I think you’ll agree with me when I say, there are just not enough vehicles out there that can hover. It’s a problem, but one that some people have been inspired to change. One such person is Chris Malloy. Chris works as an optics engineer out of Sydney, Australia. In his spare time, he has created the first flying motorcycle concept. The Hoverbike. A project spread over the course of two and half years has yielded one incredible looking 10ft long Kevlar reinforced, carbon-fiber chassis, sporting front and rear 4 foot diameter Tasmanian Oak propeller blades. With an estimated flight capability of 10,000 feet, you won’t simply be skimming along the grass in the park either. Chris gave us some details on what it took to get the design where it is today.
The Malloy Hoverbike
With enough speed to reach a (estimated) 10,000 ft altitude, the Hoverbike makes any other motorbike look boring by comparison. Yet with high enough production volumes Chris estimates the price at the cost of a performance motorbike. And just like a motorbike, the thrust is controlled through the right grip and unlike a motorbike, pitch is controlled through the left grip. All aspects have been looked at to keep the bike sturdy and stable. It uses a gyro-base control system to keep a rider from tipping over and even comes equipped with two parachutes to float the craft safely back to ground.
- Airspeed Vne – 150 KIAS (untested)
- Hover (out of ground effect) – >10,000ft (estimated)
- Dry weight – 110kg
- Max gross weight – 270kg
- Total thrust – 295kg
- Engine – 80kw @ 7500rpm
- Fuel Burn – 0.5L/min / 30L/hr
Asking Chris about the inspiration behind the Hoverbike, he described his love for designing aircraft from childhood and how the idea was sparked by a casual comment from his helicopter instructor. “The thing that kicked off the design of the Hoverbike was a comment my helicopter instructor Chris Townsend made. He said the R22 [helicopter] was a airborne motorbike. I did not quite agree, so set out to build a robust workable flying motorbike.”
That’s all it took. From there, Chris developed the design in 3D, with some details hashed out over pen and paper and still others created by hand. “I used Solidworks. I also have a Roland 540 CNC at work for molds, but would love to have an additive manufacturing machine, would speed things up so much.”
A Hoverbike was new territory. All sort of hovercrafts have been developed, but a small, maneuverable design that rode like a motorcycle had new details to explore. When designing something like a Hoverbike, “First thing was to look at what you would like it to do – then an uncolored view as to what is technically feasible. Ideally for the vehicle I wanted, you would like as small a vehicle as possible – without incurring too much cost – such as small rotors. But with that, your energy and stability costs go up, so there’s a compromise I guess.” Through the process Chris researched what had been done before, why it worked or failed, then re-evaluating it with current technology and theory. Cost and ease of manufacturing now began to play their part. As much work as this had been, the biggest challenge was one we’re all familiar with. “Technically the airframe design has never been an issue.” Chris says, “Finding the time and resources was the real challenge.”
Currently, Chris is funding the project himself with $200-300 a week from his day job and a small amount of funds raised on the website. No investors have signed up yet, but with the recent onslaught of coverage over the internet, he’s received many offers over the last few days. “One of my goals was to get this close to production and release all non IP cad data on my website.” An impressive idea and one we hope to see Chris achieve.
You can view more about the design and flight testing on Chris’ site. While you can’t buy a hoverbike yet, but you can grab some schwag at the Hoverbike store. To throw in and help support the project and get a chance at winning a Hoverbike, you can also donate to the Hoverbike project.