Bolt of Lightning: Lightning Electric Motorcycles

Richard Hatfield is a man on a mission

By Ed Milich, Photography by Andrea Wilson

So, how close are electrics to catching modern superbikes? One point of comparison is lap times. As Hatfield pointed out, the TTXGP class-leading Lightning did a 1:42.8 at VIR, around 20 seconds off the pace of the fastest Superbikes. But the fastest rider in the Harley-Davidson XR1200 class did 1:35s, so e-bikes are only about 7 seconds off this pace. From another perspective, the Lightning would currently be running toward the back of the pack, though not necessarily last, in the XR1200 class. Watch for these performance gaps to close as e-racers are optimized to better exploit regenerative braking and decrease battery weight.

Hatfield promises a production version identical to the Lightning racer priced at $38,000, as well as an entry-level version for $8-12,000 (depending on range) by the first quarter of 2011. Lightning's electric flat-track racer, displayed at Laguna Seca, is likewise on the development track. The team was also scheduled to travel to Spain in October for the TTXGP World Championship. For 2011, Hatfield wants to subtract 200 lbs. from the racebike and add 20-30 percent more power. "We're still fine-tuning throttle response," he says. "We actually have over 60 horsepower in reserve, too."

From the chaotic enthusiasm of these early days of electric motorcycle racing, the Lightning has established itself as the bike to beat. With the inaugural American TTXGP championship to its credit, Richard Hatfield's electric racebike has shot to pole position in the electric-motorcycle paradigm-like a bolt of Lightning.

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