Richard Hatfield’s electric motorcycle company Lightning Motorcycles is no stranger to speed. The company’s LS-218 bike got its name from a 218 mph (351 km/h) run when it snatched the long-held electric motorcycle land speed record in 2012. But now Hatfield is hoping to push the envelope even further to break his own record with an astounding 250 mph (402 km/h) showing.
And to get there, he’s planning to use a Lightning Strike electric motorcycle.
That’s the more recent of the two production models released by Lightning, which was unveiled back in early 2019 amid a huge hypestorm.
The bike was set to debut at an ultra-low (for the electric motorcycle industry) price of $12,998, while still offering high-performance figures. The base level of the Strike came with a motor rated for 67 kW (90 hp) and an incredible 245 Nm (180 lb-ft) of torque, offering a top speed of 135 mph (217 km/h).
Higher-spec versions of the Strike were said to push the speed closer to 150 mph (241 km/h).
By the end of 2019, deliveries of the Lightning Strike seemed to be on track. Questions arose around production numbers as few bikes were seen in public or on social media, unlike other electric motorcycles like those from Zero that are regularly seen in public. But Lightning assured us that production was moving ahead as usual while maintaining the same secrecy around production volume as most other private motorcycle companies.
As it turns out, the hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic forced Lightning to downsize from 30 employees to around a dozen, according to New Atlas. The financial difficulties also caused the company to give up its San Jose production facility and move in under the same roof as Mike Corbin’s famed motorcycle seat and accessory company Corbin Motorcycle Saddles (and who some EV fans may recall from the Corbin Sparrow).
Remember that electric motorcycle land speed record that Richard Hatfield’s LS-218 smashed in 2012? It was previously won by Mike Corbin himself, who held it for an incredible 38 years.
That was one of the longest-standing motorsports records ever, and now the duo is teaming up to help the Lightning Strike break the LS-218’s current record on the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Since the stock Lightning Strike was only ever advertised as reaching 150 mph (241 km/h), that extra speed is going to have to come from somewhere.
We’ve seen a few photos of a streamliner fairing under development at Corbin’s, but that will only take the bike so far – or rather, so fast.
The rest of the equation apparently comes from some upgraded parts in the powertrain. While the Strike’s motor remains stock, it will get pushed to its max thanks for a new higher power inverter and a new battery capable of more watts as well. The battery is apparently the same physical size, but sacrifices some capacity for higher power output.
The upgraded powertrain parts will supposedly become available for Strike owners to swap into their own bikes, should anyone want to seriously upgrade the speed performance of their bike.
And even as Hatfield prepares for the new record attempt, he’s still trying to keep up with demand to fulfill orders on the Lightning Strike:
There’s a big demand for the bikes. We don’t release exact numbers for production, but it’s not what we’d like it to be. We get a lot more requests for the bikes than what we’re able to fill at the moment.