KTM wants to be the first mainstream manufacturer to produce electric-powered motorcycles for sale. The Austrian company announced plans to deliver a production version of this concept bike from the 2010 Tokyo Motorcycle Show to dealers within a year's time.
While electric streetbike manufacturers battle problems of limited range and restricted top speed, KTM chose the path of least resistance and focused on developing bikes that work in areas where those factors are not limitations.
The silent, zero-emissions Freeride is envisioned as a solution to current off-road access restrictions, potentially opening up a wide range of new riding opportunities. "With this development," the company says, "it is even possible to bring off-road sport very close to densely populated areas, to establish new parks and riding opportunities in areas where it has been unthinkable."
KTM claims its Freeride will weigh just 200 pounds and offer performance comparable to a 125cc two-stroke motocross bike. The electric motor has a "peak performance" rating of 30 bhp. Peak torque is 32 lb.-ft., and it's all there at just 500 rpm, a characteristic that's well-suited for off-road riding. Top speed will be around 45 mph.
Range will vary depending on use, but KTM claims that for general off-road riding you should expect battery life to be around an hour. That's enough for most riders in a single session. The lightweight, 2.5-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery can be recharged in 90 minutes, or swapped for another battery pack in mere seconds. Each battery, according to KTM, can be recharged around 500 times before it starts to deteriorate, providing a similar lifespan to a conventional dirtbike.
To reduce weight, the chassis is made from forged aluminium with a self-supporting monocoque tail and seat. The motor directly drives the rear wheel, with no clutch or gearbox, so operation is simple even for novice riders. KTM has also confronted the other great stumbling block for electric bikes: price. Hubert Trunkenpolz, the firm's sales director, said, "We can already say the the price will be under 10,000 euros. With this we have a product on the market that is more than competitive right from the outset."