How to Register an Electric Dirt Bike for Road Use. Getting on the Road Fast
Electric vehicles have been on our radar for many years, including electric dirt bikes. In the science fiction realm, the late Michael Crichton deployed an entirely electric fleet of vehicles, including a dirt bike, in his follow-up to Jurassic Park, The Lost World (circa 1995). The reason? They are intriguing; they have excellent torque, and they create no noise. But, of course, that was science fiction, and in 1995 battery technology was just not where it is today! But he could see the future, perhaps when others could not.
Finally, technology has caught up with his ideas, and we now see a growing pack of all-electric dirt bikes on the market with excellent performance and remarkable endurance. The beauty of battery and electric motor technology is that they will only improve from here.
Let’s look at the situation from the top down: how we got here, where electric dirt bikes are going, and how registering an electric dirt bike for road use differs from a gas-powered bike.
Why Go Electric?
The prominent electric dirt bikes (KTM Freeride, Alta Redshift, Stark Varg) are only off-road. Of course, this is not to say that these companies will not make street-legal variants down the road, and the big manufacturers (Honda, Yamaha, Husqvarna, etc.) are almost certainly working on their electric dirt bike models concepts. But for now, these are not dual-purpose bikes; they are strictly for trails and motocross.
Electric dirt bikes are capitalizing on all of the things that are making electric cars so popular: incredible acceleration. excellent torque curve, and of course, no smog and no noise pollution. These are trendy selling points for our readers and riders in California especially.
Origins of Electric Dirt Bikes
We all can see the writing on the wall surrounding gas-powered engines: their days are numbered. Whether or not this is prudent is another matter altogether, but they are slowly on their way out as the primary means of powering personal vehicles.
How far does the electric motorcycle lineage go back? Well, it might date back to 1895 in Canton, Ohio, when patent number 552,271 was approved for an electric bicycle. Considering the origins of the gas-powered motorcycle were bicycles with internal combustion engines, then we can safely consider the electric bicycle as the electric motorcycle’s ancestry, meaning the concept itself is well over a hundred years old.
KTM SX-E 3 Electric Dirtbike | First Ride Review
Riding a motorcycle is fun, but riding a motorcycle with a friend is even better. We recently tested the Volcon Kids Moto Two electric dirtbike, which was ridden by seven-year-old August Beck, the son of my friends Paul and Allison Beck. At the same time, we also had a KTM SX-E 3 electric dirtbike to test.
August just finished the first grade, and one of his classmates owns an electric dirtbike of her own. Like August, Willa Randall is a blond-haired Southern California kid who is full of energy. She’s the youngest member of a motorcycle family. Her father, Shaun Randall, grew up riding dirtbikes in the hills of Ventura County. Her mother, Jenning Steger, also rides, as do her older siblings. In addition to her electric dirtbike, Willa has a Honda CRF50 gas-powered dirtbike and a 200cc Polaris ATV, which is pink, her favorite color.
- Helmet:Fly Racing Youth Kinetic S.E. Tactic
- Goggles:Fly Racing Youth Zone
- Jersey/Pants:Fly Racing Youth Kinetic Mesh Khaos Racewear
- Gloves:Fly Racing Youth Kinetic
- Chest/Back Protection:Fly Racing Youth Barricade Long Sleeve Suit
- Knee Protection:Fly Racing Youth Barricade Flex Knee Guards
- Boots:Fly Racing Youth Maverik MX
- Socks:Fly Racing Youth MX Thin Socks
As the youngest in her family, Willa is used to wearing hand-me-down riding gear, but Fly Racing again stepped up and sent her a full set of kit: a Formula Carbon helmet, Kinetic Mesh Khaos jersey and pants, Kinetic gloves, Maverik boots, and Barricade armored long-sleeved suit and knee/shin guards. Willa was excited to have gear of her own, and she loved the matching black-and-pink color scheme.
For the test, we went to the Hungry Valley State Vehicular Recreation Area north of Los Angeles, which has a mini track for dirtbikes and ATVs that are under 90cc.
KTM SX-E 3
Under its “Ready to Race” banner, KTM offers a full line of motocross bikes: 4-strokes ranging from 250cc to 450cc, 2-strokes ranging from 50cc to 300cc, and several electric models – the full-sized Freeride E-XC and two youth models, SX-E 3 and SX-E 5 models.
The SX-E 3 (4,999) accommodates riders up to 90 lb, while SX-E 5 (5,499) riders can be up to 121 lb. Both have an air-cooled 48V brushless DC motor that produces 2 kW (3 HP) of nominal output and 5 kW (6 HP) of maximum output.
There are six ride modes, with successively higher modes offering more torque and faster top speeds. In Mode 6, the SX-E 3 tops out at 8.9 lb-ft and 40 mph, while the SX-E 5 is good for 10.2 lb-ft and 48 mph. The higher-spec SX-E 5 also has regenerative braking (in Modes 3-6) and adjustable suspension.
With the same 10-inch diameter wheels and a similar seat height as her Honda CRF50, Willa made a beeline for the KTM. She took to it right away, starting off in Mode 2, which gave her access to 6.6 lb-ft of torque and a 12-mph top speed – perfect for the deep sand and bermed turns on Hungry Valley’s mini track.
Whereas August is still learning the finer points of control, Willa’s years of experience on both electric and gas-powered bikes was evident in her confidence on the track. She also benefitted from the KTM’s premium build quality and components, which dealt with the rocks and bumps on the track.
At 4,999, the SX-E 3 isn’t cheap. Like larger bikes in KTM’s lineup, it has a chromoly-steel tubular frame, a tapered aluminum handlebar with Odi grips, black anodized aluminum rims, Maxxis MX-ST tires, disc brakes with petal rotors, an inverted WP XACT fork with 5.7 inches of travel, and a WP rear monoshock with 5.2 inches of travel.
The key takeaway from the KTM SX-E 3 is that it’s a ripper. It’s an 86-lb mini dirtbike with a 40-mph top speed! The beauty of the ride modes is that a beginner can start off in Mode 1 (4.4 lb-ft, 7-mph top speed) and work their way up as they learn good technique and gain confidence. If there’s a youngster in your life who has aspirations to race, then the SX-E 3 is the perfect training tool.
What to Look For
Street Legality: Like combustion dirt bikes, many of them will not be street-legal. And you may live in a municipality that will confiscate and crush them if you try to use them for that — electric or not. There are dual-sport electric dirt bikes (lighter than adventure motorcycles), which can also be used as commuter bikes. But make sure you clarify that before buying.
Battery Range: Range is a significant drawback to any electric vehicle. You want to ensure you have enough range to do the amount of riding you’re planning. expensive electric dirt bikes will have range that can exceed what most drives can handle physically. But that may be costly.
Battery Charging: A nother important factor beyond range is how long it takes to charge the battery. Shorter is better. Manufacturers may offer accessories that improve charging speed. Some dirt bikes can instantly swap in a newly charged battery and return to the trail.
How We Tested
Gear Patrol writers and editors are continually testing the best electric dirt bikes on a variety of terrains to update this guide looking at features like comfort, ease of use and riding characteristics. Our testers have spent time riding the Zero XF and the Cake Kalk INK so far; however, we’ll be updating this guide as we continue to test more models.
Zero’s FX isn’t a one-trick pony; it’s good at a little bit of everything. It’s fast but torque-heavy up front. For comparison, it’s nimble but still about 50 pounds heavier than KTM’s 350EXC-F. And it’s quiet, which anyone who’s ridden a dual sport before knows has distinct advantages and downsides. (Upsides include not disturbing nature as you ride through and saving your eardrums; cons include being unable to announce yourself to other riders on the trail or cars on the street.)
The FX’s ride is very smooth — from city streets to rutted-out trails and even completely off-road in the ungroomed wild. The tires grip well on city streets, even after a light rain. The FX can reach a top speed of 85, but I rarely found myself pushing it above 65 — this is a great cruising bike built for the trails as much as it is for the road. The acceleration feels torque-y until you get the hang of the feeling; I’d recommend starting in Eco until you get a feel for how the bike handles, experienced rider or not.
The profile is lean and mean, just as advertised. Your tester is 5’4” and weigh 110 pounds, and she could handle and maneuver this bike with relative ease, although she did make sure to get comfortable on the bike on uncrowded trails before taking it to the streets. Zero says the charging time is 1.3 hours, but I found it to be much longer than that. the bike was delivered to me with an 80 percent charge, and it took more than two hours to get it full. The range is 91 miles which is a solid day’s ride, but unless you have the means to give the bike a good overnight charge, you’ll be SOL the next day. And that 91-mile range is in the city — if you’re riding on the highway at 70 mph without starting and stopping, it drops to 39 miles per charge.
We’ve been fans of Swedish manufacturer Cake — and Stefan Ytterborn’s helmet/eyewear/apparel brand, POC — for years. Founded in 2016, Cake has consistently put out smooth, innovative electric bikes that offer both gorgeous looks and purpose-built function.
The Kalk class of offroaders, however, is much more about play than work. The street-legal Kalk INK picks up quick thanks to 252Nm of electric torque, while reliable suspension (200mm of travel) and beefy dual-sport motorcycle tires help you keep the shiny side up from the road to the trails.
- Removable battery charges from 0 to 80 percent in two hours, 0 to 100 percent in three
- Three ride modes and three braking modes adapt to your style and environment
- Not exactly the cushiest seat on the planet (or this page)
- You must come to a full stop to adjust ride and braking modes
Yamaha XE4 Electric Dirt Bike First Ride Review
Electric dirt bikes have been making waves in the motocross industry in recent years. While new bikes like the Stark VARG and Flux Primo have garnered a lot of attention, the loss of Alta has left many wondering when Honda, Yamaha, and KTM will enter the full-size electric dirt bike market.
Amidst this yearning for new technology, it’s easy to overlook the decades of perfectly tuned chassis that have been developed by the best engineers, test riders, and racers in the industry, and they are ripe for electric conversion. Luckily, we’ve got some companies trickling into this space to make electric conversions that bolt on to some of the most proven motocross bikes that our industry has created.
Enter the Yamaha XE4 Electric Dirt Bike, built by Xtreme Electric MX (XEMX).
After experiencing a few successful electric conversions (and with other future ones in the works, wink wink), our attention has been captivated by the XE4 Yamaha, expertly crafted by XEMX. Our intrigue was piqued after witnessing JoJo Toole’s remarkable performance on the bike during the ECR eMoto Race at the 2022 Red Bull TKO.
XEMX Yamaha Electric Dirt Bike Specifications and Details
XEMX makes 2 different kits, the XE2 (air cooled) and the XE4 (liquid cooled).
The XE4 is a bolt-on conversion kit that is compatible with the Yamaha 250 and 450 YZF and YZFX bikes from 2014-2019 for the 250 chassis and 2014-2018 for the 450 chassis.
The liquid-cooled version utilizes the stock YZF radiators with a small 12v pump to circulate Engine Ice. Liquid cooling is the best way to keep the motor cool, making the XE4 more efficient the cooler it runs. The XE4 also features a proprietary fast-change battery swap technology, which is the fastest battery change on the market, taking less than 10 seconds to swap fresh batteries.
The XE4 bike that underwent our testing process is built upon a 2016 Yamaha YZ250F Chassis. XEMX currently utilizes a 12T front and 52T rear Sprocket, sometimes replaced by a 12T-54T combination. The bike’s components, such as sprockets, plastic, suspension, and grips, are all stock Yamaha parts. Front sprockets are sourced from a stock YZF450.
XEMX is currently experimenting with several different controllers to determine which one provides the best overall performance. The controllers under consideration include the Curtis 1236SE, Votol EM-260S, EBMX X-9000, Fardriver, Kelly, and the A5, which is a Curtis clone. All of the controllers will undergo racing tests to verify which one works best for the bike.
The Curtis 1236SE controller, rated at 450 amps at 72 volts, was the controller we tested on our bike.
XEMX’s batteries are rated at 72V nominal and 600 Amp max output, with a total capacity of 4.3kWh. Since the batteries are custom-made, XEMX can modify the type and amount of cells to meet the customer’s needs.
XEMX has developed proprietary fast-change battery swap technology that utilizes a modified aerospace connector, delivering 600 amps per terminal. The battery compartment features the lid formerly used for the Yamaha YZF gas cap. It’s a clean, straightforward design that takes less than 10 seconds to swap fresh batteries.
The bike has three ride modes that are fully programmable, as well as a reverse, auto regen braking, and options for lever regen braking. Additionally, the bike offers optional motor sounds with a speaker, a feature we’ve never encountered before.
The XEMX Yamaha XE4 is a custom order bike, but kits will be for sale once beta testing is complete. You can see below for a breakdown of cost options for the kits.
Riding the Yamaha XE4 Electric Dirt Bike
While we’ve had the opportunity to ride the Stark VARG and Alta Redshift, it’s more common to see the ECR crew on the KTM Freeride EXC and smaller, modified electric dirt bikes like the SurRon Lightbee X.
The XEMX Yamaha XE4 provides an incredible experience. The Yamaha YZF Chassis has become a reliable platform over the years, largely due to its unique reverse motor design that creates horsepower unmatched by the other manufacturers in the pro MX scene.
Since the motor is replaced by the electric powertrain in this bike, the gas power plant is no longer a talking point. However, the design allows XEMX to adapt the space for their motor and battery.
You Can’t Buy This E-Bike // Street Legal KTM Freeride E-XC Electric Dirt Bike Test & Review
The Yamaha chassis is renowned for its stability and surefootedness in rough terrain. The proven KYB SSS suspension is sought after by many riders and comes stock on Yamaha YZF bikes.
Riding the XEMX Yamaha XE4 is an experience that lives up to all the hype that the Yamaha YZF chassis has received in the stability and suspension department. The bike feels incredible, especially after riding sub-150-pound electric dirt bikes that struggle in rough sand whoop terrain in Florida. It’s like you’re riding a Yamaha YZF250F, albeit with an electric powertrain, which is a great thing.
If there’s any complaint about the YZF chassis, it’s that the bike sacrifices some front-end steering for stability. It’s a bike that is notoriously known for benefitting from riders that “steer with the rear”, or those who prefer stability over a sharp turning bike like KTM, Suzuki, or Honda. Needless to say, we are simply splitting hairs here, and adjustments can be made to improve the turning characteristics and front-end feel of the YZF chassis.
In our video about the Yamaha XE4 electric dirt bike, we did encounter some issues. The bike would fault if we hit a sand whoop too hard when we were hard on the throttle. Mark from XEMX explained that the sensor and magnet in the motor were slightly misaligned from each other, causing the bike to shut off intermittently. This can be a common issue in new motors, and XEMX has resolved 99% of the issue since filming, claiming it is just an issue with the older style connectors. Regardless, it’s is an issue that will be resolved before kits will be sold.
KTM’s First Electric Dirt Bike!. Dirt Bike Magazine
In the field, Mark from XEMX made some changes by dialing the power back as much as 20%. In other words, only 80% power was being used when we tested the bike. This particular controller we were testing was only rated for 450 Amps, and the batteries have the capacity to put out 600 Amps. Needless to say, there is a lot more power that can be created on this platform.
XEMX Yamaha XE4 Electric Dirt Bike Pricing
XEMX have not officially started to sell kits, but will make Custom Billet motors(to order) and the parts needed for those who want them first. With their complete A kit, and rolling frame prepped, it is possible to build the bike in one day.
You will need a Yamaha 250 YZF or FX 2014-2019 or 450 YZF 2014-2018 Rolling Frame.
These motors have all Ceramic bearing with a Carbon sleeved rotor. They are finished all Black. (Cerakoting or Powder coating is extra)
BILLET 6061 ALUMINUM MOTOR ALONE: 3,500.
XE4 ALL BILLET AXIAL FLUX MOTOR WITH CARBON FIBER SLEEVED ROTOR, LIQUID COOLED, CERAMIC BEARING, 2.08 TO 1 GEAR REDUCTION. MAX RATING OF 58 HP. @ 600 AMPS NOMINAL 38 HP.
COMPLETE MOTOR A KIT: 6,995.
XE4 BILLET MOTOR AND KIT, WHICH INCLUDES: 1-3
#1 COMPLETELY BUILT BATTERY TRAY, BATTERY SIDE BRACKETS, BUSS BARS AND
#2 BRACKETS, FRONT, MID AND TWO REAR SEAT BRACKETS CARBON FIBER AIR BOX
COVER, SEVEN PIVOT POINT HINGE, HALL THROTTLE, WATER PUMP, MAIN CONTACTOR,
DC TO DC CONVERTER,12 T FRONT SPROCKET, CARBON FIBER AND MID SEAT PAD.
#3 CURTIS 1236SE-6571 PRE PROGRAMMED CONTROLLER AND COMPLETE WIRING
HARNESS. POWER PANEL, MODE AND ON/OFF SWITCHES.
QUICK SWAP BATTERIES SOLD SEPARATELY FROM THE KIT: 3,295.
INR 25R Samsung (400) 18650 CELL BATTERY 500 AMP PEAK AT 84V 4KW
10 MODULES (40 18650 CELLS EACH) MOLICEL P42 and P45 Available now also.
OPTIONAL CHARGER: 250.
MODEL S2500 BATTERY CHARGER INPUT: 120V AC VOLT
OUTPUT: 84V=10AMP WITH LED DISPLAY AND FINISH CHARGE INDICATOR.
(OTHER CHARGER OPTIONS WILL BE AVAILABLE (HIGHER AMP/FASTER CHARGING)
OPTIONAL PROGRAMMER: 695.
HAND HELD PROGRAMMER FOR THE CURTIS SE1236-6571 CONTROLLER
OPTIONAL SEAT: 250.
CUSTOM SEAT CONCEPTS SEAT COVER FOR QUICK SWAP BATTERY SYSTEM.
In conclusion, the Yamaha XE4 Electric Dirt Bike is an innovative new twist on a proven chassis that is sure to give riders yearning for a full size electric motocross bike something to look into. With a powerful electric powertrain and proprietary fast-change battery swap technology, the XE4 is a true work of art.