Around a year ago Live Motocross was lucky enough to be invited to test the new Stark Varg bike out in Barcelona, Spain. We wanted to do the test from two perspectives, get the thoughts on the bike through the eyes of a current professional rider in Steven Clarke and from myself, As an avid weekend racer and enthusiast who participates in motocross purely out of passion for the sport, I represent the vast majority of readers who share the same hobby and love for motocross. We believed that providing a review from both a professional rider and a passionate consumer would offer a more comprehensive perspective and valuable insights into the Stark Varg bike, catering to different aspects of the sport.
Approaching the test, I held a healthy dose of scepticism regarding my expectations for this innovative and futuristic bike, as one tends to have when encountering something entirely unique and distinct from existing models. My concerns going into the test were as follows:
• As a believer that sound is part of the appeal of motocross, I was concerned about the no-noise element.
• Weight of the bike and how that would affect the handling and what the handling of the bike would be like.
• Power delivery from the electric motor and how snappy it would feel.
• The feeling of no gears, no clutch, and how that would affect the way it feels to ride.
• Battery life and charge time.
It’s fair to say all my scepticism and concerns were answered as soon as I threw my leg over it and took it for a couple of laps.
The Comparison Test
The bike is incredible, that was my initial feeling after having 4 laps on it. It felt powerful, and light, you could put it anywhere on the track you wanted and most of all was very fun and easy to ride. However, it’s easy to feel good jumping on a new bike and tearing round a new track as you have nothing to compare it to. Stark had thought about this and to give us a side-by-side comparison, they had a selection of all the main manufacture 450cc machines on the market for us to choose from and ride for a couple of laps.
I selected a certain Austrian-branded bike I own personally at home, to give myself the most accurate comparison I could. It was this particular comparison test that made me realise how good this Stark Varg really is. The 450 felt heavy, slow, and handled poorly in comparison, the bike felt like it wanted to stand up and push through the corners instead of turning on command. The 450 also felt slower due to having to select the right gear to hit the jumps and rhythm sections, and in general was much more difficult to ride. It’s scary to say this but the 450 really did feel like a dinosaur in comparison to the Stark. All riders in the test were open in the fact they wanted to jump straight back to the electric machine.
Stark’s willingness to offer us such a comprehensive test reflects the company’s profound confidence in the capabilities and performance of their bike.
Regarding the sound, I thought I would miss the noise as I believe that’s part of the appeal when it comes to Motocross, especially as a fan or spectator, however, once I started riding the Varg I soon realised I didn’t miss it at all and in fact the buzz from the electric motor was nice. The silence added to the riding experience. Something I picked up on was the fact you could hear the tires working which helped in giving you a sixth sense of what the bike was doing. I knew when the bike was going into a slide and could find the limit of the grip better, it made the bike more predictable.
It also goes without saying that more and more tracks are being closed down due to noise complaints, which limits where we can go and ride. We did the Stark test at a track in Spain which had been closed down due to noise, our opportunity to ride the Stark allowed us to reclaim and experience the remarkable facility that would have otherwise remained inaccessible. The possibilities are endless with this bike and will open up many opportunities in terms of where we ride and what events we could put on, I do believe the electric motor will breathe life back into the industry and our sport.
Coming into the test one of my primary concerns revolved around the bike’s weight, considering the expected heaviness of the batteries required to generate such substantial power from the motor. I was concerned about how this would affect the handling characteristics of the bike in the way it moved and turned. It’s fair to say I was shocked, the bike felt like a 125 underneath me, I could put it anywhere I wanted on the track, and it felt stable and sharp. The brains at Stark have worked really hard in getting the centre of gravity right on this bike and a lot of science has gone into this. Their hard work has really paid off as it is the most comfortable I have ever felt on a bike. When I jumped on the 450 it felt heavy and felt like it wanted to push through the turns, whereas the Stark was a complete contrast to this and that is what shocked me the most. I knew the power was going to be impressive, but I did not expect the handling to be this good and I believe that’s a huge credit to the guys at Stark for getting this area of the bike right.
I knew just from the spec sheet that there was going to be a lot of power but in my head, I thought that the power would be snappy and uncontrollable as unlike a petrol-powered bike you don’t progress into the powerband, you just have all the power there at once. Within half a lap I loved the feeling of the power, the power is all there, and it is instant, but it is so controllable, and you just had it on command when you needed it. We got to test the 60hp Varg and already it feels more powerful than a standard 450, however, instead of the bike feeling like a handful it felt like you were in control the whole time and could focus on your riding and getting quicker.
The handling is what impressed me the most about this bike is the thought that no way could a company come out of nowhere and not only design a fully functioning electric motocross bike but design a bike that handles better than any other on the market! The way they have designed and shaped the electric motor has enabled them to get the centre of gravity where they want it. In doing so they have been able to make the bike feel like you have a 125 underneath you even though the machine is heavier than a 450. This really did blow my mind as it turned like nothing I’ve ever ridden before. The Stark comes with a KYB suspension, which is renowned for its performance, Yamaha have used this suspension for years on their production bikes and there is nothing but praise for the KYB brand within the motocross community. The bike was forgiving, and the bike just felt a lot less harsh, the suspension teamed with the settings Stark had implanted really worked with you rather than against you. The Stark also comes with Brembo brakes which in my opinion are the best on the market and provide you with the best stopping power. All the above make for the best-handling bike I’ve ever ridden.
Clutch And Gears
I didn’t know how I would feel about riding the bike without a clutch or gears and in fairness it did take me a bit of time to get used to however, once I did, it just felt so easy and really let me focus on my riding. Just not having to think about what gear you needed to be in all the time was refreshing and really saved lap time. Being an amateur rider, I do tend to feather the clutch and I possibly rely on it too much at times, so not having that was what took the most time to get used to, however once I’d spun a few laps I could really feel the progression in my riding and through not using it I felt more stable and really feel like my corner speed improved. I think it improved the handling of the bike, not having these elements meant no additional load was placed on the shock through changing gears, which tends to cause the bike to break traction and upset the stability. The absence of a clutch or gears in the bike makes it incredibly user-friendly and enjoyable to ride, ultimately offering significant advantages to beginners or riders with less experience.
Battery Life and Charge Time
Obviously, the big questions for consumers like us weekend riders are, how long does the battery last? and how long does it take to charge? The bike would last 35 minutes at full GP race speed but for riders not riding the bike to its maximum, it will last longer and if on a normal trail ride can last up to 6 hours. The bike is equipped with a charging stand that conveniently doubles as the charging unit. You can charge the bike directly from the stand, and it takes approximately 2 hours to achieve a full charge.
I think this is the biggest selling point for the Stark among weekend riders, is the maintenance and running costs. You don’t spend money putting fuel in the Stark or changing oil and filters every other ride, you simply ride it and charge it. Yes, you will have to change tyres, sprockets ,chains and service the suspension however, all the little running costs in the background that niggle you every weekend are gone. When you come home after a race weekend and you have work on a Monday morning you don’t have to spend countless hours in the shed, washing and prepping it for your next ride, you simply have to pressure wash the Stark, maintain the sprockets and chain and its ready to go again. I really do believe it will make life easier for the weekend warriors out there and will put the fun back into going racing on the weekends.
To summarize, I approached the test with skepticism and had numerous concerns. However, as soon as I rode the bike, all my doubts and questions were swiftly answered. I firmly believe that this bike is a revolutionary game changer for the sport. While we’ve seen fleeting innovations in the past, I genuinely believe that the Stark Varg is here to stay and will inject new energy into motocross. In short, I absolutely loved it!
Watch our video review here!