San Francisco to LA on one charge? Lightning Motorcycles to give it a go

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Lightning LS218 electric motorcycle

Lightning LS218 electric motorcycle

Lightning Motorcycles is known for pushing the boundaries of electric motorcycles.

In 2013, it set the record for the fastest production electric motorcycle, at an adrenaline-pumping 218 mph.

Now Lightning CEO Richard Hatfield has plans to make a prototype bike that can travel 400 miles on a single charge, which would be a remarkable feat for an electric motorcycle.

DON'T MISS: 2017 electric motorcycle buyers guide

The current record, for longest distance traveled on one charge on an electric motorcycle, was set by Terry Hershner in May 2015: he traveled 300.1 miles on a streamlined 2012 Zero S with 22.5 kilowatt-hours of battery capacity.

Hatfield plans to beat that record by having a rider travel from San Francisco to Los Angeles on a single charge.  But he plans to do it with a more elegant solution than Terry’s extremely heavy, cobbled-together bike. 

The chassis used in Lightning’s attempt will look more like a normal motorcycle than a streamlined UFO flying sideways.

Planned route of Lightning electric motorcycle ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles on one charge

Planned route of Lightning electric motorcycle ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles on one charge

The high-capacity battery necessary to fit into a motorcycle frame with enough energy to power it for 400 miles will come from a company Hatfield connected with via the Battery Innovation Center of Indiana. 

It will be a prototype pack, and won’t be sold, but Hatfield hopes this proof of concept will help propel the technology from lab bench to salable product faster.

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We can expect to see this long-distance run attempted in late summer or early fall of 2017.

Additionally, Lightning intends to expand its lineup. Its current single LS-218 superbike starts at $38,888; the company says it will be joined by at least one smaller electric motorcycle that will cost less than $20,000.  


Lightning electric motorcycle racing up Pike's Peak

Lightning electric motorcycle racing up Pike's Peak

An electric motorcycle in this more-affordable price range would open up the company's market. It will be particularly interesting to see whether its designers use the same high voltage as in the LS-218, or whether they use a lower voltage to reduce costs.

Another potential disruptive move would be to make is DC fast charging available on less-expensive models. 

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No electric motorcycles under $30,000 can presently use CHAdeMO or CCS fast charging. 

The LS-218 includes a fast-charging port for CHAdeMO charging stations; adding that option to an electric motorcycle costing less than $20,000 would be a game changer.


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