There’s no shortage of electric mobility startups in 2022, but Lighting Motorcycles was here before the latest boom. The company originally made a name for itself by winning the 2010 North American TTXGP electric motorcycle racing series and set record-breaking runs of 173 mph and 216 mph in 2010 and 2011 (respectively).
The brand soon leveraged that success and the “fastest production motorcycle” claim to help market its LS-218 production model. Unfortunately, production delays plagued the LS’s debut and the lower-spec, budget-friendly Strike didn’t quite hit the mark with customers or critics. Following the Strike’s reveal, however, Lightning Motorcycles went AWOL.
Given the timing, we assume the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to that absence. Now, however, it seems like the firm is returning to its roots with a new land-speed record run. For the latest attempt, Lightning will partner with Brazilian niobium specialists CBMM.
With a similar Mohs hardness rating to pure titanium and a ductility rivaling iron, niobium is frequently used to strengthen alloys. Niobium-enriched alloys are generally used in jet engines/rockets, buildings beams/girders, and oil rigs/pipelines. For CBMM and Lightning Motorcycles’ purposes, niobium will improve component safety while also improving braking performance and battery energy density.
"The idea is to demonstrate, in practice, the advantages of niobium applications,” explained CBMM's Market Development Manager, Mariana Perez de Oliveira. “Since the addition of the metal can bring numerous benefits to the project, aiming at weight reduction and greater energy efficiency, as well as contributing directly to safety."
"Light weight and high efficiency are essential for high-performance motorcycles, we have used some applications of niobium to achieve these goals," noted Lightning Motorcycles CEO and Founder Richard Hatfield. "We are excited to work with CBMM to further innovate niobium technologies that can be translated into meaningful benefits to not just high-performance electric motorcycles but to all types of vehicles".
While Lightning’s latest announcement is a step back into the spotlight, we’ll have to wait and see whether the company’s new land-speed record attempt helps Lightning’s prospects in the consumer market.