The first time you build something from scratch, it's an experiment. You might be experienced enough that you have a good idea of how it's going to turn out, or you might not. Still, you're rarely ever 100 percent certain about the result.
As long as you know that, though, chances are excellent that you learn from what you've created. You do something one way, then see how you could refine it in the future to better suit your vision. If you have the chance to do it again in the future, you iterate and improve on those processes. It's an inherent part of the act of creation.
While fans of anime, manga, and/or sci-fi dystopian cinema have built models, replicas, and other tributes to Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira since it came out, few vehicles have stuck in people's minds like Shotaro Kaneda's bike.
If you need further proof, all you have to do is look at how many times the infamous bike slide scene from the film has been recreated in other movies and TV series. Since we wrote that piece in 2022, it's reasonable to assume that the complete list is even longer now.
Although plenty of fans have built models, few have tried to make a working, running, ridable version of Kaneda's bike. That alone would set Barcelona-based design firm Bel y Bel apart, but they've taken it a step further. After they've finalized their prototype, they plan to make a limited edition, fully electric version of their completed design available to purchase.
We recently had the chance to chat with Carles Bel, one half of Bel y Bel (with business partner Jesús Bel), about their custom Kaneda's Bike creative process. Here's what he told us.
Bel y Bel decided to build Kaneda's bike after how successful they were at bringing two other famous anime and manga bike designs to life.
Lunch's Monowheel from Dragon Ball by Bel y Bel
Bulma's Capsule No. 9 from Dragon Ball by Bel y Bel
Back in 2020, Carles Bel says that "we recreated fully functional replicas of the Dragon Ball motorcycles by [noted gearhead] Akira Toriyama, of which we are big fans." The builds turned out so well and people loved them, so they decided to push themselves further by building Kaneda's Bike from Akira next.
Building the Prototype
Initially, Bel says, they used a heavily customized chassis from a Yamaha Majesty YP 250 scooter to build the prototype. They also integrated the single-sided swingarm from a Honda VFR 800.
"We could say that more than half of the parts have been made expressly for this bike, many parts are reused but have had to be somewhat modified for this purpose," Bel told RideApart.
"We are talking about the first prototype. In the following ones practically everything, including the chassis, will be custom built," he continued.
The prototype was also a hybrid design that used both a Yamaha combustion engine and an electric motor. However, the final version will be fully electric, says Bel.
Other features include the trick digital panel with integrated controls and lighting, which you can see in the video. The bodywork is made of fiberglass and carbon fiber, and the bike rolls on 17-inch aluminum wheels that are wrapped in racing slicks.
Electrifying Kaneda's Bike
"Now we are working on two new models that you can see on our Instagram with a rear hub motor (5000W 72v). It has three speed maps and a reverse function like the anime," Bel told us.
What about the battery and charging?
"We think that with this power we have good enough specifications, but you can mount more power and more battery if necessary," Bel said.
"For now, the battery is placed between the feet in the lowest part of the keel and is recharged by a quick plug-in that can be connected to the power without problems. The plug is placed in the original competition-type gas cap. A very cool detail also replicated from the [anime] motorcycle."
Do you have any range or top speed estimates?
"It depends on the battery obviously. With our standard 60 amp-hour battery, about 100 kilometers or 64 miles," Bel said.
"The maximum speed is about 120 kilometers per hour (or 75 mph), but it is a motorcycle designed more for show than for doing routes of many kilometers," he added.
Do you have any wheelbase and weight estimates for the finished bike?
"Wheelbase is a little more than two meters (or 78.74 inches). Estimated weight is about 170kg (or just under 375 pounds)."
Do the front and rear brake and throttle work the way that a motorcycle or scooter rider would expect, or is it controlled differently?
"It is controlled the same, with the addition that you can use the electric motor brake according to the mapping if you are interested," Bel responded.
Bel y Bel is now taking orders on commission for the electric version of Kaneda's Bike.
Carles Bel calls it a functional replica, and says that the plan is currently to start the new series in 2024. The price will be €24,000 (or about $26,287).
Furthermore, he adds that they're currently taking deposits in order to gauge interest and plan how many they will manufacture. The accepted down payment amount for a Kaneda's Bike of your very own is €5,000 (about $5,475).
Bel adds that no interest will be charged for the duration of the build period, and that customers can continue to pay for the bike in installments as it's being built over the course of the year.
For more information, you can reach out to Bel y Bel on Instagram or via their website, which we'll link in our Sources.