September 16 2014.

KTM UK invited its dealers to evaluate the upcoming Freeride E electric off-road motorcycle at E-Scape, Cheshire, last month.

The Freeride E concept was conceived before the economic crash, but put on hold as the company focused on its core products. With KTM coming out of the downturn strong, the project was powered back up and pre-production bikes have been available for public try-out at KTM’s E-Cross centre for the past 18 months - a stone’s throw from its Mattighofen factory in Austria.

Although KTM’s petrol powered Freeride machines are packaged as fun bikes compared to its competition-dominating EXC enduro range, the Freeride E is arguably the first serious electric off-road motorcycle. Powered by a 2.1kWh lithium-ion cell battery generating a claimed 30bhp and 31lbft of torque, this matches a 125cc two-stroke for power but with double the torque, gives a significantly different ride. Weighing 95kg, it’s also a match on the scales for its four and two-stroke petrol Freeride counterparts.

KTM is due to launch the bike officially to the world’s press this month in Austria and is expected to be available in showrooms in January. With this being an entirely new proposition for its sales network in every aspect, KTM UK shipped over some pre-production bikes from Austria and invited dealers to find out more about the bike and get behind the bars.

As the UK’s first dedicated electric off-road riding centre, E-Scape in Preston Brook was the perfect place for dealers to try out the machine in a variety of courses in varying difficulty levels. The day started with an introduction from KTM Managing Director, Shaun Sisterson, into how the bike will be introduced into the UK and this was backed up by an explanation of its technical attributes along with how the machine will need to be maintained and serviced.

KTM UK Marketing Manager, Simon Belton, said: “We had a bit of scepticism about the bike from the dealer principals when the bike was first announced, but the look on the faces of all the dealers after they got off the bike tells a different story. The bike is fun to ride and extremely easy – front and rear brakes are located on the bars. There’s no gear shifting to worry about, as the bike is basically an automatic. There are three different power maps to match riding ability or the riding situation.

“With KTM the number one player in off-road motorcycles and the ease of riding this machine, we’re hoping that the Freeride E will introduce the thrill of riding a motorcycle to a new generation. We’re hoping centres like E-Scape will become more common – especially in urban areas as noise and emissions are not a problem.”

Among the 36 dealers KTM off-road and street dealers invited to the event, Chris Messan, KTM Brand Manager for Bristol dealer, Fowlers, said: “I was really impressed by the bike – particularly its performance. It is a strange sensation to what most people are used to with it being so quiet, but the instant power is incredible.

“Fowlers is really behind KTM’s entry into electric motorcycles and will stock these when they become available. We’re also having initial conversations with a potential E-park close to the dealership, so hopefully more people will be able to experience the Freeride E.”