Yesterday, the press was introduced to the new 2018 machines from Alta Motors, the company that has brought electric motorcycles to the forefront of our sport. The new 2018 Alta Redshift MXR is an exciting new machine, with better suspension, more power, and greater battery life than the original Alta Redshift MX, and we were blown away by the increased performance level of the new machine. Laurence Lea is the Media Coordinator for Alta, and we took advantage of a break in the on-track action to pick his brain a little about the exciting new category in our sport.
Laurence, it has to be exciting to be the front-man of a brand like Alta, which is breaking new ground in motocross…
Yeah, it's interesting. We have so many people who reach out to us that just want to try the bike. An electric motorcycle is so foreign to the public, which really makes them want to throw a leg over it and ride. Having such a huge interest in Alta is a good problem to have (laughs). We are doing our best to invest in the industry, while at the same time, we're just trying to find our own footing with the other manufacturers out here.
The general public just wants to feel what it's like to ride an Alta. When I first rode one, I know how surprised I was with the amount of power and the instant delivery of that power… is that generally the response you guys get?
Yes! Our 2017 and 2018 models are very similar in the power delivery. And then when riders swing their leg over the MXR, which is what the media rode today, they comment about how consistent that power stayed throughout their ride. They didn’t experience any power-limitations during their ride at all, it was always at their disposal. Though, having that amount of instant power seemed to take some laps to get used to, they all had loads of fun after getting comfortable.
I always enjoy the negative comments from the keyboard warriors on social media and the Internet…ignorant idiots! What do you think has been the brands biggest hold-up?
A year ago, the hang-up was the price and weight. Which we fixed, the bike is now 10-pounds lighter and we also dropped the price four and a-half grand. We are up there with the premium manufactures in the industry now. Some of those comments are serious, but some are just people messing with others. However, we don’t take them as a bad thing, because the comments are showing that many people care about this new technology in our sport. I think a lot of it is uncertainty, people want to stick with what they know. I've witnessed a lot of uncertain people walk up, spin some laps on the Alta, and be speechless in awe. People who ride the bike get addicted. You have to change one mind at a time, and that's the battle we are all fighting now.
The price cut was nearly a third of the entire price itself…How?
Yeah, it's a mix of a lot of things. We have some more help from our initial investors, as well as, we upgraded our supply chain techniques. Being able to maintain the relationships that we started a few years ago is building trust to our brand, so we are able to get better pricing from suppliers and such. The trust we've gained from suppliers and the more experience we have earned resulted in a better price point, which we feel fits the electrical motorcycle market.
The new MXR has better suspension, a better motor, and the battery-life is up. Why continue to make the standard version?
For us, it's like a car manufacturer selling the base model and then their tricked out model with all the upgrades. Being able to still sell the base model, which has improvements from last year, and offer that next step really shows the evolution of our technology. It shows where we were a year ago, compared to now. And that draws the question amongst our customer basis of where we will be in a few years from now. That natural progression is amazing to see, but at the same time it offers that base model for the customers who maybe don’t want the extra power. Though based on the pre-order's we have received from dealers and such, most the public wants the MXR and now it will be available for them.
How many bikes have you sold?
We don’t talk numbers on that subject because of investors and such, but I will say we have sold more MXRs on pre-orders, in three weeks, than we have in the past 14 months. That is an indicator that the acceptance from the motocross community is now here. We did over 2,000 demo rides last year, so it's awesome to see that our work seems to be paying off.
How critical has an association with a top level rider, such as Darryn Durham, been to your wide-scale interest?
Riders like Darryn, Josh Hill, and Nate Adams have really added a sense of what the Alta can do. To show how our bike can perform in those top stunts, but still be your weekend warrior bike, has been super important to our growth. We feel that putting our bike out in those professional situations and contests have shown the potential of the machine and displayed how competitive it is with the other manufacturers.
The bike is yet to be homologated for AMA competition. Is this due to fear of the unknown from the promoting group or resistance from the other manufacturers?
The promoter's job is to get people in seats and they see the trend in electric vehicles, so the promoting groups seem to be in. However, there is going to be blow-backs anytime you try and take a profit margin away from another company. We don’t want to cause an issue in any way, but we want a seat at the table. There are safety standards set, there is a proper displacement for the bike, and there are proper ways to test software and such after races. We are patient enough to get those standards from the promoter side, and hopefully, at that point we can go racing.