KTM Freerides to world record altitude for electric motorcycles
Francisco López, KTM's Chilean rally raid rider, climbed the world's highest active volcano on the saddle of an electric Freeride E-XC. Reaching up to 6,080 m above sea level constitutes a new Guinness World Record altitude for electric powered motorcycles.
The Ojos del Salado on the Andes mountain range sits right on the border of Argentina and Chile, reaching up to an altitude of 6,893 m (22,615 ft). The highest active volcano of the world was selected by KTM for a record-setting attempt that would display the capabilities of its electric off-road model line.
Francisco "Chaleco" López is a rider with ample experience in all forms of off-road racing, from Motocross and Enduro to Rally Raid. Having built himself a strong reputation after his stage-winning performance over the years at the Dakar Rally, the Chilean prepared for several months for this endeavor.
Facing challenging terrain in low-oxygen conditions and temperatures below -25º C (-13º F), López spent enough time on the volcano in order to acclimatize himself with the conditions he would face during his record attempt.
As far as the motorcycle is concerned, the main issue at hand was the batteries' performance. Only small modifications were made on the stock Freeride E-XC, in an effort to ensure that circuits wouldn't freeze and the batteries would still be able to retain their charge at very low temperatures.
The challenge unfolded in stages from 2,000 to 4,000 m (6,562-13,123 ft), before setting up base camp at 4,500 m (14,764 ft) for the final assault. From there López managed to ride his motorcycle up to 6,080 m (19,947 ft), confirming a new official Guinness World Record.
Four batteries were required for the climb to the record altitude, after which a huge area of iced rocks and snow made the last 800 m inaccessible.
"The bike handles very well, but the biggest thing we needed to achieve was to keep the batteries in good condition in the -25 degrees we faced there," said López.
"When I knew I had accomplished my goal and that the difficulties of finding the right path, moving slabs of snow, and knowing we had to make it on that particular moment, I raised my arms and started screaming like crazy with happiness. It was not easy and I gave it everything. The sacrifice was worth it and all the physical work and teamwork paid off."
The following video offers a brief, yet exciting view at the record-setting effort.