Designing the Lightfighter (v1)

While there were several other napkin sketches and screenshots of CAD layouts, this is really what I consider to be the first real sketch of the Lightfighter, circa July of 2018. You can clearly see the main elements, including the steel trellis frame, single monolithic battery, and motor/gearbox position relative to the rear suspension linkage. The ghosted image in the background is a Yamaha R1 as we already knew we'd be leveraging that rear suspension unit and wanted to keep the overall geometry very similar to a superbike that had received praise for it's handling characteristics.

I am a designer by passion and schooling. The Lightfighter is creative outlet for me to explore concepts and ideas outside the constraints of a professional work environment. As such, I'm also my own customer for these sketches, so I apologize for the lack of polish and post-processing that we've become accustomed to seeing from modern vehicle designers. I must admit, I still love seeing a pen on paper sketch as I feel I can understand more quickly the designer's vision rather than needing to peel back layers of visual cake dressing... Sketches below are further explorations of the Lightfighter theme as the CAD package developed in parallel. Concept C and D (two on the right) envisioned a two piece tank-to-tail unibody with a horizontal split.

Between the sketches above and the one below, I had begun speaking with Kramer Motorcycles USA in Fargo, ND about their track-focused HKR Evo2 and GP2 bike, inspired that they had found a market for a track-only motorcycle. They were intrigued enough with the idea of an electric bike that we formed an informal partnership to help bring the first version of the Lightfighter to life. With their support, I took a look at incorporating their unique bodywork. Since the gas "tank" is a plastic molded seat unit in their bikes, the actual tank was just a fiberglass shell - perfect for our needs since we had no liquid fuel to package. That plastic seat unit would eventually become an issue for us on v1, but that's another story...

First sketch with Kramer bodywork

With the unique bodyset from Kramer Motorcycles, we knew we'd stand out from the crowd of gas bikes we intended to race, but we also wanted a unique livery design. Inspired by the RoboRace cars designed by Daniel Simon, I got the prismacolor markers out to see what I could come up with. In the end, the concept on the left won out and Ely did a fantastic job translating the sketch to reality...

And... viola! The finished design for the Lightfighter LFR19 (aka "v1"). Of course, none of this would have been possible without huge support from friends and partners in the industry as well as the prodigious talents of fabricator Ely Schless in Ashland, Oregon!

Electric Racing Motorcycle
2019 Lightfighter LRF19 at Utah Motorsports Park

For those curious... the grey is a Honda "Sonic Grey" that appeared on the Civic Type R a couple of years ago and the red is actually a ceramic "CeraKote" coating from NIC Industries, which is based in Southern Oregon. That ceramic coating has been amazingly durable throughout the abuse of the race season.

There was a similar sketch ideation/CAD development process around the re-design effort for v2, but I'll leave that for a future post...

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