"It's so much fun... until the battery dies."
If you enjoyed watching racer Tucker Neary take an impressive hare scramble victory over a field full of gas-powered bikes on his Sur-Ron X, you’re in luck. He’s back with a sequel and it rules. Like many sequels, it has a different ending, and you may or may not find it as satisfying as the first. The starring electric dirt bike this time is a 2017 Alta Redshift MX.
To be totally clear, Neary borrowed the Alta from a buddy. As he explains, he’d never ridden it before that day, and so wasn’t familiar with it or any of its quirks at all. Still, as a trial run, he took it to race in the Expert Short Course Class at the Texas State Championship Enduro Circuit. His main goal: Not to be the fastest, just to finish the race.
The first minor problem Neary encountered was the fact that the Sur-Ron X has a horn so you can warn other racers when you’re coming up behind them. Racing enduro on an electric bike might mean you have to get used to shouting up ahead to let other racers know you’re coming up on their left, and it’s an absolute necessity on this Alta.
A bigger problem, however, was range anxiety. Neary knew going in that he only had a single battery. He was hoping to get through a roughly 30-mile course, with one gas stop for everyone else where he planned to hook up to a generator and top off as much as he could. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it to the end.
However, Neary did manage to make it about 20 miles before the battery gave up. Impressively, despite taking it easy, he was still running in second place when the battery gave up for good.
After a particularly tough, deep-sand part that Neary said felt like beach sand, he had to cycle the battery through a couple of times to get the last bits of juice out of it and get up a hill before finally slowing to a stop, resulting in Neary pushing it the rest of the way to the pit (with help, thankfully). Shortly afterward, the Alta got trailered back and Neary shared his observations about what happened.
There’s a known battery heat problem that is specific to 2017 Alta Redshift MX models. According to the company, if any internal sensors clocked temperatures of over 150F, the bike would limit power automatically to try to prevent any long-term battery damage. There are four separate maps on that bike, with number four being the most aggressive, and most likely to cause racers to hit that 150F threshold quickly.
Neary constantly emphasized that he was taking it easy, and also that he was racing in map 2 or 3 most of the time in his video. It’s not clear if it’s possible to still hit that heat threshold on that bike while using those maps, or if that issue even had any bearing at all on how Neary’s race ultimately went.
Apparently, Alta addressed this issue for 2018. Even though the company is no more, you can still pick up a showroom-fresh 2017 Alta Redshift MX for about $8K. Meanwhile, a 2018 model runs anywhere from $9K to $10.5K on CycleTrader.