I’ve tested a lot of electric motorcycles over the years since they entered the moto market and they have definitely
advanced in myriad of ways since the early days. I found that initially, components like brakes and suspension were bought on the cheap by many manufacturers. This was done to keep the bikes’ price tags somewhat reasonable. Those early bikes could not go very far on a charge, top speed was less than impressive, the brakes and suspension were crap and well, they were obviously still works in progress. What they did have was impressive linear
acceleration which was quite amazing to a rider who was used to traditional gear shift lag. Over time the brakes and suspensions improved as did the distance per charge, the top speed and the price tag although they’re not where this writer wants them all to be just yet.
So when Alta Motors reached out to see if I would be interested in testing their Redshift SM (Super Moto) I jumped at the chance to throw a leg over this modern electric beast. Clearly, Alta appreciates the broad reach a lifestyle magazine like Metropolis Nights offers as opposed to bike-specific mags that are essentially preaching to the choir. Cheers for that Alta! Alta Motors was formerly known as BRD Motorcycles – a small electric motorcycle
startup based in Silicon Valley and backed financially by Tesla co-founders Marc Tarpenning and Martin Eberhard. Now, Harley-Davidson has bought into Alta so they are totally upping their game with a seasoned, knowledgeable perspective of the two-wheeled marketplace.
Alta offers 4 models including the SM ($13,495) that I rode. They also have an enduro version, the EX ($12,995) and two dirt-specific models, the MX ($10,195) and the top-of-the-line MXR ($11,195). The MX and MXR have briefcase-size chargers while the other models get all charged up via a 110 volt base charger ($499) or a 110
or 220 rapid charger ($799). Base chargers will take you from zip to full charge in 2.5 hours while the rapid charger will wisk you from zero to full in juat 1.5 hours!
Four selectable performance maps exist on all of Alta’s models which are easily accessed via a left-mounted
handlebar switch. That will give your left hand something to do since it does not need to squeeze a clutch anymore. The maps include, Eco which is a nice beginner map and offers the most range, Sport which simulates a 250cc race machine, Performance which is like Sport mode on steroids (more bottom end and traction) and Overclocked which I refer to as Hold the F on! If you are not prepared for seriously swift acceleration, Overclocked will be a real wake-up call. It is simply breathtaking but it will reduce your run time by about 50%. The maps also adjust
the level of engine braking when you’re off the gas so there is some getting used to in both the acceleration and deceleration departments.
The Alta’s suspension was highly forgiving and although I was on road tires, I imagine this setup would also work well in the dirt. The brakes were also quite confidence-inspiring. There’s gobs of stopping power there for sure which is very reassuring because as with the other electric motos I have ridden, the lack of engine noise also takes some getting used to. You need to be well aware of that when out on the open road on an electric moto. Pedestrians, bicyclists, animals and other road users will not hear you coming. That is one negative aspect of an electric bike but
if you stay very alert, those aforementioned brakes will help you stay alive.
Other negatives include the price tag which is still not under $10k (though Alta is not far off!) and the range which I was told was about 70 miles on a full charge depending how aggressively I rode. In (hopefully a short) time I’d like to see the price drop below $10k and the range reach about 150 miles, both of which would be game changers in many combustion engine riders’ minds, if you ask me.
Alta is definitely making considerable strides in the right direction and is ahead of the pack when it comes to the rest of the manufacturers in the electric motorcycle space. Alta demo rides are available at the shop where I picked up my SM – Town & Country Cycle Center located at 115 Route 23 North in Wantage, NJ. Just ask for Edgar and tell him Metropolis Nights sent ya! Call 973-875-2111 in advance to get all the details. The weather is perfect right now to
get all charged up and take a ride in lovely Sussex County NJ. If you do, see if you can find this priceless sign that I parked the SM next to. (see pic) I nearly rode right off the road when I read it cause I was laughing so hard. That was me though – an old guy playing with a new type of machine. Pssssss… Don’t tell Edgar I almost rode off the road!