Lightning is set to unveil their new LS-218 electric superbike this weekend, bringing their incredibly powerful battery bike down to a street-legal, consumer-ready level.
Electric motorcycles haven’t made as many headlines lately as they did a few years ago – some of the buzz died down when interested parties realized they were still a rich man’s toy. However, as rich man’s toys go, the LS-218 should be pretty impressive.
The new superbike is basically the same machine that Lightning was using to set land speed records and win AMA and FIM races with not too long ago. Essentially, it’s an insanely powerful race bike with lights. Or at least, that’s how Lightning is billing it.
The heart of the LS-218 is a liquid-cooled electric motor (with direct drive – no transmission) that makes over 200 hp and 168 ft-lbs of torque. A public EV charging station can quick-charge in less than 30 minutes. Lightning also has 12 kWh, 15 kWh and 20 kWh battery packs available; the bike can recharge from a standard wall socket.
The bike weighs 495 lbs and rolls on forged magnesium 17-inch wheels front and rear. The front suspension (Ohlins) is adjustable for preload, compression and rebound damping. The rear shock (also from Ohlins) is adjustable for preload, ride height, high and low speed compression and rebound. The front brakes (Brembo) have floating 320 mm discs and radial calipers.
Should the ability to hit 218 mph on your commuter bike not be sufficient to wow you (that’s the land speed record the Lightning set), you can also bling your machine out with titanium fasteners, carbon-fibre frame and swingarm, and custom livery and seat.
But, Lightning seems to be pretty confident their machine will sell on its performance alone.
“Consumers no longer are required to pay more for less performance to support green technology”, said Richard Hatfield (company president) in their press release. “The Lightning LS-218’s can compete with the best ICE alternatives today.”
The release goes on to say “The Lightning LS-218 has more horsepower, more torque, more speed and more performance than any other production motorcycle on the market.” Bold claims, indeed!
I get that these manufacturers want to showcase what is achievable with an electric bike but I wonder if building sports bikes is the best demographic to go after? Might the market for these bikes be younger riders that are not necessarily interested in 200 mph bikes but more, green friendly UJM style bikes? Given the resurgence in cafe racers, maybe something that looked like a Thruxton might be a better act to follow.