Light Cycle

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Light Cycle
Tron vehicle
Light Cycle (1st generation)
First appearanceTron
Created bySyd Mead
General characteristics
Population volume1

The Light Cycle is a type of fictional motorcycle featured in the Tron franchise. First introduced in the film Tron, they are used as part of a deadly virtual game conducted by the villainous Master Control Program. In it, players must ride around an arena without crashing into each other, the outer walls, or the light trails left behind by the vehicles. Subsequent generations of Light Cycles appeared in later works of media.

Following its appearance in Tron, the Light Cycle became a fixture of popular culture. The first Light Cycle sequence was also seen as a pioneering moment in computer graphics that inspired later works.


Example of light trails created by two Light Cycles

Light Cycles are virtual and futuristic motorcycles that materialize from thin air, starting with the handlebars.[1] They are neon-colored and move at extreme levels of speed. They are only able to turn at right angles, creating blocky trails of color. The arena in which they are used features a white grid on black ground, marking the distance the Light Cycles travel.[2]


Light Cycles were designed by artist Syd Mead. They were initially rendered digitally.[1] The Light Cycle sequence in Tron was developed by MAGi in Westchester County, New York. It takes place over a length of about three minutes, which is interspersed with one minute of live-action footage.[3]

For Tron: Legacy, the Light Cycle was redesigned by Daniel Simon.[4] Five prop Light Cycles were built in real life, with four of them being destroyed post-production. The final one was purchased by Xiao Yu, a collector based in Nanjing, China; however, he was told by the authorities that it was not street-legal.[5]


Light Cycles became well-known in popular culture as one of the first mainstream cinematic appearances of a sports bike, and have been called symbols of futurism and posthumanism. In an analysis, author Esperanza Miyake interpreted the Light Cycles of the original Tron as representations of male power: only men get the chance to ride them, while the sole female character, Lora, does not. Their speed showed male dominance and control over technology, representing the means to "escape".[6]


The Light Cycle sequence inspired John Lasseter, who was then working at Disney, to enter computer animation; he went on to direct Toy Story, crediting its creation to Tron.

The Light Cycle design served as the basis for a roller coaster called Tron Lightcycle Power Run, which opened in Shanghai Disneyland in 2016[7] and Magic Kingdom in 2023, the latter in which it is known as Tron Lightcycle / Run.[8][9][10]


  1. ^ a b Patterson, Richard (August 1982). "The Making of Tron". American Cinematographer.
  2. ^ Curtis, Scott (2019). Animation. Alla Gadassik, Andrew Johnston, Bob Rehak, Kevin Sandler, Susan Ohmer. Rutgers University Press. ISBN 9780813572789.
  3. ^ Smith, Alvy Ray (2021). A Biography of the Pixel. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. p. 407. ISBN 978-0-262-54245-6. OCLC 1163953124.
  4. ^ "Out of this world". Wired UK. 2011-10-01. ISSN 1357-0978. Retrieved 2022-03-22.
  5. ^ Westbrook, Caroline (2014-07-25). "This man owns a real life Tron light cycle". Metro. Retrieved 2022-03-22.
  6. ^ Miyake, Esperanza (2018). The Gendered Motorcycle: Representations in Society, Media and Popular Culture. London: Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 978-1-83860-937-5. OCLC 1090540642.
  7. ^ Pimental, Joseph (April 12, 2016). "Photos: Shanghai Disneyland will have a familiar feel". The Orange County Register. Archived from the original on August 22, 2016. Retrieved February 5, 2023.
  8. ^ Diller, Nathan (January 10, 2023). "The long-awaited TRON Lightcycle / Run will open at Disney World on April 4". USA Today. Archived from the original on January 10, 2023. Retrieved February 5, 2023.
  9. ^ "Save the Date: TRON: Lightcycle / Run Disney Cast Life Preview Registration Opens January 30!". wdprhubsites. Retrieved February 5, 2023.
  10. ^ McOmber, Sara (January 19, 2023). "DATES ANNOUNCED for TRON Lightcycle / Run Cast Member Previews in Disney World". disneyfoodblog. Retrieved February 5, 2023.