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It’s electric. It’s ultra-light. It’ fast. And it’s made on a 3-D printer. Yup. And what’s more, it’s made by Airbus—the airplane company! The Light Rider was made in German-based Airbus APWorks. It goes from zero to thirty in just three seconds and tops out at fifty mph. It weighs a mere 77 pounds. The battery only lasts for forty miles, but it’s still a terrific city bike—if you’ve got $57,000 to spend on it.
According to AP Works head Joachim Zettler, "Advances in additive layer manufacturing have allowed us to realize the bionic design we envisioned for the motorcycle without having to make any major change." The bike’s hollow frame is 3-D printed, one 60-micron layer at a time, from a custom material named Scalmalloy, which is an aluminum powder that is almost as strong as titanium when it’s printed. The hollow frame makes it easy to route cables and such safely and still keep the overall design sleek.
Now, the Light Rider might not be something you’ll write the check for today, but just imagine a future in which materials like Scalmalloy and 3-D printers are inexpensive and easily accessible. We could all design and print our own bikes! Read more about the Light Rider here.
If an airplane manufacturer can create an entry into the electric motorcycle market, what’s America’s iconic maker of cycles doing? You might remember that, two years or so ago, Harley showed the world the LiveWire, its concept electric motorcycle. The LiveWire went from 0 to 60 in less than four seconds and top speed was one hundred miles an hour. Like most electric bikes, the charge was the killer. Once it went just 55 miles, it needed a 3.5 hour recharge. After sending a fleet of LiveWires around the nation for the press and ordinary folks to see and to demo, Harley went quiet. Its bike was not going to compete with bikes like the Zero, with its much longer range and shorter recharge time.
The geniuses at Harley-Davidson must have been working successfully on that problem, because Senior Vice-President Sean Cummings recently spilled the beans to the Milwaukee Sentinel. Within five years, Harley will have a production electric motorcycle.
Last year CEO Keith Wandell explained that the planned electric motorcycle is about “the willingness to step outside of all of the things that we’ve continued to do over the years and to make a bold statement that says: We’re really focused on the future – that we respect everything that has made our company great over the last 111 years, but our job is to make sure that our company is going to continue to be great for the next 111 years.”
The next few years should be exciting ones for motorcycle enthusiasts as many companies—think Tesla, Mercedes, Porsche, and others we’ve already blogged about—are designing eco-friendly bikes.
What would it take for you to buy an electric motorcycle?
0 to 60 in ___ seconds?
Top speed of ___ mph?
Range of ___ miles?
Price under ___ dollars?
Would it be a second bike used only for city driving? Or …
Let us know on Facebook. We look forward to hearing from you what real riders want in an electric motorcycle. And take a look at this week’s Safety Tip, if you haven’t yet, ‘cause that might give you some ideas.