Instead, scout out a surprisingly large, clean space supporting a trio of bikes, unadorned by tail pipes, sitting pretty with Alta Motors branding. It seems, not only has the company taken the wraps off its official lineup, it's also changed its official moniker. Nice name too – Spanish for "high" with possible allusions to "soaring" and other positive connotations. It's taken from when the upper part of the the Golden State was a territory of "new Spain" and referred to as Alta California. As cool as it strikes us, though, the bikes, those are the real story.
Ever since we visited the startup this past summer, we've been anxiously awaiting the moment when we could tell you about these machines, and maybe show you some pictures. Now, all the cats are out of all the bags, and they are some fierce felines.
Designed and built for racing, the Alta RedShift is a master class in pulling performance from lightweight components. The liquid-cooled 40-horsepower proprietary motor comes in at a slight eleven pounds, and has the ability to rev up to 13,750 RPM. Not bad, right?
Get a load of the battery, though. It holds 5.2 kilowatt-hours of energy and weighs a mere 70 pounds. That includes the aluminum casing, the management system, and even the DC-to-DC converter for the twelve-volt electricals. And speaking of pulling, with a couple people and five to ten minutes, it can be hauled out of the bike and replaced with a fresh one trackside. Not as hot-swappable as some others, but for competitors doing multiple heats, it should work out fine.
Altogether, the race-ready motocross version of bike weighs 251 pounds, the streetable supermoto with extra lighting and switchgear, 264. The original RedShift prototype was about 20 lbs. heavier, and while the team managed to lose 15 lbs. by re-doing the battery, the other five came from smaller, but still notable changes. For instance, the liquid cooling for the motor and controller. Unlike the original prototype, there is no radiator. Alta wouldn't confirm this detail, but it looks for all the world to us as though part of the bike's frame is hollow, and thus doing double duty.
Besides power and light weight, the other important element for going fast is control. Here, Alta says electric power is superior. Sure, the bike has quality WP suspension bits and Brembo brakes it help it out in this department, but having torque available without the need to first select the right gear is key. Also, with switch-on-the-fly customizable maps to adjust things like regenerative braking and throttle response, owners can configure their bikes specifically for their individual riding style.
Despite all the changes at
Deliveries are slated to begin in the second quarter of next year in California, before spreading to other parts of the country after the first few months. While the company has fallen short of its delivery promises in the past, they are now sitting on a $4.5-million pile of fresh investment which should go some ways toward making its dreams, and those of its long-suffering early depositers, come true.
While we all wait to see how this story continues, check out the gallery of official Alta Motors images of its machines, including a few action shots. You can read the company's proud press release below.
Orlando, FL - October 16, 2014 - This has been a long time coming, and we're incredibly excited about the new bikes. We've got a lot to tell you, and we figured we'd make it easy and break it down in bullet points so you're not having to skim a bunch of fluff to get to the good parts.
What is a Redshift?
To start, it's a full-scale motocross race bike.
Forged and cast chassis
WP race-spec suspension for both models
Brembo brake components
Retail price is $14,995 for the off-road only RedShift MX, and $15,495 for the street-legal Redshift SM.
40 horsepower from 11lbs of motor - Pound for pound the most powerful motor in the industry.
251 lbs for MX; 264 lbs for SM - Every test rider has commented that it rides lighter. This is a function of the mass centralization and reduced giro forces.
On the fly selectable performance profiles (i.e. "throttle maps") that can alter myriad parameters, including:
13,750 RPM proprietary motor
Totally sounds like a TIE fighter
Flat torque delivery
Internal helical gear reduction
Liquid-cooled proprietary motor controller
Selectable power maps on the fly
Adjustable engine braking
Delivery starts in 2015 Q2 for CA, then broadens to the rest of the US in Q3
No break-in or warm-up for an Alta RedShift. Just turn it on and ride.
50 miles range under aggressive riding. Enough for a full outdoor moto and most riders, in our experience.
The battery offers best-in-industry performance
Mile for mile the smallest, lightest battery in transportation
Engineered for 1,000hrs and 50,000 miles
Proprietary patent-pending lithium-ion tech
Weighs 70 lbs
2-person job, 5-10 minutes based on experience
Because it is swappable and self-contained, it is planned to be backwards compatible with our next generations of packs.
The unloaded seat height on the MX is 38 inches. The SM will be lower but we're still finalizing the suspension tuning on the SM. The charger is integrated and charging takes 4 hours from a standard 110V - you can charge from other sources with a pigtail, but 110V is the most ubiquitous charging network in the country. There are a lot fewer J1772 stations than gas stations; there are a whole lot more 110V outlets than gas stations.
Warranty is 1 yr, unlimited mileage
Sold only through premier motorcycle dealerships. No direct sales.
Okay, now the fluff... why did we do this?
Because we all want to be fast. We all want to progress and improve - be faster than we were the day before. What makes a rider fast? Control. Control comes from the connection between the rider and the bike - part of that is smooth predictable power and part is the relationship that forms between a rider and a bike (usually through time and tuning). We chose motocross because in this format, we can fit enough energy on the bike to compete in conventional racing (more importantly, the formats of racing we love.)
How did we achieve our goals?
First, we started from clean sheet. Nothing off the shelf came close to what was theoretically possible - it was like trying to go to Peterbilt to get a motor for an R6. We developed our own liquid-cooled motor, our own motor control, and our own battery pack. We developed a new method for manufacturing a motorcycle chassis to house these new components that were shaped nothing like their gasoline counterparts.
And when our first effort was good, but not quite there, we revisited every part of our new bouncing baby. We discarded 2 years of development and, specifically, one of the most advanced battery designs out there. This was a really hard decision, especially for a shoestring startup of five people.
What is the result?
The result is that every single part on the bike changed. The basic architecture remains, and most importantly, so does the amazing ride experience. But everything about the production bikes are sharper, lighter, smoother, stronger, easier, and more efficient in both material and energy. Here are a couple of highlights:
The front bulkhead of the chassis was changed from a patented casting design to a even newer patented system of forgings. This gives us drastically more control over frame stiffness, and increases the strength of the system 40% with no additional weight.
The new battery pack is 4" shorter and 15 lbs lighter than our gen 1 pack. The Redshift's battery now has superior ground clearance, optimized CoG, and is responsible for most of the 20lbs saved between the prototype design to the production design.
We've created something that we believe is up to the real rigors of off-road and supermoto racing. We've created something that we think is going to make most riders faster, better, more competent. We've created something that for us is more fun than anything else we have in the garage. We've also created something that is likely the fastest legally-plated vehicle in any city on the planet.
What comes next?
We've poured our souls, our blood, and five years into making the best motorcycle we can - we hope that shows in every surface, and bolt head, and twist of the grip on the RedShift. We aren't done; this is just the beginning for the RedShift and for Alta.