The Electric Motorcycle

A Lightning Fast Ride!

The fastest production motorcycle in the world is electric.

That’s right, it runs on batteries. It’s the Lightning LS-218. The Santa Clara, California company has come a long way since Richard Hatfield founded it in 2006. He had participated in racing team that featured an electric Porsche and wanted to apply lithium-battery technology to a motorcycle. That first converted Yamaha R1 used about 60 horsepower and 70 foot-pounds of torque to achieve a maximum speed of 100 miles an hour. That prototype showed the potential of electric bikes.

In solving the problems of building a really fast electric motorcycle, the team at Lightning invented ways to extend the range of hybrid vehicles and developed the first lithium-battery powered ATVs, which are now used for everything from pleasure use, to traveling around vineyards to patrolling our borders.

The LS-218 did 218 miles an hour at Bonneville. It has 200 horsepower and generates a whopping 168 foot-pounds of torque—almost from a standstill.

In 2013, the LS-218 beat the world’s fastest gas-powered motorcycle in a race up Pike’s Peak. And, under driver Carlin Dunne, it won by an impressive 20 seconds. This win on an uphill twisty course silenced critics who thought the LS-218 might be fast off the block, but couldn’t handle the climb.

But doesn’t it usually take fossil fuel to generate the electricity that charges those lithium batteries? Not necessarily. For races and speed trials, Lightning uses solar power to re-charge. A solar-powered speed run at Bonneville costs about 8 cents.

The LS-218 comes with three battery-size options to give maximum ranges of 120, 140, and 180 miles per hour. New technology may soon double the performance of batteries and so extend that range.

Tesla already has charging stations that let people drive electric cars from Canada to Mexico and from Los Angeles to New York; the infrastructure that will make electric vehicles common and useful is developing.

Not everyone is going to want such a high-performance machine. But the reality of a quiet, fast, agile motorcycle that you can charge up using a solar panel—that is not far off. And the LS-218 will then most likely be seen as one of the pioneer vehicles that made all the rest of them practical.
For more information and details of a test ride, look here and here.

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