Richard Hatfield and the Lightning Motorcycles team are planning to go back to Bonneville with a new bike, and 250 mph (402 km/h) in their sights.
“Getting over 400 km/h,” Hatfield told New Atlas, “If we have the right conditions, it’s doable. The last couple of times we went out, the salt was just not good. It was soft, and we had a lot of wheelspin. This last year, everyone I talked to came back saying the salt was the best it’s been in a long time. So that’s encouraging.”
Instead of the LS-218, the bike this time will be a version of Lightning’s Strike. “We actually have two different motors in the Strike right now,” says Hatfield, “an induction motor and an axial flux motor. The axial flux motor’s derived from Formula E, and it’s capable of a lot. The bottleneck on it is packing up a big enough controller, inverter, and a battery pack that can keep up with all of it.” Could it make something like the 300-odd horses the H2R claims? Hatfield smiles. “You know, we’re certainly capable of making that power.”
“It’ll basically be a Strike,” he continues, “with a Bonneville fairing, same size battery with a higher power, lower energy cells, and a more powerful inverter. The inverter and battery can become options for people who want to buy Strikes and do this kind of thing with them.”
The bikes will also have an exotic niobium metal due to a partnership with Brazilian company CBMM, the world’s leading niobium producer. “It’s a really interesting material,” says Hatfield. “When you alloy it with other metals it makes the grain structure a lot more uniform and a lot finer. That does a few things: one, it makes the metal tougher and less likely to crack. Two, it also makes the magnetic properties more efficient.”
Lightning is also taking a contribution from Mike Corbin for Bonneville fairings. The company is also operating under Corbin’s sizeable roof now.
“We’re trying to do some things differently to what anyone else has done,” says Hatfield. “Typically, the partial streamliners have streamlining through the nose and back to the tail. They’re consistent. But we’ve done a lot of things with the front fender, and just looking at the whole thing as an overall aero shape. I think we’ve been able to push the limit a little further than anyone has yet. I really think it’s a step forward.”
The team is aiming for this year’s season at Bonneville, which will run from somewhere around the end of August into October.
The company is running back on its feet after the pandemic slug. “We have a core group that’s really focused on the mission,” says Hatfield. “There’s a big demand for the bikes. We don’t release exact numbers for production, but it’s not what we’d like it to be. We get a lot more requests for the bikes than what we’re able to fill now.”
“We still use the video of you riding up Skyline on our bike in presentations, “says Hatfield. “Nobody has been able to communicate better than you did what that feels like. Everyone just gets an ear-to-ear grin when they see that. So, there’s a standing invitation, whenever you’re able to travel back over here, to come and see what a 300-horsepower electric feels like.”