Sun. Dec 4th, 2022

A few years ago a startup company called Alta Motors made headlines with its Redshift MX bike that made some racing and performance headlines before sadly falling victim to corporate/finance issues. With Alta’s demise came a fresh wave of doubt over the future potential of a competitive e-moto bike—until now. 

Stark is a Swedish company founded by motocross enthusiast Anton Wass, and over the years it’s been Anton’s dream to build a high-performance, battery-powered motocross bike. Wass’ goal was to make the fastest, most powerful motocross bike in the world, and that’s what he’s claimed to achieve with the striking Varg. 

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

In Swedish, the word “varg” means “strong wolf,” and in Sweden, the wolf is the king of the forest. Wass says the bike is a gentle beast that can challenge the world’s best and fastest riders, but still also be set up to be easy for beginners. They set out to make a motocross bike first, because with so many technical challenges to be successful in the sport, it’s the hardest type of bike to get right. It was a challenge that Anton could not resist. They claim they optimized every single component on the bike for specific motocross use and designed the powertrain and chassis to work together perfectly.

Most impressively, where most 450cc motocross bikes put out around 55–60 horsepower, Stark claims that the Varg offers 80! They made it to be lightweight and have a range similar to a 450cc motorcycle with a full tank of gas. They claim either a full race, or five to six hours of trail riding, and one to two hours to fully recharge the 6kWh battery.

The battery case features a patent-pending honeycomb structure to keep the cells protected, but also lets them vent heat through the air-cooled case. It’s IP69-rated, so you can ride it through water without concern.

The Varg weighs in at a claimed 242 pounds. Their engineers compared current bikes on the market and optimized the Varg in terms of weight distribution, chassis flex, and suspension for a more predictable, stable and comfortable ride. The front carbon fiber subframe has a tunnel for air cooling, and there are also integrated aluminum handles at the back of the subframe to make moving the bike around by hand easier.

In their quest for lightness, they’ve gone after some innovative ideas. The skid plate floats to allow better protection for the battery and rider. Integrating the motor as part of the chassis also helped in this endeavor. They’ve even used a special alloy of stainless steel for the footpegs that’s 40 percent stronger than titanium or chromoly.

Silent and emissions-free, Stark also claims that the red racer uses the least amount of plastic on any modern motocross bike. The low noise part is important, especially for Europe where it will launch first, where 20 percent of their motocross tracks have been shut down because of noise. Bikes like this may allow those tracks to reopen.

There’s no valves to adjust, oil to run out or filters to clean. There’s only the chain, tires and brakes to keep maintained. Though some moto guys like making upgrades and modifications to their ICE bikes, this keeps it simple. There’s not even a clutch. The proprietary motor was developed in-house with a carbon cover, coming in at 9 kilograms. They’re also using the smallest inverter they could to achieve the desired power range. The motor and inverter are put into a water-cooled case that serves as a structural part of the bike. The peak power of the motor is 80 horsepower, but the bike is designed to mostly be used in the mid-range, increasing efficiency.

CONNECTED

The display on the bike is a shock-resistant, water-resistant Android phone. That phone allows you so many ways to customize your ride. The phone charges while in place as the bike’s display. There’s an app that works on both Android and iOS for customization. You can adjust power curves, regeneration, even a virtual flywheel weight for acceleration and deceleration, and even set traction control.

There are over 100 different possible power modes, and you can have five live on the bike at any one time. You can change them on the fly using buttons by your left grip.

You can track lap times, even transfer your data between phones. It records lap times, lap data, speed, G-force, air time and power consumption. You can go crazy with the technology; it offers GPS navigation with trail mapping and even turn-by-turn navigation.

The price is $11,900, and you can reserve one for just $100. The Varg will be available in three color options: Stark Red, Fresh Snow or Forest Grey. Deliveries will start in September 2022. We are expecting our friends from sister zine Motocross Action to get the chance to test the bike soon, so stay tuned!

www.starkfuture.com

TARFORM

Tarform, a Brooklyn, New York-based startup company is introducing two new motorcycles for 2022. They are the Scrambler and the Racer, and both share the same specs, including the motor that puts out 41kW, or 55 horsepower, with three modes that change the power characteristics. They boast a 120-mph top speed, 120-mile range, a 0–60 time of 3.8 seconds, three riding modes, and fast charging (0–80 percent in 50 minutes). 

Their vision is, “To create a new breed of electric motorcycles that honors the spirit of craftsmanship while embracing the future. Since this inception point, Tarform has been on a mission to redefine transportation by delivering beautiful, sustainable, and technologically advanced vehicles that make mobility both exhilarating and soulful. We have launched into 2022 by bringing our flagship Tarform Founder Edition series to market, to be followed by our production line Luna series later this year.”

Starting at $24,000, the bikes are made of natural, biodegradable and recyclable materials, and will start shipping in the summer of 2022. You can reserve one for $500, and their website lists some of the federal rebates available, and there may be state and local rebates as well.

www.tarform.com

SIMON SAYS, OUCH,AGAIN 

Following his bad crash last year, you have to give famed TV celebrity Simon Cowell credit for not shying away from riding high-powered e-bikes. Reports out of London told the tale of how Cowell once again hit the deck. This time he was aboard a Class 3 M1 Sporttechnik Das Spitzing Evolution S-Pedelec that he was riding near his home in London. Cowell went down after hitting a wet patch of pavement—the result being a broken arm and lacerations to
his face.

A source told the Sun tabloid that the helmet-,less Cowell bled so much his face looked like
“something from Phantom of the Opera.” He went to the hospital, where his arm was put in a cast and was diagnosed with a badly bruised cheek and a possible concussion.

RGNT MOTORCYCLES

RGNT Motorcycles (pronounced “regent”) is introducing two new beautiful electric motorcycles that stand out with their cool, retro styling. Based in Kungsbacka, Sweden, until now RGNT bikes were unavailable in the United States, but starting in 2023 that all changes, and you can pre-order one now to have it delivered next year.

The two bikes are the No.1 Classic and the No.1 Scrambler. Both are spec’d very similarly, save for some suspension, off-road tires and some other tweaks on the Scrambler to allow you to play in the dirt a bit. The 343-pound bikes run on a 7.7kWh battery, which allows the 11kW rear-hub motor to accelerate up to 78 mph with a claimed range of 75 miles. 

Under the throwback styling of these motorcycles, RGNT builds in plenty of tech and connectivity. A 7-inch touchscreen display sits behind the headlight. From the dash, riders can access navigation, settings, details about the bike’s performance, battery level and more. OTA updates and cloud connectivity will be used to update the bikes as needed.

The No.1 Classic is priced at $12,495, and the No.1 Scrambler is $13,495. You can secure one with a $150 deposit. They both come with a two-year/18,640-mile warranty.

Our question is, would you buy one? It’s shipped to your door in a crate, likely not fully assembled. They do say it will come with the necessary paperwork to register it and get it street-legal. Will you do the finishing yourself? Will you be able to find a shop that will help?

www.rgnt-motorcycles.com

DAKAR STAGE WON BY ELECTRIC VEHICLE

For the first time, an electric vehicle won a stage in the grueling Dakar Rally in 2022—an Audi RS Q e-tron set up with front and rear motors adapted from the 2021-spec’d Audi e-tron FE07 Formula E car. They added in a TFSI gasoline engine, not to put power to the wheels but to recharge the batteries to extend range.

When the car does stop, the multiple batteries can be charged at once via separate chargers. It also uses regenerative braking to both slow the vehicle and put some energy back into the batteries. The drivetrain puts out about 670 horsepower and, as per Dakar Rally regulations, the vehicle weighs at least 4409 pounds. While Audi didn’t score the overall victory, it was an impressive victory to such technology advance.

THE BABYMAKER, PART II

FLX Bike announced the newest bike in their fleet, the Babymaker II. The original Babymaker was part of a massively successful crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo with a whopping $13.3 million in funding raised. Nobody liked the name, but it certainly made people curious as to what it was. Unlike most e-bikes today, FLX assembles all of its bikes in Detroit, Michigan.

“FLX is excited to continue along the path we’ve carved with the launch of the Babymaker ll. It builds on our commitment to design the sleekest, most stealthy and easy to just get on and ride electric bike possible. With the move to build our bikes in Detroit, Michigan, our customers will join us on our mission to bring 100 percent of our bike assembly back into the USA economy,” said Rob Rast, founder and president of FLX.  

We had a chance to ride a pre-launch version, and it is a truly beautiful bicycle. It features a 40-percent-larger battery (360 Wh) hidden in the downtube and uses a tiny 350W hub motor driven by a Gates carbon belt drive. It’s a really quiet, smooth ride with plenty of power. They claim a range of “up to 70 miles” in Eco, and a full charge takes only three hours. 

www.flx.bike

FIRST LOOK: TWO NEW FROM YAMAHA

The first thing to know about Yamaha’s 2022 CrossCore and the Wabash RT bikes are that they’ve both been completely updated with new geometry, batteries and motors. We had the chance to test ride the bikes at a Yamaha media launch in San Marcos, California, and came away impressed with how much the bikes have
been improved.

And, as impressed as we immediately were with the aesthetics, it was the new motor that got us most excited. Yamaha’s PWSeries ST motor uses software that has been individually tuned for each bike to best respond to the specific type of riding each bike is designed for. The motor system features a 500Wh battery integrated into the frame with Yamaha’s quad-sensor technology that measures rider torque, cadence, wheel speed and inclination. If the system senses that you are climbing, it responds by offering you power more consistently and quicker support, whereas if you are descending, it limits power accordingly. Both bikes are Class 3 (28 mph), and they are truly set up to provide support up to 28 mph. There’s no gradual drop-off of power after around 25 mph.

There is also a new Automatic mode that is fantastic—just set it and forget it! It varies the level of motor power output based on the power you input via your legs. When you pedal harder, you get more assistance. We loved this feature and rode using it most of the time on both bikes. This way your thumb doesn’t have to move to change modes. Of course, there is a time and a place for each of the manual modes.

WABASH RT

The original Wabash was a practical drop-bar road/gravel bike that we felt was really growing long in the tooth. Happily, not only is the battery now integrated into the frame, but the geometry alone has been revised with a slacker front end to enhance off-road stability. We were able to ride about 17 miles with 3000 feet of elevation while only using four bars of battery. In other words, Yamaha has obviously refined the efficiency of the battery while maintaining use of a 500Wh integrated battery. Helping matters when it came to riding the bike off-road were the 45mm Maxxis Rambler tires.

The $4099 bike has a suspension dropper post, which means that it not only has the ability to drop 45–60mm (depending on frame size) but also provide 15mm of suspension travel. It has an 11-speed Shimano GRX drivetrain, and the aluminum frame and fork are rack- and fender-compatible with bosses already
set up. 

CROSSCORE RC

Yamaha’s new commuter/city bike is designed with what Yamaha describes as a fitness-specific ergonomics. Like the Wabash, the $3099 CrossCore RC has received a big facelift to optimize the commuter-experience bike. The “RC” stands for “Road and City.” It’s available in three colors and is spec’d with a 9-speed Shimano derailleur and a Suntour NEX fork with 63mm of travel that makes for a more comfortable ride on the many less-than-forgiving roads that make up so many daily commutes.

The handlebars are on the side, which is a good thing for commuting, especially if you’re riding between vehicles and on bike lanes. We found the power was really natural and the ride quality was outstanding. 

We will be getting both of these bikes for a full review once the production units arrive.

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