Thursday, August 9


Something different

Words: Todd Sutherland
Commentary: Rodney O'Connor

Cyclespot European invited us out to Woodhill yesterday to have a quick ride on a few of the 2013 bikes. Here we show you the KTM350 FreeRide.

Manufacturers are often telling us their latest machine is 'something completely new', but this time it's hard to disagree.

The Promotional video apparently shows the FreeRide enjoying a bit of urban free riding. Great footage by all accounts but no really practical. How long do you think it will take before the fun Police are involved? No, the FreeRide is more likely to be seen out on the trails but it really is so different from anything else available that he could literally pop up anywhere.

KTM have really thrown something out there with this machine. Tell me, when did a manufacturer last take an engine, their 350, and reduce it's power to like a third of it's output? Remember this isn't to comply to any stupid regulation that some brilliant Government has come up with. Then they added an exhaust that is relatively very quiet. This is KTM we are talking about!

Actually the reduction in power is perhaps as much about the reduction in weight (99.5kg claimed without fuel) and in the airbox's case, size. Less able to breath hence the reduction in power. The reduced noise level is however pitched at allowing riders into a greater number of riding areas.

How many riders bolt a noisy exhaust as the very first accessory to their new trail bike?  "Makes great power mate, listen to it". Often it doesn't and I reckon most struggle to use the power they have anyway. All it does is mean your riding area has to be reduced, keeping it even further away from lifestyle farmers.

Of course it's unlikely to 'officially' open up any new riding areas. As you can imagine, as soon as someone starts riding somewhere regularly without complaint, some tosser will turn up with their noisy bike with the attitude 'well if he can then I should be able to'. Of course, that will be the end of that riding area for anyone.

The thing is though the light weight is a major Ace up the FreeRide's sleeve. Hills, slippery grovels, are all going to be a doodle on the Freeride. And who knows if someone got proactive enough perhaps they could create special 'low level noise riding area's'. Regardless I reckon there will be more than one or two FreeRide's popping up for a play in places that just aren't expected.

A low power, non threatening play bike has a lot of potential. Time will tell if the market is ready for it.