A combination of Australian vision, creativity, motorsport engineering excellence and composites expertise has come together to create the world’s first purpose-built freestyle motocross machine.
Officially launched in October to an international audience at the American International Motorcycle Expo in Florida, Skycraft is a collaboration between the Australian street wear company Unit and world-renowned motorsport entity Triple Eight Race Engineering Australia.
Conceptualised by Unit co-founder Ian Everest and engineered by Ludo Lacroix of Triple Race Eight Engineering Australia, the Skycraft prototype challenges conventional motorcycle design rules.
With weight reduction a central goal, Skycraft is constructed almost entirely from carbon fibre and titanium components. At just 75 kilograms (165 pounds), the bike is over 25 per cent lighter than a standard motocross machine.
Using their expertise in manufacturing bespoke composite components and prepreg autoclave technology, LSM Advanced Composites in Queensland built the heavy duty carbon fibre monocoque frame, which contains the fuel cell, as well as the carbon fibre swingarm, which has the muffler integrated inside it.
Meanwhile, Lightning Composites, also based in Queensland, went back to “old school methods” to build the radically designed tail piece combination of a seat, mudguard and grab handle, radiator shroud and number plate.
Both companies are long-standing suppliers of composite components to Triple Eight Race Engineering, best known for their Red Bull Racing Australia Super V8 racing cars.
LSM Managing Director Liam Mahoney said: “This was a particularly enjoyable challenge. When Ludo contacted us with the intricate specification for the bike our composite design team was proud to have the opportunity to work with him in formulating a solution for this unique project. The detailed CAD was extrapolated into our robot machining facility to produce a tooling board mould especially for rapid autoclave prototype manufacture.
“Considering a FMX (Freestyle Motocross) bike is required to perform spectacular leaps into the air, designing a laminate that provides the structural integrity for the landing, whilst incorporating the fuel cell and the muffler in the swingarm, certainly had some deep and thoughtful design moments,” Mahoney said.
Lightning Composites Director Bruce Mooring, a motorbike enthusiast and keen motocross rider, is also clearly proud of his team’s contribution and has praise for the “very nice job” done by LSM.
Unit’s Skycraft provided a rare opportunity to showcase his team’s innovation and skills in producing high performance motorsport components, a market that normally demands absolute confidentiality.
“We have been doing the composites components for Red Bull cars for years but everything is understandably top secret so this is one of the first things we have built that we are allowed to show to the public,” Mooring said.
With a rough drawing of the number plate and a foam mock-up of the tail piece and radiator shroud, Lightning had scope to innovate and contribute something special.
“We were given a fairly open brief and as is commonly said had to perform composite miracles,” Mooring said.
“They were built through old school methods, from building the wooden moulds through to using vacuum infusion.”
Unit’s Everest said: “The original design brief recognised the opportunity for an ‘out of the box’ product for freestyle motocross. All other forms of motorcycle sports use purpose built machines.
“As an experimental platform, Skycraft will allow for test data and rider feedback to lead towards a potential production bike.”