Alta (BRD) Reveals Details On Redshift Bikes

3 years ago by Ted Dillard 7

SM-1

The Alta Redshift SM-1

In an unusually detailed and non-press-releasey press release, Alta gave some very interesting details about its company, its bikes, and the tech we’re going to see in them.

We’re going to start by cherry-picking the release (out of the Florida show this week) with what caught our eye, but you can read the entire release at the bottom of the page.

The Alta Redshift MX

The Alta Redshift MX

“40 horsepower from 11lbs of motor – Pound for pound the most powerful motor in the industry.”

This is astounding.  Just to talk apples to apples, let’s convert that to kilowatts, the commonly used description of an electric motor’s power capacity.  40 hp is about 29kW, and that’s usually a peak rating – that is, if you ran the motor continuously at that kind of power it would probably melt – but at a peak rating of 29kW you can compare this motor to others that weigh over twice that.  They’re claiming it’s a liquid cooled motor that was designed and built by them.  And, “13,750 RPM”.  To put this into perspective, most AC motors run at a top RPM of half that, or less.

…and “251 lbs for MX; 264 lbs for SM”.  More on this later, but a huge part of that light weight is due to the motor.

“The battery offers best-in-industry performance … the smallest, lightest battery in transportation.”

Well, at 70lbs and 5.2 kWh, that’s about right for most of the top-end battery chemistries, at about 165 Wh/kg, so no miracles here.  The Panasonic chemistry used by Tesla rates about 245 Wh/kg, and the fairly legendary A123 cells go for around 120 Wh/kg.  Good, but not as astounding as the motor specs.

“Swappable pack…”

What’s that you say?  A light dirt bike with a swappable pack?  Sort of like having a DeWalt drill with batteries you can carry along and swap out with fresh ones?  Read on.

“…2-person job, 5-10 minutes based on experience.”

mx-3

Front and rear views- Alta Redshift MX

Oh, so not so much.  But still, easily removable, upgradable, all that.  So the light weight is not so much due to the pack chemistry or design, but more due to a very light frame and motor.

Now, some interesting information on why it’s taken so long:

“We developed our own liquid-cooled motor, our own motor control, and our own battery pack. We developed a new method for manufacturing a motorcycle chassis to house these new components that were shaped nothing like their gasoline counterparts.

And when our first effort was good, but not quite there, we revisited every part of our new bouncing baby. We discarded 2 years of development and, specifically, one of the most advanced battery designs out there. This was a really hard decision, especially for a shoestring startup of five people.

What is the result? The result is that every single part on the bike changed. “

Interesting.  Rather than beta-test and re-design based on customer experience, here’s a company who quite literally goes back to the drawing board when they realize they’ve eclipsed their own work – especially in the context that they’re designing the components from scratch, with the theoretical capabilities as a goal, rather than simply what’s readily available.

Without further ado, here’s the complete release:

Alta Motors proudly announces the 2015 RedShift

Orlando, FL – October 16, 2014 – This has been a long time coming, and we’re incredibly excited about the new bikes. We’ve got a lot to tell you, and we figured we’d make it easy and break it down in bullet points so you’re not having to skim a bunch of fluff to get to the good parts.

What is a Redshift?
To start, it’s a full-scale motocross race bike.
Racing focused
Forged and cast chassis
WP race-spec suspension for both models
Brembo brake components

Retail price is $14,995 for the off-road only RedShift MX, and $15,495 for the street-legal Redshift SM.
40 horsepower from 11lbs of motor – Pound for pound the most powerful motor in the industry.
251 lbs for MX; 264 lbs for SM – Every test rider has commented that it rides lighter. This is a function of the mass centralization and reduced giro forces.

On the fly selectable performance profiles (i.e. “throttle maps”) that can alter myriad parameters, including:
“Throttle” response
Engine braking
Virtual flywheel
13,750 RPM proprietary motor
Totally sounds like a TIE fighter
Flat torque delivery
Internal helical gear reduction
No shifting
Liquid-cooled proprietary motor controller
Selectable power maps on the fly
Improves traction
Smoother speed
Adjustable engine braking

Delivery starts in 2015 Q2 for CA, then broadens to the rest of the US in Q3
No break-in or warm-up for an Alta RedShift. Just turn it on and ride.
50 miles range under aggressive riding. Enough for a full outdoor moto and most riders, in our experience.

The battery offers best-in-industry performance
Mile for mile the smallest, lightest battery in transportation
Engineered for 1,000hrs and 50,000 miles
Proprietary patent-pending lithium-ion tech
Swappable pack
Weighs 70 lbs
2-person job, 5-10 minutes based on experience
Because it is swappable and self-contained, it is planned to be backwards compatible with our next generations of packs.

The unloaded seat height on the MX is 38 inches. The SM will be lower but we’re still finalizing the suspension tuning on the SM. The charger is integrated and charging takes 4 hours from a standard 110V – you can charge from other sources with a pigtail, but 110V is the most ubiquitous charging network in the country. There are a lot fewer J1772 stations than gas stations; there are a whole lot more 110V outlets than gas stations.
Warranty is 1 yr, unlimited mileage
Sold only through premier motorcycle dealerships. No direct sales.

Okay, now the fluff… why did we do this?
Because we all want to be fast. We all want to progress and improve – be faster than we were the day before. What makes a rider fast? Control. Control comes from the connection between the rider and the bike – part of that is smooth predictable power and part is the relationship that forms between a rider and a bike (usually through time and tuning). We chose motocross because in this format, we can fit enough energy on the bike to compete in conventional racing (more importantly, the formats of racing we love.)

How did we achieve our goals?
First, we started from clean sheet. Nothing off the shelf came close to what was theoretically possible – it was like trying to go to Peterbilt to get a motor for an R6. We developed our own liquid-cooled motor, our own motor control, and our own battery pack. We developed a new method for manufacturing a motorcycle chassis to house these new components that were shaped nothing like their gasoline counterparts.

And when our first effort was good, but not quite there, we revisited every part of our new bouncing baby. We discarded 2 years of development and, specifically, one of the most advanced battery designs out there. This was a really hard decision, especially for a shoestring startup of five people.

What is the result?
The result is that every single part on the bike changed. The basic architecture remains, and most importantly, so does the amazing ride experience. But everything about the production bikes are sharper, lighter, smoother, stronger, easier, and more efficient in both material and energy. Here are a couple of highlights:
The front bulkhead of the chassis was changed from a patented casting design to a even newer patented system of forgings. This gives us drastically more control over frame stiffness, and increases the strength of the system 40% with no additional weight.
The new battery pack is 4″ shorter and 15 lbs lighter than our gen 1 pack. The Redshift’s battery now has superior ground clearance, optimized CoG, and is responsible for most of the 20lbs saved between the prototype design to the production design.
We’ve created something that we believe is up to the real rigors of off-road and supermoto racing. We’ve created something that we think is going to make most riders faster, better, more competent. We’ve created something that for us is more fun than anything else we have in the garage. We’ve also created something that is likely the fastest legally-plated vehicle in any city on the planet.

What comes next?
We’ve poured our souls, our blood, and five years into making the best motorcycle we can – we hope that shows in every surface, and bolt head, and twist of the grip on the RedShift. We aren’t done; this is just the beginning for the RedShift and for Alta.

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7 responses to "Alta (BRD) Reveals Details On Redshift Bikes"

  1. arne-nl says:

    “Well, at 70lbs and 5.2 kWh, that’s about right for most of the top-end battery chemistries, at about 165 Wh/kg, so no miracles here.

    I think there is more miracle than you give them credit for.

    Pay attention to the difference between cell specs and battery specs. They talk about the ‘battery’, so that includes packaging, cabling, bms, cooling etc. The Tesla battery pack (using the 245 Wh/kg Panasonic cells) is ‘only’ ~150 Wh/kg.

    1. Ted Dillard says:

      I’d be interested in where you found the weight for the Tesla complete pack. Does that include the titanium armor? But let’s keep this apples to apples, shall we?

      The Zero “power pack” (what they call the battery, enclosure and BMS, per their manual) at 5.5 or so kWh weighs 52lbs. There are two of them.

      My math gives that around 234 kw/kg. (Correction – the “power pack” modules weigh 41.8lbs, as per Harlan Flagg at Hollywood Electrics. They are 2.8kWh. This calculates out to 149 kw/kg.) Read more here on The Electric Chronicles.

      I’ve built several packs for motorcycles. If these guys are building a pack that needs more than 10lbs of enclosure and hardware, they need to hire me. So at 60lbs, or 27.2kg, that’s around 190 kw/kg, right? No miracles here, people, keep moving.

      1. protomech says:

        Zero’s ZF2.8 modules weigh about 45 pounds, are 2.5 kWh nominal, so around 120 Wh/kg.

        Tesla’s 85 kWh pack weighs around 600 kg, so around 140 Wh/kg.

        160 Wh/kg for an assembled pack is indeed quite good.

        1. Ted Dillard says:

          “Quite good”, by today’s standards, but certainly not miraculous. Or even, as they claim, “best-in-industry performance… the smallest, lightest battery in transportation”.

      2. arne-nl says:

        “But let’s keep this apples to apples, shall we?”

        Ted, that’s exactly what I asked you to do. Because you didn’t do so in the article when you compared Alta’s pack level specific energy to Tesla’s cell level specific energy. Like in this sentence:

        “Well, at 70lbs and 5.2 kWh, that’s about right for most of the top-end battery chemistries, at about 165 Wh/kg, so no miracles here. The Panasonic chemistry used by Tesla rates about 245 Wh/kg,”

        So thanks for setting the record straight and providing an apples to apples comparison.

  2. tedfredrick says:

    I used to ride motocross and I had a 20hp RM125 suzuki that weighted 200lbs. The current 4 stroke 450 cc motocross bikes weight in at about 250lbs. This bikes weight would be competetive with a gas bike and I can only assume the instant torque is legendary. I want one

  3. Want… want… want…