KTM Launches 2018 Freeride E-XC Electric Enduro Bike

The Austrian brand has its sights set on the electric future of motorcycles.

YouTube / KTM Sportmotorcycle GmbH

KTM launched the all-new 2018 Freeride E-XC electric enduro motorcycle in Salzburg, Austria Wednesday. It was technically available as a 2017 model, but only through a limited pilot program. The 2018 production bike has been tweaked to make it ready for the mass market and production begins in early January. 

“E” is for “electric” and “XC” is for “cross-country.” The Austrian bikemaker is one of the first in the industry to come out with an all-electric production bike with off-road chops, a big step forward for electrification in motorcycles.

KTM is very optimistic about what it calls “e-mobility,” which is the brand’s way of marketing electric bikes. KTM doesn’t see electric powertrains as a crutch or a compromise, but rather the future of motorcycling. Executives of the brand talked about the opportunities KTM has in filling a void of electric motorcycles aiming for a fully fleshed-out range of electric bikes within the next decade.

When this bike was finally unveiled, accomplished racer Teddy Blazusiak came riding into the hangar where the press conference was taking place on the all-new 2018 KTM Freeride E-XC. The electric dirt bike quietly rode onto the stage, where it showed off its innovative drivetrain. 

“It’s very different,” Blazusiak said of the bike. “It’s still performing well, it’s still going fast, it still brakes like a dirt bike, it still rides hard, but you can’t hear it. It’s definitely a new era.”

When asked if he could see this bike being a real competition bike in motorcycle racing, Blazusiak sounded optimistic about the prospect. “This is the future,” he said. “It’s gonna come sooner or later and I’m excited to be part of it.”

As for technical details, the KTM Freeride E-XC is powered by 20 kW electric motor. It makes “close to” 25 horsepower and 30 pound-feet of torque. That puts performance (on paper, at least) at about the same level as a 250cc two-stroke internal combustion engine.

The Freeride E-XC has a removable lithium-ion 3.9 kWh battery that pops out of the top of the bike from under the seat so it can be easily swapped out. The battery is placed as low and as far back as possible while still being easily removable in order to optimize the bike’s center of gravity. We don’t have a hard number for the range, but one of the KTM engineers said he can ride this bike for more than two hours on a full charge.

“This is a fully fledged enduro motorcycle. This is not just a toy,” said a KTM engineer. He went on to express that this would be a good bike for beginners. “It’s a great bike for people who want to step into motorcycles,” he said. “It’s as easy to ride as a moped.” KTM is serious about electrifying off-road motorcycle and attracting new riders. The Freeride E-XC looks like a strong step in that direction.