Typically, our coverage of a new motorcycle model is presented in our Fast Facts format. However, when a new company is introducing a motorcycle and makes many enthusiastic claims that we have no way of verifying, we have little in the way of facts to present. So, let’s take a look at the performance claims for the 2023 Stark Varg electric motocrosser, and pick them over.Stark Future was founded in 2020 and is based just outside of Barcelona. Anton Wass is the CEO and Co-Founder of Stark Future. Immediately previous to founding Stark Future, Wass was the co-founder of the profitable XLMoto and Sledstore motocross e-commerce websites in Stockholm, working there for 11 years. During his run, he earned an MBA at Stockholm’s Företagsekonomiska Institutet. Unquestionably, Wass is a successful marketer and someone involved in motocross.
In less than two years, Stark Future is claiming to have built a highly disruptive motocrosser—the Varg, which is “Strong Wolf” in Swedish. “The industry has set their benchmarks for combustion-engined motorcycles, and it focuses on minor incremental steps each year,” according to a Stark spokesman. “Stark Future has blown this outdated and environmentally unfriendly standard away from the track. The company want to take motocross out of the rut and have analyzed and beaten every yardstick there is.”Stark says the battery has a 6 kWh capacity and weighs 32 kilograms (just over 70 pounds). Stark also claims the air-cooled motor delivers peaks of 80 horsepower and 69 ft-lbs of torque (the spec sheet claims 938 Nm, which clearly leaves out a decimal point). Range fluctuates from 35 minutes at MXGP race speeds (about the same as a full tank of gas) to “six hours of easy trail riding.” Recharging is claimed to take “one-to-two hours,” rather than providing a fixed number and charging requirements.For comparison, the 2022 Zero DS (dual-sport) has a battery pack with a claimed nominal capacity of 6.3 kWh—close enough for this example. It’s matched to a Z-Force 75-5 motor that is good for 46 horsepower and 78 ft-lbs of torque, making it much less power-hungry than the Varg. The Zero’s range at 55 mph is 49 miles—shorter than an hour. The FXE’s stated city range is 82 miles, which would charitably be rated as four hours at low speeds. Also, in our experience, the Zeroes (and electric motorcycles, in general) do not attain claimed range numbers, though they’ve been getting closer as time goes on.So, Stark Future’s numbers are in the ballpark, though they are claiming to be hitting home runs. The company describes its battery system as “one of the most compact and energy-dense in the world,” which is quite a feat for a company less than two years old. The motor benefits from “advanced tech and ideas, such as the patent-pending magnesium honeycomb casing, ‘slippery-fingers’ cell holders, a pressure relief system and a one-sided powerboard configuring the battery cells,” according to Stark.The weight of the 2023 Stark Varg is claimed to be 242 pounds, putting it right at the same curb weight as the Austrian 450 motocrossers, though the ICE bikes get lighter as they run through fuel.The hard parts appear to be top-notch. The suspension is by KYB with input from Technical Touch in America, there are Brembo brake calipers, Pirelli Scorpion MX32 tires, Excel rims laced to CNC-machined aluminum hubs, stainless steel footpegs, and an innovative click-based chain adjustment system. The frame uses the motor as a stressed member, and the subframe is carbon fiber. We’re not sure about the “patent-pending super-robust ‘floating’ dual compound skid plate that removes the need for a lower section of the frame and provides supreme protection.”We’re definitely impressed by the electronic tunability of the power delivery of the electric motor—an advantage well worth exploiting compared to internal combustion engines. Using an app on a smartphone, the rider determines the level of engine braking, flywheel effect, and traction control, as well as the power curve.Credibility comes from two names: Two-time World Motocross Champion Sébastien Tortelli, who also campaigned in Supercross, and Supercross Main Event winner Josh Hill. Tortelli is the Testing Director, while Hill is a brand ambassador. They’re the riders in the action photos.Here is Tortelli’s take:When I first jumped on the Stark Varg, it was a step into the unknown. The very first impression was from the outright performance; it was much more than I expected. Suspension-wise, chassis-wise, I immediately felt at home. This is a real motocross bike. I had to learn about the electric power, and I was surprised [by] how fast I adapted and how fun it is to ride. We have done quite a lot of development work already. The chassis is balanced as well as nimble. The light weight means you can really move around it with ease and attack those jumps and sections.I feel awesome on the track and I can race with this bike, and this is what we are aiming for. It’s an amazing experience to ride in silence! You can hear the way the bike picks up traction, the impact of the stones, and the jumps. It’s an amazing sensation.Hill has this to say about the 2023 Stark Varg:First off, the Stark Varg is one of the most beautiful bikes I’ve seen! It is probably the most responsive power I’ve ever felt on a bike. The designers have done an amazing job with the chassis and the ergonomics right out of the gate. There was very little to adjust. I also love the ‘one size fits all’ idea—someone with very little experience of a dirt bike can feel safe and have fun, especially compared with trying to get their head around a new 250 or 450, but then the serious racers or free-riders can make it as explosive as they want. The possibilities with the Stark Varg are endless. Once you’ve ridden an electric bike, then it’s unlike anything else.CEO Wass weighs in from the business angle, as well as from the perspective of an enthusiast:It is a very proud moment for us to finally start talking and showing the Stark Varg. As motocross riders and fans, we knew that the sport was in a chronic state, and we are losing tracks in Europe every week. It felt like motocross was going backwards while the potential for innovation with electric mobility is going quickly forwards. Our motivation was born out of frustration with the scene and the need to contribute something that would help our world and our surroundings. It’s been a fantastic journey so far, and it’s exciting to see how the Stark Varg had exceeded our expectations.From a business perspective, we also wanted to set the bar in motocross, because it is the toughest challenge for material and technical ideas, before we move on to produce a full range of on-and-off-road motorcycles. Riders are going to love the full potential of the Stark Varg and the amount of ‘clean’ and easy fun it provides. We aimed to produce something greener and better, and we think anyone trying the bike will agree that we reached our vision.” The list price of the 2023 Stark Varg is an aggressive $11,900, with an estimated delivery date of September 24, 2022—you can put a deposit down on the Stark website. That’s a price $705 more than the 2022 Zero DS and just $100 more than the 2022 Husqvarna FC 450 Rockstar Edition. Will Stark succeed where Alta Motors failed? With the delivery date 10 months away, there’s the always-present vaporware concern, so order wisely. We hope it’s as-presented and look forward to riding it.
Hello everyone and welcome once again to Ultimate Motorcycling’s weekly Podcast—Motos and Friends.
My name is Arthur Coldwells.
This week’s Podcast is brought to you by Yamaha motorcycles. Discover how the YZF-R7 provides the perfect balance of rider comfort and true supersport performance by checking it out at YamahaMotorsports.com, or see it for yourself at your local dealer.
This week’s episode features Senior Editor Nic de Sena’s impressions of the beautiful new Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST that is loosely based around the original FXRT Sport Glide from the 1980s. Hailing from The Golden State, these cult-status performance machines became known as West Coast style, with sportier suspension, increased horsepower, and niceties including creature comforts such as a tidy fairing and sporty luggage.
In past episodes you might have heard us mention my best friend, Daniel Schoenewald, and in the second segment I chat with him about some of the really special machines in his 170 or so—and growing—motorcycle collection. He’s always said to me that he doesn’t consider himself the owner, merely the curator of the motorcycles for the next generation.
Yet Daniel is not just a collector, but I can attest a really skilled rider. His bikes are not trailer queens, they’re ridden, and they’re ridden pretty hard. Actually, we have had many, many memorable rides on pretty much all of the machines in the collection at one time or another.
From all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode!