Maker turns Ducati and Suzuki motorcycles into 3D printed RC racers (with rider!) 

Brett Turnage, a 3D printing and RC racing expert, has unveiled two functional 3D printed RC motorcycles complete with a moving 3D printed rider. Both 3D printable models are free to download.

 

3D printing is becoming increasingly popular in the world of RC racing, with high-profile RC racers like James Beswick taking fully 3D printed cars above the 200km/h mark. Brett Turnage, a 3D printing fanatic, may not be high up the RC leaderboards like Beswick, but he has also made a big cultural impact on the maker community, with his replicas of Ayrton Senna’s 1993 McLAren MP4/8 Formula 1 and an RS-LM 2014 Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro being downloaded many times. Excitingly, the RC lover has now returned with an altogether different project: two 3D printed RC motorcycles, the 2016 Ducati Draxter Concept Drag Bike and the 2016 Suzuki GSX-RR MotoGP Motorcycle.

According to Turnage, making a two-wheeled RC racer posed a massive set of challenges. For starters, the vehicle had to take into account a whole new factor: balance. While RC cars are constrained by certain weight distribution requirements, getting an RC motorcycle to stay upright presents a whole other problem. And that wasn’t the only difficulty getting the 3D printed bike on the track: Turnage also had to fit the electronics into a smaller chassis, while creating a 3D printed rider to sit atop the bike was an (admittedly optional) extra that the maker just couldn’t resist attempting.

The 3D printed Suzuki GSX-RR MotoGP and (above) its inspiration

When tackling the balance problem, Turnage went for established science rather than modern technology. As such, the 3D printed RC motorbike uses a passive gyroscope, rather than an electronic one, to help it balance on two wheels. This means a weighted front wheel keeps the bike upright when it spins. For the 3D printed driver, however, Turnage used an ultra micro servo that spins a rod in the body which then turns the pelvis, shifting the legs and head in opposite directions. This produces realistic human riding movements.

After originally going about building a chassis in the same way he would have with a car, Turnage soon realized that the process would actually be totally different: “I originally planned on having a common chassis that the body parts can attach to,” he said. “That all changed when I realized that the RC motorcycles could not have a separate chassis. Instead, it was best if the body was the chassis.”

The 3D printed Ducati Draxter Concept Drag Bike

Although Turnage only recently published the 3D models, the project dates back to November 2015, when the maker began modeling the motorcycles in Autodesk Fusion 360. Although a lifelong car enthusiast himself, Turnage was inspired to start the RC motorcycle project because a friend of his had recently purchased a Suzuki GSX R.

Makers looking to create either of the 3D printed motorcycles will have a 60-page manual to assist them. However, Turnage ultimately hopes that other makers and RC fans will start making their own designs: “For me a 3D printer is a tool, and to fully utilize it you need to learn how to design,” Turnage said. “I really hope that I can inspire people to turn their 3D printers from a hobby to a powerful tool.”