The bridge for kids to become motorcycle riders can be observed in neighborhoods across the country. Sales of electric bicycles are dominating pedal-powered two-wheelers, a trend that will surely continue as e-bikes become more affordable. And powered two-wheelers are basically motorbikes.
My kid has been around motorcycles since she was born 16 years ago, but she’s shied away from opportunities to ride them – even dirtbikes. But as she sees her friends whizzing around the neighborhood on e-bikes, her view is evolving.
Super73 has been one of the dominating brands of e-bikes, and last year it partnered with Indian Motorcycle to produce the eFTR Hooligan 1.2, which is graced by Indian branding, colors, and styling inspired by the brand’s dirt-track heritage. It’s an offshoot of the Super73-S2, and Indian says it is designed to “bring adventurers, fun-seekers, and motorcyclists together.”
I was intrigued – and so was my kid – so we brought one home for testing.
The eFTR is equipped with many high-end features that ups its desirability beyond the attractive styling. Front and rear disc brakes are hydraulically actuated rather than via a mechanical cable, and its inverted fork offers a few inches of bump-absorbing travel. It’s also equipped with an LED headlight (with an FTR-inspired wind deflector) and tail/brake light, along with a multifunction gauge display and trip computer that can be linked to the Super73 app. It can even deliver turn-by-turn directions.
Power comes from a 960 watt-hour battery, which, on the Super73-S2, sits across the upper frame rail like a fuel tank. On the eFTR, it hangs awkwardly on the aluminum frame’s downtube and seems like a styling faux pas for a motorcycle-branded e-bike. The battery is removable for charging anywhere, and it’s lockable so the most expensive bike component can’t be stolen.
The battery capacity is larger than most e-bikes to provide a fairly generous range. The company claims more than 40 miles of range at 20 mph in throttle-only operation and more than 75 miles of range when using the Eco pedal-assist mode.
The eFTR has pedals, but we didn’t use them much. They operate through a single-speed drive system, and combined with the bike’s considerable 73-lb weight, we normally used the thumb throttle on the moto-inspired handlebar’s right grip and occasionally employed the pedal’s cadence sensor for modest assist.
The hub-mounted motor cranks out 750 watts of power, or up to 1,200 watts at its peak, easily enough to bring the eFTR to its 20-mph Class 2 speed limit. Class 3 pedal-assist can bring you up to 28 mph. It’s more than enough power for riding on streets and sidewalks and grass fields, but the bike struggles to climb hilly terrain.
However, downloading the Super73 app allows access to a special Off-Road mode that uncorks up to 2,000 watts of power and speeds above 28 mph (I saw 31 mph on the speedo), greatly expanding its performance envelope. In this mode, the eFTR makes for a speedy commuter and a decent little dirtbike that can be used pretty much anywhere bicycles belong.
The fork does a respectable job of smoothing out bumps, but the hardtail rear end doesn’t. However, a pseudo suspension can be created by airing down the balloon-like tires on the 20-inch wheels. Rated for up to 45 psi, I dropped pressures down to 14 psi for a dramatically smoother ride at both ends.
The eFTR’s flat seat is set at 31 inches, which is a stretch for my kid but perfect for me, though it’s not well-padded. Hands are very comfortable when wrapped around the quality Oury rubber grips, and the Tektro hydraulic brakes do a fine job at shedding speed. Footrests for passengers aren’t part of the package, but that didn’t stop my child from joining me on a 15-mile roundtrip for a haircut, as the bike has a carrying capacity of 325 lb.
As for my kid, she really enjoyed her time behind the bars and used the bike to commute to her friends’ houses and their hangout locations.
“An e-bike really gives me a sense of freedom,” she told me. “I think it’s perfect for going down the street, and it was smooth sailing the whole time.”
And after we unleashed Off-Road mode and she ripped along dirt and grass trails, she became even more enthused.
“I honestly don’t even know the last time I had this much fun on a bike,” she raved. “It’s like a mini dirtbike!”
The downside to this equation is that the eFTR retails for $3,999.99, which to my monetary sensibilities is the price of a used motorcycle. Easing the financial pain somewhat is a recent offer of a $600 discount if you use the “EBIKE6” promo code on IndianMotorcycle.com.
“I really want an e-bike for myself now,” my little hooligan requested. “I was really sad to see it go, and I might be more willing to go on more bike rides with you if I had one for myself.” (Toot! Toot! All aboard, the Guilt Train is leaving the station…)
The eFTR probably won’t turn my kid into a motorcyclist, but at least she had the opportunity to experience some of the thrills on two wheels that I loved when I was a dirtbike-riding boy. I was just happy to get her outside and off her damned screens to join her for some fun daddy/daughter rides.
That’s an equation I can endorse.
For more information, visit Indian Motorcycle’s website.