Stark Varg: The "world's fastest electric dirtbike" comes out swinging
Barcelona startup Stark Future has launched this absolute weapon of an electric dirt bike, "to show that electric technology is superior to gasoline by outperforming all traditional motocross models available." That right there, folks, is a promise of world domination – but looking at the spec sheet, we sure wouldn't want to line up next to the Stark Varg on a 450.
The Varg weighs 110 kg (242 lb), which makes it 11 kg (24.2 lb) heavier than the FIM's minimum weight for an unfueled MXGP racer. So it is a tad on the porky side compared to international-grade racers, but that gap shrinks once the fuel goes in, and the Varg more than makes up for it when you open the throttle.
Peak power is an epic 80 horses. To put that in context, the most frightening dirt bike I've ever ridden was the KX500, a 500cc Kawasaki 2-stroke that delivered somewhere around 66 horses in a manner I found rude, inconvenient and unlikely to help me live until a ripe old age in the company of all my original limbs.
Peak torque is an equally nutty 275 Nm (203 lb-ft) at the motor, and with the magic of gearing, that becomes a frankly hilarious 938 Nm (692 lb-ft) at the rear wheel. Suffice to say, the Varg will probably wheelie if you ask it nicely. It may even tow a caravan.
Stark isn't here solely to proliferate widows and orphans. The bike will have five modes installed at any given time, but you can customize up to 100 modes on the phone app and swap them in and out whenever you like. These modes allow you to customize the "exact settings of the power curve, engine braking, traction control and the patent-pending virtual flywheel," in order to make the bike feel and respond like anything from a 125cc two-smoker, to a roaring 450 four-stroke, to something wilder than anything else on the market. Stark calls it a "gentle beast" approach, that can make the bike as friendly to newbs as it is fearsome to gods.
The dash of the bike is a waterproof, detachable smartphone, into which you can pop a SIM card if you want full connectivity. This also acts something like a key; the bike won't unlock without the phone clicked into the dash. Either way, you'll want to keep a good eye on it, like you would with any half-decent dirtbike.
The 360-V carbon fiber sleeve motor, designed in-house, weighs just 9 kg (20 lb), is water-cooled for consistent performance and is designed as a structural part of the frame. Stark says its patent-pending inverter is "the world's smallest inverter for 50-100 kW power ranges," and that the Varg will smash anything else on the market on power-to-weight, gasoline or otherwise.
The waterproof, air-cooled battery is a 6-kWh pack offering "enough capacity to match a full tank of gas on a 450cc" according to Stark. That could deliver "up to 6 hours of easy trail riding" or "a full 'moto' at MXGP intensity" per 1-2 hour charge. It's certainly an impressive package considering the bike's light weight; the celebrated Redshift MX from the now-defunct Alta Motors, for comparison, carried 5.8 kWh, weighed 7.5 kg (16.5 lb) more, and peaked at just 50 horsepower.
Stark has partnered with KYB on suspension, offering 310 mm (12.2 in) of travel at either end. When you buy the bike, you can choose between seven different rider weight ranges, and the company will spring the bike to suit your weight from the factory, provided you're somewhere between 65 and 100 kg (143-220 lb). What a wonderful touch! You can also specify whether you want the rear wheel to be controlled by a hand or foot lever, and whether you want 18-inch enduro rims or 19-inch MX rims, for no extra charge.
The bike is naturally very quiet. Indeed, with the rear wheel constantly losing and regaining traction, it sounds a bit like an extended horse whinny in motion. Riders, says Stark, can hear as well as feel when the wheel loses traction. Good luck hearing what your tire is doing if you're riding anywhere near your buddy with the 450 and the FMF Powercore exhaust – although quiet motocrossers like the Varg may well end up being able to ride in places where noisy gas bikes are banned.
Naturally, we'd love to see the Varg go out and race against gasoline burners. And it certainly will, at events that allow electrics to compete, although it's hard to see how all its vaunted ponies would equate to wins at the top level, where 450s and 250s tend to get around at about the same pace and power's much less important than control.
And even if it does, the motocross and enduro world is certainly not ready to accommodate 40 or 50 bikes all looking for chargers at once; the Varg's green credentials would take a pretty nasty hit if there were 40 or 50 fossil-burning generators running in the paddock between races. So that'll need solving if there's a revolution to be revolved.
Stark is taking orders now, with deliveries currently estimated for somewhere around October next year. Price-wise, the 80-horsepower Alpha Varg costs US$12,900. You could knock a thousand off that price if you were happy with 60 horsepower, but you wouldn't.
It's a pricey dirt squirter, for sure, but then you can kiss fuel, oil, Rekluse clutches and maintenance goodbye. You can give yourself daily religious experiences if you've got a bit of land, without annoying the neighbors. You can ride it underwater, and you'll need a snorkel before it does. And don't forget, the Varg is designed to make every gasoline bike on the planet follow it around on a leash. That sort of thing costs money.
The big remaining question mark here is this: if the Varg really is "the fastest and most thrilling motocross bike in the world," well, how bleedin' fast does it go? Stark doesn't appear to say at this point, which is annoying, since previous electric dirtbikes have been strong in acceleration but weak in top speed. The reigning champion, if you believe figures commonly thrown around, is the KTM 450 SX-F, which is allegedly capable of 198 km/h (123 mph). That's a pretty big ask.
Still, do yourself a favor and check out Stark's terrific video below, as well as more of the jaw-dropping photos we've put in the gallery. Absolutely superb. We can't wait to see what kind of waves this thing will make if it lives up to its promises and starts spanking the best of the gasoline world in a variety of events. Stark Future? Sure doesn't look like it to me.
Source: Stark Future