This motorcycle looks like it comes from another planet (image via APWorks)
3D printing can do a lot things from making clothes to making food. Now, thanks to the efforts of APWorks, it can make motorcycles. The Light Rider isn't the average hog you'll find riding down the freeway. For one, it looks like something out of the Alien franchise with its hollow, skeleton like design. It's also probably the world's lightest motorcycle weighing only 77 pounds. As mentioned, the bike was created by Airbus subsidiary APWorks and they used 3D printing to create it, but they didn't use plastic. Instead they got its odd shape by thousands of thin metal layers produced in a bed of metal powder. The entire frame is made out of Scalmalloy, which is aircraft grade aluminum. It's supposed to offer the strength of titanium, ensuring the bike is light, yet strong.
“APWorks used an algorithm to develop the Light Rider’s optimized structure to keep weight at a minimum while ensuring the motorcycle’s frame was strong enough to handle the weight loads and stresses of everyday driving scenarios. The result: a motorcycle that looks more like an organic exoskeleton than a machine. That was a very deliberate design goal for APWorks, which programmed the algorithm to use bionic structures and natural growth processes and patterns as the basis for developing a strong but lightweight structure.”
It's the 3D printing is what allows the bike to get its unique geometrical design. APWorks says the design is meant to be aerodynamic as a way to give the bike “superb stiffness and guarantees optimal use of material.” The bike is also meant to be environment friendly since it's electric. The Light Rider has a 6kW electric motor that can accelerate the bike up to 130 Nm torques. That's 37 miles per charge. The motorcycle can reach top speeds of 80 km/h (50 mph). It accelerates from 0 to 45 km/h (28mph) in three seconds. The oddball frame only weighs 13 pounds, which is roughly 30 percent less than most existing electric bikes. Can you imagine, a motorcycle you can actually pick up?
"With the Light Rider we at APWorks demonstrate our vision of future urban mobility", says engineer Stefanus Stahl. "We have used our know how of optimization and manufacturing, to create means of transportation, that match our expectations,” explains APWorks's Niels Grafen.
Believe it or not, The Light Rider is actually available for sale, but you can't find them at your local Harley Davidson dealer. Rather APWorks is slowly rolling out the new motorcycle and is planning to build 50 units with a price tag of $56,100 apiece. Those who are interested can pre-order The Light Rider on the bike's website. It's definitely one of the most unique looking motorcycles on the market, but it is a hefty price to pay for something that looks like no other bike on the road. If this goes well, maybe it won't before long until we see big motorcycle companies like Harley Davidson and Yamaha start making their own 3D printed bikes.
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