Kawasaki Elektrode balance bike debuts

Kawasaki’s first electric motorcycle is here in 2022, as expected. But, while we were all thinking we’d see a battery-powered Ninja this year, we instead get a machine aimed at kids. The new Kawasaki Elektrode is a balance bike aimed at kids from 3 to 8 years old.

It looks a lot more aggressive than the balance bike you might have bought for your kids or grandkids off of Amazon, or at Costco. That’s because Kawasaki sees this machine as an introduction to motorcycling, specifically off-road motorcycling, not bicycling. Remember, this machine is electrically powered; it’s not made to paddle along Fred Flintstone-style with occasional help from gravity, like a standard balance bike.

A sporty-looking entry-level electric motorcycle. Photo: Kawasaki

Kawasaki gave the Elektrode an aluminum frame with adjustable seat height (from 16.1 inches to 20.5 inches). The seat is as easy to adjust as a standard bicycle seat, and can even be replaced with a bicycle seat if you wish. The Elektrode also comes with removable footpegs that allow users to ride it more as a standard motorcycle, which will probably be the case with older kids.

The brake lever and handlebars are also adjustable, to get a proper fit for riders of varying size. Speaking of brakes, there’s only a cable-actuated disc brake in rear, with no front brakes. There’s no suspension built into the front or back, either; Kawasaki kept things pretty simple. As for wheels, they’re cast aluminum 16-inchers with Duro knobbies. Again, not much to go wrong with that setup—no spokes to adjust or break.

Are these machines the future of youth racing? Probably! Photo: Kawasaki

How is it powered?

The Elektrode has a 250-watt air-cooled brushless electric motor built into the rear wheel, powered by a 36-volt, 1.5-amp hour lithium-ion battery that’s stored in the frame. That battery will supposedly last about 2.5 hours of normal use (obviously a bigger rider who’s going faster will deplete the battery more quickly; Kawasaki reckons an average user can ride about 14.5 kilometers on a charge). It takes about 2.5 hours to recharge from your standard AC wall socket.

The trend with these electric dirt bikes for kids is to offer low maintenance and a high level of parental control. The Elektrode continues that trend, with the electric motor sealed into the wheel; there should be no need to pull things apart for adjustment or tinkering.

As for parental control: Parents can select one of three power modes, which limit speed to roughly 17 km/h, 26 km/h or 45 km/h. These modes are only changeable if you know the correct code, and the bike must be stopped to change them. Parents can also completely switch off the Elektrode’s powertrain, leaving it in full-on balance bike mode. The whole bike weighs 14 kg, so small kids will probably not relish the chance to tip-toe it around as a balance bike, but maybe it would be a good way to become comfortable with the bike’s ergos?

At this point, we have not seen any news of Canadian pricing or availability. It’s a 2023 model for the US, so arrival would be expected there soon; Americans will pay $1,099 MSRP. Adjust your expectations for our market accordingly.

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