Race versions of the electric motorcycles built by California-based Lightning Motorcycles have been grabbing attention for a few years now, most notably with a win at the 2013 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Now there’s an onroad version and Lightning has already delivered the first example.
Although it has a pretty boring name, the LS-218 is nevertheless an incredibly exciting machine with numerous race wins on both sides of the Atlantic and a recorded 218-mph top speed recorded at Bonneville. That’s higher than most supercars and well ahead of the top-tier gasoline-powered superbikes out there. It has the aggressive looks of a superbike as well, not to mention the appropriate performance parts like Brembo brakes and Ohlins shocks.
The oil-cooled motor with Lithium ion batteries is said to make 168 lb-ft of torque, which is crazy high for a motorcycle, and the equivalent of 200 horsepower. It is a bit heavy weighing in at 495 pounds, but it obviously has more than enough grunt to push it down the road given the recent race winning and record breaking.
The big disadvantage with a bike like this (other than the $38,000 price tag) is the range. Lightning claims 100 miles on the standard battery and about 160 with optional extras. Charging time would be about two hours with a 220-volt charger.
That leaves long, meandering road trips more or less out of the question, and there will always be people who prefer the sound of a Ducati V-twin over the whir of an electric motor. Still, bikes like the Lightning LS-218 are clearing a different path that is, unlike those associated with other electric vehicles, an exciting one.
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