I have ridden a lot of different bikes throughout my racing career, starting off on the two-stroke before making the move to four-strokes. I had never been able to tick ‘electric bike’ off of my bucket list though. Until now, that is, as I was flown across to Barcelona to ride the Stark VARG. Spoiler alert: It did not disappoint in the slightest.
Words: Martin Barr | Lead Image: Supplied
Although I had watched videos of top riders like Sebastian Tortelli and Josh Hill in action on the Stark VARG, like everyone else, I was still sceptical before hopping on the bike. Everything looked great in those videos, but they can make things look better than they really are and thus my mind was open when swinging a leg over the bike for the first time.
Well, before that, the look of the bike is unique enough to catch attention. It is so slim and the build quality is honestly second to none. The finer details are second to none, as is the manufacturing, and no stone was left unturned. There is an option to have your rear brake on your handlebars, where you would normally have a clutch level, or down at your feet. The latter is what I went with. Keeping that in line with other bikes would help me make a direction comparison. Plus, I would not have to spend time acquainting myself with a new lever. It is a full Brembo brake system, which is hard to beat. I was a big fan of the seating position on the bike too; you feel on top of the bike, instead of too deep in it. That was a big tick for me.
One of the biggest things that was on my mind heading into my first session on the Stark VARG was, quite simply, how will the bike react when hitting the jump faces? I was not sure how it’d feel in the air either. Within half a lap, it was obvious that it reacts exactly the same as a petrol bike. It felt so similar to the FC 450 that I usually race! It is bizarre that it felt so similar but, hey, that proves that perfection was the goal with the Stark VARG. The bike took all of the heavy landings from the big jumps with ease too, so there was nothing to be concerned about.
I really noticed how good the bike was to turn, as the session progressed. It was so much easier to keep momentum than it is on a petrol bike; I did not have to worry about what gear I was in or the clutch. I could really focus on executing the corner. The torque coming out of the corners was equally as impressive and really delivered into the straight-line speed to hit those big jumps. The KYB suspension worked very well with the chassis on the bike; it handled awesome all day and I did not even have to change a clicker. Entering corners over braking bumps, the bike was very stable and had a nice flush feeling to it with no hard hits. It was very, very easy to place your bike where you wanted it. Coming out of the corners with the acceleration bumps, the bike tracked awesome and was able to get the power to the ground. It was nice to have a bit of noise coming from the rear wheel too, just so you knew where you were at with the throttle.
Heading into the second session, I decreased the acceleration torque by five percent and increased the engine braking by the same figure. I found that, with the track being so hard, the torque was too much coming out of the corners and was spinning up a little too much in certain areas. The five-percent decrease really made a big difference; I was able to get on the throttle sooner and that spin from before disappeared. I found the increase on engine braking to be a lot better too, especially entering the corner. It made the bike settle that little bit more, especially with my riding style, and this was all done via a smartphone on the handlebars. Welcome to the future.
The overall feeling of the bike was just awesome. It was so easy to ride and the comfort was incredible; I felt that it did not take as much out of me when riding and, like I said before, I just had a lot less to think about without the clutch or gears. I could really concentrate on the track and simply ride the bike. It is worth noting that we were out on track for a good 15 minutes of hard riding and the battery did not fade at all. It had plenty left in it! All of these points make the Stark VARG a great option for any rider, but especially those looking to enter the sport. Allowing people to focus solely on their riding is going to make the sport much more accessible to people who want to have a go. Who would not want that?