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The World’s Fastest Electric Motorcycle

By General Posts

by Michael Alba at

2 Wheels and 218 Miles per Hour: The World’s Fastest Electric Motorcycle

His bike wasn’t rumbling beneath him as he rolled up to Alice’s Restaurant. The California air was heavy with sun and the black exhaust of the Harleys, Yamahas and Kawasakis purring all around him.

His name was Richard Hatfield, and he was a computer engineer turned bike builder who was taking the first test run of his first prototype. It was an old Yamaha R1 bike frame fitted with an electric motor and stuffed with lithium iron phosphate batteries. The year was 2006, and the bike was the first lithium battery sports bike ever built.

Richard would have revved the engine had there been one. Instead, he turned left at Alice’s and pointed his bike toward the top of the Woodside hills. He gunned it, then it gunned him. It was the fastest acceleration he’d ever felt on a bike, and in an instant, the Yamaha shot noiselessly up the hill.

Richard felt fast as lightning.

Lightning Motorcycles

There’s nothing easy about building an electric motorcycle. There’s limited space for components, yet electric vehicles need one component in abundance: batteries. Hatfield retrofitted his Yamaha R1 with 28 lithium iron phosphate (LiFePo4) batteries, each one weighing 6.6lb and storing 90Ah at 3.2V for a total capacity of about 8kWh. The batteries took 7 hours to recharge and offered a range of 80 miles at 65mph. The whole project cost him $15,000.

It may not have been pretty, but it worked. That test drive at Alice’s Restaurant convinced Hatfield that electric bikes were the way of the future, an “unquestionably” better biking experience.

“For the first time, I experienced that electric torque and thrust without any noise or vibration or sound,” Hatfield recalled. “And the overwhelming feeling of this hand of God shoving me up the hill—without any of those distractions from internal combustion engine bikes—it just overwhelmed me that this is the future. This is the way motorcycles should feel.”

In 2009, three years after he created that first prototype, Hatfield incorporated Lightning Motorcycles, a company to bring his electric bikes to market. Using the knowledge he’d gained from building that first electric Yamaha and several prototypes since, Hatfield and his team of Silicon Valley engineers built a new sports bike that they called the Lightning SuperBike. The SuperBike had a liquid-cooled 104kW, 12,000rpm electric motor, a 345V, 11kWh LiFePo4 battery pack, and user-programmable regenerative braking.

It was a big step from a retrofitted Yamaha, and Hatfield and his team faced many challenges as they worked to bring the SuperBike to life.

“Anytime you try to do something for the first time, there are pitfalls,” Hatfield said. “There were thousands of things that had to be solved and evolved and improved.”

One of the biggest challenges was lowering the SuperBike’s weight to the level of a gas bike while working within the limited space of a motorcycle. For the SuperBike, the team’s solution was to make each component serve multiple functions. The electric motor, for example, doubled as the main stressed element of the bike frame. The battery pack was built with a strong skin to carry loads from the front fork to the motor. The swing arm on the back tire connected to the center of the motor as well.

“Every step of the process required an incredible amount of focus and a team effort to solve problems,” Hatfield noted.

Breaking Records, Then Breaking Them Again

In September 2010, the Lightning SuperBike lived up to its name when it broke the land speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats Racetrack in Utah. The bike clocked a record speed of 173mph. Less than a year later, in August 2011, the SuperBike outdid itself by hitting a top speed of 218mph. That wasn’t just fast for an electric bike. It was faster than any other production motorcycle for sale in North America, electric or otherwise.

To honor the record, Lightning renamed the SuperBike the LS-218, and it remained the bike to beat. In 2013, the LS-218 took first place in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, a winding 12.42-mile journey to the top of the 14,115-foot summit of Pikes Peak in Colorado. The LS-218, in the hands of rider Carlin Dunne, made the journey in 10 minutes and 694 milliseconds. It was over 20 seconds faster than the next best time (10:21.323) claimed by a gas-powered Ducati Multistrada. It was the first year that electric bikes were allowed to compete in the race.

The LS-218 was available in its final commercial form by the end of 2015. It was a street-legal superbike, an emphatic demonstration that electric bikes aren’t just available, they’re desirable.

The commercial LS-218 packs an internal permanent magnet (IPM) liquid cooled electric motor outputting 150kW and 10,500rpm. It charges in as little as 30 minutes with 50kW DC fast charging. The entry-level model has a 12kWh battery pack, provides 100–120 miles of range, and costs $38,888. The bigger the battery, the higher the price: 16 kWh (120–150 miles) costs $42,888 and 20kWh (160–180 miles) costs $46,888.

Lightning Strikes Twice

With the LS-218, Lightning Motorcycles had built a high-performance but high-cost motorcycle. For Lightning’s next project, Hatfield wanted to make an electric bike that was accessible to more riders. In late 2016, he and his team set out to develop a lower-cost follow-up to the LS-218.

“The next big challenge was not just to build something that performed as good or better than the best internal combustion bikes in the world, but something that could be competitively priced and perform as well,” Hatfield said.

Named the Lightning Strike, the new bike would have a target retail price of $13,000. Designing a new bike that would be a third of the price of the company’s previous model was a challenge, but Lightning was finding its feet in the electric motorcycle market.

“We’ve spent a lot of the last 10 years vetting suppliers, building relationships, and trying to enroll supply chain vendors in the vision we have for this product,” Hatfield explained.

The biggest cost saver for the Strike was the plummeting cost of batteries. In 2006, Hatfield’s first lithium battery prototype cost $15,000 and had a total battery capacity of 8kWh. Today, 8kWh of lithium-ion batteries costs less than $1,500.

“We, like most of the electric vehicle industry, are the beneficiary of the reduction in price of lithium batteries,” Hatfield explained. “The lithium batteries are the number one cost in setting all the world records for motorcycles: for performance, for top speed, for winning international racing competitions.”

Earlier this year, Lightning Motorcycles began shipping the Lightning Strike Carbon, the top-spec model of the Strike series, for $19,998. The bike has a 20kWh battery, a 90kW, 15,000rpm electric motor, a top speed of 150mph, and a range up to 200 miles. Lightning will soon offer a $15,998 version of the Strike, followed by a $12,998 version, fulfilling Hatfield’s goal of having a great electric bike with an entry-level price.

“We’re starting with the top-spec bike, getting that out to customers, and then working into the more competitively priced bikes,” Hatfield commented.

Beyond 218

Lightning Motorcycles hasn’t forgotten about its record-breaking superbike. In 2018, the company built an even higher-performing successor to the LS-218: the LS-218R. But when the company took the bike to the Bonneville Salt Flats to test its top speed, the track got in the way of a new record.

“Unfortunately, the quality of the salt at Bonneville has really been degrading over the last 10 years,” Hatfield explained. “So, when we took the new bike to the salt, anything over 50 percent throttle basically spun the rear tire. We ended up going 209.7 at 58 percent throttle with the rear tire going 235. The rider said he felt confident it would have broken our existing record by a pretty large margin, but we just couldn’t put the power down.”

Lightning hopes to break its record—and find a proper name for its new bike—as soon as it can pinpoint the right test track. Meanwhile, the company is experimenting with new ways of designing its motorcycles. For example, Lightning has partnered with software provider Autodesk to use generative design to optimize and lightweight parts of its bikes. Nothing has entered production yet, but Hatfield is confident in the technology.

Looking back on that day in 2006 when he rode his electric Yamaha for the first time, Hatfield feels grateful for the confluence of good timing and clever engineering that led to Lightning Motorcycles.

“Sometimes there’s a feeling of just being very fortunate to be at the beginning of something, and being able to make a difference and lead a charge,” he said.

The Rear Tire.

Oil in the Blood – Documentary

By General Posts

‘Oil in the Blood’ is a documentary feature film on the contemporary custom motorcycle culture. The film is directed by biker biker Gareth Maxwell Roberts and produced by Lucy Selwood.

This is not a film about motorcycles, it’s a film about motorcycle people.

The philosophy of individualism is embedded in motorcycling. The desire to be different and unique, is at the root of the motorcyclist’s imagination. Modifying, customising, and changing bikes is at the very heart of the biker. Custom motorcycle culture has experienced a renaissance in recent years, and what was once a niche subculture now bears a significant influence on the international mainstream motorcycle industry.

Over the last three years, Gareth and Lucy have interviewed nearly three hundred bike builders, riders, journalists, artists and racers; the very heartbeat of this culture. They’ve communed with like-minded souls in Britain, Europe, Japan, Australia, The Far East, Africa and the US. They’ve spoken to major manufactures Harley Davidson, Yamaha, Royal Enfield, Ducati and BMW.

Lucy and Gareth have filmed at the Petersen Automotive  Museum in Los Angeles, The Amercian Motorcycle Museum in Holland, The Malle Mile, Wheels & Waves in Biarritz, The Trip Out, The Brooklyn Invitational, The Distinguished Gentlemans Ride in London and New York, Throttle Roll in Sydney, Indian Larry’s Block Party, Dirt Quake, Snowquake, The Malle Mile and The Trip Out in rural England, The One Moto Show in Portland, Mama Tried in Milwaukee, Mooneyes in Tokyo,  and The Handbuilt Show in Austin.

The film-makers filmed a collaboration between Harley Davidson and maverick bike builders El Solitario in the Sahara, flat track racing in dusty bowls and indoor arenas, ice racing in Wisconsin and in the Alps, and the American Wall of Death in the Texas sun. They’ve shot dozens of cool custom bikes being ridden through the urban streets, the twisting mountain roads, through the rolling green countryside and the scorched flat plains. They’ve filmed choppers, café-racers, flattrackers, sprint bikes, electrics, old school specials and urban brats, hundred-thousand dollar pristine beauties and five hundred buck rippers.

Gareth is  a career film maker and life-long biker, having ridden most kinds of bikes over the last thirty-five years. He’s had had stints as a motorcycle courier and a wholly undistinguished but highly enjoyable racing career; been on some great adventures and crashed more times than he cares to remember. He’s a repeat offending terrible mechanic, but thankfully has talented friends.

You can see more details of our exploits  at and on Instagram @oilintheblood, and view trailers and teasers on our recently launched youtube channel

“Oil In The Blood” has it’s worldwide release on October 14th for sale and rental on Amazon, iTunes, and google. DVD/ Blu-ray available on pre-order now on Amazon.
Please tag @oilintheblood #oilintheblood

Cross Country Chase Stage 2

By General Posts

A glorious sunrise kicked off a day of cruising country roads and enjoying warm hospitality as Chase riders boarded the S.S. Badger for a 60-mile cruise across Lake Michigan before enjoying lunch during a visit at the gracious Harbor Town Harley-Davidson dealership. The day was topped off by dinner, fellowship and a bike show at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee.

Riders loaded up the belly of the S.S.Badger with their antique motorcycles and spent the 4-hour cruise on the old ferry by napping, eating or playing bingo with the very animated staff of the coal-burning ship. Lucky rider, Evan Riggle, #11, would later show off the cool ship cap he won during bingo aboard the transport ferry during his first-time visit to the H-D Museum.

Luck also followed third place rider #72, into the museum. Larry Luce managed to roll onto the campus before the tire on his 1938 Velocette KSS went completely flat, so instead of visiting the museum exhibits as he had planned, the first-time visitor barely had time to get the flat fixed before the museum closed, though he did have time to enjoy a plateful of the great dinner the museum had prepared for the riders. Luce will start Stage 3 alongside the other riders, though James Malone, #05 and Don Gilmore, #22 have left the race completely. Good news is that rider #51, Shane Masters, has rejoined the group and is ready to make up for lost time. Be sure to check out the scores tomorrow and see where your favorite rider stands!

The Way Bikernet Weekly News for August 29, 2019

By General Posts

Thoughtful News about the Way, Travel and Strapping down Your Motorcycle

By Bandit, Bob T., Bill Bish, Rogue, Laura, Barry Green, Sam Burns, the Redhead, and the rest of the crew

The Bikernet Weekly News is sponsored in part by companies who also dig Freedom including: Cycle Source Magazine, the MRF, Las Vegas Bikefest, Iron Trader News, ChopperTown, and the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum. Most recently the Smoke Out and Quick Throttle Magazine came on board.


Rwanda Encourages Youth To Use Electric Motorcycles

By General Posts

Rwanda has introduced the use of electric motorcycles as part of its efforts to protect the environment and cut fuel costs.

Passengers and motorcyclists say the electric vehicles could dramatically change how Rwandans do business.

James Musisi, 45, is one of 10 motorcyclists who have started to use the motorcycles in what is known as the moto-taxi business — motorcycle taxis.

He says the vehicles are quiet, which means passengers are able to make phone calls as they’re taken to their destinations.

They’re also relatively cheap. One electric bike costs $1,300 — less expensive than the $1,600 price for fuel motorcycles.

Also, Musisi said, “There is no chain, no drum brake, and requires less [maintenance compared to] those that use fuel lubricant every week and have to change the oil.”

Currently, there are 10 of the motorcycles running on Kigali’s roads, but more than 600 are being built.

Two charging stations exist in Kigali. A moto-taxi driver has to bring an exhausted battery to take a charged one, which runs for 70 kilometers (43 miles). The price for recharging an electric vehicle is equal to the cost of the fuel for traditional cycles.

In 2016, four entrepreneurs from different countries formed a start-up called Ampersand with a mission to transform Rwanda into a mass market for commercial electric motorcycles.

Josh Whale, the company’s chief executive officer, said electric motorcycles, also known as e-Motos, have great potential in Rwanda — a country known for its environmental initiatives.

“For electricity, we found that the grid is sufficiently reliable in Kigali,” he said. “There has been a lot of investment made in new transmission lines, which are operating well, so everything is good for us.”

Environmental efforts

Engineer Colleta Ruhamya, director-general of Rwanda’s Environment Management Authority, says this is another milestone for the country, which has become an important player in the global environmental protection movement.

“I don’t see why Rwanda should be behind. I think it’s the right time for Rwanda to come forward. We call each and every person to also embrace [the effort] and to go [forward] together,” Ruhamya said.

This comes after Rwandan President Paul Kagame declared that his government is going to replace all motorcycles with new electric ones.

“We will find a way to replace the ones you have now. We urge taxi-moto operators to help us when the phase-out process comes,” Kagame said recently.

The adoption of electric motorcycles follows many other initiatives the Rwandan government has taken to protect the environment and keep Kigali clean.

In 2008, Rwanda banned plastic shopping bags. Last year, it banned the use of single-use plastic materials, including water bottles.

According to the United Nations, every year 8 million tons of plastic end up in the world’s oceans, poisoning sea life and harming fisheries.

Source: VOA

Bonneville Bikernet Weekly News for August 22, 2019

By General Posts

It’s a Game Changing Wild News

By Bandit, Bob T., Bill Bish, Rogue, Laura, Barry Green, Sam Burns, the Redhead, and the rest of the crew

This is going to be a wild day. This would have been the day we rolled out for the 2019 Bonneville Speed Trials, but it’s not happening. We still have work to do, but we did make our first pass around the block successfully.

We accomplished a great deal in the last eight months and we are proud to say it runs and handles like a champ. Amazing. Don’t miss the 22nd Chapter of the Salt Torpedo build story.


Ural x GPR 2-1 High Pipe

By General Posts

New highly anticipated 2-1 High Mount Exhaust System

Now available for purchase! Fits 2016 and up Gear Up, Patrol, cT

Designed specifically for off road use only

  • Increased ground clearance
  • Lightweight stainless steel (nearly 10lbs. lighter than stock Ural exhaust system)
  • Internal mesh-type spark arrestor
  • Serviceable GPR muffler designed exclusively for Ural Motorcycles
  • Fits all 2016-2019 fuel injected models except Retro
  • ….and of course, unmatched Italian design

Contact your local dealer, supply is limited.

MSRP* 1,399.00

*MSRP does not include shipping, installation, dealer prices may vary


Mysterious Ducati Bike Teased; Likely To Debut At 2020 Ducati World Première

By General Posts

Could it be the Streetfighter V4, the 2020 Multistrada or something else entirely?

  • The company will showcase its 2020 range of motorcycles on 23 October 2019.
  • The bike in the teaser is most likely the production-spec Streetfighter V4.
  • Other guesses include a Multistrada V4 or an updated Ducati SuperSport.

Ducati is set to unveil its 2020 range of motorcycles on 23 October 2019. What’s more interesting is that the company has teased a mystery motorcycle, which has left us scratching our heads and wondering what it could be?

Now, the obvious answer could be the production-ready Streetfighter V4. And this would make sense considering that the CEO of the company, Claudio Domenicali, had mentioned that the stripped-down version of the Panigale V4 will be the highlight of the event.

But if we had to put on our tin-foil hats and speculate, we think it could also be the 2020 Ducati Multistrada V4 considering the fact that the flagship adventure-tourer was spied testing near Bologna, Italy recently.

Other wild guesses include a new and updated SuperSport or the XDiavel. Both motorcycles are due for an update, but what remains to be seen is if they continue to sport the same L-twin setup or come with the Desmosedici Stradale V4 motor instead.

While the Italian manufacturer might unveil the bike in October, we expect to see it in the flesh only at the 2019 EICMA show in Milan, which is scheduled to take place in November. Yes, we will be bringing you all the updates from there as well.

Extra staff hired, jail space prepared for Sturgis motorcycle rally

By General Posts

STURGIS, S.D. — Law enforcement agencies in Meade and Pennington counties are hiring more officers, temporarily opening a second jail and keeping a courthouse open seven days a week for the Sturgis motorcycle rally and the hundreds of thousands of free-wheeling visitors it will attract over the next several days.

“We’re already busy,” Sturgis Police Chief Geody VanDewater said before the rally officially began Friday, Aug. 2.

VanDewater wouldn’t say how many temporary officers he hires but said they come from South Dakota, North Dakota, Colorado, Minnesota and other neighboring states. Some are working the rally for the first time while others, like one officer who is returning for his 41st rally, are repeat visitors.

Permanent officers will continue to work 12-hour shifts with no days off during the 10-day event, VanDewater said.

Meade County Sheriff Ron Merwin also hires temporary deputies, mostly relying on the office’s own reserve deputies and officers with Game, Fish & Parks. The Pennington County Sheriff’s Office hired eight deputies from South Dakota and neighboring states and will also have about 10 of its reserve deputies working full-time, said Chief Deputy Willie Whelchel.

The eight temporary deputies are assigned to two-person foot patrols in the office’s contract communities of Wall, New Underwood, Keystone and Hill City, Whelchel said.

The Rapid City Police Department didn’t hire extra staff and isn’t requiring its officers to work overtime as they have in past years, said Captain James Johns.

During the rally, the Meade County court remains open during the weekends and the old jail — located in the basement of the courthouse across the parking lot from the new jail — is reopened, Merwin said. Extra staff from the area is hired to help the corrections officers, but they don’t carry handcuffs or weapons.

The old jail has large group cells made of “old iron bars” and “doors that clang and bang” that hold about 25 people, Merwin said. When people are arrested, they’re first brought to the old jail to be booked and detained until their court date the next morning. Guards take away their belts and shoes for safety reasons, but let them wear their street clothes. If defendants can’t make bond, they’re moved to the new jail.

“Every day, we clean out the old jail and get ready for a new batch,” Merwin said. “It is quite a procedure. It’s been working for years and everybody is pretty conscientious about everybody’s rights, and we try not to do anything different than we do any other time of the year.”

The Pennington County court functions as normal during the rally and while no extra jail staff is hired, workers aren’t allowed to take vacation or do any special training, Whelchel said.
Enforcement priorities

“You name it, we have it here,” VanDewater said about the crimes he sees during the rally.

But he said the most common issues Sturgis police officers deal with are people parking where they’re not allowed to, followed by drunken driving and drug use.

Cars and motorcycles illegally parked in alleys, handicap spots and other off-limits areas are ticketed and towed to impound lots, the police chief said. “If we just leave them there, we’re not fixing the problem.”

“We allow officer discretion. We just ask that the issue is addressed,” VanDewater said when asked if his officers have to let some violations slide since they’re so busy. “We give more verbal warnings than we do citations.”

VanDewater said officers may give warnings to people urinating in public, carrying open alcohol containers and breaking traffic rules by speeding or not wearing a seat belt. But anyone charged with violent crimes or DUIs will be arrested.

“They will go to jail, and we don’t need them hurting themselves or especially someone else,” he said of drunken drivers.

James said most of the Sturgis activity in Pennington County takes place outside city limits, on the highways, and in Wall and the Mount Rushmore areas. Rapid City officers are mostly focused on road safety and noted some popular stores and venues, such as the Harley-Davidson dealership in Rapid City, provide their own security. He said the department’s goal is to make sure things go smoothly and seem normal for those who work and live in Rapid City.

Pennington County deputies focus on traffic safety and stopping drunken drivers as they prepare for six or seven major motorcycle rides that cross through the county, Whelchel said. Deputies make sure they’re visible and stationed around the county so they can quickly respond to emergencies.

“We want to be able to save lives. That’s our goal every day we come to work,” he said.

Whelchel and James agreed that it’s important to distinguish between those who are recklessly breaking traffic laws and those who may make a mistake because they’re tourists who aren’t familiar with the area.

“We got to help educate folks and guide them,” Whelchel said.

James and VanDewater said they’re not worried about how the rally will be impacted by South Dakota’s new law that says permits aren’t needed to carry a concealed weapon. They said officers are already trained to act as if anyone could be armed.