California’s Alta Motors builds electric bike with power to beat petrol rivals
Motocross might be a sport beloved of petrolheads, but it’s also one that could benefit from the recent advances in vehicle electrification.
That seems to be the thinking of California’s Alta Motors too, the company behind the Redshift MX. The bike has been designed to look and feel like a modern 250cc dirtbike, but its powerful torque, easy gear system and low maintenance requirements mean Alta is confident it will turn heads and change minds.
Power comes from the company’s proprietary Alta Pack, a waterproof 350V, 5.8kWh li-ion battery. The company uses a “stacked honeycomb” architecture which enables an energy density of 185 Wh/kg, and a unique thermal wicking system to get rid of excess heat. As a result, the company boldly claims that there is “no smaller, more compact, energy dense battery pack in transportation.”
This drives a water-cooled 14,000-RPM, 40HP motor designed to sit at the roll centre of the bike to improve handling. The 6.8kg motor offers 36 ft-lbs of torque, which through a 3.5:1 gear reduction delivers 122 ft-lbs of torque at the counter shaft – more than enough for the average scramble.
Moreover, because the electric motor makes virtually no sound, you can actually enjoy the sounds of nature while you speed through it. See the below video for proof.
The bike is also fitted with Brembo brakes and WP suspension. Together, the 121kg Redshift offers 3 hours of use on a single charge – distance presumably depends on the kind of ride you’re attempting – and will fully recharge in 2.5 hours.
Pure torque aside, where the bike really seems to come into its own is in how it uses its power. Unlike a conventional dirtbike which demands near-constant gear changes, this single-speed transmission instead uses a system of power “maps”. Designated from 1-4, these tailor performance according to the style of ride required, from beginner-level Trail (1), to high-power MX Race (2) in which power is restricted to a comparable 250cc bike, to Performance for greater traction (3) and even an Overclocked mode (4).
The latter “hyper or turbo map” sacrifices range to provide as much torque and power as possible –Ludicrous Mode for bikes, anyone?
Engadget explains more on the map system in its video review.
At US$15,000, it is more expensive than comparable 250cc ICE models. However, the flexibility and extra power promised by Alta could yet earn the Redshift a reputation amongst EV enthusiasts and existing Motocross riders. According to Engadget, the model is available in around 13 dealerships in the US, but the company hopes to be in up to 60 by the end of the year.