Wholly high-tech, Batman

Times Staff Writer

Yes, it’s ridable. You just have to be a little bit crazy and entirely French to do it.

Specifically, you need to be Jean-Pierre Goy, the stunt rider who’s spent the last few months jumping Batman’s newest batbike at some top-secret location in England to prep for next summer’s Bruce Wayne caper, “The Dark Knight,” starring Christian Bale as the caped one.

Goy is the only person who’s ridden the new Batpod -- a bike so outrageous it’s hard to believe it was even built. It’s not just because it’s tricked out with grappling hooks, cannons and machine guns. The front and rear tires are both a monstrously huge 508 millimeters, and the engines are in the hubs of each wheel. Steering isn’t by hand but by shoulder, since there aren’t handlebars. Instead, there are shields that fit each arm like sleeves and have the ability to rotate around the bike’s frame. The two foot pegs are set 3 1/2 feet apart on either side of the tank, which the rider lies on, belly down.

That tank also moves up and down -- you know, in case Batman needs to dodge bullets or slide under semis.


And you know he will.

Lucius Fox, gadget guru for Wayne Enterprises’ Applied Sciences division (played by Morgan Freeman), is the guy who came up with the idea. At least he is in the movie.

The real man behind the machine is Nathan Crowley, creator of the Batmobile for Warners Bros. 2005 hit, “Batman Begins.”

“The way we make films is we build things for real. We try and not rely on visual effects,” said Crowley, who, in the end, had the easier job in making the bike come to life.

It was Chris Corbould who had to build the thing.

“I thought there was no chance we’d actually achieve it,” Corbould said. “[Director] Chris Nolan and Nathan went for the look of it rather than thinking about the mechanics. That was the biggest challenge: Get their vision, but make it work and perform.”

Not just once but several times. There are actually six Batpods, in case one or several are crashed during filming, which is likely.

Corbould wouldn’t say what sort of engine was used for the slick gray-and-silver Batpod, just that it’s “high performance.” Nor would he give its top speed, except to say it’s “very fast.”


And the cost?

“I can’t tell you that,” Courbould said, laughing. “I haven’t even told the producers.”