The evolution of viable electric transportation has led to the development of more recreational vehicles. Two-wheeled EVs are a smart, economical choice for moving around crowded cities, but what if you want to have some fun between commutes? San Francisco-based Alta Motors recently delivered its first electric motocross — a bike that could change the way you look at electric motoring.
The Redshift line includes electric motocross and supermoto motorcycles “We’ve been quietly driving towards this moment for over eight years in pursuit of creating the best motorcycles money can buy,” said Marc Fenigstein, co-founder and CEO of Alta Motors. “The result is a machine with a whole suite of new technologies, and a very different motorcycle than anything that has come before.”
Alta Motors was founded in 2010 by Fenigstein, Derek Dorrestyn, and Jeff Sand — all longtime motorcycle riders and enthusiasts. The team has since added personnel from Tesla, GM, Toyota, Volkswagen, and AMA racing.
Dorrestyn traces his interest in electric bikes to his childhood. “My whole life my father would say, ‘That rides like it’s got an electric motor. That motor feels electric!’ And he meant the bike’s engine had a really broad powerband, like the difference between a highly tuned 2-stroke and a detuned 4-stroke,” he writes in a post.
Dorrestyn also recalls discussing electric motors with future co-founder Jeff Sand. They wanted to create a high performance concept mostly to see if it can be done. They did not initially set out to build an entire company. However, as the computer simulations showed what was possible, they realized that they needed to build a prototype, and for that they had to form a company. Marc Fenigstein was brought in, and Alta Motors was born.
Upon completion, the prototype Redshift was brought to an abandoned airstrip and pitted against a KTM 250. In a 0 to 60 drag race, the electric bike won by a full length.
The Redshift SM also proved itself in November 2015 by winning the IMS Sacramento round of the Supermoto USA race series. Kevin Butler, an Alta technician and pro racer, started in last place on the grid and rode his electric bike to a first-place finish. What’s even more impressive is that this was his first supermoto race. This was also the first time that an unmodified production electric motorcycle beat out its ICE rivals.
The Redshift was developed and crafted by the factory from the ground up. Each part was tested and designed for these particular vehicles, with nothing being added from a shelf. Its components are designed to perform multiple tasks, to reduce excess weight and parts. For example, the aluminum bulkhead ties the rear suspension, airframe, monocoque chassis, and trellis skidframe together.
Alta’s 5.8kWh battery provides the SM with a range of 50 miles “based on recreational trail and mixed road use,” while the MX’s range is listed as two hours under the same conditions. The battery is waterproof and built to withstand shock and vibrations. The water-cooled 14,000 RPM brushless motor puts out 40 horsepower and 34 pound-feet of instant torque. Combined with a 3.5:1 gear reduction, it delivers 122 pound-feet of torque at the counter shaft from zero RPM.
The street-legal Redshift SM retails for $15,500, while the track-only MX goes for $15,000. Both are available for pre-order on the company website.