KTM Macina Kapoho 2973

You may recognise KTM as an Austrian boutique motorcycle manufacturer, the sort that teenage boys of my generation had posters of in their bedrooms. The bike manufacturer shares these roots, but today is a separate business, still manufactured in Austria. The Kapoho is a burly eMTB featuring 160mm of fore and aft suspension, and in intentions is definitely not a Viennese waltz, but more Innsbruck downhill. Macina is the sub brand they use for all their ebikes and Kapoho is, well, Hawaiian for ‘the depression’. I don’t think depression will be a problem after you buy this bike though.

The long travel aspect doesn’t mean that the Kapoho isn’t versatile. In forgoing the further aft seating balance that many longer travel bikes have, it is equally comfortable tooling around town and on off-road trails.

KTM has configured this bike in a ‘mullet’ configuration – so business up front (a regular width 29″ wheel for sharper handling) and fun out the back (a 27.5+ wheel for more traction). It seems to work well, with gobs of traction through the Hans Dampf/Magic Mary tyre combo, and if run tubeless it’ll have even more (it comes with all the gear except sealant to do tubeless). If you are running with tubes and need to carry a spare, you could probably get away with just carrying a 27.5×2.6 tube rather than one for each end. The tyres end up with a similar diameter so it doesn’t do anything weird with the geometry, and you could probably switch wheel sizes if it bothered you or you bent a rim, which is unlikely given the tough DT Swiss H1900 wheelset.

Geometry is fairly old-school, with really long chain stays (495mm), tall seat tube, sort top tube and longer stem. It is clearly a choice they made though to suit a range of riders. The bike gave me heaps of confidence to ride chutes I wouldn’t normally attempt. In fact, the ride style is the ride ‘at’ obstacles rather than ‘over’ or ‘around’. It remained unfussed no matter what, and I suspect that for many eMTB purchasers this will be exactly what they want. If however you want a “poppy” bike where you can manual the front wheel over things and pop off little bumps, move on, this isn’t for you. I thought I was flying around Woodhill, but actually I was a bit slower than the Wisper Wildcat and Specialized Levo. However it’s all about fun and unless you are in a race it really doesn’t matter how fast you are going (actually, trees soften at slower speeds … just saying).

I rode a size L and had the seat post at it’s lowest setting. On most bikes the situation is opposite as I have long legs. So do try before you buy.

The Yari/Monarch RL 160mm suspension is decidedly mid-range, with not much small bump sensitivity. Compared to my regular Trek Fuel Ex MTB which has a Fox 34 and a Float Evol on the rear, the difference could not have been greater. I made some improvements in suspension performance when I cranked up the damping but it still felt a bit harsh. I’d be tempted to drop the pressures a bit (along with tyre pressures when setup tubeless), but the bike had been set up correctly for my weight in store. However this is the “3” model and 1 and 2 come with better suspension bits, so you get what you pay for.

Another minor niggle was the seat post. Looking like a KS LEV oem unit with KTM branding, it was slow to rise. Like very slow. This might be a sign of a failing cartridge as I can’t believe it would be designed that way. Otherwise the parts selection including SRAM Eagle GX 12sp was all good for a bike of this price grade. I even liked the saddle.

In my video review above I referred to this as an SUV, not a sports car. I think that is an apt description, and the popularity of SUVs comes from their all-round ability, versatility and yes, large size.

As an ebike, it performed really well with its Bosch CX motor. I rode in EMTB mode most of the way, and this is how eMTB systems should work. I’ve written about it before and I really like it. I rode about 33km at speed and had just one bar of battery remeaining. The battery is well hidden and I love the simplicity of the Purion controller. It all just works. Bosch has announced new motors which will be better again, but this ‘old’ CX motor is still great and proven to be reliable, and local servicing is good. Side fact: apparently KTM is Bosch’s second largest ebike motor consumer. If you look at their website they have a staggering range of Bosch-powered ebikes.

Price is $7799 and you can get it in M (48cm) and L (53cm). I imagine that 90% of riders will suit the M.

Who should buy this bike?

  • You want something that everyone else doesn’t have from a cool brand, and want it to do whatever you want with a minimum of fuss and sphincter-tightening moments.

Who should not?

  • The more advanced rider who wants to feel in control and pop off bumps
  • Discerning/Aggressive riders who will find the shortcomings of the Yari/Monarch combo. Be prepared to pay more though.

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