Spy shots re­veal Aus­trian firm’s elec­tric bike plans

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - By Richard New­land DEPUTY ED­I­TOR

KTM could be the com­pany that makes elec­tric bikes a se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion. While elec­tric bikes once had all the al­lure of a dis­abil­ity scooter with two wheels miss­ing, we’re al­ready liv­ing in a time when they have be­come ex­cit­ing and re­ward­ing to ride. What they aren’t – yet – is par­tic­u­larly prac­ti­cal.

But KTM look set to be one of the pi­o­neers search­ing for the per­fect storm of pack­ag­ing, price and prac­ti­cal­ity. Hav­ing al­ready dipped a toe or three into pro­duc­tion elec­tric bikes with their E-ride fam­ily (Freeride E-SX, E-SM, E-XC), it’s no great shock that the firm are now look­ing at tak­ing that knowl­edge into road range. These spy shots prove KTM are is al­ready well ad­vanced with their think­ing, too.

Take me Ohm

The fact that the pro­to­type is al­most com­pletely based on the 390 Duke tells us a great deal. This isn’t a bike aimed at tour­ers or sports­bikes, where the dou­ble-whammy of range and out­right per­for­mance both con­spire to kill the al­lure of most projects be­fore you’ve even put the plug in the wall. In­stead, this is pack­aged as a cheeky ur­ban naked, clearly aimed at com­muters and city-dwellers – riders who are fre­quently on and off their bike, but rarely go­ing so far that it won’t get them home again on a sin­gle charge. And in this con­text the Aus­tri­ans could well have smacked the nail firmly on the head.

While Tron-like fu­tur­is­tic UFOS may ap­peal to comic nerds, there’s a far big­ger pool of riders open to the idea of elec­tric power who still want their bike to look, feel and ride like a mo­tor­cy­cle. The Duke-e would fit the bill, trad­ing off the firm’s rep­u­ta­tion as one of the most com­pe­tent cre­ators of naked hooli­gan bikes against the ur­ban prac­ti­cal­i­ties of elec­tric power.

Break from the norm

Both En­er­gica and Zero have proved that elec­tric road­sters can de­liver the thrills that pulled us all on to two wheels, while BMW’S C Evo­lu­tion has shown you can repli­cate the max­is­cooter ex­pe­ri­ence us­ing elec­trons – but none have had a sen­si­ble price. They all blur the line of con­ven­tion when it comes to the riding ex­pe­ri­ence, too. While the C Evo is or­di­nary in scooter terms, the En­er­gica Eva is twist-andgo, as is the Zero – but this KTM test mule has a clutch lever and a gear lever, and the full com­ple­ment of brak­ing con­trols, sug­gest­ing that KTM may be pick­ing up where the now de­funct Brammo left off, of­fer­ing a con­ven­tional geared riding ex­pe­ri­ence.

Whether or not you sub­scribe to the en­vi­ron­men­tal ar­gu­ments for elec­tric ve­hi­cles is down to what you choose to be­lieve, and how much you’re swayed by pic­tures of baby pan­das. There are clearly ben­e­fits to zero emis­sion ve­hi­cles for city air qual­ity, but just as clear is the fact that the elec­tric­ity needed to charge the bat­ter­ies is not self-gen­er­at­ing or with­out en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact, and nor is the process of pro­duc­ing bat­ter­ies.

KTM de­clined to com­ment on these im­ages or fu­ture plans, which means there’s no hint of ei­ther price or avail­abil­ity – but there’s lit­tle doubt that this is a se­ri­ous glimpse into the KTM’S not-too-dis­tant fu­ture, and the fu­ture of two-wheeled ur­ban mo­bil­ity. If the price is right, things could be about to get in­ter­est­ing.

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