Bike Review Feature
Electric dirt bikes. - They are something we have read about for a long time now, even back in the day when the fullnoise.com.au forum was the place to hang out and talk, about all things dirt bikes, the topic of E-bikes would pop up.
Nothing too big or serious, but inevitably when the topic of 2 stroke V 4 stroke would come up, especially when talking about which class the 250 two-stroke should fit into, someone would always chime in with, “If you think this is tough to work out, wait until E-bikes arrive.”
That was over ten years ago now, and while we are not at a point where we will see a E-bike line up on the gates of a National Motocross or Supercross event, either here in Australia or anywhere overseas in the pro classes, things are a little different in the youngest class of racing.
KTM first announced their SX-E 5 all the back in November of 2018, and while it certainly was not the first all-electric dirt bike to hit the market, it was the first E-bike from one of the big motorcycle manufactures that was designed to hit the race track alongside current petrol-powered motorcycles.
Yes the question of where do E-bikes belong in the racing world was slated to start in the youngest of racing fields!
Having a then 7-year-old kid who is a die-hard moto fan and loves riding, he was instantly excited about this bike and bugged me about getting one when the information on the production units were released to the public.
The production bike itself seen the light of day to the masses around 12 months later in late 2019 and by early 2020 the bike landed in Australian dealerships.
Unfortunately for us, we were not able to make it to the Australian media launch, however, KTM Australia was kind enough to ship us down a new brand new SX-E 5 to spend some time within March this year.
At the time we were able to put the bike through its paces and learn quite a bit about this great little weapon first hand, which you can view in the highlights on our Instagram page BY CLICKING HERE
It’s fair to say the world has been a weird place this year and certainly has not gone to plan, and the below review has been half-written sitting in my to-do list for months and has now finally been finished, hopefully, it gives another way to view our insight one of the most exciting dirt bikes to hit the market.
There was a lot we wanted to know about the KTM SX-E 5 , everything from how it worked, how the power came on, how long the battery would last, and just as importantly how long it took to charge.
Would the basic maintenance be easier, quicker, and cheaper than the standard KTM 50SX, how would it handle different riding conditions, would the bike be an advantage or disadvantage compared to a 50SX in different situations, really the list of questions was near endless.
In an ideal world we would have liked to compare it heads up with a KTM 50SX, but unfortunately with the Covid situation and it looking unlikely at the time that we would be going racing in 2020, we sold our 2019 KTM 50SX just a couple of days before we got word from KTM Australia that we would have the opportunity to put the new E5 through its paces.
WHERE TO START?
We picked the bike up from the good guys at Kessner Motorcycles early on a Saturday morning, Dan Kessner gave us a quick run-down on how the bike operated, and we left the shop with the bike, a charger, and a WP air fork pump as the bike runs the same WP air fork you will find on the KTM 50SX.
Fair to say both myself and Jayden were excited when I rolled the bike out of the trailer when I got home and with a battery that was fully charged there was no way we were not going to do a quick little test right there and then!
I grabbed a helmet, reached down, and turned the bike on which is as simple as pressing down the power button, used the control panel that sits in front of the seat, right where a fuel tank would have normally sat on a traditional bike, and lit up all three lights to engage power setting number 6 (The highest power setting) and took off in a straight line!
Now I am no lightweight, weighing in at 100kg, but the bike took off without hesitation and quickly picked up speed, much more speed than I was expecting! I pulled on the front brake and the rear and the bike pulled up as quickly as it took off, the front and rear brake set up were more than a little impressive.
I then popped the power level down to the lowest setting, and again the bike took off, this time super slow and reached a top speed that would have been slower than walking pace, it instantly gave me an idea!
But before that, Jayden popped on his helmet and took the E5 for a quick squirt, fair to say the smile on his face said it all.
Knowing we could control the power output, my wife Ann-Marie then jumped on for a quick ride, and then the best thing happened, at the age of 12, my daughter rode a dirt bike for the first time!
After years of trying to get her on one, with the knowledge she could set the power to go no faster than walking speed she jumped on, rolled the throttle back, and took off. Sure she was a little big for the bike that is aimed at the four – ten-year-old market, but seeing her smiling and riding a dirt bike was a pretty neat feeling.
With a little bit of fun had, the KTM SX-E 5 was put away, and plans were made for a full day of riding and testing!
One of the biggest challenges in testing the E5 was finding somewhere that had the power to re-charge the bike between rides, I don’t own a generator so heading to a local track was not really an option without hiring or borrowing one for a day, but thanks to good friend Rick Woodrow, we were able to use their private track in their back yard for a full day of testing and with Jayden having a pupil free day coming up, we were all sorted to put as much time as we could on the bike.
With Jayden geared up, it was time to go over the bike with him and get him started for the day.
Being just a couple of days away from turning 9 on the of the test, Jay is in the upper end of the age bracket this bike is designed for so the bike was set up in the tallest frame position, with the shock also set in the position best suited for older riders.
That is one of the cool things about the E-5, the frame has two height settings, that can be changed by your local dealer and also two different shock position settings the same as you would find on the traditional SX50, meaning this bike will suit both a rider looking for their first bike as the size in the lowest setting is the equivalent of a KTM 50 mini, while the tallest setting is the same as the tallest setting on 50SX, meaning one bike, in theory, will last the entire 4-6 years of junior bike needs.
In addition, the handlebar mounts have two settings much like every bike in the KTM line up, again offering a setting to cater to each individual rider and to help adjust the bike as your child grows.
We checked the ride height and sag and just like the 50SX, the bike in stock trim just happens to be bang on for Jayden’s weight. Up front we set the front fork to 34psi, the same as he was running in his 50, and then went over the power settings.
The power is controlled via six different power modes, with a control panel right in front of the rider's seat with the numbers 1-2-3 that light up red to indicate which power setting you are in.
1 equals the lowest setting and will have your child traveling at a walking pace, combine that with the lowest frame and fork setting and you will have the perfect bike to learn on for a 4 or 5-year-old.
Pushing up to level 2 is a bit of a jump from level 1 then the increase is not as drastic but still significant as you move up to level 3 and beyond.
To move to power mode 4, you press the power setting button again and it will light up both 1 and 3, giving your 4, then 2 and 3 to give you power level 5, then once more and all three numbers will light up RED, indicating power level 6.
Also built into the bike is a little safety net designed to ensure your child does not either accidentally or purposely change the power setting when out riding.
Underneath the seat there is a magnet situated right where you would normally see an air filter; with the magnet cap placed in position, it allows you to change the power setting via the control panel on the top of the bike, however, if you remove the magnet cap and place it to the side in its holder, the power setting is locked in place, meaning unless little Johnny rides off behind the shed, gets off his bike, takes off the seat, replaces the magnet then puts the seat back on, he cannot change the power setting!
Also, on the handlebar there is an auto kill switch connected to a wrist brace that goes around your child’s hand, ensuring the bike cuts power as soon as the rider steps off the bike or in case of a crash.
Unlike a traditional bike, the E-5 bike will not stall or is much more unlikely to stall in a crash, so this adds a little safety in those situations.
While Jayden is a very competent 50 rider and had no issues with riding the 50SX I still made him do the first few laps in power setting 3, just to make sure he took the time to make sure the rest of the bike felt comfortable and familiar to him.
Once selecting the power setting, to take off there is one more step you need to know before you can move in a forward motion!
You need to roll the throttle forward to engage the electric motor, rolling the throttle forward, the bike will beep in a short but continuous beep, once the noise has stopped, roll the throttle back, and off you go.
While Jay was on track getting familiar with the bike, I was becoming familiar with the sounds of an E-bike as a parent!
With the track all but to ourselves, you could hear every single noise the bike made. From the low sounding winding type sound the bike made when in motion that sounded like a slot car on steroids, to the chain slap, the dirt-moving, it was a weird sensation as a spectator.
As the day went on, I did get a couple of frights! With no engine sound, if Jayden over jumped something or hit something hard enough you could hear the shock bottom out.
A couple of times when not paying a great deal of attention I thought he had crashed, with the sound of metal on metal, only to look around and see him still flying around. It is certainly going to be interesting to watch a full gate of these things in action, well listen to them in action!
After two laps on power mode 3, I pulled Jayden in, dialed it up to the top setting, and set him free, and boy did he love that experience.
Coming in from his first ride, he said he really like the way the power came on, which was to be expected when coming from a bike that comes on with a traditional two-stroke hit compared to the E5 which has smooth linear power. There is no guessing when the power is coming, it is always there.
He said he felt it made the bike easier to corner and easier to come out of corners, and overall the rest of the bike pretty much felt like his old 50 which is not surprising as the frames are near identical and there is only around 1kg weight difference between the two bikes.
From the outside watching him, the big advantage I noticed was his corner entry speed, with no clutch drag and no engine braking what so ever, he was rolling into corners much faster, which In turn increased his mid-turn speed, and then he was able to get straight back on the power, it was cool to watch.
In a straight line, he was still able to loft the front wheel over bumps when needed, he looked just as comfortable jumping it compared to his 50SX, and the only downside I could see was the bike seemed to hit top speed a little early.
Now we were not sure what would happen when the battery started to lose power, would it just stop in the middle of the track, or would it slowly loose power before coming to a complete stop.
On the power mode screen, there is also a battery power indicator that runs up each side with three green lights and one red one at the bottom. During his first ride, Jayden noticed the green lights would disappear one at a time as the battery level reduced, and eventually, the red light that is situated at the bottom was the only one left on, indicating the battery was ready to be re-charged.
During the day we noticed that the bike did not seem to lose any outright power until the red light was the only one left on and even then, the bike would not come to a stop straight away but would continue to run, just getting slower and slower until it eventually stopped.
Charging the battery was a simple task and was simply a matter of plugging the charging unit into the power socket, then running the charging cable from the charger, and plugging it into the charging slot on the bike, it really took a minute to get sorted.
As for charging, the manual says 45 minutes for 80% charge and 70 minutes for 100% charge.
From our experience, over the course of having the bike for a couple of months and taking it out on four occasions and charging it from flat on at least 7 occasions, the time to take to complete a full charge was at least 80 minutes and pushed out to 90 minutes, which still not to bad.
It is one thing to consider with this bike however, depending on how, when, and where you go riding and what level of riding your child is at, will play a part in choosing this bike.
For the most part, if you have access to charging, be it via direct power at a house or property or via a generator you will be fine.
With the KTM SX-E 5 fully re-charged we left the bike in the top power setting and let Jay loose to see how long the battery would last.
The track that day was pretty hardpack, reasonably rough and the track itself is pretty tight, with just the one long smooth straight where the bike was held on close to full throttle for a decent amount of time.
The good news was, that while the bike took a little longer than we thought it would charge, the battery with the bike in the highest power setting lasted longer than we thought it would.
We got a full 20 minutes of riding on the MX track before we got down to the red light. As soon as the red light came on Jayden pulled off the track and jumped on a figure 8 track near where we were charging and rode until the bike came to a near-complete stop.
We managed to get another 3-4 minutes on the figure 8 track until the power dropped to a point where the bike was at walking pace.
With this in mind, a week later we took the KTM E-5SX to the Renmark motocross track, the same track that hosted the 2016 Australian Junior Motocross Championship and a yearly host of South Australian motocross championship round to see how long it would last.
Now, this track is a lot more open, while it does have a couple of hard pack sections, the majority of the track is sand, and some quite deep heavy sand in sections.
While the battery did not last as long, with Jayden getting just 13 minutes before he got down to just the red light; 13 minutes for what we personally would be looking at this bike for would just be enough.
All state and national Div 2 races are 7 minutes plus one lap motos that usually last around 10-12 minutes at most; l so at 13 minutes on a sandy track, it’s fair to say the bike should be fine for most racing.
Overall the battery life was good, and for younger riders riding in a lower power setting, you will get a lot more time before needing a full re-charge.
Overall with two days of riding on the KTM E-5SX, we were more than impressed with the bike.
Jayden had been bugging me since he first laid eyes on, asking me near-daily to buy him one, however at his age, being his final year racing a 50 and with the knowledge that they could not be raced at State or National titles, we were not in a position to need to go and buy one, so are very thankful for the opportunity to KTM to allow us to spend some time testing the bike.
Overall it really is a versatile bike, that will suit a first-time beginner aged anywhere from 4 years old to 9-10 years old and also any experienced rider in the same age brackets.
Between the adjustable frame height, shock positions, bar position, and the huge range of power settings, there really is a setting to suit any rider of any height and ability.
The elephant in the room is the initial outlay of buying a bike that will set you back over $8000 (RRP $8,395), plus a good chance of also then needing to purchase a generator depending on where you ride.
It is a large up-front cost, but that needs to be weighed up against many factors, including everything from the fact that this could be a one purchase bike that has the potential to last a rider from the age of 4 until they are 9 ( We have purchased 4 bikes in that time ourselves, including three brand new KTM 50s – 1 Mini and 2 x SX’s)
The not hafting to worry about the clutch factor in itself is a big one, radiator issues, nope none of those to worry about.
The idea of not needing to mix fuel, clean air filters, worry about oil are some other big advantages, to help keep costs down.
There are still the unknowns like how long the bike will last, will the motor ever need to be repaired or replaced, how many hours or full battery cycles will I get from the battery before that needs to be replaced, and of course the resale value when you go to move it on down the track.
At the end of the day though, the KTM SX-E 5 is another great addition to the KTM mini bike line up, that will suit a vast majority of young riders, and offers a great platform to learn to ride a motorcycle and from our short experience has a lot more upside than any possible downside we can think of.
Check back in the near future for part two, where we take the KTM E-5SX racing! Yep that is right we managed to find a club that allowed us to race against a full field of KTM 50SX’s and a Cobra, and while we did not race the SA State titles on the E-5 a number of riders were given an exemption to race it, so we will look at some observations we had from the sidelines on how the bike looked to perform.
Also, check out our highlights on our INSTAGRAM page to see how our days out testing went down and get a better idea of how the KTM E-5SX Works, BY CLICKING HERE
KTM SX-E 5 SPECIFICATIONS
- Electric Motor: 48 V – BLDC Motor with Outer Rotor
- Rated Output: 2 kW / 3,200 RPM
- Max Power: 5kW / 3,750 RPM
- Torque: 13.8 Nm from 0 RPM
- Max Motor Speed: 6,000 RPM
- Final Drive: 8:46
- Cooling: Air Cooled
- Battery: Lithium-Ion KTM
- Capacity: 907 Wh
- Charging Time 100%: 70 minutes at 25 A
- Charging Time 80%: 45 minutes at 25 A
- Charging Rate: Quick Charging 5 A 230 V~
- Charging Power: 900 W
- Frame: Double Grinded Central Double-Cradle-Type Frame
- Subframe: Fiberglass-Reinforced Plastic
- Handlebar: Tapered Aluminum Ø 28/22/18 mm
- Front Suspension: WP XACT 35 USD Ø 35mm
- Rear Suspension: WP XACT PDS Monoshock
- Suspension Travel Front/Rear: 205 mm / 8.07 in; 185 mm / 7.28 in
- Front/Rear Brakes: Disc Brake 160 mm / 160 mm
- Front/Rear Rims: 1.50 x 12” / 1.60 x 10” Aluminum
- Front/Rear Tires: 60/100 x 12” / 2.75 x 10”
- Chain: 1/2 x 3/16 in.
- Steering Head Angle: 24º
- Triple Clamp Offset: 22 mm
- Wheelbase: 1,032 mm ± 10 mm / 40.6 ± 0.4 in.
- Ground Clearance: 252 mm / 9.92 in.
- Seat Height: 684 mm / 26.9 in
- Weight, Approx.: 40.5 kg/ 89.3 lbs.
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