Lightning Electric Superbike at Bonneville Salt Flats August 31, 2010
The team of the Lightning electric superbike at Bonneville Salt Flats August 31, 2010.

Lightning Strikes Again

The Lightning motorcycle team is really on a roll

By Bill Moore

Richard Hatfield and company have done it again. Fresh off of their national win of the first TTXGP electric motorcycle racing series in North America, winning three of the premier four races, this week they returned to Wendover, Utah to make another run at the world land speed record.

On August 31, 2010, they set two new official records: one with the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) and the second with American Motorcyclist Association (AMA), completing the required two runs over the measured course at an average speed of 162 mph. While this is 4.3 mph off their 2009 run, the 2010 runs will go into the official land speed record books.

Hatfield, who called EV World from Wendover to share the news, stated that the team was getting ready for a second day to runs to go after their 2009 record. He explained that they are tweaking up the controller, adding another more batteries and adjusting the front suspension, which was unchanged from the winning TTXGP race in Virginia; a first in and of itself, to his knowledge.

"I don't know of any bike that has gone from a road race to a land speed record attempt without little or no modifications," he noted.

The Lightning superbike is a custom-built motorcycle powered by an electric motor salvaged from a General Motor's "Who Killed the Electric Car?" EV1 and A123 Systems lithium-ion batteries. Hatfield and his partners are in the process of gearing up limited production of street-ready versions to enthusiasts.

Perhaps more significantly that the two speed records yesterday, was a comment that land speed legend Dennis Manning made to Hatfield over dinner recently. "Dennis Manning hold more land speed records than just about anyone. For 40 years, he's won them, lost them and recaptured him. He currently holds the speed record for streamliner motorcycles at 367 mph."

According to Hatfield, Manning admitted that the first motorcycle to break 400 mph will be electric, not piston-powered. The reason, Manning told Hatfield, has to do with loss of traction. Piston-powered engines have power-pulses that cause the wheels to lose traction and once that happens the vehicle loses speed. Manning, Hatfield said, has spent huge sums of money trying to build an engine that solves this problem.

"Electric motors produce power evenly without losing traction. Considering Manning's 40-year history in land speed records, that's quite a statement."

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Published: 01-Sep-2010


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