When it comes to electric motorcycles, Lightning Motorcycles sits somewhere on the top of the hill. But being a leader means always improving. Lightning just announced a new and more affordable electric motorcycle, available in March, with performance and a price that sends shock ripples to the competition.
New Lightning Strike Electric Motorcycle Ups The Performance Ante, Will Shake Market Complacency
First, let’s go through a quick recap about who Lightning Motorcycles is, if you’ve slept under a rock.
Lightning Motorcycles (just like Zero Motorcycles) was founded way back in 2006. It shook the internal combustion engine (ICE) bread-and-butter motorcycle industry. I was covering on location the Mitsubishi i-MiEV race at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb when the company busted out the lightning. Richard Hatfield, CEO & founder of Lightning Motorcycles, brought such a perfect Goliath versus David battle to that race. Ducati was on top of its game and Honda was there to upset the European maker until … an electric motorcycle put over 20 seconds in front of the best Ducati. The Lightning was over 20 seconds faster up the hill than the best gasoline bike, period.
I asked Richard how it felt as he was pulling the bike back to the paddock. He grinned and simply said: “Vindicated!” And that says it all, or almost all.
Richard set out to make an electric vehicle (EV) after racing his Porsche left him feeling there must be something better. He turned his attention to the electric motor. He ripped apart a Yamaha and slapped on an electric motor. The first results were so convincing that he never looked back after 2009. Isn’t that how most startups begin?
Today, Lightning Motorcycles holds plenty of records. The LS218, named after reaching 218 MPH, has virtually dominated racetracks and land speed records. The LS218 has been ridden by the best riders out there, but the one thing that floored me was when Richard told me a few years ago that no one had ever held the throttle open for more than a second and a half. Let that one sink in.
The LS218 simply is a beast and I wouldn’t put it in the hands of new riders. Richard and I talked at length about what the next bike should be. Obviously, it should be a more affordable daily rider. It then took a few years for Lightning to come up with the Strike.
The Lightning Strike Will Wake Up The Electric Motorcycle Industry
Zero Motorcycles is probably the most well-known electric motorcycle company. Even motorcycle magazines regularly review its bikes. Although not completely mainstream, the Santa Cruz, California, startup practically revolutionized the electric motorcycle industry on its own. It started with a quaint dirt bike and has progressively refined into a fully electric motorcycle portfolio company. And they get better every year, with performance continually on the rise. Read more in Susanna Schick’s articles on electric motorcycles.
The Zero Motorcycles base model is the FX. Then comes the FXS, the DSR, and the SR.
Price-wise, the entry-level FX starts at $8,495 (with incentives available to all). It has a 46 mile (80 kilometer) to 91 mile (161 kilometer) range.
The top of the line is the DS, which costs $16,495 and fully loaded tops $22,485, for a range that starts at 179 miles (288 kilometers) and goes up to 239 miles (359 kilometers).
Comparing the Lighting Strike, it promises a unique recipe of 150 miles of range, a 150 mph top speed, and DC fast charging in 35 minutes at a starting price of just $12,998. You can see how the Strike is begging for a response from rest of the industry — and why not, regular gasoline motorcycle makers?
The Electric Motorcycle Lightning Strike Will Be Available In March!
You’ll excuse this obvious enthusiasm for an electric motorcycle, but when so many of the comments lament affordability, which is always so subjective and according to personal finances, an electric motorcycle with good performance and specs at that price is something to cheer for. It is also an achievement that after a decade worth of reporting on the EV industry is impressive to me. It is clearly the ripe fruit of a decade of continuous work from those involved deeply in this industry.
I certainly hope the Lightning Strike will be successful and that it further motivates the rest of the industry to deliver more affordable electric motorcycles as well as high-end versions.