When Airbus announce the launch of a product, we definitely think aeroplanes and not motorcycles. But the maker of the world’s largest passenger plane had a surprise in store with their latest offering: An electric motorcycle that’s been 3D printed with aircraft-grade aluminium and has a very ‘modern art sculpture meets rugged bicycle’ design.
The ‘Light Rider’ is the creation of APWorks, a subsidiary of Airbus, and was unveiled on May 20th by the CEO of Airbus – Tom Enders in Germany. Its entire skeletal frame has been 3D printed, and while conventional methods use plastic, this one has made use of aircraft-grade aluminium which results in motorcycle weighing in at a paltry 77 pounds (35 kilos).
The hollow frame would have been impossible to create using the standard methods of milling and welding. So APWorks, who are specialists in additive layer manufacturing, made it by laser-melting thousands of thin metal layers one by one to create the final component. This technique results in the frame weighing in at just 13 pounds, roughly 30 percent less than many existing electric motorcycles.
The motor itself is nothing revolutionary. It gives a range of 37 miles (60 kms) per charge and can propel the motorcycle to a top speed of 50 mph (80 kmph). But then again, this is more a piece of art than it is a consumer-oriented product so performance figures don’t really matter. And with Airbus selling only 50 of these beauties at a price of $56,095 (Rs 37.8 lakhs), they will definitely end up in art galleries and the private collections of wealthy enthusiasts rather than on the streets.