Divergent 3D, creator of Blade, the world's first 3D-printed supercar, has demonstrated the flexibility of its manufacturing systems with a very tasty custom motorcycle based on Kawasaki's crazy supercharged H2 powerplant.
If you ever want to start a conversation with a biker, probably the best way to get things going is to ask "nice bike, what have you done to it?" Customization is an almost universal part of the ownership process, and just about everyone changes bits and pieces along the way.
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But if you really want to impress people (and you're bored with turbos), start out with a custom frame. Custom frames speak volumes. They say things like "I do not fear bare wiring looms," and "if it doesn't fit, by gum I'll fabricate a way to make it," with a subtext of "ooh, you stuck a HID light kit and rim tape on your bike, that's cute."
Divergent 3D makes custom frames using 3-D printed nodes with carbon tubes that form the basis of its 3D printed, 500-horsepower Blade supercars. But the company is keen to demonstrate that additive manufacturing has major potential across the automotive industry, from supercars to trucks and motorcycles. So for this week's LA Auto Show, CEO Kevin Czinger pulled the covers off a very cool looking superbike prototype the company is calling the Dagger.
Based on the most extreme production engine you can buy today – the supercharged, 200-plus horsepower, 1,000cc powerplant from the barnstorming Kawasaki H2 – the Dagger showcases a 3D-printed tank, swingarm and trellis frame.
The frame echoes the original Kawasaki tube frame in many ways, but instead of welded tube, its sculpted curves are printed metal. A unique cross-over X is the central feature, while the skeletal-looking rear arm that runs down to the bottom of the motor is super-thin.
The tank is more form than function, and looks more like something you'd find on an electric bike than a gas one; a feature hole pokes through the middle to show off the crazy shapes that are possible with additive manufacture. The swingarm seems to have been designed so that the rear shock is contained inside it, leaving a huge gap between the rear wheel and the tiny seat unit.
Apart from that, the bike is unfinished. There are no fenders, bodywork, dash, headlights or other road gear. Given that the company calls it a superbike and it's got clip-on handlebars, I initially assumed it's a sportsbike in progress and we'll soon see it popping up with some wild blue printed fairings, but there doesn't seem to be any mount points for a side fairing.
There are, however, a few mount points up the front end of the frame that could be used to stick a headlight and dash on. So it'll be interesting to see if this thing ever makes it onto the street.
Czinger gave almost no other information on the Dagger at the launch; "We did it just to show we can do a very wide range of very cool vehicles," he said before throwing to a video about manufacturing waste and pollution.
We've seen other 3D-printed motorcycle concepts before, such as Airbus's ultra-lightweight electric commuter concept, and TE Connectivity's bizarre cruiser that looks like a Tonka toy.
But the Dagger has an H2 engine in it. It had better be extremely strong and well engineered, because that thing can generate some truly hair-raising forces and frame stresses. But one thing's for sure, if you slapped a headlight on this thing and took it down to a biker coffee meetup, you'd be King Dingaling for the night. And at the end of the day, isn't that what really matters?
Source: Divergent 3DView gallery - 9 images