The Shock of Silence

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KTM Freeride E-XC, the gentle enduro

The Shock of Silence
Where bikes dare

The Shock of Silence

Where bikes dare

When is it really useful to jolt our passions? There are some motoring contexts in which the use of battery-powered vehicles genuinely seems blasphemous to enthusiasts and most importantly lacking in reason. For example, the recent Harley-Davidson LiveWire: who could define it as anything but sacrilege? A Harlista would want to dig his own grave with the inverted shovel of a 1340cc 1978 Shovelhead at the mere sight of it. The roaring sound of a Big Twin, the enjoyment of working on the mechanics in your own garage, and the wild epic of freedom, the smell of gasoline and engine oil are all mockingly debased by the prudishness of zero emissions. And no matter what extraordinary performance it may generate, because to a purist it will have the same efficiency as a household appliance.

The Shock of Silence

There are however contexts in which the absence of air and noise pollution seem to be essential for a peaceful life and for the genuine pleasure of riding. For this reason we chose the KTM Freeride E-XC and we decided to take it to the shores of the Ceresio lake to understand how truly sustainable it is. Anyone who has been riding an enduro bike for thirty years or so is accustomed to being perceived with animosity by the surrounding environment: yelling, rakes being raised, and barking dogs chasing you is the price you have to pay to enjoy the noise and clouds of white smoke of a two-stroke racing bike. But apart from the reactions of the villagers, these internal combustion engines also terrorize the fauna of the woods, disrupting the harmony and enchantment of entire ecosystems. So a silent and clean vehicle can represent the future, particularly if equipped, as in the case of this test, with the very best KTM know-how and a chassis with WP Xplor suspensions both front and rear. The first contact is intriguing. The key is there, an unusual detail for an Exc.

We flip it over and wait for the central display, which offers three riding modes - eco, enduro and full power - to give us the OK, so we switch to the first one. Oh no! There is no gearbox and no gears. Instead of the clutch we find the rear brake, the same as on a bicycle. The Freeride has the lightness of a bicycle, so much so that it makes you want to jump off a downhill course, where you would be allowed to do so. It rides with a ridiculous ease, but when accelerating firmly, the forward propulsion of the 24.5-horsepower synchronous brushless is electrifying, almost unsettling, far superior to that of a docile touring bike. With no exhaust roar, the torque released - 42 Nm, greater than that of an EXC-F 250, and readily available - can also make you misjudge and often find yourself arriving too fast at the obstacle or mark.

The shock of silence! Providentially, the suspension is top-notch and the Formula brakes do not disappoint, with a special note for the rear one, which has excellent bite. The specialized competition, then, is micro-niche and can certainly not count on the ready-to-race allure and after-sales reassurance of a name like KTM. Of particular note is the Italian Tacita T-Race Enduro, a bike that is very well built and has excellent performance, yet its price is close to 25.000 euros, so it is suitable for true amateurs. But we will leave the extreme potential of this E-XC to the journals specialising in off-road. For the purpose of this test we wanted to experience the electric enduro also in everyday life, amongst people. We wanted to go for breakfast, to get the newspaper, to see how the bike would behave and how it would be perceived. From the very onset one appreciates the perfect driving position - with a triangulation saddle-pedals-handlebar almost comfortable for a pilot of five-foot nine - and the absence of vibrations and the stability of the chassis, even if on the asphalt it is good not to overdo the curves because of the off-road tires. The range has increased to an hour and a half - inadequate for any idea of travel, yet sufficient for enjoyable excursions - and the lithium-ion KTM PowerPack recharges to 100% in just 110 minutes. The battery pack, located under the seat, is really practical to extract and allows for more than 700 full charges. The availability of a key and steering lock will allow you to park it easily while you are sipping a coffee, without worrying about the first «curious» passerby starting and taking it for a ride, also because we are still talking about a toy that comes out in 2022 at 11.335 euros. The permanent magnet engine hisses discreetly, with pleasant bursts of energy on release, and the colors of the KTM fun bike are brightly elegant, with splashes of blue that give a burst of individuality to the typical colors of the Austrian manufacturer. Yet if you think you’ll be greeted by Georgians with fresh cows’ milk and a poppy necklaces, city passersbys with emotion in their eyes and law enforcers with whistles of approval, you may have hoped for too much. The culture of the electric has not yet penetrated the conditioned reflections of the collective imagination and the vehicle, while very polite, is still perceived as a motorcycle. You may not attract attention in the middle of the countryside, but by the lakefront you will be greeted by more than one swear word and by some aging ‘boules’ player who won’t tolerate excursions to his own sandy estates.

©CdT.ch - Riproduzione riservata

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