Lightning Motorcycles is no stranger to setting land speed records. It laid down a 173.388 mile-per-hour marker for electric motorcycles in 2010 on the Bonneville Salt Flats, and then upped the ante significantly in 2011 with a 215.960 mph performance on that same crystalline stage.
For 2012, however, it's switched venues and brought its superbike to the 1.3-mile course that runs downs the El Mirage dry lake bed. Now, that's a lot less real estate than the five-mile stretch available at Bonneville, but the team still managed to achieve something special.
In an effort sponsored by solar technology company SMA, and with LSR veteran Jim Hoogerhyde gripping the handlebars (tightly, we imagine), Lightning flashed down the dusty trail at 189.086 mph. That speed gives the company the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) record for production motorcycles – electric or gas-powered – for that venue.
There two significant things about this achievement. First, the energy for the three runs was supplied courtesy of the sun. Its rays fed a 48-kWh battery pack attached to a mobile solar array, which in turn, fueled the bike's on-board batteries. This is no coal-powered motorcycle.
Second, though wearing a streamlined fairing, the bike is essentially the same machine that the first handful of customers will begin receiving within the next 60 days or so. Yes, Lightning Motorcycles is turning that hard corner from race team and technology developer to actual manufacturer. And that is no small feat.