The competitors for the 91st Pikes Peak International Hill Climb have just concluded a two-day tire test at the Colorado road course, and it should perhaps come as no surprise that our boy Carlin Dunne has posted the outright fastest lap for a motorcycle during the tire test (the Santa Barbara native set the outright two-wheeled course record last year on his Ducati Multistrada 1200 S).

What is surprising about Carlin’s result at the tire test is that he was on the Lightning Motorcycles electric superbike. That’s right, the fastest bike so far for 2013’s Race to the Clouds is a 200+ hp electric superbike that is refueled with solar energy. Petrol heads, eat your heart out.

Taking the course in parts, as is the race’s way, the motorcycles started on the bottom section on Saturday, and were on the upper section on Sunday. On the very fast and open lower course, Carlin unsurprisingly set the top time, with an impressive 4:34.03 section time (14 seconds quicker than Greg Chicoine’s 450cc supermoto).

On the tighter and slower upper section, Carlin continued his pace with the heavy “Flying Banana” from Lightning, with a 5:04.40 sector time — 3 seconds quicker than his nearest fellow two-wheeled competitor (Chicoine, again).

If those two sector times were combined to make a complete run up Pikes Peak, Carlin would have a 9:38.43 on his hands — in other words, he would be breaking his own record, set on a gas bike, by 14 seconds on his electric bike (an imperfect comparison, I admit).

However, I have been saying it for a long time now, so maybe electric motorcycle OEMs will finally take note, but the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is a ripe event for electrics to outshine their ICE counterparts.

We’ll be cheering on Carlin, and the rest of the competitors, in person in only a couple weeks time. Keep an eye out for our coverage on A&R.

Source: PPIHC & Lightning Motorcycles; Photo: Lightning Motorcycles

  • Stevenk27

    I would imagine it has alot to do with the ICE competitors struggling at altitude while the electric bike obviously has no performance drop off as a result thereof.
    Were this down at the coast might have been a different story altogether as is demonstrated by the TT differences in performance between ICE and electric bikes.

  • Ant

    Very good, but a note of caution. The two practise sections combined are not the full race distance. I checked when I saw that Seb Loeb’s combined times last weekend would have been 1 minute+ quicker that the existing lap record!

  • Gutterslob

    That’s nice and all, but can anyone outlap Loeb on that ballistic Peugeot this year?
    Speaking of which, could someone point me to a link with the regulations? I’ve always wondered why the bikes seemed so regulated (seriously, an almost stock Fuglystrada won it last year) while the cages could go all out and mod every single component to kingdom come.

  • TheSeaward

    Gutterslob, I’m not sure where the regulations are posted, but from my understanding the bike restrictions were inteded to keep full on sportbikes off of the mountain. Something about not being able to have clip-ons. Take all of this with a grain of salt because I haven’t personally glossed over the rules in quite some time.

    I’m ready to head up there now. Can’t wait.

  • Nick

    Gutterslob and TheSeaward, I too have not read the regs as they pertain to bikes. However, I thought I saw that amongst its entries, Honda was entering a CBR1000rr this year. So now my question is if that is true, did the electric post a better time in testing or was Honda not present?

  • Nick

    Bike entries include: R1s, CBRs, speed triple, Duc monster, Gixxer 750, etc this year. –

  • Random

    Isn’t the course entirely in tarmac this year, contrasting with the years before? I read something like that was the explanation for decreasing times on the car race.

  • The course was fully paved before last year’s event.

  • Faust

    I can’t take that competitor list serious because they spell Camaro as “Camero”… lol. But seriously, as I was looking over the entry list, the 1986 Ford RS200s jumped off the page at me. Awesome to see those still racing. But yeah, the Pikes Peak Superbike 750 class is new for this year, and there are already GSX-Rs, a CBR, a Daytona and a Ninja ZX-6R racing. The bigger bikes are in the Exhibition class along with the Lightning. If the Lightning can really beat an R1 or a CBR1000RR us the hill, I’ll be suitably impressed.

  • mxs

    Why would you be surprised so much? … it’s very expensive electric bike, running a short distance high elevation race. If they cannot win in this application where else would they??

    Don’t get me wrong, I think they are achieving something as far as development … but to say “Hey you petrol heads see? ….

    I think most people are not against electric bikes, but many people are against electric bikes with a high price tag and short range, which is exactly what you get these days and for years to come. Not speaking about the fact that most people who are fixing ICE based bikes themselves and love doing so, will be stuffed in the future or will need a nerdy friend or an expensive dealer for repairs …

    I digress, but you can say I am not blown away as much as some other people …. :-(

  • @mxs PPIHC is in some ways an ideal test for electrics, for the reasons you mention. The bigger battery electrics will have a weight penalty (Lightning probably 500+ pounds) but should be able to run flat-out for the entire race duration.

    The significance is not that the electrics are more competitive at pikes peak than they are at a short circuit race or point-to-point race a la IOM TT, but that for the first time in recent memory an electric has a very good chance at besting all gas opponents at an international competition.

  • @mxs, you sound like an 1890’s horse-and-buggy blogger….
    “hrmph! All this talk of horseless carriages! Blasphemy!”

    Some people still ride horses 120 years later, it’s all good.