Electric motorcycles are taking on some impressive challenges these days. A Moto-Electra Racing all-electric motorcycle just crossed the U.S. in 3.5 days. Motorcycles from Zero Motorcycles are set to take on an ambitious challenge when they tackle the Pikes Peak on June 30, ascending the 14,110-foot tall mountain’s steep. Racers will compete in the 2013 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb’s first electric motorcycles division. Meanwhile the solar-powered Lightning Motorcycles SuperBike may take the overall record for the challenge home this year.
Electric motorcycles isn’t gaining the attention that Tesla Motors’s Model S, or Nissan’s Leaf are gaining in the media, but maybe they should. After all, these vehicles can be monsters. For instance, the Lightning SuperBike has hit speeds as high as 218.6 miles an hour at the Bonneville Salt Flats, and it’s a production vehicle!
More recently (June 13) the SuperBike bested all gas-powered bikes in practice runs on Pikes Peak, according to TTXGP, The eGrandPrix. The Lightning SuperBike was ridden by Carlin Dunne, who holds the Pikes Peak Challenge’s all-time record and is a two-time champion of the race—on gas-powered motorcycles. This time Dunne chose to ride the electric motorcycle over a gas-powered one in an attempt to seek a third consecutive victory.
“This is the first time in history that an electric bike has beaten top gas bike competitors on the same playing field,” Lighting Motorcycles CEO Richard Hatfield said.
Of the Lightning, Dunne said, “I’ve been testing it for a month and it’s insane. Its power and acceleration is like nothing I’ve ever ridden. When you light that fuse, hang on.”
The cross-country achievement is nothing to smirk at either. After all, constrained by speed limits and other factors—like sleeping—it’s hard to make it across the continent in three days with a single driver. Moto-Electra’s achievement announced June 13, was accomplished on a single battery that was recharged while the rider, former AMA Pro Thad Wolff, rested. “This record was established using a standard motorcycle design—the same used by the Moto-Electra team for GP type racing, land speed racing, and everyday driving,” the company said.
“We could have done it faster, but we wanted to be safe. If we were to do it again, we would travel farther between charges, and increase the speed a bit—something learned.”
Before Moto-Electra set the record, another rider on an electric motorcycle traversed the U.S. as well, according to Moto-Electra. Although it took him 6 days, both accomplishments, as well as the installation of thousands of charging stations across the U.S., are showing that long-range use of electric vehicles is coming. “I think it’s only a matter of time when charging stations will allow cross country travel by anyone with an electric vehicle,” Richardson said.