Are you looking for a competitive electric motorbike? Well, Tesla has done it on the road and now ALTA is doing it in the off-road motorbike world. In the American technology capital San Francisco, in the neighbourhood of Apple, Google and Tesla, the electric motorbike manufacturer ALTA are working on the future of off-road motorcycling.
So, how did it all start?
Since 2009 the crew at ALTA has worked on prototypes of an electric Motocross bike. After many years of development, they started testing in public with the help of different professional riders about two years ago. Just last year ALTA hired former professional Supercross racer Josh Hill to race the bike at the Red Bull Straight Rythm event. Hill beat factory Suzuki rider Kyle Cunningham over the course of three heats and advanced to the next round showing the world that an electric motorbike is more than capable of competing with the gas-powered competition.
However, a lot of questions still remained. Some of them were like how would a production electric bike fair out on the track? How fast does it go and would the chassis be on par with what we are used to? But ALTA not only decided to push the electric engine, they also built their own chassis from scratch which you would agree is a big challenge in itself.
Inquisitive to know about this electric motorbike, I travelled to Perris Raceway in California USA. The question hovering my mind was, is this really the motorbike of the future?
The very first thought that came to my mind after looking at the new ALTA MXR was WOW! It almost felt that I made a trip into the future.
The design is nothing that is currently on the market. Spellbound by its looks, I was even more excited and eager to get out on the track. It took me only a couple of laps and I felt right at home on the bike. The electric engine is really responsive. I must say, ALTA definitely spent a long time developing a power delivery that would make it feel like your normal gas bike.
The chassis feels absolutely balanced and handles really well. The MXR feels like a race bike with an aggressive set up that sits a little lower in the rear than your ordinary OEM dirt motorbike. As racers in the motorbike community, we spend a lot of time and money to set our motorbikes up lower in the rear to achieve better handling. So it was nice to see a manufacturer adopt that from the get-go. The WP AER forks and WP shock comes with a setting developed for the bike and gives ample options to fine tune the bike as per your liking.
I was surprised to see how easy I was able to adapt to the bike!
The MXR comes with four different mappings that make it change the power delivery significantly.
Map 1 ECO: A traction map that offers the best range profile. Also a great map for just starting out.
Map 2 SPORT: Performance profile engineered to line up with 250f race machinery
Map 3 PERFORMANCE: Similar traits as the sports map but with more bottom end and traction. It also makes a great starting gate map.
Map 4 OVERCLOCKED: Maximum torque and power are available without restriction – if you have the skill to control it. Thermal limiting will protect the machine if you push too hard.
Not having a clutch or a shift lever was surprisingly easy to get used to. Instead of focusing on my shifting points and controlling the bike with the clutch I could just focus on my riding technique and my line choices which made for a very enjoyable riding experience.
A big point of discussion is the weight of the bike. With 259 lbs it comes in on the heavy side but and this is a big BUT out on the track you don’t feel the weight. Without the rotating mass of a normal combustion engine, the bike feels light and nimble and really easy to handle.
Another common question when it comes to electric bikes is their battery life. How long can I ride until I’m out of juice?
With ALTA that really depends on the surface you ride on and how hard you ride. A professional racer gets somewhere around 40 minutes out of the battery on a hard pack track in map 4. An average rider gets 90 minutes or more of riding time. With Indian tracks being hardpack, for the most part, you can expect to get around 90 minutes or more of riding time out of your bike. This, in my opinion, is pretty good!
The Supermoto and Dual Sports version of the bike comes with different mappings which give the bike around 4 hours of battery life. ALTA’s new charging system enables you to fully recharge your battery within 90 minutes. Four hours of riding time in the city or off-road is a good amount with a quick recharge time.
I am sure; the Indian riders will enjoy the torque of the bike especially on the plated Supermoto version. So, with a lot of stops and go traffic you will be able to out accelerate everybody.
ALTA’s marketing slogan is “The Future of Fast” and after riding the bike I absolutely agree to it. As a professional racer, I’ve ridden a lot of different motorbikes over the years and I would consider ALTA as one of the best. Honestly, I haven’t had this much fun riding a dirt bike in a long time.
One of the most exciting news is that Harley Davidson will be investing in ALTA soon. ALTA, with great handling power, delivery and easy to control characteristics is a must try for all motorbike lovers. So, enjoy riding this eco-friendly and future-ready electric motorbike right away!
— Daniel Sedlak
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