Dual-use ‘Railway Motorcycle’ also helps repair and maintain train tracks

Dual Use Railway Motorcycle
'Railway Motorcycle' concept - images from London International Creative Competition.

A group of designers from Lanzhou University of Technology in China has created a concept motorcycle that in their view presents an ideal solution for two groups of people you may never have thought of connecting before: railway workers and commuters. It’s actually not as crazy as it sounds.

The artists were inspired to create an electric motorcycle concept that could be as useful as possible, rather than simply a stylish or luxury item enjoyed by city dwellers. Let’s take a deeper dive and look at how this concept works and how it connects these two groups of people.

Railway Motorcycle – A bike with wings, designed for rail repair

The only official name the concept has so far is simply “Railway Motorcycle” which is how it was referred to when it was submitted to the London International Creative Competition. To the team’s credit, the bike did win awards at the show. The main idea that sets Railway Motorcycle apart from other ideas is its wings.

On the side of the bike one can find a set of retractable “wings” which are designed to help attach the bike to a standard railway track. The bike would then be able to ride stably on the track, carrying workers to and from where they need to get safely and efficiently.

‘Railway Motorcycle’ has wings on both sides that latch on the rails when lowered.

Given the rapid expansion of high-speed rail and subway systems within China, the team were inspired to create a solution to the plight of maintenance workers at these sites. They are still often forced to travel the rails on foot, carrying tools which are cumbersome, and the situation is often dangerous, not to mention criminally inefficient.

Railway Motorcycle is designed to alleviate these problems, giving teams of workers a fast and safe way to move up and down the tracks, illuminating the way when underground. The wings can simply deploy or retract when needed, allowing the bike to transition from rail to road. The designers even used bright orange and reflective gray coloring to allow the bike to be more easily seen when used in subway maintenance.

Cutting edge electric technology with durable construction

But far from being exclusively used in these industrial applications, Railway Motorcycle would also be sold directly to consumers who could enjoy the bike for its design and style, as well as its practicality as a commuter and city vehicle.

Riders position themselves close to the semi-covered rear wheel, placing their feet on the foot rests behind them and leaning forward to grab the handlebars up ahead. It’s a very sporty and race-like posture, so not like a cruising bike such as a Harley Davidson.

‘Railway Motorcycle’ on the road.

The designers say that the body would most likely be made from an aluminum-magnesium alloy, and would also feature vacuum-puncture-proof tires for added durability. These tires would not have the full protection of wheel rims, however, especially the front tire.

The main powertrain would be a centrally-mounted battery, presumably a lithium-ion unit, but it is not specified. Up front, the driver would have an LED digital instrument panel to know the status of the bike. Could it really be a viable future electric motorcycle concept? Only time will tell.