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Too fast, too strong, too scary: Electric Lightning LS-218 will be the fastest production bike on the planet


May 19, 2014

Lightning's LS-218 at the 2014 Quail Motorsport Gathering

Lightning's LS-218 at the 2014 Quail Motorsport Gathering

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No road vehicle needs a 218 mph (350 km/h) top speed. No motorcycle needs to make 200 horsepower, with as much torque as a Hyundai iMax people mover. These are figures of absolute excess – and that's the point. The Lightning LS-218 will be a truly, horrifyingly fast motorcycle, the fastest on the planet. And it's set for release this summer in America.

You may notice that we're getting a touch excited about electric motorcycles right now – and with good reason. The segment is coming of age at the moment, finally beginning to deliver bikes with practical range and genuinely exciting performance to go along with all their many well-known ancillary benefits. Perhaps the one thing still missing is the electric superbike, the performance king of excess that will prove to petrolheads once and for all that the biggest, fastest, meanest bikes on the road won't be burning dinosaur bones in ten years' time.

And here it is. The Lightning LS-218 is due to launch this summer in the USA, and it promises to be the fastest production bike on the planet.

After a runaway 20-second victory at Pike's Peak last year, Lightning gave the world a sneak peek at its production superbike over the weekend at the Quail Motorsport Gathering in Carmel, California.

While these photos just show a hollow shell of the superbike with no battery fitted, Lightning has also released some truly eye-popping specs to go along with it.

For starters, the 218 in the model name refers to the bike's tested top speed – a ridiculous 218 miles per hour, or around 350 km/h. Lightning believes it'll go faster. Either way, it already holds the world record for the fastest production motorcycle.

To get there, it makes a liquid-cooled 200 horsepower (150 kW), which sits right at the pointy end with the latest hypersport machines in the market. But this is a false equivalence, as the Lightning also belts out a truly mammoth 168 lb.ft (228 Nm) of torque, nearly twice what the Ducati Panigale manages. The feeling of acceleration on this machine will be absolutely effortless, and it will flip your brain inside out. This is excess in its purest form.

The LS-218 doesn't use a clutch or transmission, it's a direct drive system. You can think of it as the world's fastest twist-n-go, so presumably in lower power modes it will be ridiculously easy to ride, when you're not out setting land speed records on the weekend.

Different battery pack options will be available depending on your budget, from 12 kWh up to the big daddy 20 kWh pack that boasts a maximum range of around 180 miles (290km), and lightning is claiming it'll take 30 minutes to top up on a quick charger. Getting from 0-100 percent will doubtless take a long, long time on a standard wall socket.

Wet weight ready to roll is 495 lbs (224.5 kg), and the running gear is all absolutely top-notch, with Öhlins FGRT forks and TTX shock, magnesium Marchesini wheels and radial Brembo front brakes.

Customer bikes can be upgraded with more than just battery pack options. The frame and swingarm can be swapped out for carbon fiber units to save weight and unsprung mass, the dash can be swapped out for a fully programmable Android touch screen, the seat unit can be customized and the bike's Glyn Kerr-designed looks can be totally overhauled using a custom graphics wrap.

This is an important motorcycle, because it's really going to be the first electric on the market that goes too fast, accelerates too hard, and reduces most riders to trembling lumps of jelly – all the things that make street superbikes so alluring and awe-inspiring. Just look at Motorcycle.com's very quick test ride of the 2012 prototype. The poor guy, a professional bike tester, spends three solid minutes just howling and jabbering in fear and exhilaration.

Electric bikes are exceptionally practical, we know that already, but this is the kind of machine that will take them to the next level: fearsome and drool-worthy. If I could take any bike in the world out for a test today, this would be the top of the list. Whaddya say, Lightning?

Source: Lightning Motorcycles

About the Author
Loz Blain Loz has been one of Gizmag's most versatile contributors since 2007. Joining the team as a motorcycle specialist, he has since covered everything from medical and military technology to aeronautics, music gear and historical artefacts. Since 2010 he's branched out into photography, video and audio production, and he remains the only Gizmag contributor willing to put his name to a sex toy review. A singer by night, he's often on the road with his a cappella band Suade. All articles by Loz Blain

Seeing as you're on the electric bike bandwagon now you should design a contraption that allows you to switch batteries with minimal effort. That way you'd always have one on the charge, and one on the charge, so to speak.

Randy Brainu

This is their production version of the bike they won Pikes Peak in 2013 with. I didn't see the specs of the bike back then but I can sort of understand why now. The best literbikes peak out ~195 HP and ~80 lb. torque. This is 200 HP/168 ft-lbs but it makes power everywhere instead of only above at 13k RPM.

I imagine it would be certifiably nuts to drive. My 600 GSX-R is ~100 HP and 40 ft-lbs torque and it's not far behind a Bugatti in a 1/4 mile. I imagine with the linear power delivery of electric and a limited need to shift it won't be long before electric bikes hit the drag strip too. Exciting times we live in.

@Randy That's definitely possible but it would be expensive to own both. I think batteries are still too expensive for now for people to be willing to swap them at charge stations or anything though. At some point in the future I could see electric cars having a 2nd smaller/cheaper auxiliary battery that can be stored in the trunk and swapped like a propane tank. The Tesla gigafactory is going to try to cut lithium Ion costs by ~30% by eliminating all the middle men and delivering minerals directly from the mines to mass produce batteries.


Are they using the standard J1772 EV charging port, or are they being stupid and using a custom charge port?


"MintHenryJ gets to the main point. We just do not need this product, period."

And what a miserable, soul-crushing, toilet of a world we'd be in if we only ever created what was "needed".

We get it, Mel - you don't like this: let's conveniently forget that EVERYTHING can kill you in the right circumstances - certainly true of everything with wheels - and focus on this simply because it exceeds some arbitrary self-proclaimed limit you've set for yourself.

Keith Reeder

I think that is really nice. Perhaps they could create a cruise bike with that power / battery arrangement? Instead of using of going really fast, one could cruise at a lower speed and go farther?

I think a fuel cell - they make some that are really small - could help give extra power plus help to charge the battery.

They have tiny trailers for motorcycles. Perhaps one of these tiny trailers could house a small generator or extra batteries?


Does buying one of these include one of those biker crash bag jackets? It should.


October 24-26, 2014. Texas Mile. Top speed of 225.6MPH on a 2007 Suzuki Hayabusa was the March event record. Might be fun.

Bruce H. Anderson

No road car needs 200mph either!. It works both ways. It's all about self control!

Phil Taylor

There is a relative handful of mc riders with the qualifications to drive this machine. Same is true for some conventional super bikes. Sorry to say, but it seems irresponsible for the manufacturer to offer it to the public at large as a street bike.


@Big Warp Guy:

" Perhaps they could create a cruise bike with that power / battery arrangement? Instead of using of going really fast, one could cruise at a lower speed and go farther? "

The big beauty of EV's is that you can have both power and efficiency. This massively powerful motorcycle would still be a fuel-sipper (so to speak) if you didn't burn through the kWhr's doing insane acceleration. Try to baby a 200 hp ICE vehicle and you would still be suckin-down the fuel.


MintHenryJ gets to the main point. We just do not need this product, period.

I don't care that anyone daft enough to ride one of these might kill themselves. In fact, removal of their genes from the gene pool would be a desirable outcome. What I do care about is that I just might pull out in front of one because I simply hadn't seen it (m/c are rather small in outline), or I had seen it but hadn't allowed for it to be traveling as such an idiotic speed. Perhaps the registration plates should be made in the form of a one tonne slab of concrete.

The daft thing is that with it being electric, there will be a reluctance to have the headlight permanently on when in motion in order to increase its range. If any vehicle needs to declare its presence, this one does.

Mel Tisdale

Now I would thinks that e-bike can causes of the problem with speeding limits can be really dangerous to steering it on the road more difficulty to hold that handle bars alone while driving that bike......because it can swivers either sides while driving too faster on the road can gets a speed tickets from the police reports on you......or else gets an accidents can result of the problem with that horsepower driven like crazy very badly can kills you that much as more that 220 mph on the road can happened to you......and you're dead!.......just like that SNAPPED!.......but there is one big problem is that electric bike can growing down the batteries can go flat that fast when driving and it will losses your controlled of speeding problems.......but if you are driving it way too faster than 220 mph then you will goes to jail for another speeding again and will be suspended your licence for any reasons or no more driving that bike again, period......that is simple as that......because of that bike are legally going too faster than 220 mph on the road.......it is against the law and there is no cars and truck can EVER goes too faster than 220 mph and it will catch your car or your trucks on fire like an explosion can causes of the engines burning too hard like nuts,.......and that is what happened to you when you speeded up too faster than 300 mph and you will gets killed off the road like hell.......:)) so better watch it......:)


Shame on you, Loz. And Lightning isn't liable to give you your test ride after you opened your article saying that no motorcycle needs to go that fast or have that much horsepower. You shot yourself in the foot with that one. I don't currently ride a scoot, but I'd love to try one of the electrics. I think the Lightning would be about as scary to me as my friend's Husky 400 "Trencher" was back in the '80s. The throttle was like a toggle switch from coast to WFO! (ballsout, in other words) And with that many horsies under the cover, I hope it has a reverse throttle rotation. More power to ya, Lightning! Vroom, vroom, vroom!


The bike is not too fast, some idiots will ride it too fast.

If I need to go a 1000 miles I'll bet it is faster to take the gas motor scooter.


Yeah.... but what does it sound like? -)

Jamie Eckmier

LED lighting on an EV is nice - and the Lightning bike may well have full LED lighting - but it has very little impact on range.

A typical halogen lamp uses 55 watts. An LED lamp may use 20 watts.

At 70 mph, the Lightning bike will be pulling somewhere around 8-9 kW. Lighting is less than a percent of the power draw; switching from halogen lamps to LED lamps would extend range by about half a mile (at highway speeds), or a little more at slower speeds.

Mel - please pay attention when you drive. You may not ride but chances are good you know someone that does.


I agree with most of the comments so far, like most cars with that much PTW ratios the driving licence qualifications should be legislated way, way over the usual 'round the block' driving tests. I can see the insurance companies rubbing their greedy hands as well. The premiums would be horrendous! However, should make for interesting 10-lap sprint racing at the local track, unless they can introduce a quick-change battery pack to give ICE racer fuel pit-stop times.

The Skud

Typical response of myopic car driver - "I didn't see you". Get off the road then. You are blind.

If anyone's going to rant about fast bikes, let's lump fast cars in too. No ?

Nobody needs a Bugatti Veyron either, capable of even sillier speed. But hey - I do not object to their existence despite the irrelevance of their top speed, for the road anyway. As if anyone's going to attempt 250mph up the local freeway.

TL;DR "I don't like something! It should be banned! Waa waa waaaaa!"

Gareth Goodman

finally an electric bike that piques my interest. 200mph is impressive!

Michael Wilson

Wow, the purest superbike yet in looks and performance. For those who are put off by the awesome potential speed, it's electric, electrics can be tweaked any way you like in the settings menu. I want one!


"Mel - please pay attention when you drive. You may not ride but chances are good you know someone that does." @protomech

I do not need to be reminded about the need to pay attention (I have passed my IAM exam). No matter what the speed limits might be, someone sometime is going to push this bike to its maximum speed if the road is straight enough to permit it. Pulling out of a side road, driveway, etc. in front of one of these travelling at maximum speed will need more attention than is available. I am surprised that anyone would need telling such basic information. Heaven knows, the graveyards have enough ex-motorcyclists who did just that. The problem is that there are more than enough space taken up by people their irresponsible behaviour killed.

Mel Tisdale

Sigh.... Why is it that as soon as a new bike (or car) is introduced as being fast, the fun police immidiately appear? Look, no one NEEDS a 200 mph bike or a 1000bhp car, (actually we dont NEED cars or bikes at all, most of us come with a perfectly functional set of legs) but people have them because they can. And they're fun! So to all of the worriers, i'd suggest that instead of concerning yourselves about the handfull of people riding a (presumably) very expensive motorcyle, at a possible exteme velocity. That you worry about the knuckleheads sharing our roads, who think their facebook status is more important than looking where they are going. As the old saying goes, "Ban low performance drivers, not high performance vehicles".

P.S. Another killer article Loz!, I got to try me an electric bike.


@Mel You are correct that motorcycles can be dangerous (35 times more likely per mile traveled to be killed) but more than half of motorcycle fatalities involve at least one other vehicle and of those the other vehicle is at fault the majority of the time.

35% of motorcycle accidents are due to speeding and motorcyclists speeding while not wearing protective gear, such as helmets, more than double their risk of a potential fatal motorcycle accident. This puts helmeted speeding motorcyclists at only ~%15 of motorcycle fatalities.

What all of that means is helmeted speeding riders are statistically a much smaller portion of motorcycle fatalities than motorcyclists killed by cagers.

Some of the data was sourced from: http://www.motorcycleaccident.org/motorcycle-accidents-statistics-and-possible-causes/

Another key difference people overlook while bashing on sport riders is that speeding motorcyclists largely represent a danger only to themselves where automobiles endanger themselves and others. Statistics of people killed by speeding motorcyclists are almost non existent in part because automobiles are crash tested for ~4000 lb vehicles rather than 400lb motorcycles.



I take what you say and will avoid a long wrangle about assigning fault etc. However, nothing you say convinces me that this motorcycle is anything other than too dangerous for use on public roads. If people want to ride such machines, then they should organise open days at racetracks where they can push their bikes to the limit and where, apart from themselves, the only people at risk would be fellow enthusiasts and the marshals.

@ Embur

It is not fun to bury a child killed because some bozo was determined to show off to his mates that he could ride his m/c faster than they can ride theirs. Not only that, accidents cost money with fatalities costing most. Who pays? The rest of us, that's who.

Mel Tisdale

@Mel Even though its absurdly fast the most dangerous thing about this motorcycle is likely that it's not loud enough to get the attention of cagers who are too busy texting and checking their makeup to see it.

Who pays? The rest of us, that's who.

This is the part where you ignore facts and statistics contradicting your position and cling to hypothetical examples so you can claim victim status. I'm sure people racing motorcycles has a huge impact on your..insurance rates? It's probably about 2 cents.

Realistically over weight people in walmart on hoverounds probably raise your health insurance rates more. Have you considered telling them to get off an walk? No, because it's socially acceptable to pick on sport bikes for being fast.

I have someone pull out in front of me in traffic in town almost daily and even though they could seriously injure me doing it I'd be wrong for making a stink about it. My friends and I passed a car once on open road and we weren't even going that fast. The lady pulled into the gas station behind us and started lecturing us on driving too fast like she's proud of herself for her moral high ground. It's a huge double standard.


Must say, I'm quite impressed with the look of it. I wonder if the faring design was careful and considered or slap dash like the daytona 675 (which was an afterthought but an EXCELLENT one). It goes like the clappers, I'm dead keen... hopefully still keen once I'm done not the former. Range? Who cares, I ran out of gas on my bike last ride when I knew I was low on gas, but I passed a 1098 because... well just because and he was happy to play... I ran out of gas not far from home but still didn't care as I was having fun! He ran out around the next corner! The missus thought he was me and stopped... white dude, no hair, red bike on side of road, one corner further on love! And since we both ran out (I provided the gas for us both via the missus) to get to the gas station I met a few guys I wouldn't otherwise have. So if we're all running out then we'll meet more people! Social motoring :D

Craig Jennings

It could be worse. In a few years they'll be able to make it invisible as well.

Russ Jata

@ Mel Tisdale. "It is not fun to bury a child killed because some bozo was determined to show off to his mates that he could ride his m/c faster than they can ride theirs."

Realistically, how often does this happen? (And I'm being serious here) How many kiddies are killed anually by speeding motorcyclists? Compared to almost any other form of traffic fatality, I'd bet that the figure is tiny.

Maybe we need to go back to a 3mph limit and a man in front with a red flag...


QUOTE; "There is a relative handful of mc riders with the qualifications to drive this machine. Same is true for some conventional super bikes. Sorry to say, but it seems irresponsible for the manufacturer to offer it to the public at large as a street bike."


I actually think it's more dangerous to have unskilled drivers driving 1.5-7.5 tons of steel box that can do 130-150 MPH for less than £2,000 in the UK. No restrictions that stop rich kids buying a Ferrari the day after passing their test, how can that be right.

Motorbikers in UK, start with 125cc learner licence/training. To advance to higher power bikes, we are tested by an advanced instructor/examiner following rider, communicating by headset to rider in traffic, fast roads etc. They actually get more training, than a kid driving a truck. See my point, a rider can hurt himself, a driver can kill 50 ppl in highway accidents, and do.


This will sell well in the Japanese market....they just need to change the name to The Lightening Kamikaze.


"that e-bike can causes of the problem with speeding limits can be really dangerous to steering it on the road more difficulty to hold that handle bars alone while driving that bike......because it can swivers either side"

Actually, the faster any bike travels the less it "swivers".

Guy Macher

So cute... It does over 200mph as a stock bike. That's the equivalent of bragging about tumescence of a penis that will only be used for masturbation ever. Real motorcycle riders laugh at stock bikes because of their typical electronically created limit of 186.4mph/300kmh. If you aren't on 2 wheels with at least 8 pounds of boost set on the turbo and an extended swing arm then you're going to be looked at like a 3 legged tortoise. I've personally only done 254mph on a tuned up hayabusa which is about 20mph under the record so I have no bragging rights but I do have a head capable of actually thinking. Like I started this with, so cute.

Gordon Muggy
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