VIBA redesigns the Honda Monkey as Jane with the help of 3D printing

VIBA, a French manufacturer of limited edition bikes, has redesigned a classic motorbike using 3D printed parts. The project was completed in collaboration with German metal 3D printing specialists, SLM solutions and Rolf Lenk.

Yann Bakonyi, the founder of VIBA said, “At tradeshows we see a lot of [3D printed] parts, but they are usually just for showcase and are not functional […] So, this project was to show that 3D printing can be integrated in an industrial process to work perfectly.”

VIBA's 3D printed bike called Jane. Image via VIBA.
VIBA’s 3D printed bike called Jane. Image via VIBA.

3D printed motorbikes

The automotive industry has found varied applications using 3D printing. For example, last year two 3D printed motorbikes were demonstrated, an electric bike by Fillamentum and NERA by BigRep.

Furthermore, performance racing has gained from 3D printing, as companies like Carbon Performance provide bespoke 3D printed parts to enhance the performance of racing vehicles.

VIBA’s motorbike, named Jane, is an effort to achieve both design and efficiency. To build the Jane bike, VIBA partnered with SLM Solutions and Rolf Lenk, after a visit to the 3D Print Congress and Exhibition 2018 held in Lyon. Bakonyi explained, “For us, doing some limited production run, it’s [3D printing] a great production method because we can build all the parts we want with a good cost.”

A 3D printed mudguard and headlight support. Image via VIBA.
A 3D printed mudguard and headlight support. Image via VIBA.

Sweet Jane

The Jane bike is inspired by Honda Z series line of motorbikes popular in the 1960s and 70s. It included models such as the Honda Z50A, Z50M, and Z50J. The bike was dubbed the ‘Monkey’ or ‘Gorilla’ because apparently, that is how the driver of the bike looks like while riding.

On why VIBA chose the Z series, Bakonyi said, Everybody knows the Monkey […] We decided to reinvent the Honda Monkey because, every time we are building a project at VIBA, we care about telling a story […] We wanted to revive childhood memories of riders.”

“It’s dedicated to people who like the original Monkey […] but are looking for something new – different than something else you can see on the streets.”

The bike is named ‘Jane’ after Jane Fonda and Jane Birkin who were the cultural icons at the time of Honda Monkey bikes popularity.

A Japanese ad poster of the Honda Z50A. Image via Motorcycle Specs.
A Japanese ad poster of the Honda Z50A. Image via Motorcycle Specs.

3D printed fuel tank

The Jane bike is consists of several 3D printed parts made with AlSi10Mg, a commonly used aluminum in 3D printing. The AlSi10Mg is lightweight and has good thermal properties.

The entire 3D printing process took more than sixty hours print all the parts and three SLM printers were used to make more than five parts of the Jane bike. The 3D printed parts of the bike include the gauge bracket, hollow levers to carry wiring, front luggage rack, mudguard and headlight support, and the fuel tank.

According to the Bakoyi the 1 mm thick fuel tank is “the most innovative part because it’s the display of 3D printing added value […] You’ll find that almost everything possible has to do with this technology.”

The fuel tank took more than twenty-hours of printing time on an SLM 800 3D printer. The insides of the fuel tank are a honeycomb pattern. This structure prevents fuel sloshing when the breaks are applied or the bike is tilted during a turn. According to the creators, lack of fuel sloshing makes the bike ride more stable.

Furthermore, the tank was built as one piece, in contrast to traditional fuel tanks whose parts are welded together. Ralf Frohwerk, SLM Solutions’ Head of Business Development, said, “It really shows what’s capable with this technology […] Designers can integrate functional features while creating new, custom designs.”

The 125cc engine Jane bike has a limited release with only 23 models planned.  It can be reserved on VIBA’s shop.

The 3D printed fuel tank of the Jane bike. Image via VIBA.
The 3D printed fuel tank of the Jane bike. Image via VIBA.

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Featured image shows the Jane motorbike. Image via VIBA