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skelecycle: the wearable electric motorcycle

Folks, times they are a-changin’. One of these days our gasoline-fed internal-combustion engine motorcycles will only exist as collector items. Can you imagine a Kawasaki Drifter or an XS650 bobber being worth tens, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars? One day, they may be.

If or when that day comes, riders may be cruising on things that are being imagined today. From the imagination of a former Marine, I give you Deus Ex Machina.


That was my first thought when I saw the following video:

The bike is an upright exoskeleton rather than a traditional motorcycle. The inventor, Jake Loniak, is a Transportation Design student in his 6th term at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. His project called “Deus Ex Machina” (*** Out of Machine) is truly remarkable.

What if you could become one with a motorcycle that had a human muscular-skeletal system? That would be freaking rad. I’d ride that!

With seven artificial vertebrae behind the helmet that support the rider’s head, the bike is maneuvered via 36 pneumatic muscles (artificial muscles made by the German company Festo that inflate or deflate to change direction) and two linear actuators that respond to your body movements. In the video, dig how the thing lays down at high speeds and how the rider, in a position most people would think would be on top of the bike, is held mere inches above the road by the skelecycle.

Looks like someone got a sponsor. Good for Jake.

Loniak’s design was inspired by Biomechatronics, a science comprising aspects of biology, mechanics and electronics. All three of those elements, plus human physiognomy, are present in his design. The formal shape of the Deus Ex Machina is naturally biological because the features of the helmet, the arms and the vertebrae recall human forms while the mechanics and electronics are worn as an exoskeleton.

Like an old-school motorcycle builder who likes exposing the mechanical elements of a bike, these elements take a giant leap forward in this machine.

The Deus is powered by batteries using a nanotech material called doped nano-phosphate. These batteries and ultra-capacitors power an in-wheel motor that is designed to provide ample torque, delivering acceleration to 60 mph in merely three seconds. The recharge time is 15 minutes with a cycle time of 60 minutes. The top speed is “limited for now” at 75 mph.

When they go 150, I want one.

The technology to build the Deus Ex Machina motorcycle exists today but currently it’s just a design in a computer. Maybe one day millions will ride them. Until then, go VROOOM!


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