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Malloy Hoverbike - Fly Carefully!

Looking like the latest option for the Batmobile, the Hoverbike is a motorcycle with two horizontal, vented blades. There's no seatbelt, so fly carefully, caped crusader!
hoverbike
image from Hoverbike

Specs:

  • Type: Hovercraft
  • Class: Motorcycle/Helicopter
  • Manufacturerr: Malloy (prototype)
  • Propulsion system: Forced Air
  • Top Speed: 150 knots (172.6mph)
  • Vehicle range: 148km or 290km
  • Fuel(s): Gasoline
  • Price: N/A
  • Availability: None, prototype testing only

The manufacturer says

The Hoverbike is a new way to fly and one would need to learn to ride the hoverbike in much the same manner as a helicopter or riding a motorcycle. If you live in the USA or your country has similar civil aviation regulations, then the hoverbike will be classed as an 'ultralite' which means you do not need a pilot's license to fly the hoverbike.

hoverbike

Overview

The Hoverbike is a prototype aircraft being designed, tested, and built by Chris Malloy, an Australian mechanical engineer. Malloy has been working on the Hovercraft from his home garage for over two years and feels he is about 10% of the way to a production-ready design.

It's a twin-propeller helicopter design, but that is oversimplifying this cool machine. It's really more of a motorcycle with the wheels being replaced by hovercraft blades. A ducted fan design gives it both power and stability.

How It's Built

The Hoverbike has a frame made of Kevlar-reinforced carbon fiber with a foam core. This makes it both strong and light. Two horizontal spinning propellers made of Tasmanian oak with carbon fiber leading edges (made for airplane use) provide the upward thrust that can be controlled directionally for movement as well.

The Hoverbike is driven in a way similar to a motorcycle, with a twist-grip controlling thrust on the right and the left grip controlling the angle to move forward or backward. Turning the handle bars and leaning changes direction of flight, similar to a motorcycle.

The untested theoretical top speed of the bike is 172.6mph (150 knots/KIAS) and it is capable of reaching altitudes over 10,000 feet, but Malloy says this would require a specialized helmet and oxygen and would kind of defeat the purpose since it would also severely limit flight time in spending all of the thrust on going upwards. Current flight time is estimated to be about 45 minutes or so at around half speed (80mph) with a 130kg rider. It can go further with an added fuel tank, hence the dual numbers in the breakdown above.

Safety

The Hoverbike is inherently very safe, despite appearances. The blades on a production model would not be exposed as they are in this prototype and the two largest concerns for any flier would be those blades and the engine stopping. The bike has built in explosive parachutes that can deploy to bring the vehicle down as safely as possible - something, Malloy points out, that isn't possible in a helicopter or most light aircraft. In addition, the rider can opt to wear a personal chute and jump clear of the bike - also not available in most other aircraft.

The bike itself is very stable given the twin blade design. So as far as aircraft go, this one is safer than most.

hoverbike

Development So Far

Currently, Malloy feels his design needs changes like stacked propellers so that the blades can be smaller while providing the same thrust, thus lowering vibration and noise. He also wants to work out some tweaks to the aiframe and the vehicle requires full testing at altitude in order to be accepted by aviation authorities.

Ground testing of airflow, lift, thrust and so forth has been going very well and at the current rate, even only working weekends, Malloy thinks he can have a production-ready design ready for investors in about a year. Since the aircraft will only require full aviation testing in a few markets, this could speed up the move to market.

He plans to go into full flight testing this summer after some design changes and upgrades have been completed. Earlier flight tests were postponed when the propeller mounts began showing stress fractures, which he says were almost expected due to the materials used.

When Can We Get One and How Much?

These are questions that Chris Malloy will only tentatively answer, but he thinks the bike can be production-ready in a year to 18 months and if he can find investors to get production rolling, they can be on the market within a few months of that.

At this point, he can only estimate costs, but at current prices for one-off materials, he says it would cost the consumer about $40,000USD to get a Hoverbike. With serial production, though, that price would drop with economies of scale. This author estimates that if he can get 1,000 unit orders per year, the price could fall to $25,000 quite easily.

So.. would you pay that to be able to fly over the top of traffic and buzz the countryside? Even an aspiring, non-billionaire superhero could afford one of these.

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