Electric motorcycles startups face a huge challenge. While they’re showing up with great and innovative ideas, they don’t usually have the financial support to put those ideas into production. But Lightning Motorcycles have done everything right, and from the start, this San Jose based company showed they had what it takes to take their electric superbike LS-218 to the top!
After many years of development and earning records and trophies along the way, like the World Record for fastest electric motorcycle with 218,96 mph (352 km/h) set at the Bonneville Salt Lake, and beating all electric and gas powered bikes at the famous Race to the Clouds, or Pikes Peak Hill Climb, the 201 hp and 228 Nm of torque LS-218 is headed into production at the California factory.
Lightning Motorcycles, after months without showing anything new in social media, have finally broke the silence and posted a photo of four LS-218 units being built at the assembly line, before heading to their owners, in the early months of 2019.
This is a huge accomplishment for this electric motorcycle startup company, and we’re glad to see that the work they’ve done with their prototypes, racing and proving to everyone what they’re capable of, without just selling the “electric superbike dream” that no one could see or touch, is ready to be tested by common riders like us.
Lightning Motorcycles started when the company CEO Richard Hatfield decided to experiment with electric powered engines. He bought a Yamaha R1 with a blown engine, and using off the shelf batteries and electric engine, he created a hybrid bike.
Four years later he showed the first working prototype of the LS-218.
At the Bonneville Speed Trials, this first prototype showed its potential by reaching a top speed of 279 km/h, and a couple of years after that, the development team returned to Bonneville Salt Flats with a special version of the Lightning LS-218, with special fairings. That bike reached the record speed of 352 km/h!
Since then, Lightning has been taking orders for the LS-218 through their website with a price tag of RM162.517, but until last week, no production version rolled out of the assembly line.
And what does the LS-218 electric superbike offer for that amount?
The frame which holds the battery pack and engine Is made in carbon fiber, to help lower the weight to 224 kg. The battery pack is available in three versions, each with its own charging times and range: the 12 kWh goes up to 190 km of range, the 15 kWh up to 240 km and the biggest available is the 20 kWh which allows for rides of up to 290 km before needing to recharge.
According to Lightning Motorcycles, and using a Fast Charger, the 12 kWh battery only needs 30 minutes to recharge completely.
But this is a superbike, and for that matter, Lightning has done their homework the right way: brakes are Brembo race grade GP4-RX CNC monoblock calipers biting Brembo T-Drive 320 mm discs, suspension at the front is a mix of RaceTech outer tubes with Öhlins NIX30 components inside, while at the rear there’s a Öhlins TTX36 monoshock. Wheels are forged in aluminium, and if the stock suspension setup isn’t enough for you, Lightning offers as an option the full race spec FGRT front fork.
We can’t wait to see the LS-218 electric superbike on the road!