Zero Motorcycles and Lightning Motorcycles are two of the more well known US electric motorcycle manufactures.  Both are preparing to release new models.  Zero plans to release its newest and most powerful motorcycle, the Zero SR/F on February 25, 2019.   Lightning, on the other hand, has only said their newest electric motorcycle, the Lightning Strike will be released in March 2019.  But both manufacturers recently provided some more details on their upcoming machines.

Zero updates info

While Zero has not released many details for the new model’s range, speed, price or charging times, they have been teasing the bikes power.  To date, Zero has only released a couple of teaser photos which show that the SR/F will be a naked sportbike.

According to Zero:

“More than a new model, the Zero SR/F is an entirely new platform. Zero SR/F combines cutting-edge technology with the most powerful drivetrain Zero has ever produced. The result is the most integrated, premium, and high performance electric motorcycle the company has ever created. The Zero SR/F provides an effortlessly powerful experience in the naked street bike category.”

In the recently released video below, those with sharp eyes have been able to glean a few more details about the SR/F.

When reviewed closely, you can see that the SR/F sports a 14.4 kWh battery into a possibly redesigned frame.  That leads some to speculate that the battery pack will be the same one used in the 2019 Zero SR.  That SR model provides a 179-mile claimed city range and a 90-mile highway range.

Another item of interest is the brief glimpse of the new motor.  It is labeled Z-Force 75-10.  If the marking on the SR/F’s motor means the same thing as the SR’s motor, then the motor SR/F’s motor has been significantly upgraded.

Change to the engine?

The current SR’s motor is labeled 75-7.  The 7 refers to the width (in centimeters) of the magnets in the motor.  If this is the case, it appears that the new SR/F motor will have 10 centimeter wide magnets.

If Zero has increased the width of the motor’s rotor, power may increase more than linearly.  That’s because power is generated only from the copper wiring that runs parallel to the length of the magnets.  All the copper loops at the end of the windings are not producing power and are ultimately wasted potential.  So an increase in the width of the rotor is an effective way to generate more power efficiently.

Lighting updates info

Lightning has already made some significant specifications known.  The company claims that the new Lightning Strike will have a 150 MPH top speed.  With the company’s LS-218 superbike having a top speed of over 215 MPH, there’s little reason to doubt the Lightning Strikes top speed claim.

The Lightning Strike’s range is claimed to be 150 miles and it also comes with a very fast DC charge time of 35 minutes.  The precise details of how these specifications were calculated have not been revealed, but if they are remotely near accurate, those are impressive numbers.  In addition, the Lightning Strike’s published retail price was stated as $12,998.  For the claimed performance of the Lightning Strike, that price seemed like a bargain.

High interest

Apparently, potential Lightning Strike riders agreed and showed a large amount of interest.  Based on that interest, Lightning opened online pre-ordering reservations early.

With pre-orders now open, the Lightning Strike will be available in two versions.  A $500 deposit is necessary for the Lightning Strike while you’ll have to part with $10,000 to reserve the Lightning Strike Carbon Edition.  Interestingly, there’s no information on the difference between the Lightning Strike and the Lightning Strike Carbon Edition.

What is driving the huge difference in price between the two?  Lightning isn’t telling, but the Carbon Edition must be something extremely different to justify the differences in deposits.

Matt Schulwitz Lightning’s VP of Communications had this to say:

“Strike has attracted interest from riders of all skill levels ranging from brand new and even soon-to-be riders, to highly experienced lifelong motorcyclists. In addition, while there are many Strike reservation holders who have previously owned an electric motorcycle, the vast majority are reserving Strike to be their first electric motorcycle, something that we find incredibly exciting.”

What’s it like to ride?

With the LS 218 superbike as a baseline, Lightning says that many people wanted to know what the seating position would be like on the Lightning Strike.  According to Schulwitz:

“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.”

Lightning then released this new graphic showing the riding postions for both the LS 218 superbike and the new Lightning Strike.

LS 218 superbike Lightning Strike

Lightning’s diagram shows the difference in seating position between the LS 218 superbike and the Lightning Strike.

Clearly, the new Lightning Strike has a far more relaxed and upright riding position.  This makes the Lightning Strike more attractive to more of an audience that a leaned over tank seating position.  It’s not cruiser style upright but looks to be a nice midpoint between committed racer crouch and upright cruiser posture.

Less is more?

While we really don’t know much more about these machines, it seems that both Zero and Lightning have been successful in ratcheting up interest and piquing curiosity.

Well, they have succeeded with me at least.


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