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Lightning #001

By Bill Moore

Richard Hatfield built his first electric motorcycle a decade ago. Now the San Carlos, California start-up rolls its first commercial bike out the door and into the hands of its first customer, but not before demonstrating it is the best motorcycle on the planet: electric or gas.

Photo: Carlin Dunne setting record for fastest motorcycle - period - at 2013 PPIHC.

One of the most exciting sectors of the EV world is the electric motorcycle industry, which remains largely the domain of entrepreneurs like Richard Hatfield. Until recently, the big players - Yamaha, Honda, BMW, Ducati - have remained on the periphery, watching how the market and technology unfolds.

As the founder and president of Lightning Motorcycles, Hatfield is one of the early innovators in the electric superbike arena. And in the interest of full disclosure, I have enjoyed his hospitality on a number of occasions, staying in his home and letting him pick up the tab for dinner. I do not, however, have any financial stake in his business, just a keen personal interest.

So, it may seem a little audacious to call his motorcycle the best on the planet considering the plethora of other exciting machines out there, but if you look at the number of records Lightning has captured over the years, from being the fastest electric motorcycle on the Salt Flats, to the quickest to the top of Pikes Peak this past summer, as well as winning numerous sanctioned electric motorcycle races, then despite all the media hype surrounding its competitors, I think it's a fair statement.

The purpose of the video dialogue below was to learn more about Lightning finally moving from the development and record-setting stage of business to manufacturing, which has been Hatfield's long-term goal. The company recently announced that it has built and sold its very first commercial machine, VIN #001. That bike is their mid-range model and is comparable to a 650cc twin gasoline bike, but still has enough of its Pike Peak International Hill Climb-winning DNA to let a skilled rider challenge the best gas bikes on the street.

Deliveries of the bike start in Q1 of 2014. The mid-level street bike runs between $16-17K, while the top-of-hill racer is around $38K.

Video Part One

Video Part Two

Times Article Viewed: 7240
Originally published: 27 Dec 2013

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