The world of electric-powered motorcycles has exploded the last two years, with two of the original electric motorcycle companies basically shutting down and a host of other companies, such as Cobra, KTM and Husqvarna, entering the mix. Technological advancements in battery capabilities have fueled the progression, and companies like KTM are targeting a smaller portion of the market, literally.
The KTM SX-E 5 is based on the 50cc race bike platform and offers chassis adjustability. There are slight differences in the SX-E 5 chassis compared to the 50SX, primarily where the motor and battery are located. The SX-E 5 features WP suspension components with an air-spring Xact 35 fork up front, wheel travel of 8.1 inches, and an Xact PDS shock in the rear with 7.3 inches of travel.
The shock has two separate mounting locations on the frame, allowing the rear end to be raised or lowered, and up front the fork position can be adjusted in the triple clamp to the desired ride height. Maxxis tires, heavy-duty black rims, silver hubs, and wave-style brake rotors with the same chain and sprockets as the 50SX are standard on the SX-E. The plastic bodywork, ergonomics and styling are also similar to those of the fuel-burning models.
The 5-kilowatt, air-cooled motor is waterproof and dust-proof. The KTM motor features six different mode settings, ranging in speed from a brisk walk all the way up to a full-race mode similar to that on a 50SX gas-powered unit. The different settings can be changed on a display panel located on the main frame just below the headstay.
The power pack contains 84 separate lithium-ion battery cells. These battery packs can be purchased separately and changed out in about 15 minutes. The 900-watt quick-charger plugs directly into the battery pack, and KTM reports it will restore 80-percent power in 45 minutes at 25 amps and full power in an hour and 10 minutes.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The KTM SX-E 5 is a great machine, and we are very happy to see the availability of these types of models in the marketplace. Will they replace gas-powered models? No, but the SX-E 5 platform is way less intimidating to new riders and new parents alike than a gas-powered unit. This will most likely get more people involved in the sport at a younger age, and we believe the likelihood of riders transitioning to gas-powered motorcycles is very high.
We had a wide variety of sizes and skill-level test riders on this unit and came to the overwhelming consensus that the SX-E 5 is a great entry-level to novice-level machine. With novice riders, we were able to get almost two hours of ride time out of a fully charged battery pack. It gets the consumer familiar with all that goes into riding dirt bikes without some of the more intimidating factors, such as mixing gas, jetting of carburetors, noise and abrupt power delivery. Yes, you do have to have a power source, but most households have 110-volt electrical outlets readily available, and a small portable generator can be used at the track or riding area. As our test riders’ speed and ability increased, however, so did the issues we encountered.
With advanced riders, our run-time was reduced to around 25 minutes on a fully charged battery. Extra battery packs can be purchased and changed out in about 15 minutes, but they cost around $850.00 apiece—and that wasn’t a hit with the parents. At a retail cost just north of $5000, the KTM SX-E 5 is a big purchase. Like in any industry, new technology is not cheap, but once it has been on the market for a while, our hope is it will go down in price, because this is a great way to get new people involved in the sport we love.