Alta Motors didn’t develop its electric drivetrain technology because it had green ambitions. The electric-vehicle startup, based in San Francisco, wanted to build motorcycles that go fast. Fast enough so that riders could beat their gas-guzzling friends on the course. Fast enough to turn battery-powered skeptics into customers. When Marc Fenigstein, Alta Motors CEO and co-founder, says the company’s motorcycles are “directly competitive or even superior to their closest gas equivalents,” he’s not just referring to emissions, maintenance, or noise. He’s talking about the metrics that customers traditionally care about: performance, safety, control — and speed.
Alta Motors’ Redshift SM won the first two pro Supermoto races it entered. The company’s engineers have designed a drivetrain that’s much smaller and lighter than gas equivalents — typically by a factor of 50 percent, according to Fenigstein. Part of that is due to its battery pack technology, which is already hitting 2020 industry yields in energy density and power. Alta Motors believes that its tech will one day have applications across all vehicles. For now, the company is focusing on gaining more traction in the dirt. It delivered its first electric motocross bike in December 2015. Here are some surprising nuggets we learned from talking with Fenigstein …
Alta Motors co-founder Derek Dorresteyn is a one-time pro motocross rider.
The Redshift SM goes from 0–60 in 3.3 seconds.
Alta Motors skipped hand-fabricated, custom bikes and focused on building out a sophisticated, mass production facility. Its bikes took longer to get to market, but the company says it will go from producing bikes in the low hundreds this year to producing bikes in the thousands next year.
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