KTM eDrive 16 electric balance bike review

‘It’s turned my lad into a stunt rider!’


by Emma Franklin |

Balance bikes are the perfect first step to getting nippers on to two wheels, but powered versions take things that one step further by introducing the concept of throttle control. Made by US company StaCyc (which is actually owned by Harley-Davidson), the KTM eDrive 16 is essentially an aluminium-tube framed 16in wheeled BMX that’s powered by a brushless motor and 20v 4Ah rechargeable lithium battery.

Who's it aimed at?

The makers say the KTM eDrive 16 is suitable for kids aged 5-8 (a smaller 12in wheel version is also available for younger/shorter kids). With three power settings – low, standard and high – it's capable of a top speed of 11mph (restricted to 5mph and 7.5mph in low and standard modes), and it’s at just 9kg it’s seriously lightweight.

KTM eDrive 16 electric balance bike
Tested by Angus Dunn (aged 4) for six months
Quality 5/5, Value 3/5

KTM eDrive 16 electric balance bike

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Four-year-old Angus, who can ride a pedal bike without stablisers and has ridden an electric Oset trials bike previously, took to the KTM like a duck to water thanks to its low weight and manageability. However, it took him a little while to get to grips with the eDrive’s throttle, as the response is very switch-like and the modes do not alter the sensitivity (just limit speed) – which resulted in a fair few flailing wheelies at first!

That said, within 30 minutes he’d adapted to the throttle and was confidently powering himself forward, as well as revelling in intentional wheelies, burnouts, and pulling humongous skids via the rear brake lever on left handlebar. It’s turned my lad into a stunt rider – I’m so proud! Thankfully, for the sake of any unexpecting pedestrians or pets, the eDrive emits a fairly loud whining sound when ridden, which gives advance warning of an incoming loony four-year-old…

Battery Life

The battery lasts between 25-50 minutes depending on the terrain and how it’s being used – Angus rode with me on a run around Silverstone’s 3.7-mile MotoGP circuit and the battery still had a bit left to give, although he has also burned through it in 25 minutes when powering up grassy hills and performing endless burnouts! The battery itself is similar to the type you’d use on a DIY drill and simply slides in and out of the bike beneath the frame’s cross bar.

Charging

It takes about an hour and a half to recharge from totally empty, but the charger will not charge the battery if it’s straight out of the bike and too hot, so you have to add additional time onto that to allow it to cool. Cue the incessant ‘Mum, is the battery charged up yet?’ for the next 110 or so minutes… A spare battery would be good to have – if you don’t mind spending another £149 to buy one.

Verdict

Which brings us to the issue of price: the eDrive is eyewatering pricey at £859.89. Sure, it is really lightweight, well made, easy to use, and a heap load of fun – but rival machines can be picked up for around half that price. That said, judging by the reaction it gets at the local BMX track, there appears to be a lot of kudos from having an electric KTM when you’re four.

Specs

Seat height: 43 cm
Weight: 9 kg with battery
Frame: Aluminium tig welded
Fork: Steel, BMX style

Power modes

Low - Training mode 5 mph
Med - Transitional Mode 7.5 mph
High - Advanced Mode 13 mph

Other electric balance bikes to consider

StaCyc 16 EDrive Brushless Balance Bike

StaCyc 16 EDrive Brushless Balance Bike

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Identical to the KTM, apart from the Austrian manufacturer's distinctive orange colour scheme, and as a result a fair chunk cheaper.

Revvi 16" Balance Bike

Revvi 16" Balance Bike

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The Revvi 16" weighs in at 11kg and has two maximum speed settings, 8 or 12 mph. Battery range is 75 mins on the lower setting and 40 mins at top speed, with a charging time of around 6 hours.

OSET 12.5R

OSET 12.5R

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With the looks of a full size trials machine, the Oset 12.5R is the daddy of small scale balance bikes. Yes, it commands a premium in price, but with fully operating suspension and disc brakes front and rear, it's not hard to see why. Both power settings and throttle response can be regulated to suit the rider, plus there's a magnetic lanyard that cuts power in an emergency.

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