After the initial launch of the Alta Motors Redshift EX and the resulting feedback from riders of all levels, the California designers went to work on ways to improve the revolutionary electric-powered motorcycle. The chief complaints of the Redshift EX were the range that the battery pack offered, as the hours of expected ride time in a single track setting could be greatly reduced due to heat, and how quickly the power could lessen when the pack became too hot or dropped below half charge. Those issues and more were addressed and corrected on the Alta Motors Redshift EXR, a new high-performance addition to the company's model lineup.
The dual-sport, road-legal Redshift EXR shares plenty of parts and technology with the track-oriented Redshift MXR, including the multi-purpose bulkhead structure, aluminum frame, aluminum swingarm, and polymer subframe. Both are powered by the new R5.8 Pack, a compact unit that is the most energy-dense battery in transportation of any sort, including automobiles. The chemistry of the cells in the R5.8 allows the battery to stay cooler during operation, which allows the pack to maintain its peak performance throughout the charge. Matched to the battery is new firmware and new software, which is loaded with four maps that offer different power settings (one is a mellow delivery for extended runtime, and four is for pure performance) together maximize the power of the pack and increase the duration of riding, while also allowing it to recharge quicker. How much quicker? When connected to a 240V outlet, the standard in garages for the mechanically inclined, the battery can go from completely drained to fully charged in under two hours. The pack is paired to Alta's 15-pound liquid-cooled motor, which spins at 14,000 rpm and produces 55 horsepower at the countershaft. This energy is fed through the 3.5:1 gear reduction and delivers 42 foot-pounds of torque to the rear wheel.
After many complaints regarding the suspension of the original Redshift EX, mostly directed at the WP 4CS fork, Alta has switched to WP's off-road Xplor 48 fork and corresponding shock. The use of the Xplor 48 fork not only improves the overall feel and range of adjustability, but also reduces the weight. Brembo braking units are on both ends of the bike, which are laced to the Warp9 wheels. To complete the off-road package and meet street-legal requirements, the bike is finished off with Metzeler 6 Days Extreme knobby tires and the necessary lights and license plate frame.
On The Trail
Our initial test ride of the Redshift EXR took place in Northern California at two very different locations: the city streets of San Francisco and the winding trails of Nevada City. These environments were selected to show the versatility of the motorcycle, from pavement to rocky trails, as there were no changes made to the bike from one day to the next, despite the 5,000-foot change in elevation from the bay of San Francisco to the mountains of Nevada City. No matter how many times you ride an Alta Motors bike, the lack of noise is always interesting, and it's even more noticeable when in a serene environment like a forest. Slipping through traffic required one's full attention, because the drivers inside the cars had no indication that a motorcycle was nearby, due to the silent motor. We experienced the dreaded "thermal protection" safe mode on more than one occasion aboard the standard EX, which was very unnerving along high-speed streets with cars all around, but that never once occurred during our sprint around the city with the EXR, which included miles long 45 mph runs between stop lights or signs. That alone proved to us that the R5.8 battery pack is a massive improvement over its predecessor. Since most of the time in the city was at regulated speed, there was no real need to get out of map two, which offered more than enough oomph to get the holeshot over other automobiles from a dead stop. The battery pack and motor performance was even more impressive during the off-road loop in Nevada City, as we charged through open trails for nearly two hours and didn't even reduce the battery level to half-charge (mileage was around 20 miles). We went through maps two, three, and four during the off-road portion of the test and can say that map two, with its broad powerband and manageable delivery, was best suited for the slinking singletrack paths while maps three and four, with their faster and more powerful hits, were much more fun along the open fire roads. But best of all was the fact that a rider would never stall the motor, no matter how big the mistake. Knowing that one would never have to precariously balance on a rock and the kickstarter or hope that an electric-starter motor could re-fire a hot engine is a very important piece of mind.
The Alta Motors Redshift EXR offers a "connection" to the ride like no other bike on the market. With very few moving internal parts in the motor, there is almost no vibration transferred from the bike to the rider, which makes one feel connected to the machine and the terrain. During the city street cruise, we could detect the changes from pavement and over bridges, then every bump and obstacle on the trail. As one would expect, this sensation was magnified on the trail, where various rocks, logs, and ruts were noticed. This is not a knock on the WP Xplor fork and shock in any way, though, because both components were able to soak up anything that were in the path and never transferred the feedback to the rider in a harsh or negative way. But the connected feeling made the weakness of the Metzeler tires very apparent, as the front tire felt unstable and would wash away over unsettled terrain like stones or pinecone clusters while the rear tire never dug into the dirt the way that we would like. This is due to the hard rubber composition and knob pattern that is necessary for DOT certification and a wide range of applications, but something that a rider can change.
The fit and finish of the Alta is solid, as the growing manufacturer uses reputable industry brands like Brembo, Neken, Cycra, Acerbis, Warp 9, and more for various pieces. Every component used is high quality and will suit various heights, sizes, and abilities. One small part that Alta changed from the EX to the EXR that we were most pleased with were the footpegs. The teeth of the pegs used on the EX were small squares that offered little to no grip, but the pegs of the EXR are much more aggressive and keep a rider's feet locked in place.
Riding the EX and EXR back-to-back makes the improvements very noticeable. Although pure power delivery is not as important on the trail as it is a race track, the EXR definitely packs more of a punch and is able to do so consistently, no matter how much the battery has left. That Alta has raised the limit for the thermal protection temperature is very impressive and important, because now there is almost no concern that the bike may overheat and leave you stranded as you wait for it to cool. There are still some shortcomings with the EXR, as the range of the battery is very good but not as easy to bring back to full power as a gasoline machine, but that's to be expected of new technology. The bike is also very stable and planted, but the stock tires offer very little traction and keep the bike from reaching its potential. If Alta is able to make such a massive improvement in such a short time, we're certain that electric motorcycle technology will only continue to progress in the next few years, due to the performance of the Redshift EXR.
2019 Alta Motors Redshift EXR Specifications
Engine type: Electric motor
Battery pack: Li-ion 350v
Gear ratio: 3.5:1
Final drive: Chain
Front suspension: WP Xplor 48 fork
Rear suspension: WP shock
Front brake: 260mm disc, Brembo caliper
Rear brake: 220mm disc, Brembo caliper
Seat height: 36.5 inches
Weight: 273 pounds