Airbus is now selling 3D-printed motorcycles. It’s a leap from the mega-planes for which they’re known, but just as futuristic.
The Light Rider, as Airbus is calling it, was developed by the aviation giant’s German APWorks subsidiary. APWorks specializes in metallic 3D printing and specifically with Scalmalloy, an aluminum powder that, according to its website, is “corrosion-resistant and combines the low weight of aluminum with almost the specific strength of titanium.”
What does it mean for a motorcycle to be built out of a powder? According to Airbus, each part of the Light Rider “consists of thousands of thin layers just 60 microns thick.” It has a hollow frame, which translates to a 30 percent weight reduction compared to other motorcycles. “The complex and branched hollow structure couldn’t have been produced using conventional production technologies such as milling or welding,” said Joachim Zettler, CEO of Airbus APWorks GmbH. The Light Rider weighs just 77 lbs.
Airbus very much wants you to know that this is a real motorcycle with real specs, albeit not on par with a Harley. It can hit a max speed of 49 mph and get halfway there in three seconds. The Light Rider seems geared towards city driving, with Airbus highlighting its battery that can go 37 miles before needing a recharge.
Traditional bikes have another advantage over Light Riders, though: price. A brand new Harley-Davidson Iron 883, for example, will run you $8,849. Only 50 Light Riders will be made, and they can be reserved for €2,000 which translates into a pittance at $2,244. After that, though, they’ll €48,000 more, bringing the cost up to $56,095, plus tax.