We just got a phone call from Richard Hatfield of Lightning Motorcycles saying that the “Flying Banana Mk. II” just put down a 205.238 mph pass at the Southern California Timing Associations’ Speed Week at Bonneville. This pass makes Lightning the first electric motorcycle manufacturer/competitor ever to break the 200 mph mark, whether it be on the tarmac or at the salt flats. If verified during tomorrow’s second pass, the speed would shatter the outright land speed record of 176.434mph, which was set by Riches Nelson and his fully-streamlined Airtech Lightning Bolt electric motorcycle.
Lightning currently holds the AMA and FIM land speed records for the APS-? LSR class (A=special chassis, PS=partially streamlined, ?=electric) for electric motorcycles weighing between 150kg and 300kg, after Paul Thede (of Race-Tech fame) took the Flying Banana Mk. I to 173.321 mph at Bonneville last year. This year according to SCTA protocols, Lightning’s bike has been impounded for the night, and the team will have another run tomorrow to solidify its record. The average of those two speeds will then stand as Lightning’s official speed, and if everything goes according to plan, Lightning will have raised the LSR mark for electric motorcycles into the 200 mph bracket.
Talking to an ecstatic Richard Hatfield, the team is confident that it will not only replicate the result, but also predicts a faster speed for tomorrow (salt flats providing). Using only 3% of its battery charge and being ridden at quarter-throttle, Hatfield and his team believe that 210 mph is achievable. Encountering a slight aerodynamical issue from the sit-on style rider position and partial streamlining bodywork, Paul Thede had counteract the bike’s desire to pull to the right of the course, which at 200 mph is probably a lot more terrifying than it sounds.
That issue was compounded by the fact that Thede, a multiple LSR world record holder, was going the fastest he’s ever gone on two wheels of any kind at Bonneville, on the salt flats, or anywhere else. With lightning storms (fitting, ehh?) predicted for tomorrow afternoon, Lightning will have to get its return pass into the books early in the day if the team wants to set a verified speed with the SCTA and a new LSR. More news from Speed Week as we get it.