Lightning Motorcycles Gunning For 400-Mile Single-Charge Run


Lightning LS-218

Lightning Motorcycles Tests 400-Mile Range

via Papa Wealey, Rideapart

Lightning LS-218

According to Lightning Motorcycles, the company intends to test an eMoto capable of traveling from Los Angeles to San Francisco without a recharge. The run is expected to be late this summer or early fall.

Lightning set the record for the fastest production electric motorcycle four years ago with a top speed run of 218 mph. In 2015, Terry Hershner rode 300 miles on a streamlined Zero S, which still stands as the distance record. Lightning CEO Richard Hatfield plans to extend that mark by some measure, on what he foresees as the prototype for a production electric motorcycle.

The prototype battery pack will be furnished by Indiana’s Battery Innovation Center. While the two companies’ combined technology may yet be some distance from the showroom floor, Hatfield intends to establish a proof of concept that will accelerate the the project from the research and development stage to actual production models.

Based in San Carlos, California, Lightning Motorcycles started ten years ago with a Yamaha R1 converted to electric power. In 2012, rider Michael Barnes won the FIM ePower series at Laguna Seca on the solar-powered Barracuda Lightning, and in 2013 Carlin Dunne rode the LS-218 to the overall victory at Pikes Peak, the first time an electric had won the overall in a competition versus gasoline powered bikes.

The current Lightning LS-218 starts at $38,888. The company plans to introduce a smaller model that will be priced under $20,000. Besides prohibitive prices, another inhibiting factor in electric motorcycle development is the absence of DC fast charging. Currently (no pun intended) no electrics in the sub-$30,000 range can employ the CHAdeMO or CCS fast-charging systems.

A more affordable motorcycle with this capability will expand the market, and likely encourage other manufacturers to follow suit and make pricing more competitive. Stay tuned for more developments in the rapidly changing world of electric motorcycle technology.

Source: Rideapart

Categories: Bikes

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18 Comments on "Lightning Motorcycles Gunning For 400-Mile Single-Charge Run"

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“production motorcycle” from Lightning?
They made their first, and AFAICS single to date, customer sale 2.5 years ago. Does anyone know of any other sale that they made?
As for “record for the fastest production electric motorcycle”, it later transpired that that high-speed run was made on a different bike than what they showed as a production bike (slipstream fairing, and IIRC different gearbox).


I very much doubt they used a different gearbox. Most likely they just used a smaller rear wheel sprocket to achieve taller gearing. That is so easy and so standard that it barely merits mentioning among motorcycle racers.


Taller gearing indeed makes more sense than the multispeed gearbox I recalled, thanks.

That said, a slipstream fairing would certainly have made a large difference. Claiming “fastest production motorcycle” means testing on a bike exactly like the one offered for sale, otherwise it’s dishonest.

And if there aren’t identical copies manufactured regularly, it’s not a production vehicle in the accepted sense of the term (recall that “stock car” sporting events require a homologated vehicles with at least N copies made).


mhpr, a larger rear sprocket for more torque/watt.
For a record run they should gear it for 60mph and do 35-50mph.
Mostly they need is actual aero which is by far the most drag losses.

Billy Bob

Steps to make an EV Bike:

-Take a relatively inexpensive sportbike:
-Rip out the engine
-Install battery and electric motor
-Charge 3-5X the original price

Timothy Vollmer

If you spend any time looking at electric motorcycle companies, several have tried, and the profit step never happens. The ones that actually are profiting (Zero Motorcycles) are very much not doing this.


After they made made their first official sale of the LS-218 a while back Lightning completely disappeared off the radar. I believe they have been selling LS-218s in homoeopatic numbers since then. It’s great to hear they are still around and doing well, apparently, if they are indeed developing a new bike.

I’m not sure what the 400 mile ride is supposed to achieve though, very long range is neither the strong point of electric motorcycles nor the reason people buy them. Seems like the well intended but uninspired marketing/advertising ploy that a typical engineer would come up with.


I don’t think they are doing well… None of the electric bike forums I read have any mention of them, and their own website’s blog has had no actual news related to their own bikes for almost 2 years.

This 400mi project sounds like a completely PR-focused item. Even the largest road touring motorcycles don’t offer anywhere near the range — 200-250mi is plenty. There are a couple of adventure-touring bikes that get close, if you go slow, but that’s not primarily for paved-road use.

The Dutch Eindhoven University of Technology student project already showed that a long-distance (230mi+) BEV bike is possible — they covered some serious distance on it.


Focus on producing a bike!! The half price one would be very tempting if it had least half the performance! None of my 1kcc bikes have ever been able to do 200 miles per tank. It never bothered me, I usually ride less than 50 miles a day.


Ditto, my Suzuki bandit 1250 doesn’t get more than maybe 135 miles per tank before I get a flashing display. And I ride pretty mildly.


Ditto. I had a 1997 Bandit 1200S (the aircooled predecessor to yours) for 10 years — I used to get ~120mi before reserve on mild highway speeds. It’s basically a pretty heavy bike. The most efficient near-literbike I know is the Yamaha TDM900. Very efficient engine and 20-liter tank vs. the Bandit’s 19-liter. It regularly gets 250mi on a tank (200-210mi before hitting the warning light).

Someone out there

Yes but when it takes 8 hours or more to charge it, it becomes a problem. A bigger battery not only goes further per charge but will also allow fast charging.


8 hours? I do have to sleep at some point. Any level 2 would take that time down. My use case fits that model perfect, as do most people whether they want to admit it or not. I’m not talking about iron butt riders and they’re not looking at a sport bike anyway. I wasn’t saying I want 50 mile range, >100 would be great. My fuel light goes on at about 130 on my current bike.

They do have a dilemma, use 110V (widely available) = slow, use level 2 (widely available) = where to fit a larger ACDC converter, use DCFC = not widely available and charging at home would require an off board charger. I would vote level 2.


Must be aimed at one-way trip up to 200 mi followed by overnight stay to recover the body & return with no availability of recharge?


Electric motorcycles have even more challenges than electric cars. Motorcycles lost their federal tax credits awhile ago, which pretty much killed the market. A much smaller percentage of people, in the US, ride motorcycles than cars, so volume will always be too small to drive down battery prices. The fast charger makers, with the exception of Aerovironment as I recall, all disregarded their own voltage standard, so packs below 200 plus volts have no DCFC option. And lastly, motorcycles have much less wasted space than cars, so nowhere to hide huge battery packs.


Build a bike that can go from Philadelphia to Montauk Point (225 miles) and then to the nearest public charger*, make it look like my Sportster, keep the price reasonable, and you won’t be able to build enough of them.

*Recharge time can’t be much more than three hours.

But then, that’s the problem, isn’t it?


The Eindhoven University bike does the distance you asked for. It has a 28.5 kWh battery. Even for a company the size of GM or Nissan that is $7K retail without the bike. You can buy a 650 Ninja for that money. Without huge volume, and government incentives electric is still not cost competitive, as long as externalities are not counted.