California-based Alta Motors has announced its 2018 Redshift lineup, and while performance is up, prices are down by up to US$4,500. With up front cost still being a major barrier to new buyers, this news could be huge for electric motorcycles.
Test-riding an electric motorcycle is enough to convince most folk that the zero-emissions future is not only inevitable, but awesome. Where people like them but don't choose to buy them, three factors seem to get in the way: range, charging time and price. All three are chiefly related to the state of lithium battery tech.
Nobody's arguing the Redshift bikes' performance pedigree anymore; on its first national-level race debut, the Redshift SM took first place in a 250cc supermoto race in Sacramento. Encouraged by the result, they entered the bike in the 450cc class as well, and came in second. These are seriously quick and fun machines.
But for a long time they've been roughly double the price of an equivalent 250cc combustion bike. And even though electrics run free of gasoline, oil and engine maintenance, and are basically cheap as chips to charge up, you'd have put a ton of miles on one to save enough to make the up-front cost worthwhile. That equation is getting a lot closer to even in 2018.
The Redshift MX motocrosser is now US$10,495, down from US$14,995. It compares favorably to the Honda CRF250R, which retails for US$7,999. Where the Honda makes a shade under 30 horsepower, the Redshift makes a very hearty 42, along with 120 lb-ft of torque and massive power any time you ask for it thanks to the terrific power delivery of electric motors. So the premium for going electric is now only a couple of grand.
The Enduro-focused, road registerable Redshift EX is down from US$15,545 to US$12,995 and makes the same power and torque as the MX, again comparing favorably with the closest Honda, which is probably the CRF250X. Here, though, the price gap is wider, as the Honda only costs US$7,599.
And the street-focused SM supermoto is down from US$15,500 to US$13,495, again with 42 horses and 120 pound-feet to play with. Honda doesn't make an equivalent supermoto, you'd have to build one yourself.
All bikes use the same 5.8 kilowatt-hour battery pack, which Alta Motors claims is good for 60 miles (~100 km) if you're commuting around town, or 40 miles (64 km) if you've got a boot up it. They take between 2-4 hours for a full recharge on a 240-volt wall socket, and the supermoto is geared for a top speed of 80 miles an hour.
So range is still going to be a killer for some buyers, but others will look at the MX in particular, and find that it stacks up pretty well. Plus it's silent, so it can be banged around a back block with gusto, and without annoying neighbors or campers. Good times and a good signal for the industry. Enjoy this video of two Redshift SMs going bananas around the streets and trails of San Francisco just for the heck of it:
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