Motorcycles

Lightning unveils Strike, the first affordable electric sportsbike

Lightning unveils Strike, the ...
Lightning's first mass-market electric motorcycle starts from a killer price point of US$12,998
Lightning's first mass-market electric motorcycle starts from a killer price point of US$12,998
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The Carbon Edition gets Ohlins suspension
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The Carbon Edition gets Ohlins suspension
Ohlins and Brembo are standard on the Carbon Edition and optional on the lower spec bikes
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Ohlins and Brembo are standard on the Carbon Edition and optional on the lower spec bikes
The Strike's design is highly reminiscent of the beautiful and terrifying LS-218
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The Strike's design is highly reminiscent of the beautiful and terrifying LS-218
The addition of a sports fairing reduces drag by a whopping 30 percent at highway speeds
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The addition of a sports fairing reduces drag by a whopping 30 percent at highway speeds
Three versions will be available, with battery sizes of 10, 15 and 20 kWh offering highway speed ranges up to 150 miles
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Three versions will be available, with battery sizes of 10, 15 and 20 kWh offering highway speed ranges up to 150 miles
Lightning's first mass-market electric motorcycle starts from a killer price point of US$12,998
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Lightning's first mass-market electric motorcycle starts from a killer price point of US$12,998
Three spec levels are available
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Three spec levels are available

The company responsible for the wildest electric sportsbike on the planet has just shown off its first mass-market offering. The Strike is a fully-faired electric motorcycle that starts at US$12,998 with 90 horsepower, a monstrous 180 lb-ft (244 Nm) of torque and a 10-kWh battery offering 70 miles (113 km) of highway range.

That base spec for the Standard Strike will be a terrific short-range super-commuter, but there's also a Mid Range version with a 15-kWh battery delivering 105 miles on the highway for US$16,998, and a sexy Carbon Edition with 20 kWh that'll take you 150 miles (241 km) on the highway for $19,998, while also boosting horsepower up to 120 with the same gigantic torque as the others.

The Carbon Edition also includes 6.6-kW level 3 fast charging (the others support levels 1 and 2, with Level 3 an optional extra, and all bikes use a CCS charge port). The Level 3 charge option will let you put 100 miles (161 km) worth of range into the bike in just 20 minutes.

Three spec levels are available
Three spec levels are available

It's worth noting, you'll get much better range than the figures quoted if you're riding it around town. But Lightning's inclusion of an aerodynamic fairing – something Zero fans have been begging for ever since the Zero S was launched – reduces drag on the highway by as much as 30 percent and significantly extends range at higher speeds.

Lightning's price structure might cause some consternation over at Zero as well – Zero's brand new SR/F offers comparable performance to the new Lightning bikes at 110 hp/190 lb-ft of torque, but spending $18,995 on the standard spec SR/F will only get you 80-odd miles (130 km) on the highway.

What's Lightning's secret weapon in keeping its prices down? In a word, China. According to Electrek, the company has just set up a Chinese manufacturing center around the same size as its new main factory in San Jose, California, where much of the componentry will be built before final assembly in California. Lightning also expects its Asian presence to be handy when it starts looking to expand its presence internationally, beginning later this year.

The Strike's design is highly reminiscent of the beautiful and terrifying LS-218
The Strike's design is highly reminiscent of the beautiful and terrifying LS-218

The regular Strike bikes will have an exhilarating top speed around 135 mph (220 km/h), while the Carbon Edition will take things up a level with 150 mph (240 km/h) capability. Since they're geared so much lower than the eyeball-flattening LS218, which has a single speed drive that goes as high as 218 mph (351 km/h), we wouldn't mind betting they'll feel extremely quick on the road, and should offer sustained performance thanks to liquid cooling in the motors.

There's no word on what lower-spec Strike bikes will get in terms of suspension and brakes, but they can both be optioned up to match what the Carbon Edition gets – Ohlins and Brembo Monoblocs, with an AIM Strada datalogging dash – by the addition of a Performance Package. We'd expect all editions of the Strike to hold their own on a racetrack, and it'll be exciting to see how they go and what they're competitive against.

Staying fairly close to the Glyn Kerr-designed LS-218, the Strike looks terrific with its braced subframe, banana swingarm and colorful motor connectors providing contrast against its fairings. The riding position is set up to be more relaxed than the race-focused LS-218, and the throttle has been tuned for "phenomenally smooth and intuitive power delivery."

The Carbon Edition gets Ohlins suspension
The Carbon Edition gets Ohlins suspension

The Strike becomes really the first electric sportsbike we'd call affordable. The base price bike might have a limited range that won't cut it out in the hills, but it's more than enough to handle daily duties and the odd quick blast if you live close to something twisty.

Given Zero's decade and a half manufacturing history compared to Lightning's relative inexperience in mass market serial production, we'd suspect that the SR/F will offer a more tightly integrated and well thought through riding experience with better mod cons and fewer teething issues, but the new Lightning Strike presents a performance and price tag challenge buyers wont be able to ignore, and it flat-out looks cooler. Both bikes deserve to tempt customers away from gasoline bikes, which is the real goal of all e-moto makers, and both are serious leaps forward for their makers.

It's exciting times in California as the electric motorcycle market heats up. We can't wait to get a leg over these things to experience the latest generation of electric giggle machines. Strike deliveries will begin in July, with Carbon Editions rolling out first.

Source: Lightning Motorcycles

10 comments
Mzungu_Mkubwa
"Lightning Strike presents a performance and price tag challenge buyers wont be able to ignore, and it flat-out looks cooler." Styling is Zero's (current) Achilles's heel, IMO. Its not that they look bad in themselves, but rather that their whole line looks similar to each other. It comes across to me like one chassis that is only tweaked slightly with different plastics and bolt-ons to differentiate models. What they desperately need is clear distinction between their various offerings, with a healthy dose of retro-modern styling thrown in. Lightnings fared offering here in sport-bike form is one possibility. But hire a (few?) custom-bike designer and wrap that excellent Zero drive-train into some other formats, please! Likewise, Lightning would be wise to diversify, style-wise, going forward, right?
Jasbee_Jones
A Honda xr650R , which is a dual sports, has a range of ~130 miles. So the 20kw models range is quite respectable. At this point gas stations are much more readily available and quicker to refuel with than electric charging stations, but the range on these electric bikes is really pretty good.
VincentWolf
I think if Lighting made EV cars it might give Tesla a run for it's money racing against the new 2020 Tesla Roadster.
highlandboy
So for $AUS27,000 I get a bike that can’t do a quick run from Canberra to Sydney. Ending S ome 50km short. Much less a half day ride from Canberra to Melbourne. Forget range anxiety. Petrol is still king in Australia.
Suman M Subramanian
Very interesting! Lightning doesn't seem to have published 0-60 times for any variant yet, but I've seen "1.0 - 2.0 seconds" for the LS-218. I hope they don't artificially slow down the base model to make up for it's weight advantage over the others, or at least not drastically. The rest of the specs are impressive for the price. I hope to at least sit on one to feel the ergos (a demo ride would be great), and I hope they offer lockable hard bags as an option. It'll take me a while to save up for one, so by then there should be reliability data. Thanks for the article, Loz! Do a comparison with the Zero and Kymco SuperNEX whenever it comes out.
Johannes
Great to see an electric bike that doesn’t look like a battery box with wheels. Credit to the designers for sticking with more conventional styling and letting the cables and electric motor speak loudly enough for the Strike’s energy source.
Nelson Hyde Chick
Build a standard with more upright riding position and I'll buy one.
rude.dawg
"What's Lightning's secret weapon in keeping its prices down? In a word, China. According to Electrek, the company has just set up a Chinese manufacturing center around the same size as its new main factory in San Jose, California..." Right, EVs are supposed to be good for the environment but this one will be made cheaply in China where their factories run on mostly cheap electricity powered by cheap coal? https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-45640706
ljaques
Fair a Zero and you have an American designed and made vehicle for around the same price but with a much better chance of lasting the warranty period and more. I still want a lower-priced, lower-powered FX with longer range.
Towerman
Awesome bike !