Flying motorbikes: something out of a bad 1980s sci-fi movie or the future of the commute?

Flying motorbikes: something out of a bad 1980s sci-fi movie or the future of the commute?

The Japanese-made Xturismo is on sale at £680,000 apiece – and was greeted with huge enthusiasm when it was launched in the US this week

The Xturismo at its launch event in Japan in 2021.

Name: The Xturismo.

Age: Just under a year old.

Appearance: The future of aviation as we know it.

Wow, a zero-emission aircraft? Well, no, we’re not there yet, but this is still very exciting.

Why? It’s – get this – a flying motorcycle!

OK, that is very cool. I bet it looks amazing. I mean, dampen your expectations a bit. Perhaps “flying motorcycle” was overselling it a bit. In truth, it’s a bit more “massive drone welded to a jetski”.

But it can fly! This is still a huge step forward! Yes, that’s very true. This week, its manufacturer, Aerwins, unveiled it at the North American Auto show, where it was greeted with colossal enthusiasm.

Hang on, unveiled this week? You said it was a year old. Sorry, I meant it was unveiled to American audiences this week. It has been on sale in Japan since last autumn.

How come Japan gets all the fun? Because Japan is one of the only countries that doesn’t classify the Xturismo as an aircraft, so you don’t need a flying licence for it there.

So everyone in Japan has their own private Xturismo to fly? No. There are still regulations. So while anyone in Japan can technically own a Xturismo, they are only allowed to fly it over racetracks.

That won’t help with the commute. It will if you live at the start of a racetrack and you work halfway around the same track. Didn’t think of that, did you?

But that’s the only setback? Yes, that and the fact that Aerwins is making just 200 of them.

Oh. And they cost about £680,000 each.

Good lord. But it’s OK, because Aerwins still views this as a proof of concept. By 2025, it plans to launch a smaller all-electric version of the Xturismo that costs a mere £43,000. For comparison, that’s about half the price of a new Range Rover.

OK, accessible personal air travel here we come! As long as you have a flying licence, yes.

OK. And the Civil Aviation Authority overhauls its existing legislation to police and manage thousands of personally piloted drones across the country’s airspace.

OK. And you don’t mind looking like a two-bit henchman from a terrible mid-budget 1980s sci-fi movie, because that seems to be the aesthetic the Xturismo publicity campaign is going for.

Fine then, I’m out. Me, too. I’ll stick to my hoverboard, thank you.

Do say: “Soon, we’ll all have our own matt-black flying motorbike drone.”

Don’t say: “Looks like dystopia-chic is going to be the hot look of 2025.”