Neil! Quick! What is the fastest electric motorcycle in the world as of today? Answer me! Well my friends, unfortunately I have to be a giant weasel and give you this answer: it depends. Let’s take a look at a few different electric motorcycles that could be considered the fastest and argue about it in the comments section, shall we?
A Bit of History
Electric motorcycles are not new. The first patent for an “electrical bicycle” was filed in Ohio in 1895. The following year, English bicycle manufacturer Humber unveiled an electric tandem bike that used batteries to power a motor. In October of 1911, Popular Mechanics featured an article on an electric motorcycle that was reported to have a range of 75 to 100 miles on a single charge. That’s not too shabby even for modern times!
In 1936, the Limelette brothers of Brussels, Belgium founded a company dedicated to electric motorcycle production. They called their company Socovel (an abbreviation of Société pour l’étude et la Construction de Vehicules Electriques). For those of you like me who don’t hablo, that translates to “Company for Research and Manufacture of Electric Vehicles.” When Nazi troops occupied Belgium in May of 1940, Socovel was given permission to continue producing their offerings. The company kept producing electric motorcycles until around 1948. Like most motor companies, they switched to producing gas-guzzlers during this time.
The years between 1950 and 1996 didn’t see a whole lot of electric motorcycle production and/or activity. This changed when French automaker Peugeot began mass-producing its first electric scooter, the Scoot’Elec. Other manufacturers followed suit and most motorcycle producers today offer at least one all-electric model to consumers. Smaller designers/producers also serve to fill the gaps in the market that may be left unfilled by the big boys.
So…Who’s the Fastest?
Well, like I said…it depends. More specifically it depends on how you define fast. If you define fast as the capability to reach the highest speed, that would hands down be the LS-218 Superbike from Lightning. The LS-218 Superbike set the record for world’s fastest electric motorcycle when it reached a blistering top speed of 218 miles per hour. The bike’s 150 kW, liquid-cooled motor produces 168 ft-lbs of torque, and can propel the bike from 0 to 60 miles per hour in just over 2 seconds. What’s even more impressive is that you can go out right this minute and pick up one of these mean machines! That’s right…this baby is street legal! I’m not entirely sure how Lightning pulled that feat off, but here we are nonetheless.
Lightning’s success may be in no small part due to their laser-focus on the electric motorcycle market. The company designs and builds electric motorcycles and only electric motorcycles. In a recent interview with Rides and Drives, Lightning CEO and Founder Richard Hatfield was quoted as saying:
“I think it is a singular focus on the vision of building the best electric motorcycles in the world, both from the performance/rider experience and the accessible value basis. So many other companies have either scaled too quickly where they’ve brought on so much investment capital that the investors have said we want you to be an engineering company or we want you to build forklift batteries, not motorcycles. Other companies have made changes and created successful businesses but not motorcycle businesses. One of the longer running electric motorcycle companies, I think they’re on their fourth management team. Once the investors basically controlled the board of directors, and the original visionary didn’t achieve their targets, they were replaced with the next group of professional managers. These are all viable business strategies but our strategy has been to maintain a singular focus and have the ability to stick to it. The tenacity or ability to stay on a single track, there is momentum that builds. It just becomes easier to become better at something if you focus on it for a longer period of time.”
Get Up and Go!
If we’re defining “fastest” as quickest acceleration time, the fastest motorcycle in the world is the KillaCycle. Utilizing twin DC motors that weigh 82 pounds each, this bike is capable of producing over 500 horsepower. The KillaCycle can accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 0.97 seconds. Yes, you read that right. This bike can go from 0 to 60 in under one second! KillaCycle Racing Owner and Lead Designer Bill Dube has been building electric motorcycles since 1999. Since that time he has set and subsequently broken various electric motorcycle speed records on multiple occasions.
“That’s the nature of records,” Dube told Westword Magazine in an interview. “They’re never owned, only borrowed, and they’re always meant to be broken.”
For Dube, the thrill of speed and record-breaking is not the only reason he does what he does. Advancing EV technology and moving toward a world without fossil fuel consumption is just as important to him as going super, super fast.
“You wanna know what this is all about? It’s about those stupid little ‘Turbo’ stickers people buy at Auto Zone and stick on their cars so they can pretend to be cool. Today’s hybrids run exclusively on gasoline until they sense guilt; only then does the electricity kick in,” Dube was quoted as saying.
Bill Dube envisions a world in which he can walk into any auto parts store and find stickers that say “EV” because all-electric vehicles are the cool things to drive.
“I’ll walk in, see those stickers, and know I was part of something big,” he says. We are definitely right there with you sir!
No matter how you define the term “fastest,” no one can deny that the technological advances in electric motorcycles have lead to some pretty amazing accomplishments. As technology continues to improve, we are likely to see top speeds continue to rise and acceleration times continue to fall. How fast the electric motorcycles of the future will go is anyone’s guess and the sky’s certainly the limit.
What do our readers think about the LS-218 Superbike and/or the KillaCycle? How fast will the electric motorcycles of the future go? Please leave us a comment below and let us know.
Source | Image: Wikimedia Commons / Lightning Motorcycle / Killacycle.com