Lightfighter LFR 2.0
The Lightfighter is an electric racing motorcycle designed and built by Brian Wismann and Ely Schless. The former is Zero Motorcycles' Vice President of Product Development, while the latter has been riding, racing, designing and building motorcycles for decades, with a customer list of all types, including the aerospace industry. At the start of the project, Brian and Ely asked themselves: what should be the priority in the design of an electric motorcycle: the chassis or the battery? To get good lap times in track use, is it better to have an agile and light bike or a more powerful but heavy one?
In the first case, the design is based on the frame and rear suspension geometry, while the battery capacity (and therefore its weight and dimensions) is limited by the size of the frame. In the second scenario, the focus is on a larger battery to have high power available, but it leads to a compromise for the chassis, the size of the swingarm and the geometry of the rear suspension.
Brian Wismann, co-designer and builder of the Lightfighter LFR XNUMX, is also Vice President of Product Development at Zero Motorcycles
Ely Schless, a pioneer in the electric vehicle world, with over three decades worth of experience figuring out how to make things move quickly on battery power
Troy Siahaan, is a moto journalist of international fame at Motorcycle.com. Since the beginning of XNUMX Troy has been riding and racing with the Lightfighter and helped develop it.
Since most prototype electric motorcycles over the past decade have been aimed at events like the TT Zero at the Isle of Man or Pikes Peak in the US, the bikes have tended to be large and powerful, but also heavy. Brian and Ely decided to take their own way for the Lightfighter. Starting from the number of laps for each race (between six and ten depending on the layout of the track), they kept to the minimum the size and weight of the battery to leave room for the optimization of the bike's chassis and suspension design. The Lightfighter takes its name exactly from the “geometry-first” approach to have a light and agile bike compared to other electric racing bikes.
Brian and Ely started from the swingarm and the rear suspension, buying those of a Yamaha R1 2015 on eBay, and built the rest of the bike around what they believed to be the key element.
For version 2.0 of the Lightfighter, Brian and Schless focused on taking what worked so well with the 2019 bike and tried to make it a bit better.
The main change was the chassis, to reduce lateral stiffness. “The chassis of 1.0 version was too rigid, which meant at full lean, when the fork and shock have minimal effectiveness at dealing with bumps, the frame wouldn’t flex enough to absorb those hits” explained Troy Siahaan, the Lighfighter test rider.
Brian and Schless have reduced the number of support braces within the trellis frame, as well as the thickness of the steel itself to achieve abetter flexibility at full lean. The result was a better and clearer feedback to the rider.
Another aspect in which the 2.0 bike has improved is the layout of the battery and auxiliary systems within the chassis. With the new design, the battery is installed completely vertically, with auxiliary systems, like the controller and DC-DC converter, installed on the side and easily removed with quick disconnects. In theory, the battery could be released by loosening a few bolts, lifting the bike on stands, and dropping the battery out from the bottom.
Farasis Energy, one of the team’s major supporters and supplier of lithium-ion batteries and battery tech to a number of different industries, has supplied completely all-new cells with more energy density than before.
Thanks to the increased energy available and time spent on the dyno, the Lightfigher designers were able to squeeze some extra torque and power out of the battery and engine (the same Parker Hannifin used on the 2019 bike). Again, thanks to the increase in battery capacity, the approximately 140HP of power of the Lighfighter 2.0 can be delivered over the entire race distance.
Two other characteristic elements of this year's bike are the carbon wings and rims. The former are aerodynamic devices mounted at the front of the fairing to keep the front wheel down when the engine releases its 160Nm of torque. The latter are fantastic carbon fiber rims supplied by Thyssenkrupp: the front one weighs 1.9 kg while the rear 2.9 kg.
During 2020, because of the limitations due to Covid-19, the tests on track were very limited, but for 2021, the Lightfigher team intends to make the bike even more competitive and challenge petrol bikes on the tracks of the United States.
The power curve of the Lighfighter 2.0
Lightfighter LFR XNUMX - Performance and Specifications
Power (peak): 141 Hp at 6800 rpm
Torque (motor): 163 Nm from 0 to 6800 rpm
Weight: 180 kg.
Wheelbase: 1400 mm
Motor: Parker GVM-210 Permanent Magnet AC with integrated gear reduction, liquid cooled
Battery: Farasis Energy Lithium-ion NMC, actively air cooled
Battery capacity: 12 kWh
Battery voltage: 410 Vdc nominal
Inverter: Cascadia Motion PM100DXR liquid-cooled
Chassis: Chromoly Steel Trellis Frame
Transmission: Direct Drive, gear reduction 2:1
Final transmission: chain
Charging time: 1h
The Lightfighter LFR 19
All images are courtesy of Lightfighter Racing.
Photo by Stephen Gregory (Instagram @gregoryimagery).