might help, too.) And, as the guys will have worked out while sketching on a pair of back-to-back drawing boards, the idiosyncrasies of the petrol Freeride make those of the electric version that much easier to stomach.

We really are looking at a pair of fraternal twins here. The two bikes share wheelbase, geometry, many components, similar all-up weights, steel-alu chassis constructions and (as far as possible) weight distribution and power characteristics. The obvious differences are in range, and price. The Freeride E will cost around US$13000 despite limited battery capacity — but that hasn’t stopped people raving about it.

To find out what the reviewers liked so much, let’s take a more detailed look.


Motor and Drive

This is where the Freeride E scores. Rider after rider has mentioned the bike’s winning combination of extreme responsiveness with near silence. The Heinzmann/Perm P126 motor weighs just 10kg, but it’s rated for 7kW, with a peak output of 22kW. That’s modest by the standards of the superbikes we’ve been reviewing recently, but it’s still a lot of power for a light bike — 42Nm of torque, twice as much as you might expect from a 125cc two-stroke of comparable weight, and enough to render a gearbox unnecessary. Just twist the grip and go until the juice runs out. Given the likelihood that you’ll find yourself walking the bike, the addition of a freewheel is a nice detail…


Brakes and Suspension

Brakes and suspension are near-identical with the petrol version. There’s a WP 43mm fork with 250mm of travel on the front and WP shocks on the rear. Both brakes are Formula radial disk units, 260 and 210mm respectively. There’s an interesting twist in the setup, however — since there’s no need for a clutch, KTM have put the rear brake lever on the left handlebar. Are they hoping to attract crossover mountain bikers? Time will tell.


Batteries and Charging

KTM haven’t released mileage figures, but they reckon that the demountable 2.1kWh lithium ion battery pack is good for about a half-hour’s riding, depending on how hard you work the bike. It takes 45 minutes to reach 90% capacity and a full hour-and-a-half for a full charge, so the stock Freeride E isn’t especially commuter-friendly. On the other hand, the power pack and engine are fully waterproofed, so you can wash the bike down with a pressure hose at the end of each short ride just as you might a petrol version.

Interestingly, KTM COO Harald Ploeckinger describes the company’s battery technology as ‘scaleable’, that is, the same charger could power up a bigger pack for longer journeys. Ploeckinger has also mentioned plans for a ‘street’ version. Watch this space.

Gadgets and Options

Gadgets? You want gadgets? There’s a status display, and we’re promised a power management system with presets for modulating the motor response so that heavy-handed novices don’t dump themselves over the back when they twist the ‘throttle’. Otherwise, nada. What did you expect on a lightweight trail bike?

Electric Avenue?

Pay no attention to our snotty comments about limited range. KTM have done something rather impressive with the Freeride E, riffing on their offroad pedigree to come up with a completely new motorsport category. If they have their way, we’ll soon see ‘crossers riding hard and silent in the heart of the city on zero-maintenance e-bikes. Even if they don’t, the Freeride is the sort of product that trails spinoffs in its wake — and gets e-biking a good name. More, please.

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In Qatar, Electric Bikes Infiltrating Al Fazaa

In Qatar, Electric Bikes Infiltrating Al Fazaa


Quatar: The Ministry of Interior (MoI) is currently testing a new clean energy motorbike, which will be used by the Al Fazaa security force.

They’ve been testing the bike in public parks, the Aspire zone and the Corniche.

The “T3″, built in California by T3 Motion, has attracted the attention of security agencies and companies from around the world because of its innovative technology and its zero gas emission. It was first introduced to the region in the United Arab Emirates.

The electric bike has a maximum  speed of 25 kilometres per hour, comes with LED headlights, a siren, an optional GPS tracking system and a video camera.

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E-Scooters Kick Start in Vietnam

E-Scooters Kick Start in Vietnam


KLD has a new engine for its electric scooter, and is launching its product in Vietnam.

In the past, electric scooters had a high price tag, a limited range, sluggish performance and the tendency not to work when they get wet!

KLD Energy Technologies, an electric engine company based in Texas, believes that its new electric motor can overcome all these problems. It is teaming up with Vietnamese motorbike manufacturer Sufat to produce an affordable electric-powered scooter that has a performance just as good as a normal petrol-powered bike.

Rather than working at making the battery more efficient, KLD improved the performance of the engine itself. They built an engine using nano-crystalline composite materials, which it believes is 10 times more efficient than traditional iron core motors, giving an output of 2500 hertz.

“We chose Vietnam [to launch the bike] because there are 22 million scooters in a country of 85 million people. That’s a lot of people riding scooters in a contained area and the pollution is a concern. All governments in southeast Asia are looking for solutions [to pollution problems], but so far there hasn’t been one. We believe that we’ve found that solution,” Christian Okonsky, founder of KLD Energy Technologies told CNN.

The KLD engine is compatible with any type of battery. Top speed of the scooter is about 55 mph, which is almost double that of many electric scooters and delivers twice as much torque, accelerating from 0 to 50 mph in ten seconds. The engine also doesn’t require a transmission.

“The nano-crystalline material was developed 20 years ago, but it was incredibly expensive and people couldn’t figure out how to use it in a motor. Even 10 years ago a computer, to run this kind of high frequency engine, would have been more like the size of a desk top computer. The magnets we use today that cost 20 cents 10 years ago would have cost $4 to $5,” said Okonsky.

By the end of the year KLD expects 2,000 scooters a month to be produced by Sufat, with its electric engine. The projected retail price is around $1500, only slightly more than Sufat’s existing bikes that sell in Vietnam for between $800 and $1250.

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Organizing the First Zero-Carbon Grand Prix

Organizing the First Zero-Carbon Grand Prix


England — The law firm Eversheds has been appointed as the sole adviser to the TIXGP, the organiser of the world’s first zero-carbon grand prix, which will take place on the Isle of Man TT circuit in June 2009.

They are advising the TIXGP on all aspects of the race, from a legal standpoint, including sponsorship, staging, merchandising, and broadcast rights.

“There are some complicated IP issues around the use of the TT marks,” poinrted out Phil Sherrell. “There’s ­corporate work to do on investment into the race and the usual licensing stuff such as T-shirts and broadcast rights.”

This carbon-free event at the race is expected to be successful – as the race already has over 20 entrants. The motorcyles in the race can use electric power, fuel cells or non-carbon fuel.

TTXGP is also the manufacturer of the world’s fastest clean energy motorbike, which can reach speeds of 125 miles per hour, called the TTX01. The cycle is powered by two electric motors.

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Electric Bike Laws Give You a Shock!

Electric Bike Laws Give You a Shock!

Find out if your bike and equipment meets local laws and regulations to avoid fines.

Find out if your bike and equipment meets local laws and regulations to avoid fines.

Countries like the United States, Canada and Australia all have different laws and regulations for the use of electric bikes. Within each state and province there can be even more variations making the it incredibly confusing. Check with your local authorities about conflicting laws and regulations. Electric bicycles have rules that require the use of proper safety gear such as helmets.

In many places electric bikes are not allowed to be ridden on the road as part of traffic. Check into this before you receive a fine. To ride on the road could obstruct traffic and cause an accident. It’s never worth it to break the rules where you live. If you are not able to ride your electric bike with traffic then you will have to seek out an alternative route since many bikes are also not allowed on sidewalks.

According to some places the laws are based on the amount of power that the bike puts out. If the engine runs at 200 watts or more then the bike may not be allowed on the road unless it is registered as a vehicle. This varies from state to state so don’t assume that it’s the same. You need to know for sure because driving without registration is a serious offense. Sometimes the law is based on speed limit or engine size. For example, if your electric bike reaches certain speeds you may be required to have it registered.

Many locations work in quite the opposite way. Many places will only allow electric bikes on sidewalks and biking paths. This can limit where you can use them so keep this in mind when considering the switch to an electric bike. If you can’t use the road then it may be more inconvenient that anything.

It’s important to note that an electric bike is nothing like a scooter or a motorbike. It does not have that kind of engine power or capacity. It is nothing more than a bicycle that has been equipped with electricity to power it. If you decide to make use of an electric bike, always be informed of the laws where you live. It’s not worth the risk or the trouble to go about uninformed. Electric bikes are still a confusing topic so ask officials for all legal information before you ride.

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Numero “Uno” Electric Motorcycle

Numero “Uno” Electric Motorcycle

Uno electric motorcycle

Uno electric motorcycle

When Canadian student Ben Gulak returned from a family holiday from China, it was the pollution chocked air and the crowded streets packed with spluttering motorcycles that got Ben’s inventive mind into overdrive…

By designing a electric motorcycle that would run on battery power and placing the two wheels side by side instead of north to south, he would avoid not only pollution but the size of the Uno electric motorcycle would be compact enough to navigate through the crowded streets and be light enough to be carried up stairs. By using a computer and a gyroscope to balance, the bike maneuvers with a shift of the driver’s body – forwards, back or sideways.

Ben named it the ‘Uno’ electric motorcycle and with his passion for engineering and electric motorcycles he has successfully deisigned a electric motorcycle that has lead to him being named at 19 years of age one of the top 10 inventors of the year by Popular Science and has appeared on “The Tonight Show”.

Ben Gulak - Uno electric motorcycle

Ben Gulak - Uno electric motorcycle

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