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Discussion in 'Electric Motorcycles' started by voltsxamps, Jan 24, 2019.
I am in the market for an e-bike with decent range. It would be great if this start-up company actually gets them into production and stays in business. But i'm not holding my breath. There have been more failures than successes. for example: https://www.rideapart.com/articles/289708/what-happened-to-alta-motors/
There is necessarily a lot of speculation in situations like this since the companies involved are privately held. Alta went for (9?) years not really selling anything. That can put real pressure on a company, in ways that are not conducive to sustainable profits. Shortly after HD backed out Alta seemed to be continuing on as before. Then all of a sudden they said goodbye and shut the doors.
If venture capital (VC) is involved, they can have a very limited tolerance for how long they'll wait before getting a return. The longer they wait, the bigger the expected return. Not sure what happened since those who know aren't talking, but the way Alta went down strongly suggests there's a story there that hasn't been told. If VC held part of Alta (maybe the only way they could have run for so long before producing anything), losing HD backing might have been the last straw for them and they decided to cut their losses. If anyone has more insight on this please share.
Zero seems to have a much better approach. They started about the same time as Alta, but sold product much sooner. It seems everybody with a startup plans to set the world on fire, but that's just not reality. A "go big or go home" attitude means many go home with big debt or a nasty swath of bankruptcy (lots of torched other-peoples'-money) left behind them. The much smarter approach is to scale your operation to the size of your market today and into the very near future. When you grow to the point where you have a little more cash to play with (and make no mistake - growth is spectacularly cash-hungry), you can start planning farther into the future. Do it right and you may not even need VC (which can get really annoying in the early days when you least need annoyances).
Zero probably sells in the 1000s per year worldwide. They had some quality and management issues early on, just like any young company getting their legs under them. But they have lasted, in large part because they didn't try to change the world overnight.
Lightning seems to have the tech side pretty well nailed down. I'm not too worried about design flaws. Quality could be an issue since it might originate with suppliers, but that's rarely enough to bring a company down, so it's likely to be resolved eventually. (Assuming they do the right thing - if not, it really becomes an ethics issue, not quality.)
Since Lightning apparently chooses to keep us in the dark on some very critical issues, we don't know if there's enough of a company there to support the volume that would be needed to enable the $13k price they're advertising. When a company builds only a few boutique bikes and then announces they're going into full production with no apparent sales/service system to support it, that raises some big questions. (For example, recalls similar to what Zero experienced early on could be a nightmare to handle if Lightning ships directly to buyers with no local service capability.)
It could be that they plan to do just as Zero did, start small and expand only to meet their market, whatever that might be. That would be fine, prudent and safe from a business viability perspective, but it suggests to me that the $13k base price is for a stripper model that no one would want. (Because low price typically comes from either high production numbers or limited functionality.) And bigger (or even minimally desirable) performance will demand much bigger dollars, so that teaser was just jerking everyone around. Or they are simply able to price that low because there is no dealer markup involved. That would be welcome, assuming they have a clever means to provide at least minimal service if needed, which would have to be at a pretty low unit cost to Lightning to support such a low selling price.
I'm hoping the low cost comes from selling direct. If that's true, and since Lightning has said absolutely nothing about support, we must assume that would mean every bike is an attractively priced, high performance orphan. That would suit some people (perhaps me among them), but would not bode well for enough sales to be able to say that EMs have 'arrived'. Who knows, maybe they plan to sell orphans until they can create some kind of support system (dealers or whatever), so the orphan period would be temporary. We just don't know. Makes it kind of hard to see where this is all going.
Lightning might very well be the best thing to hit the EM market, but so far they're not giving that impression. They're not an established manufacturer, so they have more explaining to do about their capabilities. They would do themselves and the buying public a favor by being just a little more open about what they're doing and how. I mean, seriously - this is an opportunity to quell doubts, talk themselves up and boost the buzz. At best, not doing so suggests they are stretched too thin as they prepare for production.
FWIW, I contacted Lightning by email to see if I could get any more information. Got a prompt and professional response back from Dave Swock, Business Development Manager, which basically said that Lightning executives were keeping details of the Strike close to the vest for now. I replied that details on the Strike are less important than assuring the public in some way that Lightning had a handle on the leap from boutique to production quantities; and giving some idea of what, if anything, was planned for service since there seems to be no dealer network yet. Dave (again, promptly and professionally) thanked me for my concerns and promised he would share them with senior management.
So nothing really new, except that they seem to be responsive, want to engage with their potential customers (though without really saying anything yet) and the right people know the specific concerns of at least this one interested party. Also, he mentioned that the press debut will be in late March (rather than early March, which is no surprise). I'm thinking that would give them a month if they had to do any tweaks to best respond to the Zero SR/F debut.
Lightning has now released a new graphic demonstrating the difference in the riding posture between the LS-218 and Strike.
As Matt Schulwitz explained:
“Since Lightning‘s initial announcement of the upcoming launch of Strike, one of the top questions from customers has been in regards to rider position. In response to this, we wanted to clearly demonstrate Strike’s rider position relative to the ultra performance focused Lightning LS-218 Superbike. Strike is a motorcycle engineered for the track, but designed for the street.”
From the graphic we can see that the Strike has a more relaxed and upright riding posture. We’re certainly not talking about anything close to cruiser territory, as the rearward foot pegs retain a sporty forward posture. But as RideApart noted, this could be the perfect compromise between sportbike feel and commuter comfort.
The higher bars on the Strike will certainly be more comfortable for normal highway cruising and city traffic. And while it is a bit hard to tell from the ambiguous yellow and blue riders, the bars definitely appear to be more pronated – another nod to the street.
Cool. I'm interested again. Now let's see if TC is included.
Y'know, I wouldn't be surprised if Lightning had no idea what style of bike the Strike should be. They aren't building the Standard version until the Carbon is done. The big production issue in the Naked vs. Sport/Tour vs. Sportbike question is lead time for bodywork molds. Everything else can be changed and put into production pretty quickly.
Building the Carbon version first lets them issue their teasers and wait until people start asking questions. The questions tell them what people want. Carbon bodywork is made from fairly simple, quick turnaround molds. Once they hear the customer desires and decide on a vehicle type, they could finalize the styling and have production Carbon molds ready in a month. Then learn from the launch, make any necessary tweaks and order the long-lead injection-mold tooling for the production Standard model, which is VERY expensive - you don't want to do it twice, or even do smaller mods to fix any errors.
So we get what we want, even if Lightning had no idea going in what they should build, and on a reasonable timeline.
Now about that TC. I've said before that TC integrated into a controller should be trivial. But TC is an alien concept to industrial controller manufacturers, so full integration likely won't happen until some EM manufacturer starts building their own instead of buying off-the-shelf controllers. (Are you listening, BMW?) What I'm hoping is that it's possible to get a controller with a simple "disable" or "current x [variable]" logic input , that could be connected to an ICE-centric TC system (like Bosch's inertial MSC?). These systems work mostly with the brakes, but also have an engine control output to reduce engine power. One would hope this would be a path for making current systems work for EMs. And since Bosch and others have already done boatloads of development on rider aids, we should be able to get them on EMs too. The Livewire has TC, and I doubt HD built their own controller.
It's time. The SR/F and Strike better have it.
Looks like Lightning is employing the “indiegogo” template. Take people’s money without them really knowing what they are buying. All this from a boutique startup with no track record...not even a dealer network. Refundable deposit? I don’t need that kind of hassle in my life. It would be intresting for someone to initiate a $500 deposit and then cancel a few days later an see/document how fast they get their money back.
I wish Lightning success if they are truely legit, but for me personally, too risky.
.. and a preview of the motor, along with confirmation it will be liquid cooled:
“Based on the architecture and innovation in the Lightning LS-218 Superbike, Strike’s motor is fully liquid-cooled and engineered for track-ready performance.
As far as we’re aware, LS-218 is currently the only electric motorcycle in the world with the technology and ability run flat-out at qualifying racing speed, pull in for a pit stop to fast charge and continue racing – all without ever overheating.
Strike shares these exclusive performance characteristics while being fundamentally designed to be the ultimate street bike.”
Props to Lightning for making the Strike liquid cooled. Especially important for those of us who live in the hotter parts of the world (more performance, efficiency, and reliability). Cool looking case and wiring as well. Shock looks nice too (Ohlins?)
I’m liking this bike more and more with each bit of info released.
Legendary manufacturer? Check
Riding position? Check
Liquid cooled motor? Check
All that’s left is the full reveal next month
Looking forward to a comprehensive real world comparison between the Strike, SR/F, EVA, and Livewire.
So it looks like their motor endbell is an elaborate multi-use casting. (Though the photo is likely a machined prototype.) Note that the armature shaft is offset from the swingarm pivot, in a way that would induce squat under power. (Not what you want.) There would be a much stronger incentive to put the armature shaft coaxial with the swingarm pivot to keep constant chain tension and eliminate any influence of power on suspension action. I believe Zero does this, mostly because their toothed belt drive demands it.
I'm guessing there might be a gear pair for an initial reduction to a countershaft, and the swingarm pivot is coaxial with that. Doing so would allow them to avoid the monster rear sprocket that is used on the LS-218 (and a challenge for sourcing replacements). But the spacing looks tight for a gear pair. Hmmm.
EDIT: If there are gears in there, I hope they keep them quiet. (Not hard to do.) I have no interest in gear whine that doesn't need to be there. This alone could push me toward Zero. (Zero has no gears and belt drive, so not even any chain noise. You can actually hear your tires working in turns.) /EDIT
Also, that is a very expensive-looking swingarm. Maybe a machined version of a future casting or stamping (one of several joined to make a complete swingarm), or maybe those smallish screws in it mean it's a prototype of a plastic cover that attaches to a cheaper steel weldment to dress it up. I'm guessing the former. (There are too many screws to just hold plastic in place.)
What I'm seeing here does not look like a $13k EM. Overall I'm rather impressed.
Still need to know about TC.
How’s this for a track record?
FIM e-power, Le Mans. Pole position.
Impressive track record, right up there with John Britten. An awesome race bike does not automatically make for a well run consumer product. Especially when it comes to outside investors who at the first sight of the next new shiney thing pull investment. Look at Alta, very good bikes, but no more with investors pulling out.
I do hear where you’re coming from, but Lightning has achieved a lot of firsts without having to rely on outside investors.
World’s first to build a lithium sportbike, first electric to beat gas bikes on an equal playing field (Pikes Peak win by 20+ seconds, 2013),
first in overall speed (Salt Flats, 218mph),
Still tied the H2 in the quarter using the top speed rear sprocket,
and positioned to be the first to produce an affordable long range electric streetbike with the Strike.
I think they have a lot going for them and if all goes well during their launch, I’ll do more than wish them luck. I’ll buy one.
That makes sense in general, but there's more detail in Lightning's situation. I doubt they needed any venture capital (VC) in their boutique LS-218 phase. It was tiny. One video had the founder saying the LS-218 would be produced in a 45 bike run. Each build started with a fat deposit, which covered much of the cost of production. The bike was conceived and built as a hand-made product, so no expensive production infrastructure was needed.
Going into real production is a very different animal. There are lots of up-front costs, which is when you dial up VC to fund the preparations for production, then you wait. If Lightning is going to ship in April or shortly thereafter, most of those costs are already paid. So even if no one bought any bikes, that money is already spent. There's no cash to pull out. If there are loans involved that's another story, but there should be no problem paying them if sales are decent. Interest seems to be strong enough.
This is all lightly-informed speculation of course, but I'm thinking there's a good chance Lightning's VC can only wait for their return at this point.
Lightning Strike capable of charging on Level 1, 2 & 3
Micah Toll - Mar. 6th 2019 2:18 pm ET
Lightning Strike to offer CCS charging standard
According to Lightning, the Strike will feature the standardized Combined Charging System (CCS) enabling Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 DC fast charging from a single charge port.
The inclusion of CCS should provide Strike owners with the maximum charging speeds, as well as the flexibility and convenience of charging anywhere.
Level 1 charging is fairly standard, and is how many owners will charge their Strikes overnight. It uses 110 VAC to power the Strike’s on-board charger. It isn’t a fast charge, but it is actually healthier for the battery by reducing heat and charging slowly. Strike motorcycles will include a standard Level 1 charge cord that can be plugged into any 110 VAC outlet.
Level 2 charging allows for much faster charging. Lightning says that the Strike should be capable of recharging in 2-3 hours. There are over 50,000 Level 2 chargers in the J1772 network across the United States, including many free public chargers.
Level 3 charging, also known as DC fast charging, is less commonly available but offers much faster charge times. It bypasses the Strike’s onboard AC inverter and can recharge the battery in as little as 35 minutes. With Level 3 charging, longer rides and motorcycle touring become a possibility for Strike riders. However, with a claimed range of 150 miles (241 km), many riders may find Level 1 and Level 2 charging sufficient for normal, everyday usage.
According to Lightning:
“A major objection of electric motorcycle ownership has always been slow charging – often requiring many hours and limiting all-day riding and long distance touring ability. With the upcoming launch of the all-new Strike, Lightning intends to put an end to the era of slow electric motorcycle charging.”
Nice going Lightning.. as easy as 1 2 3.
This bike keeps looking more and more compelling
The Lightning sure looks nice on paper.. but they have a lot of work to do as you can actually BUY this in 2 months.. They have a good track record, My friend has ridden it and it's amazing...
This is the last week of March so we should get the details on the Strike this week.
The specs on the Lightning Strike are here:
seems the Olins shocks are an extra-cost feature...
So you think changing a belt is hard on a Harley?