Is the future now? We’re about to find out.
The Stark Varg is touted as the future of motocross bikes. It’s electric. It’s cutting edge. It has unmatched battery technology in motorcycles. It’s just different from anything else available today.
Stark Future has set out with a goal of producing an Electric motocross bike to outperform all other combustion-engined MX Motorcycles on the market. This is a huge statement from a company that probably at the time of creating this goal hadn’t even publicly had a bike on display let alone turned a lap on the track.
Unlike the past efforts in the field of electric motorcycles. This is looking to be the real deal. With significant interest since the initial Press Release in December 2021. The Stark Varg has seen impressive numbers of pre-sale orders (Total sales of $9million in the first 24hrs) and general interest from techy electric motor enthusiasts. This is all based on its initial PR bike stats and promo videos that show the bike in action. The bike stats are impressive.
- Ground-breaking motor, cooling and battery architecture
- A class-leading powertrain of 80hp at 9hp per kilogram
- Ultra-small and light chassis concept with the use of premium materials such as
- carbon fibre, magnesium, and aero craft grade aluminum
- Smartphone dash and motorcycle set-up APP
- Bodywork that prioritizes ergonomics, comfort and performance
- Advanced suspension solutions from specialists KAYABA
- A ride anywhere, anytime concept thanks to low maintenance, long-lasting
- battery with zero emissions and no noise
Reports from the Stark Future Test riders are impressive also. Sebastian Tortelli and Josh Hill have both been putting the Varg to the test. Both riders seem to feel at home on the bike. It seems to be a traditional motocross bike feel in terms of chassis and suspension from their comments in the Stark PR. Obviously, the big change and aspect to adapt to is the electric motor.
Tortelli indicated this was his biggest challenge but felt it didn’t take very long to adapt to and you can begin to use other feedback to assist your riding that would not necessarily be available on a traditional motocross bike. Tortelli indicated he could tell how much traction he had by the sounds he could hear from the tyre on the dirt. Something you can’t normally hear over the exhaust note.
Now all the PR hype aside. The bike looks good. No idea how it actually rides yet as only a very limited number of people have actually seen it in person let alone ridden one. For me, that is where this project will sink or swim.
If, when you see it in person and first get to ride one. Does it quietly knock your socks off or not? Will you be able to get enough riding on the battery life aspect and does your track have access to multiple power outlets for mid-day recharges? Let alone will we Australians get the after-sale support required for such a high tech machine that your regular mechanic won’t know much about for the first few years?
Multiple questions that will determine whether or not this project sinks or swims particularly in Australian conditions and honestly until I either sit on one myself or see multiple Stark Varg’s at an Aussie Track, I’m reserving judgement on the project as a whole. But I love the enthusiasm of the people who have pre-ordered and the company for exploring an unknown field.
Some of these questions I was able to pose to the Stark Future Direct. I was able to speak with Benjamin Cobb the Communication & PR Manager for Stark and got some insight into Stark Plan and future. From his responses the company is more than just your basic start-up and all the correspondence, I’ve been able to have with them have been extremely professional and well presented. Giving me confidence that unlike past efforts of electric bikes and electric-based power vehicles. Stark Future is looking to be here for many years and many future models yet.
Fullnoise: We are now around 2 months from the initial press release in December 2021 and pre-sales have commenced. Are you on track for your expected sales and how many units have been pre-ordered?
Cobb: The market has responded extremely positively to Stark Future and the VARG, first day we have some issues with our website due to traffic; the website kept crashing, we had anticipated high traffic, but it exceeded our expectations. We are really pleased to see the reaction all over the World. Our tremendous launch has resulted in pre-orders of 5,000 VARGs at the beginning of February 2022, the production of the bikes will be a challenge, but for the first 1,000 motorcycles, we have all the important parts, for another 4,000 we have fixed contracts in place and we are renewing them as we speak.
Fullnoise: Outside of the US and Europe. How have the pre-sale numbers been? Is Australia getting many initial orders?
Cobb: Australia is in our top five. We have received many applications to become a Stark Future Official Dealer, our Sales department is still advancing rapidly with many countries and sales teams just arriving. That said we have been finalising someone that will help us build Stark Future in Australia and New Zealand.
Fullnoise: When will these pre-orders be available to the consumer?
Cobb: We will start manufacturing and delivering from September, however it is important to say that we are following a strict production plan and those who decide to order in February 2022 will have to wait until March 2023.
Fullnoise: Will the Australian Market receive the products at the same time as the rest of the world?
Cobb: That is what we are aiming for, with acceptance to 1 or 2 days, all is in place for it to happen.
Fullnoise: This seems like a massive investment to get off the ground. Obviously, we are specifically concerned about how the Australian market fits in the picture. But what sort of dollar value does it take to be invested that allows a high-tech product and company in a market that some might say doesn’t exist yet and may not need to exist for some time yet?
Cobb: Stark Future investors are a group of successful entrepreneurs who have built successful companies in the past, well let´s just say finances aren’t a problem. We have invested heavily and we will continue to do so, within all of the aspects of the company.
In order to develop a product, for example; we could have taken an off-the-shelf approach for our footpegs, but as our goal is to push boundaries of technology and only utilize premium products, we decided to invest time and materials to have the lightest and strongest footpeg on the market, but you need to be financially stable to be able to absorb those x months extra of design and development.
Fullnoise: So specifically for the Australian Consumer. Will we be able to walk into a local dealership and see, touch, and try a Stark Varg, like we currently can for a traditional motorcycle? And when is the goal for this if this is in fact part of the business model?
Cobb: Yes, that is our goal. Today our Business model is designed so that a final customer can pre-order/buy a Stark VARG through our Website, we don´t want to limit people to buy a VARG, the customer can then decide to have it delivered at home or to their local dealership. The idea is obviously to have the customer go to their local dealership and in a few weeks we will send out a reminder to customers who asked for delivery at home if they wish for their VARG to be delivered to their local dealership. We had to start like this due to the lack of our sales team.
Fullnoise: Will there be traditional after-sale support set up for the Stark Varg that consumers can walk into, take their bike back to for support and maintenance etc?
Cobb: Not to walk into, but for customer and dealer support yes, we are setting up offices in Australia and there will be a dedicated Aftersale section for both.
Fullnoise: What makes this company different from the previous pioneers in this area? ALTA (no longer) and Zero (pulled out of Australia and are really only an on-road option) for example have had similar attention and initial fanfare with sales only to disappear from the scene quickly. What is being put in place or worked on to ensure Stark remains a long-term manufacturer?
Cobb: Alta kinda proved that it is possible to build an electric motocross bike that can be competitive with gas bikes. I don’t think it was better…but they had a good powertrain and many saw the end goal was achievable. This is a performance-driven sport, whether you are an amateur or not, you want the power, the lower weight, the handling.
Right now, the competition is pretty low. It’s always good to have pressure and I wish we had more competition…but the reality is that we are the only real ‘serious’ electric manufacturer right now. I mean, there are other players but none of them are close to the level of technology. For us, the closest benchmark would be the car industry and they are very far ahead.
Fullnoise: On the Bike specifically.
What maintenance is involved? With traditional bikes, you have brake fluid and pads, suspension oils, air filters, engine oils, chains, sprockets etc. All things a lot of people will do themselves. Some will seek out dealerships or small maintenance shops etc for support in these. What will the Stark Varg be like in this aspect or will it be a regular return to the dealership for servicing set up due to the electric components?
Cobb: As we say on the website, Zero emissions, no filters and a simple level of care. The VARG requires less maintenance than a bicycle. Cheaper & less time wasted in the garage: No gas, fewer spare parts, less time wasted servicing your bike, more time to ride.
It has a similar level to a bicycle, Chains, sprockets, brake pads, etc will need to be changed but that is about it, all general wear and tear… The motor only needs a change of oil every 1000hours with 1 deciliter…
Fullnoise: There has been a lot of talk about battery life on the Stark Varg. Are we finally at a point where this bike can replace a traditional Motocross bike if you are going to a local club motocross event (3-4 times on track for 10-20mins a time)? Personally, my kid’s ride pee wee’s and some of their friends have the KTM SX E5 and they are regularly sitting in the pits at lunch with a generator running to recharge them for the afternoon moto’s. Something I feel defeats the purpose of the electric bike from pollution, noise and ease of use.
Cobb: Battery life in intense conditions is similar to a full tank on a 450. I don´t know a lot of people that ride an entire tank full on a 450…
You mention generators, they are obviously a short-term solution for sure… We built the battery to hold a race length or a large part of the training session for a rider, you will tire out before the battery does.
You can easily charge it during breaks with the charger that is supplied and we are developing a fast charger that will charge in under 50min. Normal power lines are located near or on tracks, so electricity isn´t a fundamental problem.
Fullnoise: What’s the first chance that the Australian Market will get to see a Stark Varg in the Flesh? Will you be at something like the Australian Motorcycle Expo (if it’s back post-Covid) or maybe on display at the AusX Open Supercross later this year?
Cobb: At the earliest, we are looking at September when the bikes are rolling off the line.