In 1972, Mike Corbin set the Electric Motorcycle Land Speed Record at Bonneville with “Quicksilver” running lead/acid batteries, dual aircraft starter motors and a speed controller that amounted to a series of high-current electromagnetic switches. This run would be the first time an electric motorcycle had broken the 100 mph speed barrier, at 101 mph, and by 1974 Corbin had refitted the bike with silverzinc batteries and set a new benchmark: 165.397 mph, that stood for over 30 years.

In the world of electric vehicles, the Corbin name is associated with many Firsts:

  • 1972: Mike Corbin built and piloted the first electric motorcycle to set a record over 100mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats.
  • 1973: The Corbin-Gentry XLP-1 is the first electric motorcycle registered for public roads.
  • 1974: Professor Charles MacArthur piloted a Corbin electric motorcycle to the top of Mt Washington in New Hampshire becoming the first electric vehicle of any sort to do so.
  • 1974: Mike Corbin created the first electric race motorcycle to use a battery technology other than simple Lead-Acid. Quicksilver takes to the salt with Yardney Silver-Zinc batteries.
  • 1974: Quicksilver bumps the electric motorcycle land speed record to 165.397 miles per hour… A record that stands untouched for over 30 years.
  • 1975: Corbin electric street motorcycle makes TWO non-stop trips to the summit of Mt Washington! 8 miles to the summit on an average grade of 12% through 99 hairpin turns.

You get the idea.

Clearly setting a land speed record so robust that it stood for over three decades is an achievement of which Mike is very proud. Considering he has always been a strong proponent of electric powered vehicles, it makes it that much more near and dear.

Now here we are forty years later and Quicksilver is sitting in the Corbin shop. No, we don’t have any plans to fill her up with Li-ion batteries and challenge Elon Musk to a dragrace… we’re just giving the ole girl a thorough polishing and getting her ready for another day in the sun.

For this outing Quicksilver will be one of many featured elements at the Quail Motorcycle Gathering taking place in Pebble Beach Saturday May 17, 2014. This year’s event is a celebration of the Evolution of Motorcycles and 100 Years of Bonneville Speed Trials. Needless to say we are extremely proud to be a part of it.

Whether you are able to make the event or not, we thought you may enjoy a few pics of Quicksilver both new and from the Corbin archives.

Intro by Power in Flux – Ted Dillard