KTM Macina Lycan 273 e-MTB review£3,950.00

Trades less stability for a light, agile feel

BikeRadar score2.5/5

KTM’s shortest-travel e-MTB has the lighter handling feel and kit to match. That leaves it undergunned when gravity gets behind the extra motor/battery mass.

While the Macina Lycan follows the classic ‘battery where the bottle would normally be’ e-bike layout, it didn’t have any noticeable rattle or security issues with the big trapezoidal 500Wh power pack, which sits in a precision-made gravity-cast cradle.

The shock drives back and down through a split seat tube to keep suspension weight low and central. Four sizes are available, but the reach of each one is short by modern trail-bike standards.

The Bosch motor is coaxed into life via flimsy-feeling KTM cranks, which were already slightly bent on my sample when it arrived. An Intuvia central display and left-hand controller are attached to the crowded 740mm bar, which also holds a shifter, dropper post lever and twin-trigger remote lockout for the RockShox Revelation RL fork (which has skinny 32mm legs and relatively simple damping).

Boost-width hubs stiffen up the wheels, but the 25mm rims and 2.35-inch tyres look and feel skinny next to the plus-size wheel packs and high pressures are needed to avoid pinch flats. The broad, flat saddle won’t suit all, and the KS dropper is externally routed, with a short stroke.

Steep steering and short reach mean the front end is not so stable
Steep steering and short reach mean the front end is not so stable

The lowdown on the ride

The KTM is quick to pick up speed in the first few metres. It’s also fairly easy to pedal if the battery dies or you push past the speed limiter, although the Shimano-driven Focus just edges it overall.

Shifting needs care on steep slopes, as the Shimano mech and 11-46t cassette don’t lift the chain into the bigger ratios as smoothly as a SRAM set-up. The Bosch motor is as noisy as ever too.

Lighter wheels and a steeper head angle make it quick to turn into tighter technical situations, particularly on climbs, where slacker bikes can wander off line. The 740mm bar also fits through smaller gaps. You have to allow for the long 490mm chainstays when turning though, and the super-low bottom bracket (315mm) and motor belly meant I regularly sumped-out or hit the crank ends.

While the suspension weight is well centred and the ride height very low, the steep steering and short reach mean the front end is less stable than other bikes. The skinny fork and narrow bar provide less steering muscle to force the KTM in the direction you want, and 180mm (not 200mm) brake rotors make it harder to slow its 23kg mass down or initiate a slide to help the steering.

I can't help thinking that most riders would be better off with the marginally heavier but theoretically more controlled KTM Macina 160mm Kapoho LT 273, which gets a RockShox Yari fork and 760mm bar.

KTM Macina Lycan 273 specs

  • Frame: Aluminium, 125mm (4.9in) travel
  • Motor: 250W Bosch Performance Line CX w/ 500Wh battery and Intuvia display
  • Fork: RockShox Revelation RL Boost, 130mm (5.1in) travel
  • Shock: RockShox Monarch RC2
  • Drivetrain: Shimano Deore XT w/ Shimano SLX shifter and KTM Kappa cranks (1x11)
  • Wheelset: DT Swiss E512 rims on Shimano XT Boost hubs
  • Tyres: Schwalbe Nobby Nic Snakeskin TL Easy 27.5x2.3in
  • Brakes: Shimano SLX, 180mm rotors
  • Bar: KTM Team Rizer, 740mm
  • Stem: KTM Team KT, 60mm
  • Seatpost: KS LEV DX 100mm dropper
  • Saddle: Selle Italia Nepal
  • Weight: 23.1kg (50.9lb)

This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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