The world’s first flying motorcycle could hit the skies by the end of the decade

But Mayman Aerospace’s bonkers mega-drones will be here faster. The inventor of the Speeder jet bike and Jetpack has pivoted into the military market, planning to apply that tech to its civilian projects

The intriguing “flying motorcycle,” formerly known as the Jetpack Aviation Speeder, is moving ahead in its development with a new name—the Razor. “There were just too many things out there calling themselves ‘Speeder,’” says David Mayman, the CEO of both Jetpack Aviation and Mayman Aerospace.

The name change comes as Mayman and company temporarily pivot away from the jet bike and focus on its autonomous, high-speed VTOL, also called the Razor. The military-designated super-drone uses eight small jet turbines, mounted two per corner, to produce speeds above 400 knots, flying to a 6,096-metre ceiling, with a 322-kilometre range. This unmanned predecessor to what Mayman envisions as his flying motorcycle uses the same tech but offers a more appealing and immediate business proposition for his firm.

Inventor of the flying motorcycle and backpack jetpack, Mayman Aerospace has moved into military mega-drones. Photo by Mayman Aerospace

“Electric drones can carry 9 to 22.7 kilograms and fly 161 km/hr,” Mayman says. “We can carry from 45 to 227 kilograms and fly at speeds approaching 805 km/hr.” The unique combination of capacity and speed has caught the government’s attention, resulting in development deals with the Department of Defense.

Working prototypes are already aloft, and Mayman expects to complete testing in Q3 with delivery of the initial version to the DOD in Q1 2025. That model won’t hit the range and speed numbers Mayman cites—at least not yet. But subsequent iterations will. “Realistically, I expect military certification next year, then two years of building flight hours,” he says.

The new drones will develop the technology for the jet bike. Photo by Mayman Aerospace

Besides military use, Mayman says the Razor is “perfect for disaster relief. Hurricane, tornado, even wildfire, anywhere you need to ferry supplies in and out very quickly.” He also foresees a business market, especially for companies that have to move heavy equipment back and forth or reach remote locations in any weather conditions, like oil rigs or construction projects.

Accelerating the Razor’s development has had other consequences, which are negative to sci-fi lovers of jetpacks. The new products have forced Mayman to shelve his well-publicised Jetpack. “We’re not focusing on it at the moment,” he says. “We have so many contracts with the DoD, it’s impossible to do it all, so we’re focusing on hitting our commitments on safety, certification and flight hours.”

One of the casualties of the pivot into drones is the Jetpack, which Mayman Aerospace will discontinue. Photo by Mayman Aerospace

The James-Bond-like jetpack allowed trained users to soar to 3,048 metres and run at 193 km/hr for six to 10 minutes. The company offered anyone with a checkbook and a dream a chance to train on the device at its California base. To date, Mayman had built 16 of them and sold five to private owners. Now, those opportunities have been grounded.

The good news for anyone who wants to be a real-life Ironman is that UK-based Gravity Industries is offering another style of personal jet propulsion called the Jetsuit to interested clients.

The loss of Mayman’s jetpack is offset by the tantalising prospect of a flying motorcycle. He says the logistics and safety of putting a someone safely on board are still fuzzy, but remain part of the long-term plan. A ridable Razor would have reduced speed and altitude limits compared to its namesake drones and likely cost between US$250,000 and US$300,000. “It wouldn’t be before 2028,” he says. “By then, it’s certainly possible.”

This story was first published on Robb Report USA