2022 GasGas MC-E 5 Review – Cycle News

GasGas MC-E 5, the perfect starter kit?
If you’re a parent and a motorcycle addict, like I am, the prospect of plopping your offspring on a motorcycle and watching them motor off into a life of throttle-twisting joy is very attractive. But kids do a lot of stuff. And parents must do all the stuff kids do. So, investing in a kid’s bike and a riding life is a big step. GasGas’ MC-E 5 (and by default KTM’s SX-E5 and Husqvarna’s EE 5) is looking to make the cash bite last longer and save us some time along the way. All while delivering accessibility to beginners and high performance for racers.
Words and Photography by Jesse Ziegler
The real beauty of the Austrian “Electric 50” platform is its adjustability to riders of different sizes and skills and its near-zero-maintenance soul. Two very attractive things to buyers who have little time and hate spending money. And spending money is something we need to talk about right away. This baby has an MSRP for 2022 of $5099 (this price includes the charger here in North America). Not a cheap ride.
What you get for your money is quite a lot, though. First, the electric motor is serious. Torquing out 5kW and juiced by a 21AH 48V stacked lithium-ion battery array, the GasGas MC-E 5 has enough juice for a couple hours of training rides for beginners/recreational riders on the long end. For ultra-competitive rippers in full-gas (it’s not gas) race mode, you’re looking at one moto per charge (25 minutes claimed). Charging times top out just over an hour to get to 100 percent, with 80 percent achieved in 45 minutes or so.
At the heart of power delivery is the bike’s ride-by-wire throttle and the Control Center display/mode selector mounted where the gas cap would be on a burner bike. Here, your kids can quickly show you how to adjust the power output in six different levels. It’s easy, don’t worry. Starting at level 1, you can take an absolute beginner for a brisk walking-pace experience with virtually no worries of whiskey throttle loop-outs or runaway kids on bikes. Ramp it up to level six, and adults on the bike should be prepared—it goes! The steps in power output are nice from level 1 to level 2, but level 3 is a big jump up. The top level is fast!
This is where the “E-50” concept shines. It’s made to be a beginner bike and a top competitor. It’s fully adjustable and adaptable from calm to chaos. Even the chassis transforms based on rider needs—shrinking or growing for riders’ needs.
Starting with lowering the bodywork and seat, you can move your little rider closer to the ground in three levels from stock. Stage 1 simply moves the body work/subframe and seat down to a lower position and takes about an inch out of the seat height (approximately 26 inches to 25 inches depending on shock preload). Stage 2 moves the shock into a new mounting position and slides the fork up in the triple clamp, it drops the bike down another inch. The third stage requires suspension modification, lowering the components two inches for a lowest possible seat height right around 22 inches on average (again, final measurements will depend on rider sag settings/shock preload).
It took me and my daughter about 30 minutes to drop the GasGas MC-E 5’s seat height to its lowest setting without the suspension mods. For my 49-inch tall six-year-old and her 20-inch inseam, it was just at the tippy-toe level there. She could use the lowered suspension to eliminate more low-speed tip overs and boost her confidence, for sure, but we’re teaching here so those are all learning experiences, right?
On the dirt, her experience was great. Mine, too. Starting in level 1, we got the feel for the bigger bike. She currently rides a Stacyc, like a lot of moto-influenced kids these days, and has been on one since she was three. So, electric motorcycles aren’t new to her, in fact, they’re the only thing she’s ever experienced being in control of and likely ever will. From the get-go, she could predict what the GasGas MC-E 5 power delivery would do to the ride, and she was quickly ready to go up to level 2 to tackle some small hill climbs in the empty lots.
The bike’s size fits her well ergonomically with handlebar and footpegs seemingly right in the spot she needs them to putt around comfortably and in control. This was one of her first rides on a rear-foot-brake-equipped bike and she pulled off some sweet skids by the end of our first day.
From my perspective (running around empty fields chasing my little girl on a motorcycle), there is a lot to like about this platform. First, there’s only benefits to the electric nature here. It’s quiet so I can yell at her to turn around, it’s never hot, it lets her focus on the sounds and sensory feelings of being in control of the bike, and it is an easy progression from the Stacyc machines. I already know I need to charge bikes up when we get home. I’ve already been trained. I doubt I’ll be caught out with a dead bike anytime soon.
Every day we got home from riding I simply plugged the bike in, brushed off some dirt and lubed the chain. That’s all the maintenance this bike will likely ever need other than some new grips, tires eventually, and, I don’t know, maybe brake pads in three years? My kid is a ways off from going race pace. I see little additional investment needed. So, if a $5000 purchase can last four years for one kid without me cleaning a carburetor or replacing a piston or cleaning a single air filter, I’m feeling a little better already.
As a motorcyclist, I appreciate the real components on this bike, as well. The brakes are good, the footpegs are real, the frame and swingarm are substantial and the fasteners are familiar and high-quality. I see this lasting a long time. Plus, look at the thing! The GasGas kids’ bikes are simply awesome looking. Red frames, red everything, yes!
One area that could use some refinement for the beginner crowd is the suspension. It’s biased to the higher-performance end of the user spectrum, for sure. And without lowering the components, the bike tends to sit raked out in the front, almost refusing to move through the fork stroke. We kept dropping air pressure in the fork to get some movement but having a setup with the bias shifted down toward the recreational end of the spectrum would help this thing handle a lot better. It’s made for jumping right now, and I suspect a lot of these bikes are going to be used in fields and back yards and empty lots and trails where rocks and off-road-style obstacles are more common than a Loretta’s rhythm section. A strong market this bike sort of misses is the trail-bike world. Soft suspension, soft seats, simple riding fun. That’s not in the GasGas MC-E 5’s DNA, but I bet it’s coming soon from somewhere.
I know the KTM Group has plans for more competition-focused bikes in this class. Be on the lookout for “65” and “85”-class models soon, and then “125s”? But, again, I don’t think we’ll see anything closer to the trail-bike category from the Austrians.
As my daughter ripped around a few days on the GasGas MC-E 5, I started to realize she may never ride a gas-powered dirt bike. The pace of development in this segment is right on cue with her age. She could ride this MC-E 5 for years. And by then, can you imagine what the electric youth motorcycle market will look like? Certainly, the KTM family of brands won’t be the only ones here. But they certainly have a great head-start in the space with this little weapon. CN
 
 
 


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