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Everything you need to know: EMX Powertrain – XF30

Everything you need to know: EMX Powertrain – XF30

Should we switch to electric dirtbikes? For the time being, the transition seems to be far off and there is a lot of reluctance among enthusiasts, who are attached to the noise and the smell; a market share that the players in this new sector will have to win over.

Once the prejudices have been put aside, it is good to look at the new options available to any rider who want to take a look at a subject that is, to say the least, … electric. At a time when conventional engines are no longer in vogue, the safeguarding of our sport will probably go through this, one day or another, under the cover of a need for ecological transition. Is this justified? To each his own opinion on the matter.

It would be hard to hide the fact that when it comes to electric dirtbikes, our first instinct is to think of Stark, which made a big splash in December 2021 by unveiling a first model – VARG – that was quite attractive. However, and for two years already, we had heard about the existence of a prototype developed by EMX Powertrain in Holland with the support of Yamaha Motor Europe, and the Dutch federation, the KNMV. The primary objective was to explore the opportunities for developing an electric alternative to a motocross bike with similar competitive qualities as its existing equivalent, the YZ-F 250. After two years of development, design and testing, the said XF30 made its first public appearance at the Salon du deux roues, in Lyon [France]. An opportunity to meet the owner in person, Elmar Dohms.

“I’m 50 years old, and I own several companies, including EMX Powertrain” Elmar tells us. “I started Motocross at the age of 7 with a Puch Magnum X 50cc and today I ride both petrol dirtbikes and electric dirtbikes. I have 40 years of experience in the sport as a rider, trainer, but also in the role of chairman also organizing MX races and MX events”

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“I have witnessed the evolution of the sport in the Netherlands and Europe, and it is obvious that it is now in the center of discussions because of noise and CO2 emissions,” Elmar explains when asked about what motivated him to look into the electric issue. “Noise is a real and immediate threat, which has forced several tracks to close their doors. There are changes underway in terms of noise and environmental constraints that limit the suitability of internal combustion engines, which is a worldwide issue. An electric motorcycle that makes no noise makes the sport easier to practice. With my engineering company, I began the initial steps to develop this bike in 2018; the first prototype arrived in April 2021, and the limited edition XF30 was released in May 2022.”

If you are just discovering the XF30 from EMX Powertrain, don’t worry. Unlike its Swedish predecessor who is also the head of the 24MX firm, the Dutch manufacturer has adopted a less aggressive strategy in terms of communication, in order to only unveil a finished product ready to hit the market. “We preferred to only present it once the development was completely finished. Today, a customer can place an order, and we are able to respond. We can produce about a hundred bikes a year with our team of engineers. Producing more than that isn’t our desire at this point, but we do have the knowledge to do so.”

On paper, what do we have here ? The XF30 has 40 horsepower, 720 Nm of torque at the rear wheel – 187Nm for the engine – a 4500 Wh battery and weighs 115 KG on the scale (for comparison, the 250 YZ-F 2023 weighs 106KG). A map switch is integrated on the handlebar to select one of the three available modes (Ride/Explore/Race). On the “Ride” mode, the announced autonomy exceeds two hours.

“The biggest challenge was to develop a powerful electric motor that would be able to match the characteristics of a 250 4-stroke engine, while integrating it into the already existing Yamaha chassis.” Elmar explains. “The space available is limited and it is very important to keep the technical characteristics of the basic bike as far as riding is concerned. We achieved this by developing a high-density battery and were able to retain the riding qualities of a Yamaha. The rider instantly gets that familiar riding feeling and therefore feels confident with the electric XF30.”

As the XF30 has not been reviewed by the media yet, it is difficult to have any feedback on it for the moment, but Elmar Dohms told us that Julien Lieber had the opportunity to test it. Ex top GP rider, the Belgian has been able to give us his first impressions: “my first impression with the EMX bike was quite good, I felt straight away really good on the bike because it’s a complete Yamaha chassis so it doesn’t change from a normal motocross bike and it looks nice too . The acceleration of the electric engine is really fast , we reach quite quick the maximum speed. The power on the bottom ,is  a bit on/off , we miss a little bit the torque of a normal engine but I think there is plenty of possibilities with the electronic settings , we didn’t made any testing so it’s probably possible to fix that . Riding without any noise is a little strange in the beginning but we get used quick to it , we hear more different things as the noise of the chain or the suspension working. Overall I can say that the EMX bike is a good bike with a lot of potential for the future.”

Let’s dive to the main matter. How much does this XF30 cost? As far as the price, you should count on 14.500€ for the purchase (preferential salon du 2 roues price, extended at the moment). That’s +/- 5.000€ more than a 2023 250 YZ-F. More expensive than its petrol cousin, the XF30 is nevertheless less greedy in terms of maintenance on the long term, the latter being reduced to its strict minimum compared to the petrol bike. More expensive to buy, less expensive to maintain, which means that the balance will be restored over time and with repeated use.

As for the battery, the autonomy varies according to the level of the rider, in the same way that a GP rider will go down a full tank faster than a regional rider in the same conditions. On the EMX Powertrain stand in Lyon, we met Kevin Kotte, who’s a regional champion in the Netherlands and also a test rider who had many opportunities to ride the said XF30. In all transparency, he confesses that for the moment, a Jeffrey Herlings in Lommel would probably reach the end of the battery autonomy in about 20 minutes, while an amateur rider would benefit from a 40 minutes autonomy in race situation “He’ll probably run out of juice before the battery anyway” laughs Kevin. In leisure/riding use, one can hope to pass the two-hour mark for a recharging time of one and a half hours once the battery is completely discharged.

We were also interested in the loss of charge of the battery on the long run. Here again, the man in charge of EMX Powertrain was fully transparent.

“A rider who rides 100 hours a year can aim for 5 years of life before having to change his battery. But a rider who rides that much usually changes his [petrol] motorcycle before the 5 year mark. The advantage is that electric technology is developing rapidly, and that in a few years, these batteries will have evolved and gained in autonomy as well as in life span. In 3-4 years it will probably be interesting for the rider to buy a new battery pack with the latest technology. In other words, if a rider buys an XF30 today, we will be able to provide him with a new generation of battery in the future.”

One of the pros of this XF30 is that it was entirely designed around a 250 YZ-F chassis. In case of a problem or a breakage, the rider is not forced to go through a manufacturer who then has a monopoly on spare parts distribution, but can go to any Yamaha dealership.

No more futuristic design, and that’s probably what we appreciate the most at first glance. We are in presence of a bike that looks like a “true” motocross dirtbike and if the battery performance is still the biggest question mark (let’s wait for the track tests) the concern about the look seems to be solved; your girlfriend’s neighbor’s aunt will have a hard time telling the difference between a 250 YZ-F and an XF30. It is worth noting that for the less initiated, a version with the rear brake on the handlebars is available.

What about the one who takes the plunge and invests in electric dirtbikes in 2023? Let’s face it, a rider who wants to go electric will have to deal with the problem of recharging his battery on the tracks, which are not yet adapted to accommodate a fleet of electric dirtbikes in terms of infrastructure. Elmar Dohms is actively campaigning for the adaptation of tracks in Holland with charging stations, just like the new charging parks for electric vehicles that are flourishing with the increase in the number of electric cars on our roads. The subject is under study and the adaptation will be done, but gradually.

Just like the riders and the paddocks, the regulations of the various championships and federations will have to adapt to see, in the near future, these new electric models attacking the races alongside petrol motorcycles, or becoming categories in their own right.

“The biggest advantage of electric dirtbikes is that there are no more noise complaints,” concludes Elmar Dohms, who is well aware of the new problems the sport is facing, but also of the reluctance of some people to accept the arrival of electric dirtbikes in the sport. “In fact, it will be possible to ride as much as you want, when you want. The transition will be gradual, we’ll ride petrol bikes and also electric bikes and since I grew up riding petrol, I understand the skeptics. That’s one of the reasons why we use the existing Yamaha chassis, to keep the best of the bike, which is a high performance bike. Riding an electric dirtbike is as physically demanding as riding a petrol dirtbike, and it gives you the same kick of adrenaline. There are no more gears to shift or clutches to manage, which means you can more easily focus on your riding lines. The XF30’s electric engine delivers a lot of torque that you’ll find hard to live without once you’ve tried it. We’re talking 720Nm of torque at the rear wheel and it’s sensational, torque that’s present from the first acceleration until the top speed is reached. The expected power is always there to sign good times, and the balance between power and handling is perfect.”

It is worth to note that EMX Powertrain is now involved as a manufacturer in the new FIM E-Explorer World Cup starting in Spain on May 13, a series that will serve as a springboard for many electric motorcycle manufacturers in the off-road field.

If you want to know more about this XF30 from EMX Powertrain, we invite you to visit the website of the Dutch manufacturer.

Words: Kevin Frelaud/Daily MX