Airbus builds electric motorcycle to showcase 3D printing

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Better known for its aeroplane and spacecraft products, Airbus has now turned its attention to the world of motorbikes.

The Light Rider is a 3D-printed electric motorcycle. It's powered by a tiny 8bhp motor that produces an impressive 96lb-ft of torque. They might not sound like exciting figures, but due to the bike's low weight, it's certainly not slow.

It has a claimed zero to 28mph time of three seconds with a top speed of 50mph, and can travel about 35 miles on a single charge.

It was created as a showcase of what APWorks, an Airbus subsidiary, is capable of creating with its 3D printing technology. The Swiss cheese bodywork is not just designed to look cool, it's actually the result of complex calculations that mimic engineering solutions found in nature.

Airbus builds electric motorcycle to showcase 3D printing

Airbus builds electric motorcycle to showcase 3D printing


APWorks teamed up with a US company that has created software that uses a process called 'morphogenesis', which in biology refers to how a natural organism's form is dictated by its environment.

The software creates structures that have maximum strength with minimal mass, which results in the skeletal appearance you see here – no unnecessary material at all. As a result, the bare-metal frame weighs just 13 pounds but can support a rider up to 220 pounds.

What's interesting is that the bike could be adapted for a heavier or lighter rider, and can even be tweaked to address specific uses. For example, the different loads encountered by off-roaders and MotoGP racers could be catered for.

APWorks plans to build 50 examples of this quirky e-bike, priced at 50,000 euros ($42,000).