Talk of electric motorcycles seems to be everywhere. Alta takes the next step by announcing their entry into AMA racing. This represents the next step in the evolution of electric bikes, racing head to head against the internal combustion engine.
I like it. I like to see the development of new things. I like the fact that it will be straight up racing. I like “run what you brung” racing. I can’t wait to see the results.
Endurocross is the perfect format. It is a relatively small pond to test the waters in. And well frankly, even though it is a full AMA series, the situation is such that Endurocross can kind of make up their own rules as they go. But they should get off their can and let trials bikes and trials tires back in. The exclusion of both is silly.
Having said all that, I am still a bit dubious about the electric future. There are numerous hurdles to vault before electric power becomes a mainstay of motorcycling. Cost, weight, battery life are all challenges to going electric. The top of the line Alta Redshift is $15,000 and weighs in at 270 lbs.
I may as well address the elephant in the room too. Just how “green” are electric vehicles? Well that one is hard to find credible consensus on. When you factor in the environmental toll of coal fired electricity production and the mining of rare earth metals needed for batteries and other parts, it may be no better than a push. In the future electric power may be clean, but it is not necessarily so today. It is a complicated subject.
KTM is also in the mix with their Freeride E. Being steadfastly European; they have a slightly different view of the future. Their hope is that quiet, unobtrusive, friendly looking motorcycles will have better access to riding areas.
I don’t see that as having a major impact on riding in the states. Non-motorized mountain bikes are facing many of the same access issues as motorcycles already. I doubt an electric motorcycle is going to appease any group who currently opposes motorized land use. But in places like California, the reduction in noise could make it easier to ride on private property in many places. Noise ordinances are a significant issue for landowners.
Despite my own misgivings about the potential future of electric bikes, I am glad to see the development. Racing will be a great way to gain larger exposure for this emerging class. I am curious if they will need to do something about the “lack” of noise in the race environment. Maybe a noise maker of some sort will be helpful in letting other riders know you are close.
Best of luck to Ty Tremaine and Alta.
Here is a look at pro motocrosser Darryn Durham racing the Alta outdoors