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Ty Tremaine Interview: Signing with Alta

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Alta Motors recently announced the signing of Ty Tremaine, who will race the Redshift EX in the 2018 AMA EnduroCross series, the Kenda AMA Tennessee Knockout, and select spring enduro events in North America. Alta’s signing of Tremaine marks the first time the electric motorcycle manufacturer has signed a pro-class EnduroCross racer, so we spoke with Tremaine to hear about how he has adjusted to his new ride.

How did your signing with Alta come about?

“They approached me to see if I wanted to go test the bike. Obviously, I was interested and wanted to see what it was all about, but I also wasn’t too sure being that it is an electric bike. So we set up a test and I went out and tested with them. I was really pleased and blown away with how good the bike was, so we scheduled a few more tests and they put together a proposal, and that’s pretty much how it went.”

What were your initial impressions of the bike when you first rode it?

“Obviously, there is no clutch and no gears, so that’s the biggest difference I would say. Once you learn to trust the power, you know it’s always going to be there, so not having a clutch doesn’t take away any feel that you would have on a normal bike. It’s just gaining that trust in knowing the bike is going to do what you want it to do.”

As you just mentioned about the bike not having a clutch, a lot of instances in EnduroCross involve using the clutch on a gas powered bike such as when lofting the front wheel over obstacles. Have you fully adjusted to not having a clutch, yet?

“We’re still so early working together and everything is still pretty new, but one of the Alta mechanics, whose name is Dale, is super intelligent with how it all works. I can go out, do a moto, and come back in and tell him, “Hey it’s lacking power here, we need more there.” Whatever it is that I was feeling on the bike, he can go in and plug it into his computer for about 10 minutes and I’ll ride it again and it will be a completely new motorcycle, so that’s really cool. Just the adjustability on the fly, finding what you want, or what you need right there.”

Racers always talk about how important starts are. Do you think the Alta is an advantage or disadvantage at the start?

“The starts are incredible on it. You’re essentially in first gear and fifth gear the whole time. I haven’t stacked up a start next to anybody yet, but it feels incredible because it’s just constant torque.“

How is the bike's rear wheel traction compared to a gas bike?

“It’s super good. It tracks everywhere you want it to and a lot of that comes with the testing and refining. It’s beneficial having four maps to choose from because no matter what it is you’re doing, you have a map to go to that’s tuned for what it is that you want to do.”

People make a lot about the differences between two-strokes and four-strokes. How much more of a difference is there between gas and electric power?

“It’s completely new and completely different. When you ride a two-stroke, everything you’re taught revolves around the clutch. You need to know how to use the clutch to ride a two-stroke well. Four-strokes are four-strokes, but the electric bike is a totally different animal. I think it allows you to focus a lot more on your body position and your actual riding because you’re not thinking about clutching or shifting anywhere. It’s all go, so you catch yourself thinking a lot more about where you are on the bike, your body position, and all of that.”

Kurt Nicoll has raced the bike in EnduroCross. Have you worked with him at all, or used settings that Alta developed with Kurt?

“No, we started from just a stock setting.”

Have you done any laptime comparisons versus a gas bike?

“Yes. I’ve actually been consistently faster on the Alta.”

Is the bike more tiring to ride?

“It’s so hard to say and I think that’s because the only times I’ve ridden the bike have just been testing, so I haven’t had the chance to really go out and put in full motos. So right now I couldn’t really tell you, but you don’t really get arm pump at all because you’re not using the clutch or anything like that. The bike is substantially heavier, but because there’s no rotational mass and it’s all torque, it has a light feel to it.