KTM is no stranger to electric motorcycles. Its E-Ride series has been able to blend great off-road (and supermoto) performance with zero-emissions riding for the past few years now. This line-up includes the Freeride E-XC, E-SX and E-SM, all powered by a liquid-cooled synchronous electric motor with peak power output at 22hp (15hp of constant output) and 42Nm of torque. The easily replaceable 260-volt battery pack is compact and good for a range of a few dozen kilometres.
But, recently, UK-based publication MCN managed to shoot pictures of a KTM 390 Duke fitted with an electric motor. Now it’s a little tricky to confirm whether this bike was actually being tested by KTM, especially since the branding decals have been left intact – something the Austrian bike maker never does for its test mules. It could very easily be a company that specialises in electric powertrains testing a prototype system in an existing production bike. Plus the fact that the rider isn't fully kitted up the way KTM test riders usually are doesn’t bode well for this being something from Mattighofen.
But at this point, until more details appear, it might be reasonable to assume that KTM is testing a new electric powertrain for small-sized road-going electric bikes – a Duke-E of sorts. A closer inspection of the spy pics makes it clear that the basic running gear of the 390 Duke seems to be maintained. This includes the final drive bits like the sprockets and chain along with the gearbox. The pictures also reveal a gear shifter. Now this goes against what KTM has done with its E-Ride series, which feature a fixed transmission ratio. Of course, it’s not like an electric motorcycle with a manual transmission hasn’t been done before – the now defunct Brammo being the biggest name here.
The Duke’s trellis frame, however, is missing, and in its place is a massive aluminium battery box. With the trellis gone, this bike has a unique, long subframe for mounting the seats and the tail section. It uses the swingarm from the 390 Duke, but it has been mounted to the chunky electric motor. A slim, vertically stacked radiator on the right seems to indicate that this motor is liquid cooled. No information is available on the power output or the capacity of the batteries, but their massive size coupled with a manual transmission might just equate to a range of over a hundred kilometres on a single charge.
Apart from this, the brakes, wheels, suspension and pretty much every other bit looks like it has come from the previous-generation 390 Duke. The instrument cluster, however, seems to be a bit different and almost feels like it could be from the new 2017 KTM 390 Duke. An indication that this could actually be KTM testing out this electric bike can be seen near the instrument cluster. The bike seems to be using KTM’s proprietary multifunction instrument from the E-Ride bikes that allows riders to select different riding modes and shows battery indications.
If these pictures are accurate, it looks like KTM is working on a small-sized, mass-market electric motorcycle. And given the company’s track record for making any sort of motorcycle more exciting, we are naturally thrilled at this prospect.