This dark-n-dangerous-looking teaser image has been making the rounds for the last 24 hours, since Lightning Motorcycles announced they’ll be bringing a new electric motorcycle to market that—if their claims are true—will be a pretty bitchin’ machine, especially compared to the comically overpriced and under-spec’ed Harley-Davidson LiveWire.
Here’s the deal, or rather what Lightning says: 150 miles of range,150 MPH, 35 minutes DC charging, starting at $12,998. Oh yeah, coming in March—just in time for my birthday!
Lightning Motorcycles, for the uninitiated, is the builder of the kickass, seriously fast LS-218, a bike we rode back in 2015 and described as “an animal” and “scary fast.”
We’d heard rumors that Lightning was working on something interesting—maybe multiple things—most recently when Fish and I went down to Santa Cruz to hang with the Motorcycles & Misfits crew, who have some direct connections with what they affectionately refer to as the “electric bike nerds.”
So we called a meeting in the posh corner conference room here at World Headquarters, the one reserved for discussions of big news, and after we finished gleefully giggling about how absurd this hypothetical machine, which Lightning calls “the world’s first premium mass-market electric motorcycle,” makes the LiveWire look, we took a deep breath and reminded ourselves that this is just PR posturing, that we’d better not let our excitement over a reasonably-priced, potentially higher-performance competitor to Zero’s electric motorcycles lead us to abandon our independent moto-journalism ideals. So we hit up the folks at Lightning with a bunch of questions, all breathless-like.
“Hey guys! Is the March 2019 launch for this thing going to be “bikes for sale now,” or at least available for pre-order, or simply some kind of unveil, more info to come? That $12,998 starting price—is that with the range as stated? What are the additions that bump the price up? Is that range number quoted based on highway speed like the LS-218? Is that charge time “empty” to “full?” Is that pricing some kind of “loss leader” deal, or are you guys expecting profitable unit economics on these things?”
Not surprisingly, the answer to almost all those questions was a combination of “We will make additional announcements and provide further detail in these areas closer to the official Strike launch,” and “we’ll tell you at the launch.”
They did sorta answer our question about pricing and profitability, though: “In-line with Lightning’s mission of creating advanced two-wheel electric transportation with superior performance, efficiency and affordability than current gasoline alternatives, we’ve focused enormous effort on both pushing the boundaries of electric motorcycle performance, as well as rapidly driving down the cost of mass producing our technology.”
Hmm… like I said, sort of. I guess we’ll find out more at the launch.
In the meantime, we instructed one of our industrious interns to spend some time staring at the high-res teaser image Lightning gave us. We’ll call him Li’l Danny.
Li’l Danny, whose youthful eyes are substantially sharper than mine, even with my old timer specs on, noticed that the headlight on the right has full-on DOT info on it. Sure, Li’l Danny’s equivalent at Lightning could have faked this just to mess with moto-journos with too much time on their hands, like that time Facebook clowned TechCrunch. But it’s likely that anyone working at Lightning probably has better things to do, meaning that this little tidbit indicates the Strike isn’t vaporware, a word thrown around so promiscuously by internet commenters desperate to prove that they know something…. anything… that it’s become essentially meaningless.
In other words, we think this is a real bike, not just a years-long attempt to drum up excitement about a laughably overpriced paradigm shift that won’t hit streets until five years after the teasing started.
But I had a nagging suspicion there was more here, and after some super-duper crime lab analysis—zoom… enhance… zoom… enhance—in the world-class laboratory (pronounced lab-oratory so you know we’re smart) here at World Headquarter, Li’l Danny and I were able to identify some similarities with previous products to come out of NorCal, specifically Santa Cruz. Li’l Danny constructed this primitive simulation:
Yeah, probably, but the internet does love utterly nonsensical, completely unfounded conspiracy theories, so go ahead and run with it, you wonderful wackadoos.