Things are about to get very fun in the American electric performance motorcycle market, as Zero and Lightning prepare to release a pair of next-generation machines that sound like very serious contenders. Here's what we know so far.
Zero is celebrating 13 years at the pointy end of electric streetbike innovation with a new model called the SR/F due to launch on the 25th of February. No details at all have been released in an official capacity, but if our friends at Asphalt & Rubber have their fingers on the right pulses, it's going to be a blinder, with nearly 20 kWh of battery and as much as 120 hp (89 kW) of peak performance. Electric horsepower, too, which tends to feel much faster than their gasoline equivalents in everyday use. So 120 hp might well feel like a lot.
What's more, there may be both faired and naked versions of the bike in store, which is something Zero fans have been wanting for many years now. We're also enjoying a chuckle at the SR/F nameplate, which doesn't sound inappropriate for a company so close to surf-crazy Santa Cruz.
An hour or so inland from Zero's Scott's Valley headquarters, Lightning Motorcycles has set up shop in a new, much larger facility in San Jose, where the brand is looking to "dramatically expand" production of the hair-raising LS-218 superbike (to this day, the fastest and most magnificently terrifying thing I've ridden) and work on new products.
One of these new products will be something we've been speaking to Lightning founder Richard Hatfield about for many years now – a middleweight electric sportsbike for folks who don't need the outrageous speed or fearsome full power of the LS-218. And Lightning released the following teaser image today:
A range of 150 miles (241 km), top speed of 150 mph (241 km/h), 35 minute DC fast charging – these are exciting figures. But the one that's really amazing is the price tag, starting at just US$12,998. Depending on what that base price gets you, the Lightning Strike is three and a half grand cheaper than the 2018 Zero SR, and 50 percent faster flat out with a similar range. This could be a helluva bike, we'll learn more in March.
These two companies have been pushing hard to develop and promote the electric performance motorcycle market for many years now. We're very excited to learn what they've got in store, and we sincerely hope these new bikes take Zero and Lightning to new levels of success.
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