The perfect dirt bike for kids? Pint-sized electric racing bikes land in NZ
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KTM and sister brand Husqvarna have quietly launched a pair of electric models into the New Zealand market. But they’re not targeted at the usual demographic we’ve come to expect for EVs.
Although they were first promised at Milan’s EICMA motorcycle show in 2018, it’s taken some time for the Mattighofen factory in Austria to pump out the first competition-ready electric minicross bikes. The first shipment arrived in late January this year.
The bikes – dubbed KTM SX-E 5 and Husqvarna EE 5 – are priced from $9399, with both taking aim squarely at the entry-level rider.
Both are technically competition-ready motorcycles – qualifying for the 6- to 8-year-old 50cc MX class – but the package offers those younger riders the instant torque of an electric powerplant while also being bikes that can grow with a rider. This is unlike traditional 50cc class machines that often are the domain of just the very young.
That’s thanks to some clever engineering on KTM’s part.
Based on KTM's two-stroke 50cc Motocross bike, the 50 SX, both bikes share the same electric motor and frame, with the plastic body panels and frame colour the main features that define the differences between the KTM and Husqvarna.
KTM said in its announcement during the bike’s debut at the 2018 EICMA Motorcycle Show that the company's mission was clear: “To create an ultracompetitive machine that is also easy to ride, even for pure beginners.”
Those aren’t normally traits that go hand in hand, but thankfully the two little EVs have a couple of tricks up their sleeve to ensure that they are manageable for the target audience.
KTM engineered them with several height adjustments and power settings built-in, making them suitable for, in KTM’s words “riders from 4 years old up to 10 years old.”
With six different rider modes, the EE 5 and SX-E's 5kW of power can be tailored for the situation or the rider. Not only that, both bikes feature WP Suspension systems to ensure the rider is well connected to the ground.
Although, for environmentalists, the fact that both bikes have the advantage of zero emissions will be a selling point, more importantly for the Kiwi marketplace – where tracks are increasingly coming under attack for noise pollution – the low noise and minimal maintenance will be much stronger selling points for potential buyers.
The lack of traditional maintenance also adds in the value as there’s no oil to change regularly and only the chain needs to be kept on top of. That makes the KTM and Husqvarna ideal for families looking to take their first step into the world of motorcycling.
The biggest drawback to any electric vehicle will always be range and charging times and thankfully the little electric twins benefit from a decent specification for both.
The battery (or as KTM calls it, the PowerPack) can reportedly supply more than two hours of riding for a beginner lazily riding around a paddock or trail – or 25 minutes for faster junior racers at the moto track. Charging time for the PowerPack is good: roughly an hour to completely charge the battery of the little EVs.
When it comes to battery life, KTM says owners can expect 600-700 charge cycles or roughly three years from the PowerPack. If the battery needs replacing, this can be done by a KTM dealer: price $1800.
Importantly, on top of the purchase price of the bike, owners will also need to buy the PowerPack-specific charger, which retails for roughly $800.
So with a grand total of $10,199 ride away, it does come in on the expensive side compared to other kids’ bikes on the market. But whereas you might go through three different models or more as children grow, the SX-E 5 and EE 5 have the ability to grow with them.
Then there is, of course, the benefit of zero-emissions riding, which you’re not going to get on that kids’ two-stroke that was designed in the 1980s.
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