In 2024, NASA plans to stage its first crewed landing on the Moon’s surface in more than half a century. If all goes according to plan, subsequent trips should further build out infrastructure, perhaps resulting in a little fleet of lunar rovers. I don’t know if two-wheeled vehicles are part of those plans, but after seeing Hookie’s Tardigrade concept bike, I really hope they are.
Hookie is a German custom motorcycle company, and this month it revealed the Tardigrade — an electric lunar motorcycle based on a design by Russian artist Andrew Fabishevskiy, and named after one of Earth’s most resilient organisms.
The Tardigrade isn’t just a cool idea with no functional basis — it’s made of components that would ideally suit it well for traversing the Moon’s surface. That includes airless carbon tires and an all-aluminum tubular frame that protects the battery pack and other sensitive components, according to German site Motorrad.
The Tardigrade’s motor and batteries were lifted from a Swedish bike called the Cake Ösa and are projected to deliver 68 miles of range, with a top speed of 9 mph. It weighs 295 pounds — on this planet. On the Moon, that’d be something like 49 pounds. Steering is handled electronically, which might disappoint anyone hoping to kick up clouds of lunar dust on the Tardigrade as if it were a dirt bike, dragging legs and everything. But again, that’s not really the point.
The Tardigrade will probably never make it where it belongs, but it will be honored with a place at the Petersen Automotive Museum this month, as part of the museum’s ADV:Overland exhibition spanning the past, present and future of motorized exploration.
It certainly looks the part. What differentiates the Tardigrade from other theoretical extraterrestrial machines is that it balances form and function in a believable way. It works as as art, with its massive wheels, lean, minimalist frame and metallic highlights, but it’s also not terribly hard to imagine an actual lunar bike bearing some proportional similarity to this one. And it’s the believable concepts that tend to be the most exciting of all, no?