Lightning Motorcycles LS-218 to Debut at Quail Lodge

05/12/2014 @ 11:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS


We shouldn’t have to make too big of a case for your attendance at the The Quail Motorcycle Gathering, so if you’re in Northern California this coming weekend, you owe it to yourself to attend.

But just in case seeing a plethora of unique and beautiful show bikes isn’t your thing (100 years of motorcycles at the Bonneville Salt Flats is on display this year, by the way), we submit to you the upcoming debut of the Lightning Motorcycles LS-218 production electric superbike.

A long time in the coming, and based off Lightning’s electric race bike, the LS-218 aims to be the “mot [sic] technologically advanced and highest performing street-legal production motorcycle in teh [sic] world.”

A lofty statement, but then again the LS-218 has some credentials to back it up — and it starts with the electric superbike’s name: LS-218, which is an homage to the machine’s 218 mph top recorded speed at the Bonneville salt flats (a speed reach while setting an official 215 mph land speed record).

We have seen a concept sketch of what the Lightning Motorcycles LS-218 should look like, and expect the final version to look very similar; but until Saturday, the above photo is the only glimpse we have of the machine. If the genuine article has the same tastes as the concept sketch, motorcycle fans (even petrol heads) should be in for a treat.

Brute power and blistering speed have never been in short supply with Lightning’s work (the LS-218 is quoted as having 200 hp and 168 lbs•ft of torque), though we hope the machines for paying customers have a fit and finish commensurate with the $38,888 (base) price tag. Thankfully all the right names are on-board, with Öhlins suspension, Brembo brakes, and Marchesini wheels — just to name a few.

Lightning says the LS-218 will go over 100 miles at highway speed, and charge in 30 minutes from a “public fast charging station” or 120 minutes on a level 2 charging system. Tipping the scales at 495 lbs, the LS-218 is no featherweight, though we think riders will be surprised at how the lack of rotating mass on electric bikes changes the amount of energy required to make rapid direction changes.

Asphalt & Rubber will be at The Quail Motorcycle Gathering, so you can count on us for a bevy of photos and articles from the event, and from the Lightning Motorcycles LS-218 debut.

Technical Specifications of the Lightning Motorcycles LS-218:


  • None. Direct drive motor.


  • IPM liquid cooled 150kw+ 10,500 rpm electric motor. This generates an equivalent of 200 hp and 168 ft/lbs of torque.


  • 380V 12kwh battery pack good for 100-120 miles per charge*
  • 380V 15kwh battery pack good for 120-150 miles per charge*
  • 380V 20kwh battery pack good for 160-180 miles per charge*


  • 30 mins on a quick charger or 120 minutes on level 2 charger.


  • 495 lbs


Front suspension:

  • Öhlins FGRT inverted fork
  • NIX30 cartridge internals, TiN surface treatment, billet aluminum radial caliper mountings.
  • Fully adjustable spring preload, compression and rebound damping.

Rear suspension:

  • Billet aluminum swingarm with linear
  • Öhlins TTX36 Shock and linkage system
  • Adjustment for preload, ride height, high and low speed compression and rebound


  • Dual Brembo 320mm disc; Brembo radial-mount forged 4-piston calipers
  • 2 Brembo T-Drive 320mm Fully-Floating Rotors
  • 2 Brembo Brembo GP4-RX CNC Radial Calipers


  • User programmable


  • Marchesini forged magnesium 3.5″ x 17″, 120/70ZR17


  • Marchesini forged magnesium 6.0″ x 17″, 190/55ZR17


  • 32 inches

Source: Lightning Motorcycles

  • chris

    so let’s brighten the image and see what’s going on. awesome, no brakes, no grips or anything street legal… and it looks like a solid fiberglass wind screen and a rip off of the panigale subframe, and it seems like a derivative of a ducati tank. another unfinished bike stealing design elements from other manufacturers. what gives? IT”S NOT THAT HARD.

  • Campisi

    “… Mot [sic] technologically advanced and highest performing street-legal production motorcycle in teh [sic] world.”

    Going after the internet-forum New Money set, I see.

  • Ian John

    ahh Electric bikes; should hit the mainstream commute, weekend twisty, price practicality in about 10yrs time.
    Hope it sounds like a Tie Fighter.

  • paulus

    These are the future. The dead dinosaurs will eventually run dry and prices will hike long before…
    Electric (or alternative fuel) vehicles are coming.
    Bravo to lightning for having the balls to launch.
    Bravo for it being a motorcycle and not a hopped up mountain bike parts list.
    I am skeptical of the claims and look forward to the first real life tests, but it is good to see progress.

    Let’s wait for Saturday’s launch to see how the finished product looks and runs.

  • CojackR

    200hp ? So that’s a 150Kw motor – I am guessing that the battery pack will be in the order of 15KWhr LiP0 type which will weigh in the order of 100Kg. So, using rough calculations, by using all the available 150Kw of power continuously, the battery pack if it did not overheat, would last for 6 minutes. This is assuming 100% efficiency of the electric power train. This is more likely to be 85 to 90% motor/controller efficiency, so say 5 minutes. Great for a run up Pikes Peak and setting land speed records, but not really that good for everyday use. In fairness no 2 wheeler uses max available power all of the time. So if the power was conserved and a journey was spread over a 25 minute period the available power would be an average of about 40Kw (55Hp) So don’t be too impressed by the big figures quoted for power and torque – yes they are available, but at the expense of a stupidly short range.

    These type of 2 wheelers could however be very good and have the potential to at least double their range and even enhance their hyper-performance credentials. Why do the manufacturers not wish to even try to do this? Well, the elephant in the room is aerodynamics – Not one, and I mean not one of the manufacturers of electric motorcycles has even looked at aerodynamics and how it can enhance range and performance. Until they do this, high end, unstreamlined electric motorcycles (please don’t tell me a standard fairing is aerodynamic, it is not) will remain an oddity for the wealthy and curious who have a disposable income and who want a new high tech toy. I love the engineering and the passion these guys have, but in my opinion, only when aerodynamics are fully developed for motorcycles will we then have truly efficient, viable, low carbon, planet saving future transport alternatives for our 2 wheel world.

  • CojackR: Bear in mind that a 195 hp Panigale S @ 20% efficiency would deplete its 4.5 gallon tank (~30 kWh effectively) in 12 minutes.

    The Lightning bike has 3 battery options, 12 15 and 20 kWh .. so figure perhaps 7 minutes for the largest battery. Even in racing or in a LSR attempt, though, the bike will not sustain maximum power output for a window exceeding a couple of minutes.

    As you say “no 2 wheeler uses max available power all of the time”, which somewhat contradicts “not really that good for everyday use”. Lightning claims 160-180 miles of range for the largest battery – likely highway but not track / sport riding usage – and a 30 minute charge time with DC fast charging.

    On track the largest battery is probably good for 30-40 minutes of riding per charge.

    I’d like to see more manufacturer involvement in aerodynamics, particularly for electric motorcycles .. a full slipstreamed fairing like the Vetter fairings can reduce power requirements by 20 to 30%, which can extend range and effective charge speed by 20 to 40%.