Airbus Subsidiary Shows Off the Light Rider, a 3D-Printed Electric Motorcycle
And you thought their airplanes were expensive.
German company APWorks does one thing: 3D printing. The company’s unique selling proposition is that it is wholly owned by Airbus and specializes in additive layer manufacturing that benefits from the research and development know-how of one of the world’s largest aerospace companies. The three-year-old company seeks to become “the biggest provider for industrial use and application of additive manufacturing technologies and solutions,” so it’s rolled out a calling card guaranteed to get attention: the 3D-printed Light Rider, which it calls an electric motorcycle but is more like an electric mountain bike with a dose of electric moto about it.
The hollow frame members make for a 13.2-pound frame that looks appropriate for a cameo in Alien: Covenant, built up of layers of APWorks’ proprietary Scalmalloy metal just 60 microns thick. The aluminum alloy, developed in conjunction with parent company Airbus, is “a high-performance aluminum powder” that’s twice as strong as the aluminum-silicon-magnesium alloy AlSi10Mg often used for laser sintering, with a specific strength close to titanium but the light weight of aluminum. APWorks labels the latticework design “bionic,” probably because it wants to call attention to the “bionically optimized metal parts [it makes] for a wide range of industries, from aerospace to automotive and robotics.” We don’t think the word “bionic” means what Airbus thinks it means. It’s a clean look, though, with integrated cables and piping, and screw-on hard points printed into components.
The six-kilowatt electric motor with a swappable battery can get the 77-pound bike to a top speed of 49.6 miles per hour, accelerating from zero to 28 miles per hour takes three seconds, and a single charge is good for 37 miles. The stats make this a curious beast – lighter than an electric motorcycle but slower and down on range, lighter than an electric scooter but faster and still down on range. Compared to the beefiest electric bicycles, the Light Rider is heavy and no faster and still can’t go as far, compared to a typical e-bike, the Light Rider is way heavier and faster… but still can’t go as far.
But APWorks says this is the world’s first 3D-printed electric motorcycle, so we’ll stick to that main event. The company will produce a run of 50 Light Riders, and because being first costs a lot of money, each one will command €50,000 – about $56,000 US. You can put your name on the list with a €2,000 deposit, but if a motorcycle costs this much, we wonder what they’ll charge for the 3D-printed twin-engine plane they’re expected to reveal at the Berlin Air Show.