KTM Macina Cross 10 CX4 E-bike—Souped-up Scrambler.
As I threw my leg over this sleek E-bike for the first time, it seemed to be just another electric-assist mountain bike. Although there is nothing wrong with that, I am more of a street and bike trail rider, so big time climbing isn’t a need for me. Before I made it to the first stop sign, I was already finding this KTM (with a deep heritage in gas-powered motocross racing bikes) was more than a one-purpose only machine. This brought on a wider smile with memories of days past.
As a kid, some of my favorite motorcycles were the scramblers. Not really road bikes, not really dirt bikes, they were a great compromise that could take on the trails and the highways with equal ease. They weren’t the best for either, yet they were great fun, and let you own one bike that could take you most anywhere. That is how I feel about the Macina Cross 10 CX4 (doesn’t really roll off the tongue eh?) from KTM. I loved the scramblers I had, and I am getting that kind of closeness to this KTM too.
Being a true pedelec, if is the kind of E-bike that brings you and the bike closer together. With no throttle, all of your assist comes during pedaling. It has 5 levels of assist (including off), so finding the right amount of motor help is easy for any riding condition. The levels are not just how much power the motor will make when pedaling, but also how sensitive the torque-sensed controls are. Torque-sensing means the bike can tell how hard you are working the pedals, and let the motor help to match. For years I’ve been calling this intelligent control, and this Bosch power plant system has it figured out well.
More on that. The Bosch mid-drive motor sends its power through the chain and drive gears. There are benefits and drawbacks to a mid-drive, yet one of the biggest pluses for a bike like this is having the extra weight of the battery and motor mid-mounted and low in the frame for better bike handling, something that is easy to feel when you start pushing the Macina Cross 10. Also, because the electric power is sent through the 10 gears, it allows for better use of the torque and power the motor makes (which is plenty BTW).
The KTM is limited to 20 mph (some of the Bosch aren’t) and has no throttle, so it is a class 1 E-bike here in California. That means no limit on where and how you can ride this lightweight E-bike (here at least). It builds speed fast as you work the gears, and cruises easy using a minimal amount of power from the 36 volt frame mounted battery. It has aa assist interrupt feature during shifting, yet there were times the gears still mashed, not sure why that was.
Like I said earlier, this bike is way comfortable on the street. The 700c Schwalbe tires have a great dual-purpose tread pattern. It is light and agile, so some commuting or fun riding is definitely in its repertoire. The KTM is pretty stripped down though. Looking for a bell, fenders, rack or a kickstand? You won’t find them, but they could easily be added. There is kind of a chain guard on the tiny front sprocket, but none of that other good stuff you look for on a street bicycle. That small front sprocket turns faster than you would think due to internal gearing, so the gear range on the Cross 10 CX4 makes sense and feels good at any speed.
The lack of a kickstand bugged me a lot, so I was always looking for a curb to prop the pedals on with every stop. And, the bike comes with no pedals either. Like many high-end bikes, instead of just popping something on there, they leave up to you to get the right ones that fit your riding style. Even though there are really no extras, what this bike is about is fully covered, something you get with every ride. It is like an expensive pair of skis, ready to go where you want with no questions asked.
There are a few things about the KTM that might slow you down. One is the lack of retailers. There are 3 shops close to me that carry KTM bikes. None of them have any in stock, they are special order only. That means no test ride, just a sight unseen wish for the bike you want. And then again, none of those shops will sell you a KTM E-bike, just the non-electric ones. If you go on the KTM website, it is pretty sparse. It is a Austria made bike and their site doesn’t translate to English well. I think from my research, there are 3 E-bikes available in the US—and maybe 40 in Europe. Like I said, it is hard to tell from the sites I checked out. Judging by the talks I had with the KTM rep, they are bound to get all their stuff and retailers sorted out better so you can have a great KTM experience.
Even though getting one could be tough, I do feel once you have it, all will be fine. This bike is very high quality, the 3 dealers I spoke to seemed to be very well versed on the KTM bikes, and the Bosch power system is heavily supported here in the states. Name brand parts and pieces make up the KTM Macina, so plenty of issue-free riding sees to be a given. Strong disc brakes, solid shifting, an ok front fork and firm chassis are all part of the equation. This is a complete package.
This is a bike with a strong racing background in its rooster tail. When you ride it you can feel the race-bread features, not because it is uncomfortable and abrupt, but just the opposite. Because it is smooth and responsive. Each control and movement brings you closer to the bike. Everything about it feels natural and fun happens without pre-thought. I sure enjoyed my time on it, even if it isn’t the street bike that I crave. I do crave a scrambler though, and that is what we have here.
Even though getting a test ride might be tough, I managed to get this one, so don’t give up. With any luck your local KTM bicycle dealer can hook you up. If this type of E-bikes peaks your interest, then it will be worth the effort to find one to try.
Go KTM, Turbo Bob.
“When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments’”—Elizabeth West.
They are on Facebook too.
Check out the videos I posted on this E-bike.