Cur­rent af­fairs

Motorcyclist - - Shift - —Zach Bow­man

AC­CORD­ING TO ALTA, the 2017 Red­shift MX never had a range prob­lem: The is­sue was heat. Elec­tric ve­hi­cles strive to max­i­mize the en­ergy trans­fer rate from the bat­tery to the mo­tor. The faster the rate, the quicker the mo­tor can spin, the faster the ve­hi­cle can go, and the more heat the sys­tem will pro­duce. If any one of the many tem­per­a­ture send­ing units mon­i­tor­ing the dozens of in­di­vid­ual 18650-size cells within the bike’s bat­tery pack sensed tem­per­a­tures over 150 de­grees Fahren­heit, the ma­chine au­to­mat­i­cally lim­ited power to prevent long-term dam­age. For rid­ers who grew up rip­ping around tracks on in­ter­nal com­bus­tion power, it felt like a ma­chine on its way to dead.

Alta says this hap­pened in very spe­cific sit­u­a­tions. Both the 2017 Red­shift MX and the 2018 Red­shift MXR fea­ture four throt­tle maps. The fourth, Over­clocked, is the most ag­gres­sive, of­fer­ing the high­est-pos­si­ble en­ergy-trans­fer rate. On loose or muddy tracks with ei­ther a hard­core racer or a throt­tle-happy am­a­teur be­hind the bars, the bat­tery on the out­go­ing 2017 model could quickly reach that 150-de­gree thresh­old.

The so­lu­tion came in the form of some clev­er­ness. The 2018 Red­shift MXR and EXR use Alta’s up­dated R5.8 bat­tery pack with a unique bat­tery chem­istry de­signed to yield max­i­mum en­ergy re­lease over longer periods at lower tem­per­a­tures. The com­pany won’t say what’s in the mix or ex­actly what it changed com­pared to the 2017 pack. Alta claims that in­for­ma­tion—and even the iden­tity of the man­u­fac­turer of those cells—is pro­pri­etary. But with new soft­ware and an up­graded high-volt­age chain, in­clud­ing all the wiring strung from the bat­tery to the in­verter and on to the mo­tor it­self, the 2018 Red­shift MXR pro­duces 50 horsepower and 42 pound-feet of torque. That’s 10 bet­ter than the old bike, all while us­ing an iden­ti­cal mo­tor.

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