We recently took delivery of the street-legal Alta Redshift EX and put it in the hands of multiple test riders of varying ages from 26 to 62 and skill levels ranging from novice to expert. Most of the test riders had never ridden an electric bike before, but the one thing they all had in common was they listed the Alta as “a fun bike to ride.” Riding an electric bike delivers an experience that is somewhat different than riding a gas-powered motorcycle, and it’s a positive sensation—one that kept each test rider who didn’t have the luxury of keeping the Redshift EX in their garage yearning to have it in their possession. We tested the Redshift EX on everything from the street to tight technical trails to the motocross track and were pleased with how well the bike performed in each area and its overall versatility.
The engine is unquestionably the biggest difference on the Alta in comparison to a gas-powered machine. The first thing that jumps out when you get on the bike is the absence of a clutch and shift lever. Not shifting through gears is a unique sensation at first, but as Alta’s newly signed EnduroCross racer Ty Tremaine pointed out in a recent interview we did with him, “You’re essentially in first gear and fifth gear the whole time.”
The Redshift EX has four preprogrammed maps that can be accessed on the fly via a module located on the left side of the handlebar. Regardless of what map you are in, the bike requires approximately one-eighth of a turn of the throttle before it begins to move, which is actually very similar to how much throttle you would give a gas-powered bike while slipping the clutch to get it moving without stalling. Each map offers a similar power curve, but with increasing amounts of power and hit, especially as the rpm increase.
Map one is ideal when riding at lower speeds such as tight and technical single-track. It’s similar to first or second gear on a gas-powered bike, but with the ability to be ridden at lower speeds without slipping the clutch excessively to prevent the rear wheel from spinning and/or the bike from stalling. Map one is where the Redshift EX’s incredible ability to maintain traction is most noticeable. While riding over rocks and other obstacles, the Alta can creep to a near halt and still keep the rear wheel tracking. Just when you think the rear wheel might break loose and start spinning, the bike continues to track forward and hook up.
Map two is fairly close to map one in terms of power and torque, and accordingly works well in lower-speed situations. It mimics map one’s excellent ability to gain and maintain traction, but has a quicker and harder-hitting throttle response and works better when the trail opens up and the speeds increase slightly. Map three is the best all-around map for any riding that involves speeds higher than tight and technical single-track. Map three can handle just about everything and test riders agreed it offered the best balance between hard-hitting power and lack of wheelspin. Map four offers the most power and can catch you off guard if you grab a handful due to how hard-hitting and snappy it is. Map four is so powerful in fact that it can break the rear wheel loose noticeably easier than maps one through three when riding the Alta on any type of terrain other than asphalt. Map four is still useful on the dirt; it just requires a bit more discretion of the throttle hand and works best when riding at a faster, more consistent speed. When riding in map four on the street, we got the Alta up to 86 mph according to the on-board speedometer.
As far as engine-braking goes, the Alta falls somewhere between a two-stroke and a four-stroke, but slightly more toward a four-stroke. When off-throttle, the bike’s engine-braking is gradual and predictable, which helps make the transition from riding a gas-powered bike to the Redshift EX that much easier. As far as battery life on the Alta goes, we were able to squeeze just over an hour of faster-paced off-road and trail riding. When the battery is completely dead, it takes approximately four hours until it’s fully recharged.
The Redshift EX is spec’d with a WP 4CS fork and WP shock. Both ends are understandably valved and sprung on the softer side to accommodate the type of enduro riding the bike is designed for. The 4CS fork does an excellent job of absorbing small impacts such as rocks or any other type of minor obstacle one might encounter on the trail. The front end stays well connected to the ground and garners excellent traction as a result. The 4CS unit does occasionally bottom out on larger impacts such as when jumping to flat and on medium-sized drop-offs, but that is to be expected seeing as it’s set up to be more of an all-around, do-it-all enduro bike.
The WP shock is a bit softer than the fork and does a superb job of helping the rear wheel garner the traction the electric-powered engine provides. The suspension worked well on the street as well as the trails we took it on, and we couldn’t resist taking the bike on the vet track at Cahuilla Creek MX on our first day out with it. While the shock was understandably a bit soft for a motocross track, we were pleased to find that the suspension worked well on the tabletop-jump-filled layout and handled landings just fine. The suspension works great on the terrain it’s designed to be ridden on, but it can hold its own on just about anything you can throw it at.
The Redshift EX chassis does several things very well. First, the bike is incredibly easy to balance. For example, when riding on a tight, technical trail at very slow speed, it’s easy to keep your feet up and continue motoring along. The bike also has great straight-line stability and is predictable at higher speeds. Most of the time, straight-line stability and cornering ability are trade-offs, but such is not the case with the Alta. We especially noticed this when riding the bike on the vet track at Cahuilla. The bike dives into corners very easily, making sudden line changes nearly effortless. While the bike is great at lean in, it also stays planted and remains predictable throughout the entirety of the corner as well. While the Alta chassis feels light and nimble on the ground, some test riders noted that it feels a bit heavier once airborne, but acknowledged that it wasn’t major and the way it handled on the ground far outweighed how it felt to them in the air.
The Alta Redshift EX is a blast to ride. All of our test riders who got the opportunity to ride it enjoyed ripping around on the Redshift EX regardless of what speed they were going or what terrain they were riding on. With a quiet, torquey, and fast electric-powered engine, compliant and versatile WP suspension, and a chassis that has a noteworthy combination of good cornering ability, confidence-inspiring straight-line stability, and ease of balance when riding at slow speeds. We look forward to riding the Alta even more as the year progresses, and with no oil to change or air filters to clean, the most difficult part of having this bike might just be deciding which test rider gets to have it as their Long Haul bike as there are plenty of ready and willing candidates lined up for the job.