2018 KTM Freeride E-XC Preview | A Revolutionary Dirt Bike

The KTM Freeride line has been a great success for the Austrian company. A lightweight trail bike that is approachable to many riders, the Freeride motorcycles have had limited production, yet sell out quickly.

The new 2018 KTM Freeride E-XC is the second generation of electric-powered Freeride motorcycles, and it represents a revolutionary look into the future of off-roading.

1. The 2018 KTM Freeride E-XC is all-new. The chassis has been completely redesigned, it has a new motor, and the battery pack is now more powerful and quickly swapped out.

2018 KTM Freeride E-XC wheelie2. The price for the new 2018 Freeride E-XC is the same as the Freeride 250 four-stroke, but there’s a catch. For your €7500 (USD price TBD), the E-XC comes with a motor, but no battery—much like a motorcycle with an internal combustion engine (ICE) doesn’t include gasoline. KTM leases the battery/charger combo for €50 per month—about what KTM estimates you would spend on fuel.

3. Power and range are enhanced on the new 2018 KTM Freeride E-XC. According to KTM, the 2018 battery has a 50-percent increase in power over last year’s cell, which means the E-XC will be a faster Freeride with a longer range. Range will be highly dependent on how you ride, though KTM claims that off-road sessions as long as 90 minutes are possible.

4. Charging time is reasonable, but there’s another catch. If you run the KTM PowerPack battery out, you can get it up to an 80 percent charge in 75 minutes, and a full charge in another 30 minutes. However, to do that you’ll need a 230V power source. Fortunately, higher end generators will put out 240V—the least expensive Yamaha 240V-capable generator is $1569, with Honda offering one for $2110.

5. You can swap out the battery if you don’t want to wait for a charge. That will mean either leasing an addition KTM PowerPack battery for €50 per month, or buying one outright for €4000. These are all prices in Europe, of course, with the US prices not yet set. Swapping out the KTM PowerPack onsite is practical, as just four bolts secure it.

2018 KTM Freeride E-XC specs6. The 2018 KTM Freeride E-XC’s chassis is a fascinating hybrid of steel, aluminum, and plastic. The main top frame is steel, while rear of the frame is forged aluminum, including the swingarm pivot mounting points. The motor and aluminum skidplate are stressed members, while the swingarm is cast aluminum. Finally, the rear subframe is a polymide/ABS hybrid. All of this makes for a strikingly unique motorcycle.

7. There are no foot controls on the Freeride E-XC. The rear brake pedal is replaced with a left hand lever, as there is no clutch. Because the Freeride E-XC has a single-speed transmission, there is no gear selector. This will invite the development of new riding techniques.

8. Suspension is provided, as expected, by WP. WP is owned by the same holding company that owns KTM, so the choice of suspension brand is a fait accompli. WP contributes a smallish Xplor 43mm fork (developed for the Freeride E-XC) and linkage-free Xplor PDS shock—both fully adjustable. Travel is a bit shorter than pure enduro standards, with around 10 inches at each end.

9. Maxxis developed a new rear tire for the 2018 KTM Freeride E-XC—the Trailmaxx. Both tires have a trials/knobby hybrid design, and observed motorcycle trials sizes—a 4.0-inch rear and 2.75-inch front. The off-road rim pairing is the standard 21-inch front and 18-inch rear, with the high-profile tires assisting the suspension.

10. The Freeride E-XC can be personalized for shorter riders. An optional lowering kit for the suspension can drop the seat height by an inch, and there is also a thinner accessory seat. Additionally, the footpeg brackets can be flipped to move the pegs eight millimeters aft.

2018 KTM Freeride E-XC jump11. There are three power modes—Eco, Enduro, and Cross. The Eco mode has the softest power, and allows for regeneration of the battery when coasting. The Enduro mode is for serious off-roading, while the Cross is the most aggressive and suited to natural terrain motocross tracks. There is no regeneration function in Enduro and Cross modes, as KTM feels that it makes the bike slow down too quickly when the throttle is closed.

12. While the horsepower spec isn’t impressive, the torque claim is. There’s nothing especially exciting about 24.5 horses from a motor in a 245-pound motorcycle, but 31 ft/lbs of torque as soon as you touch the throttle should provide plenty of real world acceleration and performance.

13. KTM foresees competition use for the 2018 KTM Freeride E-XC. It’s hard to say what sort of range the Freeride E-XC will get when ridden to its limit, but we think off-road competition between electric motorcycles is an intriguing concept. Riding areas should be easier to come by, as the noise level of the events will be significantly reduced.

14. While racing is on the horizon, the 2018 KTM Freeride E-XC looks to be an outstanding trail bike. As long as you can live with the range and recharge limitations of an electric motorcycle, there shouldn’t be anything about the performance of the Freeride E-XC that leaves you seriously wanting out on tough single-track trails.

Action photography by Francesc Montero

For specs and a photo gallery, click to page 2