Lightning, the world’s fastest electric bike, is coming to SA
It pushes 200 hp, a noble feat, but these days not exactly chart topping in a new world of 221 hp Ducatis and supercharged Kawasakis, but there is more to life than simply horsepower. In fact, some would argue that horsepower takes a very humbling back seat to torque, and torque is where the Lightning LS-218 electric superbike is king.
The company, like most pioneers in the electric vehicle world, was founded in California in 2006 when a man named Richard Hatfield bolted an electric motor into a Yamaha R1. The thing produced 60 hp and had a top speed of 160 km/h, but that was just the start. In 2012, they produced the Lightning LS-218, a superbike completely of their own creation. Horsepower was up to 200, as mentioned, but more significantly it pushed 227 Nm of torque. Let’s put that into perspective – the Ducati V4R pushes 112 Nm, the KTM 1290 Super Duke pushes 141 Nm while Triumph’s thunderous Rocket 3 pushed 190 Nm. With that in mind, 227 Nm on a motorcycle should alter the rotation of the Earth.
This has brought Lightning some success – in 2012, the first LS-218 set a record in its class at the Bonneville Salt Flats with a top speed of 351km/h, then in 2013 it won the motorcycle class – beating all the petrol powered variations – at the famous Pike’s Peak Hillclimb setting a new course record at the same time.
And now it is coming to South Africa. As we write this (on December 8, 2018) the first South African-bound unit is undergoing the final inspections before it will board a plane for OR Tambo Airport. It is being imported by a company called Electronia that specialises, as the name suggests, in electric goods such as solar powering and home automation. It also helps that the owners are all bike nuts, and regularly attend track days. They will also be able to supply solar panelling that can fit either homes or race vans for people who don’t like paying Eskom to ride their Lightning nor want to be stationary when Eskom decide they don’t want to work any more.
Once this first unit is imported and all is well, Electronia will finish setting up a South African importer for Lightning, although this will not involve physical showrooms with bikes ready to by ridden away. Lightning hand crafts each unit to order in California, so Electronia will be setting up an online showroom where customers can research each bike and even custom order a bike to their specifications.
The LS-218 was Lightning’s first and most famous model, but there are more not only available now, but also in the pipeline. The LS-218 is a superbike-based model, but they also have the Strike that is more along the lines of a 650 twin. Coming soon is a more commuter-based model called the Spark, and then they will have an even madder version of the LS-218 called the RR that will produce 30% more power.
Prices are still to be determined, and vary based on add-ons, customisation and the size of the battery fitted (the range varies between 160km and 300km depending on the battery). In Dollar prices, excluding VAT, importation and customs, the base LS-218 is going for $38,888 (roughly R550,000) while the base Strike will be going for $19,888 (roughly R280,000) and the RR for a mind-boggling $71,888 (a little more than R1 million).
Until everything is set up at Electronia, we await the first model that should be in the country soon. We will do follow up stories about when it will be publicly displayed or possibly even available for rides.
For more, here is Jay Leno’s video about the Lightning LS-218: