Yesterday, Lightning Motorcycle CEO Richard Hatfield delivered the very first Lightning LS-218 electric superbike. Over eight years in development, the LS-218 is the fastest electric motorcycle in production and perhaps the fastest motorcycle of any kind in production. The company has followed a strategy for several years of innovation through competition, or what they call “race on Sunday sell on Monday” in motorcycle sports. Prototypes of the Lightning LS-218 have run at racing events since May 2010, with rapid advances and refinements resulting in an astonishing win at the 2013 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb when Carlin Dunne beat every last motorcycle racer by over 20 seconds riding the LS-218.
The Lightning Motorcycles LS-218 is at the very top tier of electric motorcycles, offering performance rivaling the fastest of motorcycles of any power train. In August 2011, the team set the land speed record for electric motorcycles at 215 miles/hr, and the fastest speed recorded in that session (218 miles/hr) gave them the LS-218 name. In 2012 at the TTXGP/e-Power race at Laguna Seca (held during the MotoGP weekend) the LS-218, with Michael Barnes on-board, gave lap-times within the ballpark of MotoGP lap-times. Then in June 2013, as noted earlier, Carlin Dunne rode the Lightning LS-218 to an astonishing victory at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb, beating the entire motorcycle pack by over 20 seconds.
After every one of those wins, Lightning CEO Richard Hatfield promised the Lightning Superbike was for sale. It wasn’t until yesterday that the company fulfilled that promise.
Lightning Motorcycles is a small start-up electric motorcycle manufacturer based in San Carlos, CA. The company plans to develop a full range of electric motorcycles. They’re using a strategy similar to Tesla Motors of first developing an ultra-high-end electric motorcycle, then plowing profits into developing affordable bikes offering performance more suited to the streets. (A motorcycle capable of hitting 218 miles/hr isn’t quite the right bike for a typical daily commuter)
Someone looking for the ultimate in clean green electric performance might skip past the Tesla Model S P85D (the new dual-motor Model S P85 that does a 3.2 second 0-60 time) and look at the Lightning LS-218. Where the P85D will run well over $100,000, the Lightning LS-218 is one of a handful of electric motorcycles that capable of beating the P85D’s 0-60 performance. Of those, the LS-218 is the only one where the manufacturer has gotten the bike into production. Plus, the LS-218 can be had for a fraction of the P85D’s cost – the LS-218’s base price is $38,000.
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