In the anticipated 3rd annual race put on by the Red Bull Signature Series, ex pro rider and Supercross race winner Josh Hill rode the new Alta Motors Redshift MX in competition. This is the first professional level event an electric bike has raced. Hill lined up in a semi qualifier and won two races to move onto the next round. The Redshift looked fast, smooth, and not to mention, very quiet.
"Yeah it's quiet, but it's also fast and its got the torque of these other bikes. I'm hoping to be real competitive today." - Josh Hill
The Redshift looks like a piece of art, and looks oh so simple. No header sticking out, no hoses or oil, no fuel tank, no traditional cooling system. It's different and intriguing to say the least. The aluminum frame, if you could call it that, functions as the outer motor casing, the cooling circuit for the motor, and the transmission case for the gear reduction. The bike is set up with pretty nice components too. WP suspension, Brembo brakes, Acerbis plastics etc. The performance of the bike is legit, with the electric motor producing 40 hp and 36 ft./lb of torque according to their website.
The aesthetics of the bike definitely don't look like a Kawasaki or Honda. This is an american bike through and through, but with a new style feel. I guess we could call it "TECHIE." If I was to compare it to any other bike it would be the KTM. Mainly because of the color, and the fact that it uses similar suspension and braking as the Austrian company. In the last decade KTM has really came on strong with innovation and tech for the motocross industry, and that's why it's a little surprising that they're not producing a competitive electric bike. It's almost like the Redshift is something that KTM should have been debuting this year. It's like when I first saw the Tesla. I was amazed at how nice it was, and even more surprised that Mercedes and BMW let it happen. But enough on that, this was Alta's night to shine...
Hill came in 5th in qualifying, and in the semis beat Kyle Cunningham by winning 2 out of 3 races. In the first race Hill was behind Cunningham a few bike lengths, but gained the time back in the whoops when he caught back up and eventually passed the Suzuki RM-Z250 rider for the win. Hill won one more race against Cunningham and moved on to the quarter finals where he lost to Mitchell Oldenberg on the Troy Lee Designs KTM.
The Alta looked good, and was getting cheers from the spectators all around. The race commentator and motocross legend Rick Johnson had pretty good things to say about the bike, and like everyone else wants to know what's next and when do we see it again. I felt the same way as Johnson, we need innovation in the sport, and the big Japanese manufacturers have such a tight hold on the market are silent on electric bikes. So if they don't innovate, nobody will. KTM has came a long way in the past decade because of their outside of the box thinking (which doesn't always work), and they've been manufacturing smaller electric motocross bikes, but nothing that stacks up to the the Alta Redshift.
"KTM has an electric bike, not to the level of what the Alta bike is, so what are the other major manufactures up to... if they have something out there, we need to see it." -Rick Johnson
The number one complaint from the average person about a motocross bike is the noise. The 450cc four stroke thumpers are loud as shit these days, and with a race pipe on, you can easily here the bikes for miles around. That is what makes the Alta Redshift so damn inciting. Ride anywhere, anytime!? The fact that the electric bike is nearly quiet when operating is also a major selling point for some riders. Riding areas have been on the decline because of noise complaints, and this seems like a real viable option to people living in urban areas.
"I have 5 acres (plenty of room to build a track) but don't want to piss off the neighbors. This would all be resolved with an electric bike and a little dust control. As much as I love my 450; I would love being able to ride on a track around my house even more. I think a lot of people are in my same situation..."
The whole motocross community has been buzzing about the new electric bike and many people welcome the technology, but there are still purists who need the roar of the motor and the smell of race gas. Already on the message boards the keyboard warriors are going at it. "I'll bet the electronics are far more reliable than any mechanical component," followed by a "You'd be willing to bet that the electronics on the Alta are far more reliable than any mechanical component on the Alta, or on a dirt bike in general? What proof do you have to base your thesis on?" The debate will rage until the next time the Alta races, because in this industry, your only as good as your last race. If they had a mechanical or the bike got smoked in competition, I may not be writing this article.
Watch the video below to see Josh Hill talking about his night on the Redshift.
All in all it was a great night for Alta Motors. It took balls to get out there and race it against factory teams who have the best equipment available. I didn't expect Josh Hill to win over Mitchell Oldenberg on a factory supported TLD KTM (one of the fastest bikes in the pits). The Alta is just getting started, and I think everyone is excited to see where it goes. The implications of having a competitive electric motocross bike in the mix are endless...
So, what do you do when you just won a trial by fire, and you're obviously killing it in other aspects of life? Enjoy it and have some beers. The moto game is about to get weird.