Anton Wass interview - Stark Future
Posted on December 18, 2021
When the press release dropped this morning that a new bike was being introduced to the market, well, I for one was surprised. For starters, I had never heard of Stark before and the fact this project has seemingly been a hidden secret for more than two years is just amazing. It seems exciting and for sure we will all sit on the edge of our seat waiting for the orders to be filled and opinions being spread on social media, or on motocross websites around the World.
Anton Wass, Stark Future CEO and Founder sat down with MXlarge today to talk about his amazing new project, which seems to be ready to change the sport forever.
MXlarge: Firstly, congratulation on this new project, I can imagine the whole World is buzzing about this news?
Wass: Yes, it has been crazy. We have so much traffic the website keeps on crashing and to be honest, it is an issue, but again, it is exciting, because we didn’t expect this type of traffic on the site. We anticipated high traffic, but this has exceeded our expectations and we are really pleased to see the reaction all over the World on YouTube and social media.
MXlarge: Obviously we have the Japanese and European motorcycle brands heading in this direction, so we expected bikes like this to be arriving, but we never expected a Stark VARG bike. Where did this idea start?
Wass: It is a long story. My background is originally in motorcycle mechanics, but I fell into business at an early age, where I was one of the founders for the World’s largest online store, 24MX. We started with three of us and 24MX does now have 150 million EUR revenue and 400 employees or so. That is my background, but I have been dreaming about building electric motorcycles for many years. I decided to leave my previous company a few years ago, because I wanted to do something new, and I wanted to work with something with sustainability. This dream of building a electric motorcycle factory seems like a pretty stupid idea, because this is a very difficult dream. I was in the position to start, and I didn’t think anyone was doing it well, so let’s give it a try. We started researching what was possible, with the power density of electric motors and the energy density of batteries. We then came to the conclusion we can build an electric motocross bike and we can out-perform the fastest fuelled bikes of today. We built a team of highly experienced people, who built motorcycle and power electronics before, and we made it reality.
MXLarge: Building that team, I can imagine starting from scratch, which isn’t an easy job. How did you build that team?
Wass: I have contacts in the motorcycle industry before from 24MX and it was basically from my personal contacts. When you know somebody who does a good job, they usually know somebody who does a good job and that is how we built the company. Good people always know other good people.
MXlarge: Okay, it was presented, everyone is excited, but what is the next step? Do you have a lot of products already made, or just a handful?
Wass: The finances aren’t a problem; the investors are a group of successful entrepreneurs who have built successful companies before. Let´s just say the finances aren’t a problem. We have invested heavily, and we want to do it right. I don’t really want to comment about on how many orders we already have at the moment, but orders are already coming in fast, and the numbers are rising quickly. Right now we are selling one bike every minute. I am glad a lot of professional dealers are also in contact, and we are busy finalising those details.
MXlarge: When we went from two strokes back to four strokes, we did have a period where some of the brand’s bikes were not that reliable. I am sure that reliability is a really important part of going forward.
Wass: Yes, of course and we don’t want to do this incorrectly, reliability is something that is very important. It depends on how you develop a product and we decided not to take short-cuts. When we started this company, we bought all the best bikes in the market today and we analysed them, scanned all the chassis of the top bikes in order to understand the geometry, ergonomics and we also measured the center of gravity and the flex of the chassis, both horizontal, lateral and torsional. With all this data we set the targets for how we believe we could build a better bike. And that is what we have done. We are working in the same quality process as the big manufacturers, because that is the experience our team has from before. We are able to move faster, because we don’t have 200 managers and we can make fast decisions.
MXLarge: So, when you have the bikes made and you get guys like Sebastien Tortelli or Justin Josh Hill riding the bike, a two-time World motocross champion and a leading AMA rider from the past. How was that when they rode it and going by their comments they were blown away with the performance of the bike.
Wass: That was just incredible. You have this dream of how it will be, and you imagine it for so many years. Even for me as a novice rider and then you take a two-time World champion, and his opinion of the bike is so great. Straight away he was faster than on the 4-stroke bike. Normally, if you ride a two stroke and jump on a four stroke, it takes some time to get used to it. This bike is so easy to ride, within a few corners you feel at home. We are not trying to change everything, but it feels normal, just lighter and easier to ride.
MXLarge: Is it a Spanish bike or a Swedish bike?
Wass: Well, it a Spanish company, but my heritage is from Sweden, but it is a Barcelona based company.
MXLarge: How is the weight of the bike compared to the current fuel bikes?
Wass: It is lighter than the current bikes, at least lighter than all the Japanese 450s and our bike is 110 kilos, and it is also lighter than the new KTM. Potentially it is the lightest of the 450s. More importantly it feels significantly lighter, due to the massive reduction in rotating mass. And we also have the lowest centre of gravity, so it feels a lot lighter than the other bikes.
MXLarge: Did Sebastien compare the bike against the other brands?
Wass: Yes, of course and it was fun. Sebastien was riding one of the 450s and he rode our bike and then rode the 450 again and he thought the 450 had something broken. He thought the brake was dragging or something, but there was nothing wrong.
MXlarge: Because he felt so comfortable on your bikes?
Wass: Yes, that was his comment. He felt it was the rear brake dragging, because it felt heavy.
MXlarge: As far as going competition racing, in MXGP or AMA, is that a goal?
Wass: Yes, for sure. Our ambition is to prove our bike is superior by lining up on the start gate with the gas bikes. We want to race in MXGP and AMA supercross. We are currently talking with federations about that. We would look at doing some races in 2022, but full-time in 2023. Everyone believes the electric bike is the future and our ambition is to race MXGP in 2023.
MXLarge: WOW, that is ambitious.
Wass: Of course, it depends on the FIM, but we hope they will let us compete.
MXLarge: I have to admit, it has to be the best kept secret in the sports history, because it seems nobody knew about this bike.
Wass: Yes, it was, and I am even surprised by it. There are several patents on the bike, so we had to keep it all confidential. And everyone that has been involved in the bike has signed an agreement to not mention anything and we made it very clear please keep it that way. I am really grateful, because it was kept a secret for over two years, which is just incredible.
MXLarge: What about the look of the bike. In the press release it is red, but will there be special graphics or anything?
Wass: If you go to the website, you can see there are red, white and grey.
MXlarge: Obviously the sound is the most important thing?
Wass: I don’t know if you know, but in the last 10 years 20% of all tracks in Europe have closed, due to noise. That is one in five tracks, an important factor that this is a way to save this sport. At the same time, we said lets only built an electric bike that is also better than the other bikes and more fun.
MXLarge: What about an electric bike as far as charging the bike goes?
Wass: The battery will last as long as a full tank on a 450, so if you arrive at the track with a fully charged bike, which should get you through the whole day. If you are an MXGP rider you would need to charge it between motos. What we have found is half the tracks we have visited already have electricity and maybe this is a way for the tracks to make some money, by charging for electricity. It the way to charge the batteries, will also evolve over time.
MXLarge: Or maybe have a spare battery?
Wass: The battery is the most expensive component of the bike, for race teams okay, it is possible, but for the novice rider, then it would be too expensive to have a spare battery.
Find out more HERE: Stark (starkfuture.com)