Motorcycles

KTM Freerides to world record altitude for electric motorcycles

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
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
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Francisco Lopez and his KTM Freeride E-XC had to face challenging terrain, high altitude, and low temperatures
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Francisco Lopez and his KTM Freeride E-XC had to face challenging terrain, high altitude, and low temperatures
Francisco Lopez had the help of a small support team from KTM
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Francisco Lopez had the help of a small support team from KTM
The experience gained in Rally Raid races was put to good use by KTM's Francisco Lopez
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The experience gained in Rally Raid races was put to good use by KTM's Francisco Lopez
The preparation of the KTM Freeride E-XC focused on shielding the electric components from extremely low temperatures
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The preparation of the KTM Freeride E-XC focused on shielding the electric components from extremely low temperatures
Francisco Lopez started his effort with his KTM Freeride E-XC on terrain that was familiar with some Dakar Rally special stages
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Francisco Lopez started his effort with his KTM Freeride E-XC on terrain that was familiar with some Dakar Rally special stages
"When I knew I had accomplished my goal, I raised my arms and started screaming like crazy with happiness," said Francisco Lopez
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"When I knew I had accomplished my goal, I raised my arms and started screaming like crazy with happiness," said Francisco Lopez
The 6,080 m (19,947 ft) altitude that Lopez reached with the KTM Freeride E-XC constitutes a Guinness World Record for an electric motorcycle
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The 6,080 m (19,947 ft) altitude that Lopez reached with the KTM Freeride E-XC constitutes a Guinness World Record for an electric motorcycle
Francisco Lopez and his KTM Freeride E-XC on the way to the world record
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Francisco Lopez and his KTM Freeride E-XC on the way to the 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
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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

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 6,080 m (19,947 ft) altitude that Lopez reached with the KTM Freeride E-XC constitutes a Guinness World Record for an electric motorcycle
The 6,080 m (19,947 ft) altitude that Lopez reached with the KTM Freeride E-XC constitutes a Guinness World Record for an electric motorcycle

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.

A MEDIO CAMINO DEL CIELO

Source: KTM

5 comments
guzmanchinky
I so want an electric bike. But what this story tells me is that I would need a team of people to keep 4 battery packs warm so that I could do what I can already do with a fuel injected 250 on less than 3 gallons of gasoline. I really, really want a Zero FX that charges in 5 minutes and goes 300 miles. I'm reading stories every day about how someone is SO close to building a battery with twice the energy density or more, and charging times in the single digits. HURRY UP!!! :)
Sven Ollino
guzmanchinky, I know what you feel. The thing with batteries is chemistry - testing takes a lot of time and you can't rush it. Zero will be out of business if one of their bikes would blow up due to untested cell chemistries. The video is beautiful but this isn't really newsworthy due to the supply truck. You could have done it 20 years ago this way too.
Jay Donnaway
This article begs the question; what is the altitude record for an engine-powered bike? EVs excel at altitude because they don't need oxygen and perform better in thinner air. Keeping the batteries warm is the main difference from sea level. That's why EVs now dominate the Pike's Peak Hill Climb. Note: The greatest altitude reached autonomously by motorcycle is 6,471.2 m (21,230 ft 11 in), achieved by Gianfranco Bianchi (Chile) on the Ojos de Salado Volcano, in the Atacama Region of Chile, on 22 March 2015. Gianfranco gained 1,972 metres of altitude driving a fuel injected Suzuki RMZ 450. He rode through difficult weather, with temperatures as low as -20 degrees Celsius and 80 km/hour winds. So, good effort, but gotta go back and try again. I'm assuming that the high speed driving was for video only, as it squandered battery charge that could've allowed for a higher climb.
Bob Flint
That's great, but it took a lot of fuel to support the trip, power & warm up the batteries, heat the water, communications, etc...
Future3000
@ guzmanchinky What if I tell you there is a battery-technology, cheap materials, 5 time density (1,0 KWh per kg) of LiPoFe batteries (0,2 KWh per kg), but ALL big companies, included LG, Samsung, Tesla, Siemens, Daimler, VW, Bosch refused it, because they have "their own interests" and "it is not from us"? 1/10 th of the cost of Teslas Gigafactory would be enough to build a factory to produce more and cheaper 1 KWh/kg Batteriepacks than Gigafactory ever would. The interest of big companies is not to build batteries, they want to sell shares and get money from Obama or Merkel!