- A light weight, hardtail 29er electric bike that would work well for cross country riding or mixed-urban commuting thanks to a pair of rack bosses, suspension fork lockout and the larger more efficient wheels
- Quality components including Shimano SLX 10 speed drivetrain, Shimano M355 Hydraulic disc brakes (180 mm front and rear) and a RockShox XC30 air fork, the bike comes in three frame sizes for improved fit
- Premium ebike systems by Bosch... one of my favorites on the market, easy to see, understand and operate while riding, removable battery pack for convenient charging and transport, high torque CX motor
- Smaller 15 tooth chainring is great for climbing but could be susceptible to chain suck in extreme wet muddy conditions, motor casing looks a bit bulky compared to other 2016 Bosch bikes
KTM began as an Austrian motorcycle manufacturer with roots dating back to the 1930’s and an official formation in 1981. Over the past 30+ years it has built a solid reputation producing off-road motorcycles but recently branched off into road bikes and then electric bikes. Apparently they’ve been making standard bicycles since 1964? The Macina Force 29 10 CX4 is one of their first trail oriented e-bikes being sold in Europe, Canada and the US and 2016 is the first year for ebikes from KTM Bike Industries in the United States. As someone who was familiar with the motorcycle side of the company, I have been excited to see their offering for some time and came away from this review generally impressed. For just under $4k the bike is priced on par with competing brands and stands out with a higher end drivetrain, hydraulic disc brakes and an air suspension fork. It’s lighter than many similar bikes and is unique in offering a pair of 180 mm disc rotors vs. having a smaller one in the rear. I love that they opted for a tapered head tube and 15 mm thru-axle up front because it stiffens the ride and makes the bike more capable (and easier to service). Both wheels offer quick release which makes transport easy but the traditional diamond frame should already be convenient to lift and hang off of most bike racks. While the bike only comes in high-step, it is offered in three frame sizes.
A few of the gripes I have about the KTM Macina Force are the larger motor casing… because inside they’re using a Bosch CX high torque motor that I have seen on other bikes positioned at an angle and wrapped more closely. The trade-off here might be that the KTM Bosch motor is better protected? It’s not a huge deal, just an aesthetic question mark. The bike only comes in one color scheme and to me it looks alright but not amazing. The dashes of color and branding feel tacked on compared with some of the Haibike models I’ve also reviewed. The flat bar and aggressive stem make this an active bike, your body position is more forward and aerodynamic. This makes it great for cross country riding or street riding in urban environments. I could see myself commuting to work on this during the week with lockout engaged on the fork and then having a blast on trails during the weekend. I absolutely love that they included seat stay bosses for adding a rear rack.
All things considered, this bike works extraordinarily well because the Bosch Centerdrive is such a great system. The motor is responsive, powerful and smart… the controller senses when you’re shifting and eases off motor output to reduce wear on the sprockets and chain. The Intuvia display is large, backlit, has a remote button pad for easy operation without compromising your grip and there’s even a micro USB charging port on the side. It’s nice to be able to charge the battery on or off the bike (if you end up commuting with it and need to top-off in the office) and even the display can be taken off which might be good if you’re doing some downhill riding and don’t want to risk breaking it on a fall. I’m glad KTM is in the market and had a blast seeing their converted Macina Force 29 at the Denver Ebike Expo which had a bunch of carbon fiber upgrades and a Lauf suspension fork drastically reducing its weight and completely transforming how it looked (everyone wanted to know what it was and I had a blast riding it!) you could do the same thing but it would certainly raise the price, likely doubling the stock bike… but again, it’s priced well given what it offers. Apparently Fred’s custom KTM electric bike weighs just 36.8 lbs! That’s amazing to me given the power and size of the drive systems.
- Being a hardtail with 29″ wheels, this bike rolls very efficiently and could easily be transformed into an urban bike… just add a disc-compatible rack using the seat stay bosses and you’ve suddenly got a “go anywhere” platform that’s more comfortable than on-road-only electric bikes
- Available in three frame sizes, this means you can dial in fit depending on leg length, the bike only comes in high-step diamond style and may suite taller riders or those looking to do cross country riding given the 29er wheel setup
- Geared for off-road riding and climbing with a smaller 15 tooth chainring, I love the little chain guide / bash guard they used to keep it on track and the solid rubber slap guard on the right chain stay
- Quality hydraulic disc brakes with larger 180 mm rotors front and rear, frequently I see a smaller rotor on the rear but it’s nice to have the additional braking power here if you’re into racing
- One of the lighter weight hardtail cross country ebikes I’ve tested using the Bosch system, this due in part to the air fork… as shown in the review you could swap out the seat post, handle bar and fork for carbon alternatives like the Lauf Trail Racer making it extremely light weight if you spend the money
- The Bosch Performance CX motor offers 75 Newton meters of torque, peak output of 350 (but it feels way higher) and shift detection… in my experience it’s the fastest responding motor with the highest effective range of power output so you can choose the pedal cadence that feels right for you vs. adjusting how you ride to suit the motor
- The display is backlit, easy to read and understand, works with a remote button pad positioned very near the left grips (both grips are locking for improved handling) and the button pad responds reliably and clicks when you press it
- The Intuvia display panel from Bosch has a six volt Micro USB port for charging portable electronics… you could mount your phone or use a music player on your ride and piggy-back off the main battery
- The battery pack is very light at ~5.3 lbs, has a nice plastic loop to make carrying easier, locks to the frame (press down firmly until you hear a click) and has a metal locking lip to make theft more difficult, I love that the downtube also has a layer of rubberized foam for a more snug fit and to reduce rattling given that this is an off-road ebike
- Excellent two year comprehensive warranty with five years on the frame, KTM has been producing traditional unpowered bicycles and motorcycles for many years so I feel like they are solid with support
- The Bosch CX motor controller senses your pedal cadence, bike speed and pedal torque 2,000 times per second to be one of the most responsive ebikes available
- I’ve heard that when the Bosch system is used with a smaller chainring and ridden through thick muddy terrain you can end up with chain suck (where the chain wraps around the front sprocket and seizes up), should not be an issue for the vast majority of riders but worth considering and monitoring for some
- I believe the Bosch CX motor can be tipped at an angle and designed to appear more compact like I saw with some Haibikes recently but KTM has left it flat and kind of bulky looking here, maybe they opted for additional protective shielding?
- Only available in one color scheme that looks a little busy and flashy to me and maybe not as polished as some of the other brands, not a huge gripe but something that stood out
- KTM is relatively new in the Ebike space in America, doesn’t seem to have imported as many units as other brands may not be available to see and test ride at as many dealers as some other bikes
- The display is large and easy to see but may take more damage in the event of a fall given the flat handle bar setup, it’s designed to be removable and may pop off without breaking but I’ve been told by aggressive riders that they have broken them multiple times, consider removing it yourself if you’re going downhill in risky conditions
- This isn’t exactly a con but given the more aggressive body position and hardtail design of the bike you might consider adding a seat post suspension (get a 30.9 mm diameter, consider the Thudbuster ST) if you want to improve comfort for longer rides… the Bosch system is super efficient and can go upwards of 50 miles per charge depending on the drive mode selected
- Official Site: https://www.ktmbikeindustries.com/bikes/e-bike/macina-force-29-10-cx4.html
- More Pictures: https://goo.gl/photos/vQLEtaNLnzL2Z2cM6