After listening to all the hype, we recently we had the opportunity to test ride an Alta Redshift MX at a Demo Ride at Martin MX Park. After reading and seeing so much about it, we were definitely pumped to check it out. I don’t want to rehearse the same things that you have already read. So, I want to highlight some of the biggest things that stood out.
The bike turns on with a button. It’s a fairly simple concept compared to kicking and hearing the revving engine of a bike. Once its on, there is no noise- like putting a golf cart into drive.
When you go to take off, your first instinct is to pull in the clutch, but there isn’t a clutch lever or shift lever. This does seem a little weird: you just turn the “gas” or throttle and you are on your way. [also very uneventful as far as noise goes]
The bike has 4 maps. Map 1 is really lame, and map 4 is equivalent to 50hp (per rep), but they suggest that you start on 1 to get used to it. Map 1 is like riding an XR100, whereas, Map 4 can get you up to speed quickly. However, more power also means less battery life.
Once on the track, Map 1 and 2 are seriously lacking exciting features. It was too slow to get out of its own way with my 245 lb self on it. I had to hold it wide open and seat bounce to get over some small double jumps, and I felt like coming out of corners had no ‘oomph’, especially after coming straight off of a 450. Map 3 and 4 add more power to the throttle and provide a little more burst when you hit the gas.
“The power is very linear.” I guess this is good and bad. It’s smooth to ride, but it also doesn’t have any snap if you need it. For example, you stand the bike up in a corner and there is a jump right after, downshift, rev the bike, dump the clutch and seat bounce it right? Well, remember, there is no clutch or gears…So, just hold it wide and hope for the best, or roll it.
Engine breaking: Despite having no engine, if you let off the gas in the air, it will drop the front end like a 4 stroke engine breaking vs. a free rolling 2 stroke.
Without the engine revving, gauging the speed is a little tricky when going into turns and off of jumps. I’m sure that, with practice, this would be less noticeable. The front end does feel lighter than a typical MX bike, too.
I have also read that this bike is around 20 lbs heavier than most 450 mx bikes, but you can’t tell. Despite what the marketing companies want you to believe, you can tell: on the ground not so much, but the weight is noticeable in the air.
Was it fun? Yes. Competitive? Not sure. If you practice and ride with good momentum, I’m sure you can go fast. Though, after one moto the bike would need hours of recharging to be ready to go again.
The last point (which might be the biggest selling point): There is no engine maintenance. There is no gas, oil changes, oil filters, gaskets, coolant, parts to break, or radiators to bend. Maintnance is ultimately limited to tires, chain, brake pads, grips, and suspension service.
Overall, I think the technology is cool, and will only improve as more efficient batteries are developed. For now, I would say this is a fun toy to have, but not a bike that you can race competitively. Even if you can go really fast on it, the battery life is only about 18 minutes on Map 4, and it requires hours of recharging. At $12k, it doesn’t seem like a viable solution as a competitive machine. If you are the MX rider that bought the YZ400f, Cannondale, and need to have the latest and most technological bike, then go for it!