Cycle News 2018 Alta Redshift MXR FIRST TEST

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Cycle News 2018 Alta Redshift MXR FIRST TEST

Post by Sandblaster » Thu Mar 15, 2018 5:16 pm

Cycle News 2018 Alta Redshift MXR FIRST TEST

http://www.cyclenews.com/2018/03/articl ... irst-test/

Adding More Juice

More power, better suspension and a lower price tag, but can it replace your gas-powered bike?



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Is the future of motocross going to be powered by batteries? If so, are we there yet? We got to spend a full day at the motocross track riding the 2018 Alta Redshift MXR to try to answer these questions.

As we reported in our first test of the 2017 Alta Redshift MX last year, we came away impressed with the design, build quality, and performance. You can read that story by clicking HERE. We also noted that electric powered cars have proven to be among the quickest production cars available, so the technology is there but it is challenging to squeeze that down to fit into a motorcycle.

On the track and trails, the 2017 Redshift MX had some advantages over a standard internal combustion-powered motorcycle. The lack of a shifter allows you to evenly weight both pegs and you don’t have to worry about being in the right gear or stalling the motor in tight and technical conditions. The motor is basically maintenance free with a 1000-hour maintenance cycle and you don’t need to clean air filters or change the oil. (You just might have to replace the chain and sprockets every now and then.) The lack of sound also opens a lot of riding options as the Alta can be ridden on a backyard track without your neighbors even knowing.


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Photography by Kit Palmer

But we also noted a few negatives: The 2017 Redshift MX weighed in at 261 pounds, which is about 25-30 pound more than a current 250 four-stroke MX bike. The power decreased a little as soon as the battery dipped below 75%. The suspension was pretty soft and not up to aggressive motocross track riding. It took almost three hours to re-charge a completely depleted battery and perhaps the biggest negative was the $14,995 price tag.


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The new Alta Redshift MXR gets better performance and longer battery life—not to mention a substantially smaller price tag.

Here we are just a year later, and Alta has made some huge gains on all those negatives. To start, the 2018 Redshift MX, which has just a few technical updates now has a retail price of just $10,495. That does not include the battery charger, which will cost $500 for the basic charger or $750 for a new version that will charge the Redshift MX a little quicker. (You’ll be glad you spent the extra $250 for the latest one.)

But the big news is the Redshift MXR, this new model gets a new battery and upgrades to the firmware and software that increases the horsepower from 40 to 50 at the rear wheel and that power now holds steady even as the battery discharges. It also gets the latest generation WP Shock and WP AER48 forks, which are now tuned for an aggressive Intermediate level motocross rider. Plus, more aggressive footpegs, an upgraded seat and dash mounting that allows for easier handlebar adjustment. The battery and air forks combined to shave seven pounds off the bike getting it down to 259 pounds. And that new battery will charge in about an hour and a half using the new charger if you have access to a 220 plug or generator.


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Re: Cycle News 2018 Alta Redshift MXR FIRST TEST

Post by Sandblaster » Thu Mar 15, 2018 5:21 pm

With less moving internal parts, the Alta doesn’t fight the rider when it comes to the turns. It goes where it’s pointed almost effortlessly.

Even with all these improvements, the Redshift MXR retail price is $11,995, which is still significantly less than the 2017 Redshift MX. Alta says that the reduced cost is due mostly to increased production volumes. And you can still argue that the reduced cost of maintenance makes the total cost of ownership very competitive with a traditional gas-powered motorcycle.

Alta has proven their ability to build extremely high-quality bikes and those bikes are designed and manufactured in Brisbane, California, just south of San Francisco. The CNC-machined aluminum forged main frame is constructed with the motor and controller nicely integrated. The Redshift MXR still uses a water-cooled 14,000 rpm brushless motor. And the sub-frame is a two-piece plastic unit that helps make up for some of the weight penalty of the battery. Perhaps the most important part of any motorcycle is the “connection between the throttle and the wheel.” This is where Alta has really flexed their muscle as the controller and four optional maps on the Redshift MX provided a lot of options and that carries over on the MXR but each option now provides a lot more power. Those four map options can still be changed on the fly via buttons on the handlebar.


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The Alta hooks up out of the turns amazingly well.
Turn It On And Go

The first thing you notice when sitting on the Redshift MX or MXR is the lack of a clutch lever and once you take off, you may find yourself looking for the shifter, but you forget about all of that very quickly. A lot of that is because you’re are always in the right gear that is always matched perfectly to the power, so you’re never tempted to shift gears or grab the clutch.

The new MXR has some serious power, especially in the most aggressive map setting. Again, Alta claims the MXR has 50 horsepower, and produces 147 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheel. With 50 horsepower right off idle, you don’t feel the need to “clutch” it to find the sweet in the power so you can focus more on riding. The Redshift MX power is in the range of a stock 250F while the new MXR is in the range of a highly modified 250F. And that power is plenty to jump anything you would do on a traditional 250F motocross bike.

The lack of motor sound is also a little strange at first as you hear the chain slap, rocks and dirt clods slamming into the plastic finders, and the rear tire spinning, which makes you think you have a flat. Plus, normally, on gas bikes, when things go silent over a big double jump, that’s usually a sign that something bad is about to happen, but not on the Alta. It’s totally normal. The bike isn’t completely silent, though, as there is an audible gear whine when you open up the throttle and motor speed picks up; it’s not much different than what a remote-controlled car toy makes. But, overall, you pretty quickly get used to the lack of sound.


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The MXR is fitted with high-end WP AER 48 forks.

The new WP shock and AER48 fork and settings make the MXR a very capable motocross bike in stock form, even for a fast-intermediate rider. The overall handling of the bike is very predictable and balanced. Even with the weight loss for the MXR, it is still 15-20 pounds heavier than a 250F and you will notice that when you lift the bike onto a stand but we can’t say that we really noticed it on the track. The lack of rotating mass and well-centralized weight contribute to great handling.

This was our first time on the Alta with other Altas on the track at the same time. We found that it can be startling having another electric bike pass you if you’re not paying attention on what’s going on behind you. A courtesy “on your left” would be nice. Yes, you can actually have a conversation with the rider next to you. The fun potential here is quite high on the Alta, especially if your riding buddy has one too.


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The rear WP shock gets new settings specifically designed for the Alta.

With all these improvements, is the Alta Redshift MXR up to the task of replacing our gas-powered bikes? In terms of pure performance and lap times, it is there now but there are still some big limitations to overcome for real world use for a typical motocross racer and even the guy that just likes to ride motos at the track.

An aggressive rider will drain the MXR battery in 25-30 minutes and it will then take 90 minutes to charge. That may be more time than you have between motos if you are racing and more time than you care to sit around even if you are just riding motos at the track. We experienced this first hand during our test day. And that 90-minute charge time requires a 220 plug or high-output generator.

So the bike may be very quiet on the track but you will likely be listening to a generator running while you sit around waiting for it to charge up. And you may need to include the cost of a generator in that total cost of ownership calculation as well as plan for the space to transport it to the track. And, ironically, you will still need to stop at the gas station for fuel for that generator.


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Re: Cycle News 2018 Alta Redshift MXR FIRST TEST

Post by Sandblaster » Thu Mar 15, 2018 5:23 pm

The 2018 Alta Redshift MX is a slightly upgraded version of last year’s model with softer suspension and less horsepower than the new MXR.

A slower, less aggressive rider will get a lot more time out of the battery and riding trails on the number 1 or 2 maps also dramatically increase the ride time and that may be enough for many. But any aggressive riding will likely leave you looking for more juice to get a full day in. If you are fortunate enough to have a large yard or property to ride on, the charging issues may be resolved but most of us still ride at public tracks.

Just like a gas bike, you still have to monitor “fuel” consumption when you’re out riding, there is no limp-home mode when you run out of juice on the Alta, just like there is none on a gas bike. You do, however, a digital meter on the handlebars to keep you informed.


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Alta’s philosophy is that they don’t want to make just the best electric motocross bike but the best motocross bike. They’ve come a long way in a short time.

The Alta Redshift MXR is by far the best electric powered motorcycle produced to date and if you look at the rate of improvement in battery technology and performance over just the last year, it may not be long before those range and charging limitations are no longer an issue. And the recent announcement of Harley-Davidson becoming and equity investor in Alta and a collaborator on electric technology could accelerate that development. CN


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SPECIFICATIONS

2018 Alta Redshift MXR ($11,995)

MOTOR:


High Speed PMAC

TORQUE:


147 ft-lbs

HORSEPOWER:


50 HP

TRANSMISSION:


1 speed

GEAR RATIO:


3.5:1

FINAL DRIVE:


12/53T

BATTERY:


Waterproof Li-Ion 350v

CAPACITY:


5.8kW or 3.3kW Offboard

RECHARGE TIME:


1.5 hrs (240v)

ELECTRONICS:


Alta-Digital w/4 maps

FRAME:


Aluminum

FRONT SUSPENSION:


WP AER 48, fully adjustable fork

REAR SUSPENSION:


WP 2018 Alta spec, fully adjustable, single shock

FRONT BRAKE:


Brembo two piston 260mm rotor

REAR BRAKE:


Brembo single piston 240mm rotor

TIRES:


Dunlop Geomax MX3S

SEAT HEIGHT:


37.5 in.

WHEELBASE:


58.6 in.

RAKE:


27°

OFFSET:


2.2 in.

CURB WEIGHT (claimed):


259 lbs.
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Re: Cycle News 2018 Alta Redshift MXR FIRST TEST

Post by 60something » Fri Mar 16, 2018 8:18 pm

WOW! Very interesting if nothing else. I certainly see a huge positive as far as public image goes, particularly considering the conflicting desires of those who use public land for ORVs, horseback riding, hiking, hunting, etc. The lack of noise would really eliminate a lot of the opposition to ORV use.

On the other hand, there's a lot about the love motorcycles that is hard to put your finger on; that 2-stroke "noise" that's aggravating to many is music to my ears, even that sound of a big 4-stroke thumper at low RPMs. The smell of castor bean oil smoke is another one of those things for me.

My first thought when I looked at the electric bike was "man, that thing is ugly". There is something in the appearance of engines that's part of the whole love of motorcycles for me. Some of those older air-cooled engines were just beautiful. That electric bike with the big solid "lump" sitting there just doesn't do anything to invoke that sense of power- to me anyway.

That said, I think it's pretty obvious that electric vehicles are the future, and really I think as the older generations die out, the younger ones probably won't know that they missed anything.
I don't know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.

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Re: Cycle News 2018 Alta Redshift MXR FIRST TEST

Post by Sandblaster » Sat Mar 17, 2018 2:59 pm

Well said...
I'll never give up my K5's unless it gets to the point where I can no longer ride and if that happens I'm guessing I won't be able to ride electrics either.
That being said, my Dad is still riding at 75 and the wheelie king :shock:
Who knows... If electrics start out performing my K5 and the price get's a little lower I might be convinced to give one a try..
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Re: Cycle News 2018 Alta Redshift MXR FIRST TEST

Post by 60something » Sat Mar 17, 2018 6:42 pm

Sandblaster wrote:
Sat Mar 17, 2018 2:59 pm
Well said...
I'll never give up my K5's unless it gets to the point where I can no longer ride and if that happens I'm guessing I won't be able to ride electrics either.
That being said, my Dad is still riding at 75 and the wheelie king :shock:
Who knows... If electrics start out performing my K5 and the price get's a little lower I might be convinced to give one a try..
That is so cool! I turned 60 last year and it dawned on me that my dirt bike days may be numbered, which I guess is part of why I got the K5; one last blast...which hopefully will last 10-plus years LOL. I have been debating whether I need to get the compression release mod for the head; I'm a bit worried about if I'll have a hard time starting the thing, but my funds are limited and I've already spent too much! I had a BSA B50 single back in the 70s, which was known to be a beast to start, but it was really a simple matter of getting it just past TDC and jumping on it (I weighed all of 135 lbs back then), so I'm hoping the same applies to the K5. BTW, I never rode a K5 yet, mine was a fixer-upper when I got it. I cleaned the carb and got it started, but afterward found out the spark plug was only screwed in a couple threads, so maybe not much compression. Is the 1987 (mine) easier to start because of the exhaust "compression relief" porting?

BTW the BSA was a great example of what I was saying about engine aesthetics; I always thought it was a great-looking engine...beauty is in the eye of the beholder of course. :lol:
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I don't know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.

2006 KDX200 qty-2
1987 KX500
1991 CB750 Nighthawk

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Re: Cycle News 2018 Alta Redshift MXR FIRST TEST

Post by Sandblaster » Sat Mar 17, 2018 7:13 pm

From 1987 on up they all had the decomp reliefs in the cylinder.
But, they can be ticklish to start if you don't put the boot to it.
Getting it just past top dead center can be a job.
I always recommend that you get the decomp mod done to the head.
It makes starting way easier and it is a lot easier on your parts which are getting more and more difficult to find..
Jason Tanner is about 140lb and he starts the K5 with no issues...
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Re: Cycle News 2018 Alta Redshift MXR FIRST TEST

Post by Sandblaster » Sat Mar 17, 2018 7:14 pm

The BSA is awesome... 8-)
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Re: Cycle News 2018 Alta Redshift MXR FIRST TEST

Post by 60something » Sat Mar 17, 2018 7:50 pm

Thanks Sandblaster!
Well, I shot off an email to Larry Weichman regarding the head mod. I want to make sure I can really enjoy the K5, and I'm sure this will do a lot toward that end. :)
I don't know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.

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1987 KX500
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Re: Cycle News 2018 Alta Redshift MXR FIRST TEST

Post by Sandblaster » Sat Mar 17, 2018 11:03 pm

Guaranteed that you will like it.
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