Rather than driving hours into the desert to get our dirt fix, we've been exploring the maze of fire roads and single track in the hills above Santa Monica. If we were riding a noisy gas-powered bike, the privileged occupants of the area's hilltop mansions would surely be shaking their fists at us, but because the Quantya EVO1 Strada electric dual-sport is essentially silent, the Mr. and Mrs. Smiths of SoCal remain rooted in front of their 103-inch plasma TVs, totally unaware of the shenanigans occurring on the outskirts of their estates.
Quantya was established in Switzerland in 2006 by Claudio Dick, formerly the General Director of Cagiva. As is the case now in the U.S., many European cities were closing trail systems and tracks due to ever-increasing noise and emissions regulations. Dick viewed this trend as an opportunity, and set about creating an environmentally-friendly motorcycle and opening urban "Quantya Parks" where people could rent and ride his creations. Establishing itself with the FMX and Track dirt bikes, Quantya has become a leader in the electric-bike industry, with dealerships popping up all over the U.S.
The Strada is essentially the same machine as their dirt-only Track, with the added lights, reflectors and speedometer required to make it plate-ready in the U.S. The Strada's 16-horsepower, 48-volt motor makes slightly less power than a 250cc trailbike, but has nearly twice the torque. At just 195 pounds it's far lighter than its gas counterparts, with just enough heft to make it feel stable and planted. Part of that weight comes from the frame, which is a standard steel-tube dirtbike unit modified to hold the Strada's lithium-polymer battery and permanent-magnet motor.
On the street, the Strada is functional if not thrilling transportation. New bikes are set up upon delivery, with adjustments made to gearing and throttle programming to match the owner's preferences. Our testbike came set up for the street, with taller final-drive gearing and smooth, easy-to-modulate power delivery. Starting a ride requires nothing more than turning the key and rolling on the throttle. The electric motor impresses with a big rush of power that only tapers near maximum rpm, just north of 40 mph. A full charge takes about 3 hours to achieve, and is good for about 25 miles of full-tilt street duty-or almost 2 hours of off-road riding.
The EVO1 Strada's street-legal status means you can ride it straight to the trails.
An illuminated, rotating switch assembly on the left bar lets you toggle between lighting
The Strada emits no exhaust and makes very little noise, granting it impunity from regulat
Instrumentation is sparse, with a simple dash that displays basic information regarding speed and distance. Where the gas cap would be on a conventional bike resides an hour meter and battery-status indicator. A point of pride at Quantya, the indicator provides an accurate representation of remaining power based on average throttle application, not just immediate power draw.
With so much time and effort spent on perfecting the battery meter, it was surprising to peek under the bodywork and see a jumble of carelessly routed wires and poorly crimped connections. Considering its lofty $10,700 price, you would expect the wiring to match -if not surpass-the quality and organization of a traditional motorcycle's wiring harness.
As is the custom in the electric-bike industry, wheel sizing was selected using Druidic magic, resulting in an 18-inch rear and a 19-inch front. Custom hubs support aluminum Akront rims, onto which enduro-type small-block tires have been mounted. Grip is sufficient for hard-pack dirt riding and moderate canyon carving, and when pushed the tires howl just enough to satisfy the rider's otherwise unmet desire for aural stimulation.
Quantya's drive train design eliminates side-loading the motor. The front sprocket rotates
The Strada's light weight and aggressive steering geometry should make it a sharp tool in tight turns, but the large wheels vehemently resist rapid directional changes, keeping riders from exploiting the otherwise capable motor and brakes. The optional supermoto kit, with 17-inch wheels and street tires, would be a wise investment for anyone intending to spend the majority of his time on pavement.
Off road, if you can get that big front wheel on top of an obstacle, you're almost guaranteed to get the rest of the bike over it, too. The Strada is like a dirtbike/mountain bike hybrid, and lends itself wonderfully to narrow single track and rough hill climbs. On the trails above Santa Monica, our ambiguity toward the Strada rapidly solidified into enthusiasm as we charged up the ridge, stopping at the top to relish the view of the Los Angeles sprawl far below.
With only a 25-mile range and a 3-hour wait between rides, this electric bike certainly doesn't threaten to replace its gas-powered brethren. But for riders seeking a dusty repose from the urban environment, it's an excellent alternative.