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Electric motocross technology is not anything new. It has been in the off-road world for quite sometime, but getting one of the major five manufacturers to get on board with it has been somewhat difficult. Until now… My son’s first two wheeled motorcycle was an Oset electric trials bike and that proved to be the best decision Heather and I could have ever made. It taught him technique, balance, and he could ride it in the backyard everyday after school. It gave him something to work hard for at an early age as well as something that was accessible to him everyday similar to an after school sport. This is why I think electric technology is important for the growth of our sport! Not hurt it! We let a couple youngsters spend some quality time on the KTM SX-E 5 and here is what we found out…
The 2020 KTM SX-E 5 is not just cool because it’s electrically powered, it also has a ton of ergonomic adjustability. We will get to the electric portion in a minute, but the big news is how adaptable the KTM SX-E 5 is to different sized riders There are two seat-height positions, but that’s just the start of the adjustability. The standard seat height is 26.1 inches. From there, the seat and surrounding bodywork can be lowered to 25.2 inches. The next step is changing the upper mount for the shock and raising the fork legs in the triple clamp. That drops the seat to 24.2 inches. A KTM PowerParts kit can lower the suspension, moving the seat height down to 22.0 inches, giving the 2020 KTM SX-E 5 a seat height range of over four inches. Furthermore, KTM offers a handlebar mount kit with five different heights, so the ergonomics are fully customizable to your little one. Finally, the tapered aluminum handlebar is narrower at the grips, making it easier for kids to hold on with their little hands.
The adjustability of the 2020 KTM SX-E 5 is important because the motorcycle is designed for the long-haul. Rather than having it for one year and then selling it because it’s too small for your little one, you can keep it and have it grow with your child. Two-stroke motors and clutches are expensive and I know this first hand. They also require constant attention, especially if you have an aggressive racer on your hands. The SX-E 5 is virtually maintenance-free. The only scheduled maintenance is the replacement of a bearing on the output shaft. Not only does this save you money, it also means that dad doesn’t have to be a great mechanic for his kid to go racing.
The 2020 KTM SX-E 5 retails at a costly $5049 and we know that’s a lot of dough for a little machine. KTM tells us that they anticipate that a year of riding and racing an SX-E 5 will be less expensive, including the purchase price, than the $4349 KTM 50 SX two-stroke. While KTM didn’t give me exact numbers, they did make a valid point on maintenance costs. Engine and clutch rebuilds are a thing of the past, as are race gas, two-stroke oil, transmission oil, as well as replacing smashed pipes. The SX-E 5 also has the high-quality disc brakes, tires, pegs, and other features of the 50 SX.
The electric motor is as adaptive as the ergonomics for different young riders. KTM gave the 2020 SX-E 5 six different power modes. The least powerful mode—1—barely lets the SX-E 5 roll much above a slow walking speed and is extremely docile. From there, it steps up until mode 6, which is definitely very fast. A dongle allows the parent to control mode levels adjustments, though doesn’t function as a key to make sure the motorcycle isn’t ridden outside of prescribed times.
There is a noticeable difference between each ride mode. Our young girl tester didn’t need any more power than what mode 3 offered, but our more experienced younger boy test rider liked mode 4-5 the best. Get two experienced kids together on SX-E 5s, and they will be constantly begging their parents to move up the mode to a faster setting, but it’s up to you to tell them “take it easy”. Let them master each mode. I like to let the kids “graduate” from each mode like they are in school. Pass that grade, move up to a stronger engine setting. Give them a goal!
The customizable chassis features high-end WP XACT suspension units. This is a racing motorcycle, so the suspension is fully adjustable at both ends. The fork legs have air springs, and the shock gets a piggyback reservoir. Watching the kids tear around the test track, it was clear that the long-travel units—8.1 inches in the front and 7.3 in the rear—seem good enough. We didn’t have a chance to adjust them to see how plush they can be made to hard core racers, but it seems like what is there is good enough for most.
The motor is powered by a KTM Powerpack LV 0.9 battery with 84 lithium-ion cells. We ran the battery down several times and it lasted the kids around 22-25 minutes of ride time. Each track we tested at was on hard pack to intermediate terrain. The slower the rider the longer the lifespan. Our girl tester ran the SX-E 5 for more than 40 minutes, but that was Emerie’s first time on the bike. Charging times are critical, and the Powerpack can be loaded with electricity reasonably quickly. In 52 minutes, the battery can go from no charge to a 75% charge. It will take another 25 minutes to get a full charge.
Although KTM doesn’t promote the battery to be swappable at the track, we’re told it only takes 10-15 minutes to swap batteries. If the 2020 KTM SX-E 5 is being used for enduro or trail duties, dad could bring a spare battery in a backpack and double the range. The battery isn’t cheap, though, with an MSRP of $850.
A considerable advantage to the 2020 KTM SX-E 5 is the ease of use and less intimidating to youngsters. The 50 SX racer is a kickstart motorcycle, and that can be a hassle, especially in the case of a fall and a resulting flooded carburetor. The SX-E 5 is quiet and doesn’t have that obnoxious 50 two-stroke twang. The SX-E 5 is always ready to go. Should the rider go down, the motor shuts off, and there’s a simple reset needed to get going again. A wrist lanyard acts as a kill switch as well.
Our testers liked the power delivery more than the gas powered 50 and relative silence of the KTM SX-E 5. Unlike adults who develop prejudices as they go through life, kids just hop on the SX-E 5 and have a great time. Each tester had huge smiles when they got off the SX-E 5 and told us they felt faster. The 2020 KTM SX-E 5 does everything you expect a motocross machine to do. It jumps well, corners, has good ergonomics,, and has a feeling that gives young riders confidence. Each of our testers loved the lightweight feel, but complained when they had to wait for the SX-E 5 to charge. Shocking that kids are impatient!
Test Rider Opinions:
Name: Emerie Sutherlin
Age: 8 years old
Weight: 63 lbs
Skill Level: Beginner
Emerie started riding at 3 years old on a PW50. Her next bike was the KTM 50 SX Mini and she currently rides the KTM 50 SX. She has raced 6 off-road races and rides regularly with her dad at the local MX races.
Emerie’s first ride on the KTM SX-E 5 was at Glen Helen Raceway. She felt right at home on the bike immediately and improved her lap time in comparison with her gas powered bike. Her immediate feedback was that the bike felt fast and smooth in comparison to her normal bike. She also liked that it was quiet which made it feel less intimidating.
She felt the bars and front end felt more loose and less stable going into the corners. She also commented that the bike would drop into jump faces and holes more than her bike. Little does she know she is already commenting about suspension feel.
She also was commenting that it was a long process to start the bike (this might be referring to waiting for the battery to charge as she got on after another rider). She is grateful for the experience and can’t wait for the next ride.
Age: 9 years old
Weight: 66 lbs.
Skill Level: Novice
First thing he said after riding “omg I love it!!”
-He really likes light weight feel
-Said it’s really fast top speed
-Likes how quick it is out of corners
-Mostly rode power 4-6
-Rode in power 6 once used to it, said it’s really aggressive especially out of corners
-Overall easy to ride and control compared to his old KTM 50SX
-Suspension action / handling
-Mentioned small feel compared to CRF110F
-Rear brake pedal too close
-Wishes the battery lasted more than 30 min
-Keeps asking if it’s done charging yet lol
• Type: BLDC w/ outer rotor
• Maximum power: 6.7 horsepower @ 3200 rpm
• Maximum torque: 9.6 ft/lbs @ rpm
• Maximum motor speed: 6000 rpm
• Transmission: Clutchless direct drive
• Final drive: Chain
• Type: KTM lithium-ion
• Capacity: 907 Wh
• Charger: 900 W
• Charge time to 100%: 70 minutes at 25 A
• Charge time to 80%: 45 minutes at 25 A
• Input: 110 V or 220 V
• Chassis: Steel frame w/ aluminum swingarm
• Handlebar: Tapered aluminum
• Front suspension; travel: Fully adjustable WP Xact air-sprung 35mm inverted fork; 8.1 inches
• Rear suspension; travel: Fully adjustable WP Xact PDS piggyback-reservoir shock; 7.3 inches
• Rims: Aluminum
• Front wheel: 12 x 1.5
• Rear wheel: 10 x 1.6
• Tires: Maxxis Maxxcross SI
• Front tire: 60/100 x 12
• Rear tire: 2.75 x 10
• Front brake: 160mm disc
• Rear brake: 160mm disc
• Wheelbase: 40.6 inches
• Rake: 24 degrees (22mm triple clamp offset)
• Seat height: 26.9 inches (adjustable)
• Curb weight: 89 pounds
2020 KTM SX-E 5 Price:
• $5049 MSRP