2019 Alta Redshift EXR First Ride Review
With ever-increasing emission restrictions and noise limitations, performance dual sports may be a dying breed, that is of course, if you have an internal combustion engine beneath you. Nearly everyone is aware of the electric motorized transportation movement in this day and age. However, what many don’t realize is how these revolutionary lithium-ion batteries tick. Engineers are continuously improving cell chemistry to pack as much energy density into the battery pack, while simultaneously developing and improving water jackets or cooling systems to keep operating temperatures down. There is nothing a lithium-ion battery dislikes more than heat.
A new battery revealed earlier this year in Alta Motors’ all-new motocross bike, the Redshift MXR, was also granted to the all-new Redshift EXR. Labeled as the R5.8 Pack, this intricate battery produces a claimed eight more horsepower and four more pound-feet of torque to the rear wheel than the previous A5.8 Pack as well as increased range and faster charging times due to improved cell chemistry and cooling systems.
Additional changes to the all-new Redshift EXR include an upgrade from the WP 4CS fork to a WP Xplor 48 fork and a new WP custom rear shock specifically designed for the Redshift EXR chassis replaces the WP 5018-Link shock that came on the EX model last year. Furthermore, the electric bike features a revised chassis resulting in a claimed two-pound weight reduction from the previous Redshift EX model, putting the EXR at 273 pounds according to Alta. Amazingly, with all of these upgrades, the EXR costs $500 less than the EX model as well.
Alta invited us to their headquarters in Brisbane, California, just south of San Francisco, for a first ride on the Redshift EXR. After a presentation of the new model and a tour through their unique facility, we headed out for a ride on the pavement through the compact streets of San Francisco followed by a single-track ride in the nearby mountains of Nevada City the day after.
Riding the 2019 Redshift EXR was my first time swinging a leg over an Alta, so I had no idea what to expect in terms of power. I was admittedly a bit nervous that my first time on the bike was to be a ride through an unfamiliar city on a set of DOT approved Metzeler 6 Days Extreme knobbies. However, due to the four different map settings, I felt comfortable on the bike right away. Getting a feel for the bike in a slick parking lot, I stayed in map one. While riding around back and forth with an occasional snap of the throttle, I quickly realized just how friendly map one could be. My first thought was “a beginner could ride this bike,” and by no means did I think this in a negative way. With no clutch, no gearbox, and an extremely linear power delivery, it truly empowers the rider to focus on three things: throttle, braking, and looking ahead.
As we headed out on the town, I found myself gaining confidence by the minute and clicking through all four maps. This stuck out to me as one of the most impressive things about the bike. With the click of a button on the fly, you are able to completely change the characteristics of the power delivery, which lead me to think, “this bike can truly accommodate any rider of any skill level.” Warned that map four on knobbies could lead to trouble, I couldn’t resist. With all 50 ponies available with no restriction, the only trouble I could foresee was a set of shinny brackets in the back of a police cruiser. With a slight snap of the throttle, the Redshift EXR gladly lofted the front wheel in the air, which put a large grin on my face.
Moving down to map three, I was very impressed with how it was extremely sporty and easily allowed me to wheelie it and even do a burnout. However, it also provided a safety net when getting a little throttle happy through a corner as it had a bit less snap and instantaneous throttle response than map four. Making our way through town passing by AT&T Park with the Golden Gate bridge in sight and turning many heads while doing so, I couldn’t help but think just how fitting Alta Motors—an innovative electric motorcycle manufacture—is in the tech capital of the United States.
The following day we woke up in the small town of Nevada City where the local diner opens as early as 8:00 a.m. and the local bar is shut down by 10:00 p.m. We were shuttled to a nearby riding area, Chalk Bluff, where a fleet of fully charged Redshift EXRs awaited. Alta mapped out a 12-mile single track loop that we were guided one by one of Alta’s engineers, Blake Nicholas, who had part in developing the engine maps Ty Tremaine used to take on the 2018 Erzberg Rodeo.
Now at an elevation of 5,000 feet on electric machines, full horsepower and torque was still just a twist of the throttle away. I was extremely impressed with how accommodating the Redshift EXR was with the four different map settings. Unfamiliar with riding the Alta on dirt, I began with map two, which offered a sporty feel with the ability to accelerate quickly while maintaining traction. After I became more familiar with how the bike handled off-road, I bumped it up to map three and I immediately noticed a difference in the hit off the bottom. The third map allowed me to snap the throttle to break the rear loose more easily to initiate my turn better.
I spent a lot of time riding in map three for it had a strong hit on the bottom that was complemented with a linear power delivery that made it easy to stay in control and not feel like the bike was going to get away from me. After riding about half of the 12-mile loop, I was able to get very comfortable with the bike and the trail, and that was when I bumped it up to map four. As intimidated as I was clicking that little red button into the most powerful map, that feeling subsided almost immediately as I was able to steer with the rear easier than the other maps and almost pivot through the tight corners and accelerate down the next section of trail.
Once, we finished the 12-mile loop, the bikes were plugged into the charger as we sat down for lunch. Afterwards, we headed down a long, twisty fire road, and I kept the bike in map four. With no gears and no clutch, the bike absolutely annihilated it. Coming into corners, the EXR provided a familiar engine braking feel on deceleration followed by an incredibly predictable power delivery that allowed for a nearly effortless power slide and endless amounts of fun.
The WP Xplor 48 fork and WP rear shock both worked very well. Designed for off-road use, the suspension felt plush and progressive, which allowed me to gain a lot of confidence in the bike’s overall predictability coming into rough sections and under hard braking. The tight and twisty single track highlighted how good the WP suspension is off-road for it allowed me to maneuver the bike easily and made going back and forth from one side of the trail to the other effortlessly.
The Redshift EXR handles amazingly well. Through the tight single track with a variety of surfaces, it was extremely nimble allowing me to put the bike exactly where I wanted it. Without the forward rotating mass an internal combustion engine creates, the EXR has a light and flickable characteristic to it, despite being heavier than some other comparable dual sport bikes. In fact, I think I’m faster through tight single track on the EXR than I am on a dual sport bike with an internal combustion engine.
Later in the day as we made our way onto the fire roads, the speeds picked up, and the Redshift EXR felt very stable. I used a downhill section of the dirt road as an opportunity to test the bike’s braking ability. Remaining at a fast pace, I grabbed the front brake in attempt to stop as quickly as possible. The Brembo brakes brought me to a quick halt, and I was impressed with the front end traction in the same instance offered by the Metzeler 6 Days Extreme front tire as well.
All in all, I would love to have an Alta Redshift EXR in my garage. For someone who works fairly close to home, wants to avoid the gas station, and be able to get off work and pop some wheelies while exploring that lonely hillside behind the office, the Redshift EXR is the ultimate bike for that. Additionally, you can practice your off-road skills in your backyard or simply to load the bike in the truck and go ride some local single-track if the distance is too far away for the battery life to make it. In fact, there’s really one thing the Alta Redshift EXR cannot currently do, which is go more than 100 miles on a single charge. However, with the incredible amount of progress Alta has already made with electric bike technology, and continues to do so, it likely won’t be long before the Redshift EXR can accomplish everything a gas-powered bike can, if not more.