The new electric 2018 Redshift MXR is lighter, faster and cheaper than its predecessors, as Alta pushes its models to compete with ICEs
The Redshift MX was one of the more exciting EV models we covered last year, largely because it went a long way towards proving that vehicles in petrol-soaked pursuits like motocross could be equalled, if not bettered, by electric technologies.
Made by California’s Alta Motors, the Redshift MX is an all-electric dirtbike designed and built to feel like a 250cc ICE model – albeit one without any gear changes and instant access to torque – and it’s fair to say that it impressed seasoned riders and amateurs alike in trials last year.
Keen to expand, in mid-2017 Alta held a US$27 million funding round to grow its manufacturing and R&D facility in Brisbane, California, and refine the lightweight vehicle technology on which its models are built. Some of that refinement appears to have made its way into the company’s updated 2018 product lines.
A few weeks ago Alta announced the launch of the 2018 Redshift MXR, the next evolution of the Redshift series, promising more power, lighter weight, faster recharge times – and all at a lower price point.
The new MXR offers 50 HP and more torque than previous models, and weighs 259lbs (117kg) – about 4kg lighter than the MX, which will help extend range and power output. That should give the Redshift a range of about 60 miles on road, or 40 miles off-road.
Much of the improvement seems to have come from Alta’s battery pack. Although ostensibly rated with the same energy contents as its predecessor – 5.8kWh – Alta says the upgraded R5.8 pack offers extended full-power range at cooler operating temperatures. Exactly how much more this delivers compared with older models is unclear, but the company has previously said it uses a “stacked honeycomb” architecture, which offers an energy density of 185 Wh/kg, and a unique thermal wicking system to get rid of excess heat.
It also takes just 90 minutes to recharge via a 2.7kW or 3.3kW off-board charger at 240V.
Prices start at US$11,995, and you can view the full specifications here.
In addition to the 2018 MXR and MX model (the latter priced at US$10,495), the Redshift range also includes the EX Enduro (priced at US$12,995) a versatile hybrid for both motocross and urban riding, and the Supermoto SM at US$13,495 – an urban commuter model which is also the lightest bike the company produces.
That’s notable largely because Alta has brought prices down to near parity with gasoline models – cost was one of the major drawbacks to its offering last year. “While the costs of combustion vehicles are essentially flat to purchasing power, electric is still moving down the cost curve and is now a clear contender in terms of performance,” commented chief product officer Marc Fenigstein. “Now that we’ve reached price parity and our vehicles outperform combustion in nearly every category, our plans are to bring electrics into the mainstream by making them more accessible to a more diverse set of riders and future motorcycle curious audiences.”
Some challenges remain. ElecTrans points out that recharging in remote areas is still likely to require a gasoline or diesel generator, which somewhat defeats the benefit of going electric. However, perhaps features like swappable packs and greater pack density will reduce that need as time goes on, hopefully allowing riders to ditch the genset altogether.
In the meantime though, Alta says that the Redshift offers more fun than an ICE motocross at a competitive price – and that’s a hard proposition to ignore.