Our Prototypes column introduces new vehicle concepts and presents visuals from designers who illustrate the ideas. Some of them will be extensions of existing concepts, others will be new, some will be production ready, and others really far-fetched.
The Sonic SX is a jet-powered flying motorbike inspired by Franky Zapata’s This flying bike is imagined as a recreational vehicle that could be flown in dedicated areas, but it could also eventually serve as a racing vehicle or for specific tactical jobs.
Images courtesy of Aaron Hughes
When unveiled his idea to the public in early April, I posted it on my social network page to help him gain some exposure. I also quickly started exchanging ideas with him to create a Jet Bike version of his invention, but within a few weeks he got overwhelmed (media, investors, military requests). Therefore, I had to carry on this concept on my own (meaning that it’s far from perfect). Frank probably has a prototype in hand, but in the meantime this is what it could look like.
How it works
The Sonic SX would be the size of a standard sports motorcycle. It could carry only one passenger for safety and fuel consumption reasons. The vehicle would have four jet engines, two in the front and two in the back. The jets could rotate for liftoff, landing or full-speed flying. A fuel tank would be located inside the bike (instead of in a back pack) and could be larger than a standard motorcycle tank because the space that the engine typically takes up would be free.
Two jet nozzles would also help with lateral stability (making small adjustments). An onboard flying system would help stabilize the vehicle automatically, although the pilot would need to be trained to feel the bike and learn how to react.
The Sonic SX would have four landing pads similar in shape to the Flex-Foot Cheetah, a human foot replacement developed by biomedical engineer Van Phillips. This way, the vehicle could land at a very low speed and cut power a few feet above ground. There would also be DEL lights to light up the landing area from dusk until dawn. Small rotating wings could also be added to the side of the Sonic SX to create more lift.
The Sonic name was used by the division of BRP in the late 70’s. Because it was one of the most competitive bikes of its time, I thought it suited this concept. The SX stands for “space cross”. Of course, this type of bike will not fly very high because it will consume a lot of fuel, but it will ride fast and give you more thrills than any powersport vehicle.
What’s it used for?
The Sonic SX could be used as a recreational vehicle on air “tracks”, airspace dedicated to riding your flying jet bike. These would be quite noisy because of the jet engines, so an old airport or a remote area would be preferred for these tracks. Eventually these vehicles could be used to create racing events (I imagine that’s a thing Red Bull would be interested in) and maybe one day could be used to travel between cities. In the short term, prototypes will probably be developed by the military and we’ll likely see a version in new Mad Max movies.
First, I would like to thank , who inspired me with his creativity and resourcefulness. The Sonic SX concept was developed in collaboration with , an industrial designer based in Salt Lake City, Utah. Hughes graduated in design from the College of Creative Studies and founded his own company, Hughes Studios. He also created the renderings of the and concepts.