2020 KTM SX-E 5: Electric Mini Motocrosser
This is a somewhat different ride review than usual for us. When we went to see the debut of the 2020 KTM SX-E 5 electric mini-motocrosser at the Red Bull Straight Rhythm event, we didn’t expect to see it in action.
However, KTM had built a small track for the SX-E 5, plus a couple of young pilots ready for flight duty. A big part of reviewing kids’ bikes is watching the youngsters and talking to the riders—that’s how we get a good idea of how the motorcycle works. So, we’re integrating info gleaned from the young KTM development riders into this story.
1. The 2020 KTM SX-E 5 isn’t just revolutionary because it is electrically powered—it also has an unprecedented level of ergonomic adjustability. We will get to the electricity shortly, but the big news is how adaptable the KTM SX-E 5 is to different sized riders.
2. There are two seat-height positions, but that’s just the start of the adjustability. The standard seat height is 26.1 inches. From there, the seat and surrounding bodywork can be lowered to 25.2 inches. The next step is changing the upper mount for the shock and raising the fork legs in the triple clamp. That drops the seat to 24.2 inches. A KTM PowerParts kit can lower the suspension, moving the seat height down to 22.0 inches, giving the 2020 KTM SX-E 5 a seat height range of over four inches. Further, KTM offers a handlebar mount kit with five different heights, so the ergonomics are fully customizable to the rider. Finally, the tapered aluminum handlebar is narrower at the grips, making it easier for kids to hold on.
3. The adjustability of the 2020 KTM SX-E 5 is crucial because the motorcycle is designed for the long-haul, rather than be a disposable kids’ racer. Two-stroke motors and clutches are expensive. They also require constant attention, especially if you have an aggressive racer on your hands. The SX-E 5 is virtually maintenance-free. The only scheduled maintenance is the replacement of a bearing on the output shaft. Not only does this save piles of money, it also means that a dad doesn’t have to be mechanic for his kid to go racing.
4. The 2020 KTM SX-E 5 retails at a stiff $5049, but you’re all-in at that point. KTM insiders hinted to us that they anticipate that a year of riding and racing an SX-E 5 will be less expensive, including the purchase price, than the $4349 KTM 50 SX two-stroke. While KTM didn’t have hard numbers, so they didn’t make an authoritative claim regarding operating costs, it makes sense. Engine and clutch rebuilds are a thing of the past, as are race gas, two-stroke oil, and transmission oil, as well as replacing smashed expansion chambers. The SX-E 5 also has the high-quality disc brakes, tires, pegs, and other features of the 50 SX.
5. The electric motor is as adaptive as the ergonomics for different young riders. KTM gave the 2020 SX-E 5 six different power modes. The least powerful mode—1—barely lets the SX-E 5 roll much above walking speed and is extremely docile. From there, it steps up until mode 6, which is definitely Ready To Race. A dongle allows the parent to control mode levels adjustments, though oddly doesn’t function as a key to make sure the motorcycle isn’t ridden outside of prescribed times.
6. There is a noticeable difference between each ride mode. On the practice track there was a tabletop that the 2020 KTM SX-E 5 routinely cleared in mode 6, landing on the downside of the jump. The SX-E 5 set to mode 5 always landed on the tabletop. Get two kids together on SX-E 5s, and they will be constantly begging their parents to move up the mode to a faster setting.
7. The customizable chassis features high-end WP Xact suspension units. This is a racing motorcycle, so the suspension is fully adjustable at both ends. The fork legs have air springs, and the shock gets a piggyback reservoir. Watching the kids tear around the test track, it was clear that the long-travel units—8.1 inches in the front and 7.3 in the rear—are race-spec. We didn’t have a chance to adjust them to see how plush they can be made to nascent racers.
8. The motor is powered by a KTM Powerpack LV 0.9 battery with 84 lithium-ion cells. We didn’t have a chance to run the battery down, so all we can do is report KTM’s claim of 25 minutes when racing, and as long as two hours for beginners learning the ropes.
9. Charging times are critical, and the Powerpack can be loaded with electrons reasonably quickly. In 45 minutes, the battery can go from no charge to an 80 percent charge. It will take another 25 minutes to get a full charge.
10. Although KTM doesn’t promote the battery as hot-swappable, we’re told it only takes 10 minutes to swap batteries. If the 2020 KTM SX-E 5 is being used for enduro or trail duties, dad could bring a spare battery in a backpack and double the range. The battery isn’t cheap, though, with an MSRP of $850.
11. A considerable advantage to the 2020 KTM SX-E 5 is the ease of use to youngsters. The 50 SX racer is a kickstart motorcycle, and that can be a hassle, especially in the case of a fall and a resulting flooded carburetor. The SX-E 5 is always ready to go. Should the rider go down, the motor shuts off, and there’s a simple reset needed to get going again. A wrist lanyard acts as a killswitch.
12. Kids like the power delivery and relative silence of the KTM SX-E 5. Unlike adults who develop prejudices as they go through life, kids just hop on the SX-E 5 and have a great time. Their huge smiles when they got off the motorcycles told the story. Yes, we realize they work for KTM, but they’re young enough that they wear their emotions on their sleeves—they loved riding the e-motorcycle.
13. The 2020 KTM SX-E 5 does everything you expect a motocross motorcycle to do. It jumps, slides, turns, and roosts, as it has the chassis needed to handle the power. According to KTM engineers, the SX-E 5 holds an advantage over the 50 SX on tight courses, while the 50 SX will come out on top on a fast course.
14. It will be interesting to see how soon KTM has electric equivalents for the 65 and 85 mini motocrossers. Once kids are hooked on the SX-E 5, they’re going to want to step up to an SX-E 6.5 and SX-E 8.5. By then, we might be seeing viable adult electric motocross motorcycles.
15. The 2020 KTM SX-E 5 changes everything in mini motocross racing. It will make the sport more accessible to a wide variety of families, and it prepares children for the seemingly inevitable switch to electric-powered motorcycles. We look forward to getting our test riders on the SX-E 5 and digging deeper into range and charging realities.
Location/action photography by Don Williams
Studio photography by H. Mitterbauer
- Helmets: 6D ATR-1 and Fox Racing V3
- Goggles: 100% Racecraft and 100% Accuri
- Pants, jersey + gloves: KTM PowerWear Kids Gravity-FX
- Roost guard: Fox Proframe LC
- Boots: KTM PowerWear Kids Tech 7S and Alpinestars Tech 3S
2020 KTM SX-E 5 Specs
- Type: BLDC w/ outer rotor
- Maximum power: 6.7 horsepower @ 3200 rpm
- Maximum torque: 9.6 ft/lbs @ rpm
- Maximum motor speed: 6000 rpm
- Transmission: Clutchless direct drive
- Final drive: Chain
- Type: KTM lithium-ion
- Capacity: 907 Wh
- Charger: 900 W
- Charge time to 100%: 70 minutes at 25 A
- Charge time to 80%: 45 minutes at 25 A
- Input: 110 V or 220 V
- Chassis: Steel frame w/ aluminum swingarm
- Handlebar: Tapered aluminum
- Front suspension; travel: Fully adjustable WP Xact air-sprung 35mm inverted fork; 8.1 inches
- Rear suspension; travel: Fully adjustable WP Xact PDS piggyback-reservoir shock; 7.3 inches
- Rims: Aluminum
- Front wheel: 12 x 1.5
- Rear wheel: 10 x 1.6
- Tires: Maxxis Maxxcross SI
- Front tire: 60/100 x 12
- Rear tire: 2.75 x 10
- Front brake: 160mm disc
- Rear brake: 160mm disc
DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES
- Wheelbase: 40.6 inches
- Rake: 24 degrees (22mm triple clamp offset)
- Seat height: 26.9 inches (adjustable)
- Curb weight: 89 pounds
2020 KTM SX-E 5 Price:
- $5049 MSRP
2020 KTM SX-E 5 Review – Photo Gallery