Solar-Powered Lightning Motorcycle Wins 91st Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

July 01, 2013 by Jeff Shepard

For the first time at a major motorsports event, an electric motorcycle beat all similar gas-powered competitors at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in Colorado Springs, Colo., June 30. San Carlos, California-based Lightning Motorcycles Corp., not only finished first in the Exhibition Powersports division, but also was faster than the 82 other motorcycles entered in the legendary race. Adding to the achievement, the Lightning SuperBike was powered by clean, renewable solar energy.

The solar-powered Lightning SuperBike—under rider Carlin Dunne, now three-time consecutive overall motorcycle champion and King Of The Mountain, who was the top qualifier on Friday (June 28)—posted a time just over 10 minutes (10:00.694). The challenging 12.42-mile, fully-paved course includes 156 turns ending at the 14,110-foot summit of Pikes Peak. The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is the second-oldest race in America, behind the Indianapolis 500.

“We are incredibly gratified with the performance by Carlin,” said Richard Hatfield, founder and CEO of Lightning Motorcycles. “The Lightning team worked around the clock to ensure that we provided the best possible bike for the race. We set this as a goal more than four years ago after our first North American road-racing event. Sunday, we achieved our goal. This accomplishment is a big step forward for Lightning, and we believe this is a giant leap forward for public acceptance of clean, renewable energy-based transportation.”

The Lightning SuperBike, the world’s fastest electric motorcycle, was powered with solar energy provided by Rocklin, Calif.-based SMA America, which manufactures solar inverters. This energy, channeled through a mobile charging station, fueled the motorcycle’s onboard battery pack, providing the vehicle with enough power to win the race and beat the previous electric motorcycle record.

“The merger of solar power and electric vehicles is exciting to witness and we are thrilled with the success of the impressive SuperBike,” said Henry Dziuba, president and general manager of SMA America. “The win at Pikes Peak shows that superior, world-class performance can be achieved today with clean technologies.”

Last year, the Lightning SuperBike set land speed records for electric motorcycles at El Mirage Lake bed in the Mojave Desert in San Bernardino, Calif. and at the Bonneville Speedway near Wendover, Utah.