The Flite Bike

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 Your Choice: Motorcycle or Powered Parachute

Ultralights have sometimes been described as the "motorcycles of the air," which the new Flite Bike really is, combining a Honda Reflex motorcycle with a Buckeye powered parachute.

If you were to survey a number of ultralight pilots for some of their hobbies and backgrounds, you would probably find that some form of "motorcycle" has been or still is part of their lives. Well, a Virginia company called Flite Bike has come up with a different and totally unique concept - a Buckeye powered parachute built around a Honda Reflex motorcycle, claimed to be "the world's first roadable powered parachute."

The Flite Bike, as a "motorcycle," cruises comfortably down the highway at 45 to 50 mph. When used as a bike, it drives like a "trike" - that is, it has outriggers and air shocks on each side that operate off a compressor. Thus, you have your two main motorcycle wheels on the pavement plus the two wheels on the outriggers for added stability.

When used as a powered parachute, the air shocks are inflated, raising the rear motorcycle wheel off the ground, with the weight then being transferred to the outriggers, which extend outward for additional stability.

Steering on the ground and in the air is done by using the handlebars. On the road, the standard throttle and braking system are used on the bike; in the air, the throttle is operated by a lever on the side of the bike (similar to that used on the Buckeye powered parachute). The unit uses a standard Buckeye powered parachute canopy, which is capable of carrying the 550-pound Flite Bike assembly and a 250-pound pilot with fuel for 2 1/2 hours of flight time.

You purchase the unit in two parts. First, you buy the motorcycle from your local Honda dealer, then you get the Flite Bike installation package. The kit is to be built by Buckeye and installed only by authorized Buckeye dealers, with installation taking about 1 day.

Flite Bike touts one obvious advantage of this hybrid design concept: "Caught aloft in bad weather?" the company asks. "No problem. Land and travel by road to your destination."

Price for the Flite Bike kit (custom Flite Bike airframe, ram-air powered parachute canopy wing, 65-hp Rotax 582 liqiuid-cooled 2-cycle aircraft engine and 4-blade composite prop) is $19,800. The Flite Bike kit is "specifically designed for the Honda Reflex motorcycle and cannot be installed on any other motorcycle," Flite Bike says. (Manufacturer's suggested retail price for the Honda Reflex motorcycle is $4,995.)

- Report filed by Dave Loveman

Info: Flite Bike, 1800 N. Beauregard St., Suite 150, Dept. UF, Alexandria, VA 22311.
Phone: (703) 578-9661 * Fax: (703) 998-0680 Buckeye Industries, 16095 Linden Rd., Dept. UF, Argos, IN 46501.
Phone: (219) 892-5566 * Fax: (219) 892-6907 * e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .
 
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