Electric bike wins Pikes Peak

No, not just its class, but outright

MULTIPLE Pikes Peak winner Carlin Dunne ditched the Ducati Multistrada that’s taken him to victory in the past in favour of the electric-powered Lightning superbike for last weekend’s running of the race – and still beat everyone else.

While not breaking any records, his time of 10m 00.694s wasn’t far off the 9m 52.81s record that he set last year on a Multistrada 1200, and it was still more than enough to take the victory, beating the fastest petrol bike (Bruno Langlois’ Multistrada) by more than 20s.

While last year the bikes were mixing it with the fastest cars, the 2013 running saw four wheelers vanishing into the distance – rally legend Sebastian Loeb’s Peugeot did the run in 8m 13.878s). But the very fact that an electric bike beat all its two-wheeled rivals is surely noteworthy in itself.

OK, so we need a few provisos before we write off fossil fuels entirely. First, the Pikes Peak rules don’t really encourage top riders to use proper superbikes – the main bike class, for machines up to 1205cc, doesn’t allow either four-cylinder machines or clip-on bars. Superbikes can run in the Exhibition class, though, which did include a couple of 2008-spec Fireblades and a brace of similarly-aged R1s as well as Dunne’s Lightning electric bike, and they didn’t beat it. Second, Pikes Peak is legendary for its high altitude. Cars running there rely on massive turbos to get enough air into their engines, and even then lose a huge amount of power by the time they reach the summit. Turbos aren’t allowed on the bikes running at the event, which means they’re struggling for air as they near the top. Electric bikes don’t have such problems.

So don’t expect electric bikes to start winning head-to-head battles with petrol-powered machines in every arena just yet, but don’t be surprised if it happens eventually.

Oh, and yes, they are going to make a production, road-going version of the bike – they’re taking orders for the Lightning superbike now via www.lightningmotorcycle.com at $38,888 and promise a cheaper sports bike and a scooter in future.