Alta Interview

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5/28/2020 5:27 AM
Edited Date/Time: 5/28/2020 7:34 AM

I found this to be a very interesting interview with Marc Fenigstein, one of the co-founders of Alta. He shared some stories from the beginning of the company and some failures/ experiences they had. Unfortunately he couldn’t go into details about why the company abruptly closed doors but I still thought it was interesting.

I really wish Alta was still around today. I never got to ride one of those bikes, and I’ve never ridden an electric bike but I would love to and I think they have a place in the Moto and off-road world.

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5/28/2020 6:26 AM

The details of why Alta closed: Photo

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5/28/2020 7:25 AM

I haven't gotten a chance to watch this yet but I have a 2017 Alta Redshift and it is, without a doubt, the funnest bike I've ever owned and the community of owners, over at the Alta Owners Forums are top notch if you run into any technical issues. I'm getting a track built on my property next month that would not be possible without this bike due to close neighbors. I've also gotten to explore a lot of cool places that are all posted up by state game lands without fear of being heard and chased. I wish the crew could figure out a way to revive the company because I have zero interest in going back to a gas bike after having some time on my Alta. The last American made bike I had was a monumental piece of shit (Cannondale) whereas the Alta has been a bullet proof rocket ship that puts a huge smile on my face every single time I ride it. Nothing but respect for these guys for producing an absolutely incredible American made motocross machine.

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5/28/2020 7:32 AM

Fourth_Floor wrote:

I haven't gotten a chance to watch this yet but I have a 2017 Alta Redshift and it is, without a doubt, the funnest bike I've ever owned and the community of owners, over at the Alta Owners Forums are top notch if you run into any technical issues. I'm getting a track built on my property next month that would not be possible without this bike due to close neighbors. I've also gotten to explore a lot of cool places that are all posted up by state game lands without fear of being heard and chased. I wish the crew could figure out a way to revive the company because I have zero interest in going back to a gas bike after having some time on my Alta. The last American made bike I had was a monumental piece of shit (Cannondale) whereas the Alta has been a bullet proof rocket ship that puts a huge smile on my face every single time I ride it. Nothing but respect for these guys for producing an absolutely incredible American made motocross machine.

I'm over 100 hours on my Alta. So far I've changed the grips,tires, chain, and sprockets. Had it almost 2 years and thinking about selling my RM250. I don't want to ride, or maintain a gas bike after being spoiled by electric.

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5/28/2020 7:59 AM

Sounds like harley enticed them with investment capital, took Alta's intellectual property and bounced. Sounds like he has some legal reasons restrictions from the deal on why he can't go into specifics.

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5/28/2020 9:15 AM

There is 2 sides to the story and it goes back farther but on a positive take they built a innovative bike that performs but only a few were willing to take that step. It’s a nitch market just like MX is a nitch sport.

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5/28/2020 9:56 AM

phatfi20 wrote:

Sounds like harley enticed them with investment capital, took Alta's intellectual property and bounced. Sounds like he has some legal reasons restrictions from the deal on why he can't go into specifics.

I don’t understand why so many suggest this without any inside info. You can’t just do that kind of thing and fly under the radar.

Google trade secret theft or look at the lawsuit against anthony levandowski

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5/28/2020 10:19 AM
Edited Date/Time: 5/28/2020 10:20 AM

Wish they were still around. My buddy rides one and they are a blast.

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5/28/2020 11:12 AM
Edited Date/Time: 5/28/2020 11:18 AM

abomination wrote:

I don’t understand why so many suggest this without any inside info. You can’t just do that kind of thing and fly under the radar.

Google trade secret theft or look at the lawsuit against anthony levandowski

That's the thing. We don't know and I am speculating because this is a message board and everyone that knows isn't allowed to talk about it. There are many aggressive corporate strategies that are perfectly legal, for example a hostile takeover is one. HD is a big company and had a lot of leverage in the deal and ALTA was looking for investment. If ALTA didn't protect itself in the agreement they may have left themselves exposed to how, when and with what information Harley can use in its own endeavors if Harley wanted out. All perfectly legal.

The guy you cited literally stole something confidential and sold it, which is apples and oranges.

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5/28/2020 11:33 AM

phatfi20 wrote:

Sounds like harley enticed them with investment capital, took Alta's intellectual property and bounced. Sounds like he has some legal reasons restrictions from the deal on why he can't go into specifics.

abomination wrote:

I don’t understand why so many suggest this without any inside info. You can’t just do that kind of thing and fly under the radar.

Google trade secret theft or look at the lawsuit against anthony levandowski

Nobody is accusing Harley of espionage. Some are suggesting Alta may have made a bad deal with a larger company, and got hurt when that company shifted directions.

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5/28/2020 11:38 AM

Dirty Points wrote:

Nobody is accusing Harley of espionage. Some are suggesting Alta may have made a bad deal with a larger company, and got hurt when that company shifted directions.

who said anything about espionage? did you even read the post i quoted? "took Alta's intellectual property and bounced"

https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/white-collar-crime/piracy-ip-theft

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5/28/2020 11:41 AM

phatfi20 wrote:

That's the thing. We don't know and I am speculating because this is a message board and everyone that knows isn't allowed to talk about it. There are many aggressive corporate strategies that are perfectly legal, for example a hostile takeover is one. HD is a big company and had a lot of leverage in the deal and ALTA was looking for investment. If ALTA didn't protect itself in the agreement they may have left themselves exposed to how, when and with what information Harley can use in its own endeavors if Harley wanted out. All perfectly legal.

The guy you cited literally stole something confidential and sold it, which is apples and oranges.

> There are many aggressive corporate strategies that are perfectly legal, for example a hostile takeover is one.

sure—but you didn't propose that, you said ip theft.

> If ALTA didn't protect itself in the agreement they may have left themselves exposed

if alta raised more than $40m, they have themselves and many others with a vested interested and obligation to see to that.

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5/28/2020 12:00 PM

I'm not going to get into details but:

- Alta had 300+ back orders at the time of closing. Meaning they couldn't make bikes fast enough.
- H-D gets called out as the big bad in this all the time but that isn't the case

- Alta bikes are awesome. I hopped on our MX bike this past weekend at the track (it's been a minute) and had a blast. Going from a TC125 two stroke to a Alta MX was a trip! Both super fun. Folks that bag on electric MX bikes I've found haven't actually ridden one. Not saying you'd convert 100% but saying they are 'fake bikes' is just wrong. I ride both MX and offroad (we have an EX also) on ours and those bikes were ahead of their time.

This quote comes to mind when thinking of Alta.... "Pioneers get the arrows. Settlers get the gold."

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5/28/2020 12:36 PM

Alex.434 wrote:

I'm not going to get into details but:

- Alta had 300+ back orders at the time of closing. Meaning they couldn't make bikes fast enough.
- H-D gets called out as the big bad in this all the time but that isn't the case

- Alta bikes are awesome. I hopped on our MX bike this past weekend at the track (it's been a minute) and had a blast. Going from a TC125 two stroke to a Alta MX was a trip! Both super fun. Folks that bag on electric MX bikes I've found haven't actually ridden one. Not saying you'd convert 100% but saying they are 'fake bikes' is just wrong. I ride both MX and offroad (we have an EX also) on ours and those bikes were ahead of their time.

This quote comes to mind when thinking of Alta.... "Pioneers get the arrows. Settlers get the gold."

This guy knows more than he is saying. wink

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5/28/2020 1:05 PM

I have to imagine setting up shop in one of the most expensive parts of the entire country did not help at all with controlling overhead costs.

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5/28/2020 1:33 PM

"Folks that bag on electric MX bikes I've found haven't actually ridden one. "

I got a gay friend who always tells me the same thing about guys.
Still not willing to try.
laughing

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5/28/2020 1:36 PM

I’d be interested in seeing a review of the Alta vs. the KTM Freeride. I’d love to get an Alta but it’s been impossible to find any, and I’m not surprised. I wouldn’t sell a good bike that went outta business either.

The KTM Freeride seems like a beefed up trials bike, meant for trails only. Expensive bike to buy and not be pretty sure you’ll like it.

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5/28/2020 2:19 PM

One of my neighbors was a chassis engineer for Alta. He has a garage full of them. Picked them up on the cheap when the doors were being shut.

He gave me an over view of what happened. I don't call all the details but the short story from connecting the dots is a classic start up tail where mistakes were made. Heck, TESLA should revive it and sell through their dealer network.

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5/28/2020 2:22 PM
Edited Date/Time: 5/28/2020 2:25 PM

Alta was already in major trouble with an unsustainable business model when Harley entered the picture and that's exactly *why* the possible Harley venture was even entertained. Alta died for a very simple reason; which is that their business model didn't match the product.

You simply can't sell something as niche as an electric dirt bike using the hipster Facebook/Twitter/Nothing SF business model of paying everyone way too much and company subsidized hair gel, sushi and yoga mats. You just can't create a business which so grossly exceeds the product, exactly why hot dog cart dudes work out of their cart, because that setup matches the product in a profitable manner.

I get that they felt like they needed the best people and it unquestionably helped development, but that doesn't work for modern day manufacturing of low volume niche products.

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5/28/2020 2:34 PM

Maybe they should have started with this one...
Photo
Photo
Photo

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5/28/2020 3:15 PM
Edited Date/Time: 5/28/2020 3:17 PM

Alta would have had to be in business a long time before I ever thought about buying one. They didn’t make it long enough, I’m still glad I didn’t buy one and I don’t care how good it is,

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5/28/2020 7:26 PM

I really want an MXR. Been passively looking but worried I waited too long.

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5/29/2020 10:08 AM
Edited Date/Time: 5/29/2020 11:36 AM

Good interview.

The phrase used a couple of times 'the rug pulled out from under us' is interesting.
By his own description, Alta was almost always on the ragged edge of failure.

His explanation they didn't let their team know they were so financially shaky for years. emphasizes why it shouldn't have been a surprise when and why investors stopped putting money in.

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5/29/2020 11:28 AM
Edited Date/Time: 5/29/2020 11:28 AM

It may be just wishful thinking but I saw a reply by one of the principals of Alta to a post about the whole thing on a small Facebook group that I took as the dream of building an electric bike company has not ended. I may have been reading it totally wrong but I read it that something is going on in the North Bay(Marin County above San Francisco). Hope I'm right. I told myself a couple of years ago that then next new bike I buy will be electric.

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5/29/2020 11:33 AM
Edited Date/Time: 5/29/2020 11:34 AM

abomination wrote:

I really want an MXR. Been passively looking but worried I waited too long.

Dont limit yourself to the MXR. Also try to find an EXR. You can then buy a set of AER48 forks, motocross shock, and a 19" rear wheel, and swap them over, and have the same bike. And street legal to boot!

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5/29/2020 11:36 AM

I would love to have a new one if they were still in business. Especially a 450 equivalent.

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5/29/2020 11:47 AM

I can believe that no one pick up on the fact that a major manufacturer tested the prototype in 2013 with there own riders (Kevin Windham and Mike LaRocco). I wonder what manufacturer it was?
I don’t know if it was the crash (hurt shoulder) or the bike work so well that he retired the next weekend.
I’am going with the bike was so good he realized his factory bike was junk. LOL.

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5/29/2020 1:24 PM
Edited Date/Time: 5/29/2020 1:27 PM

He said a single investor brought out his guys to check it out.
Sounds like Majkrzak, (Geico) not team Honda.
LaRacco was manager then.

KW has said many times he lost the will to risk it, so he quit

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5/29/2020 1:35 PM
Edited Date/Time: 5/29/2020 2:25 PM

I honestly don't see MX growing as a sport anymore, until bikes are electric and people can ride without driving 2 hours into the boonies to go ride. And yeah people will complain about dust, but if the sport is doing good they can afford some decent track prep.

People with land would also question their $10k+ Specialized E-bike purchase, if there was an MX equivalent that had a similar price.
https://www.specialized.com/us/en/s-works-turbo-levo-sl-founders-edition/p/187101

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5/29/2020 6:48 PM

I’m gonna guess if you handed me $40 million cash I wouldn’t be out of business! They wasted to much money “big timin it”

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