The Alta team took advantage of the last date on the 2015 SupermotoUSA calendar to get in a little real-world, race-track testing with its RedShift SM. Showing up on Saturday with fast guy (but supermoto noob) Kevin Butler in tow and a production prototype stripped of its lights and strapped with slicks, the day was spent getting the bike and rider adjusted to the half-dirt, half-asphalt format. Apparently, things went well enough that it was decided they would enter Sunday's 250cc class race. As is usual in racing, things didn't turn out quite as expected.
When Butler lined up at the back of the pack for the 250 heat, conditions were quite different from a day earlier, with rain making the paved parts slick and the dirty parts, slicker. We're talking a total muddy mess. The field held a number of seasoned competitors, and no one was going to try to make it easy for the newcomers. But, it turns out, they didn't need any assistance. With a strong start, the novice started passing the pros, and took the lead within a few orbits of the eight-lap contest. By the time the checkered flag fell, Butler was comfortably ahead of the 2nd-place bike, finishing first by a large margin.
With a strong start, the novice started passing the pros.
That success allowed the team to take the pole position in the 250 race. This time, with another strong start and no need to pass, Butler basically cruised to the podium top step in his first-ever official supermoto race. With that goal achieved, the decision was made to up the ante and enter the Unlimited Pro Featured Main event, running against the 450s.
Now usually, the 450cc bikes reign supreme in the motocross/supermoto world, pumping out sixty-or-so horses. The 40-hp neighborhood where the RedShift and 250cc bikes play might normally not be thought of as competitive. But, the Sacramento setup was a bit on the small, tight, and soggy side, with no super-long straights for the bigger bikes to really stretch out their legs, so there was, at least, a chance the electric newcomer wouldn't be totally embarrassed.
The Sacramento setup was a bit on the small, tight, and soggy side.
With no championship points and no heat for the big race, Butler again gridded up at the rear, with maybe a dozen accomplished riders ahead of his handlebars. Again, when the flag dropped, the passing party started. Perhaps not as dramatically as during the earlier event, but as the laps wore on, the field started falling to the rear, one by one. Finally, the checkers were waved, and only one bike remained unconquered by the new kid. The winner, Dominc Colindres, had started on pole, and with no overtake attempts to slow him down, kept a comfortable - though slowly shrinking - distance from the RedShift.
A day later, speaking with Alta CTO Derek Dorresteyn and CEO Marc Fenigstein, it was easy to tell the excitement hadn't faded. Both men were a bit giddy, by times, during a retelling of the weekend's exploits. Though they emphasized they didn't want too much to be read into the result, they certainly seem to have a lot to be pleased about. Mostly, the effectiveness of the bike's motor mapping system in a competitive situation. With four modes available, it allows riders to change the characteristics of the bike's performance on the fly, altering power delivery, motor regen, and what they call the "virtual flywheel" effect. Butler made use of all but the softest of the maps, flicking between them to handle the varying track conditions.
Four modes allow riders to change the characteristics of the bike's performance on the fly.
In the Unlimited event, besides the bike's nimble handling, this is probably what gave them an edge. Where the 450 machines had far more power than the track would let them use in most places, the Redshift could easily adjust its output, allowing for measured power delivery and, thereby, better control.
While company officials are quite happy with these early competitive results, we imagine for those buyers who pre-ordered, and who have been milling about the waiting list – in some cases for years – the anticipatory pacing has increased. For them, and everyone waiting to see these bikes in stores, we have good news: a delivery time frame has been announced. After its original late-2012 delivery date slipped by, a recalcitrant Alta has adamantly refused to say when, exactly, Job One would happen. Now, though, that tune has changed. Fenigstein tells AutoblogGreen that bikes will begin rolling from its new Brisbane, California facility within the first three months of 2016. First, in their home state of California, with other regions being supplied afterwards.
We have good news: a delivery time frame has been announced.
Though we're slightly disappointed we won't be seeing bikes under Christmas trees this year, we can content ourselves with the knowledge that they will arrive well before riding season comes to most parts of the country. In the meantime, we'll just click through the galleries we have of these beauties and have ourselves a little day dream.
For a little reverie assistance we can offer up a few fleeting frames of footage from the sloppy scenes of this initial race, as well as some helmet-cam video from a couple weeks previous of Butler and the Redshift MX devouring a much dryer motocross track. If the urban environment is more your speed, we've thrown in a few (very enjoyable) clips from testers tearing up the San Francisco streets aboard the SM version. Caution is advised as there is some colorful language in these last videos.