High (St)Isle? Actually Zero Isle


Credit: Isle of Man TT

It’s Memorial Day weekend, time for race fans to focus on… the UK!  Yes, it’s the Isle of Man TT.  In particular for this blog, it’s EV race time.  Qualifying’s already begun (subject to rain); motorcycles will actually race in coming days, with the TT Zero race Wednesday, June 4.

This year’s event is one to watch, if not hear.  Last year’s winners, MotoCzysz (and the year before, and the year before that, and the year before that), won’t compete; founder Michael Czysz’s cancer has worsened.  Without its dominating competitor, the 2014 running will be up in the air.  Sometimes literally- this is no dumb oval.  It’s a road race, on old European streets, including hills.  Officially, it’s dubbed the “Mountain Course.”

So, what does the coming week hold- and what does it mean for the coming year or so in EVs?  After MotoCzysz (who offered their EV skills as consultants to automotive companies), the next favored team is Mugen, with their Mugen Shinden.  After coming in second to MotoCzysz, this year’s Shinden San would be a logical bet.  Never heard of Mugen?  Continue reading


A Dolt of Lightning

We found out… Lightning isn’t ready.  Their “bike” unveiling Saturday revealed an unrideable, non-final chassis.  Not only did the “bike” lack a battery assembly, but by the company’s own admission (to multiple people) it’s not final yet.  They didn’t even want picture taking.

I’ll give them that a $38,000 motorcycle will have weird plastics, with puckers, flat spots and paint issues.  At that price you’re in handbuilt territory, and won’t have Honda quality and consistencies.  But they claimed they’d make this announcement in April, and riding season is now here… meanwhile, the ship date was the previous ‘in 2014,’ and no production date.  Sound familiar?  Brammo and KTM trotted out this line in years prior… then said zilch as Dec. 31 tore off.  BRD at least gave excuses.

But don’t take my word- Lightning themselves said “It is time for Lightning to take this race proven technology to market and pursue our win in the market place.”  And pursue, not ‘this will,’ nor ‘this is,’ and certainly not ‘on July 8’ or whatever.  Hedge on, Hedgy McHedgerton.

Okay, so there were in fact changes for 2014.  The bodywork is clearly not the same as the race bikes, or a putative “2013” Lightning.  But a hundred custom shops can do styling and chassis, with someone else’s V-twin and transmission dropped in.  Orange County Choppers is a tribute to that fact- you can build low-rate chassis without professionalism, or even caring.  Lightning has yet to demonstrate to me that their saleable units (not the 2 or so race specials) will be any more rigorous than OCC driveway queens.

Which Way’s Lightning Going?

We’re about to find out.  Lightning Motorcycle is about to reveal their top-of-the line electric May 17.  Before doing so, they’ve been blogging about their history so far.  Obviously the rest of us are all speculating until the official word comes out, but… let’s speculate, shall we?


Photo credit: Lightning Motorcycle


Based on the photo alone, it looks like some changes are coming… however, it’s clearly an obfuscating photo, and it’s clear the vehicle is being worked on at the moment.  Still, the tail plastics are different from the 2013 Lighnings (such as they were).  As production is likely in the handbuilt levels, it’s easy to alter each unit.  At least it looks like there’s some sort of pilion pad… unless that’s just a styling touch, and you can’t actually sit there.

We have to look in the company’s words for something more substantive.  At the “faciest” face value, the EV’s now called the LS-218, not simply Lightning Superbike or SBK3 or whatever.  Not that name witchcraft means anything in the 21st Century (if ever), but I take that to mean there are, in fact, changes for 2014.  And why wouldn’t there be?  This is a fast-moving field, pun intended.  We knew continuing improvements were coming down the pike.

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