Lightning unveils the Tachyon Nb, its new electric land-speed contender
Lightning Motorcycles has unveiled the Tachyon Nb, a modified, streamlined version of the Strike electric sportsbike designed to take aim at the electric motorcycle land speed record, targeting speeds over 250 mph (400 km/h) in the process.
The name Tachyon refers to a hypothetical particle that travels faster than the speed of light. The Nb is shorthand for the exotic metal niobium, and the bike uses it fairly extensively; indeed, the Tachyon Nb has come about as a collaborative project between Lightning and Brazilian company CBMM, the world's largest niobium producer.
"We are implementing niobium-containing brake rotors," says Daniel Wright, CBMM engineer and person responsible for the development of the project, "for improved high temperature performance, several niobium components in the on-board charger that allow the entire system to be more reliable and efficient, and finally niobium-containing steel tubing in the swing arm and chassis that allows us to meet the demanding strength and weight requirements of the application."
As Lightning founder and CEO Richard Hatfield told us in February, niobium alloys can strengthen metal components, while also making its magnetic properties more efficient. That allows for lightweighting and miniaturization that might not otherwise have been possible; the charger alone dropped about 20 lb (9 kg) with this metal introduced, Hatfield tells us, without losing any power or overheating.
Probably the most important facet of any land speed racer is the aerodynamics. Parasitic drag rises with the square of speed, so keeping the drag coefficient to a minimum has an outsized effect on final performance. Lightning has been working with well-known aftermarket saddlemaking company Corbin on a new aerodynamic fairing for the attempt.
Mike Corbin himself is an electric land speed pioneer; he set the electric land-speed record himself back in 1974, and it wasn't broken for an incredible 38 years – partially because he had to "borrow" about US$100,000 worth of silver from a US Navy vault to do it. That's a wonderful story in itself, and well worth a read.
Corbin and Hatfield have designed a carbon streamlined fairing for the Tachyon Nb, with a teardrop back-end, a large screen for the rider to tuck in behind, and an innovative front fender design that blends into the main front fairing with only about an inch-wide gap, maintaining the overall shape and only allowing a small bit of wheel to poke out into the airstream.
The plan is to take the Tachyon Nb out to Bonneville and shoot for a new record out on the salt flats – although exactly when this will happen is up in the air. The Southern California Timing Association's Speed Week would've been on right now, but it's been canceled due to flooding, after intense rain left the Speedway section of the flats covered in several inches of standing water.
See the Tachyon Nb on the road in the short video below.
Source: Lightning Motorcycles