Speeder bike

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Speeder bikes (also known as "jumpspeeders" or "hover bikes") and swoop bikes (or just "swoops") are small, fast transports that use repulsorlift engines in the fictional Star Wars universe. Return of the Jedi includes a prominent speeder bike chase; speeders and swoops also appear in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (added in the 1997 Special Edition, but absent on every earlier print), the animated TV series Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, and the Star Wars expanded universe's books, comics, and games.

Origin and design[edit]

Various concept sketches came from producer George Lucas' call for a "rocket-powered scooter" in Return of the Jedi.[1] While Industrial Light & Magic's (ILM) Nilo Rodis-Jamero designed a blocky vehicle with a large engine, Ralph McQuarrie's designs were more fanciful but with less of a sense of the vehicle's power source.[1] The final designs resulted in full-scale Imperial speeder bikes used by the actors for film against a bluescreen, along with miniatures mounted by articulated puppets.[1] ILM used a steadicam recording at 1 frame per second to record the speeder bikes' path through the forest moon of Endor—in reality, a California forest.[2] Playing the footage at the standard rate of 24 frames per second caused a blurring effect, which ILM used to simulate the vehicles' high speed; what was shot at 5 miles per hour (8.0 km/h) looked like 100 miles per hour (160 km/h).[2][contradictory]

The BARC speeder in Revenge of the Sith was designed to appear like a predecessor to the speeder bikes in Return of the Jedi.[3] ILM's Doug Chiang designed Darth Maul's (Ray Park) speeder in The Phantom Menace to resemble a scythe, and Chiang's initial designs for the droid army's STAP vehicle resembled the speeder bikes from Return of the Jedi.[4][5] An all-CGI swoop appearing in A New Hope stems from a design created for Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire, and the swoop also appears briefly in The Phantom Menace.[6]


In the Star Wars universe, speeder bikes are a type of "repulsorcraft," vehicles which use anti-gravity devices called repulsorlifts to hover above the surface of a planet. Compared to other repulsorcraft, speeder bikes sacrifice unnecessary systems in order to achieve greater speed or agility.[7] Swoop bikes, being little more than an engine with seats, are similar but better suited for operating at higher altitudes.[8] In the Legends video game Knights of the Old Republic, swoop racing is a main part of the story with the player having to work for The Hidden Beks, a swoop gang, by infiltrating rival swoop gang, The Black Vulkars, and competing against them in a swoop race in order to rescue Bastila.[9] "Swoop racing" is described as a dangerous, fast-paced competition between skilled pilots.[10][11]

Types of speeder bikes[edit]

  • 74-Z Speeder Bike: The 74-Z speeder bike makes its first appearance in Return of the Jedi as Imperial scout troopers patrol the forest surrounding the shield generator on Endor; during the movie's speeder bike chase Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) pilot a pair of speeders to chase down scout troopers who might reveal the Rebel Alliance's presence on Endor. Background material on the bike explains how the 74-Z, built by the Aratech Repulsor Company, was originally used by the Republic during the Clone Wars before being adopted by the Empire. The bike measures 3.3 m (11 ft) long, can carry one or two passengers, and achieves a maximum speed of 500 km/h (310 mph). In addition to a self-charging battery system, sensors and communication equipment, the 74-Z is armed with a Ax-20 blaster cannon, though being stripped of all excess weight the bike offers no protection for the rider.[12][13]
  • Sith Speeder: Darth Maul is seen using a speeder bike to chase down Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) in The Phantom Menace, identified in Star Wars material as a Razalon FC-20 speeder bike. It is described as being a popular model with assassins and other criminals because of its ability to perform sharp turns and a compactness that makes it harder to track, though the small size also requires it be more frequently recharged. Darth Maul's bike, the Bloodfin, has been stripped of all weaponry and sensors to make his lighter and faster, achieving a top speed of 650 km/h (400 mph).[14][15]
  • Flitknot Speeder: The Flitknot speeder bike is first seen in Attack of the Clones, when Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) uses one to escape the battle of Geonosis to return to his solar sailer. These bikes are of simple design, with more bulk at the back in the engines than anywhere else, as well as two handholds and two footholds. They are fast and maneuverable, able to outrun Republic gunships.[16]
  • BARC Speeder: The BARC speeder first appears in Revenge of the Sith as Jedi Master Stass Allie is turned upon by her clone trooper escorts when Darth Sidious (Ian McDiarmid) initiates Order 66. Manufactured by the Aratech Repulsor Company, the speeder bike's name is explained as being derived from the specialist clone troopers (Biker Advanced Recon Commandos) who typically pilot these craft. Armed with a pair of blaster cannons, the BARC speeder is 4.6 m (15 ft) long and can reach a top speed of 520 km/h (320 mph). It normally seats only one passenger but can be modified with mission-specific sidecars.[14][15]
  • C-PH Patrol Speeder Bike: Also known as Imperial patrol speeders, these bikes are used by Imperial patrol troopers to police shipyards and industrial facilities of value to the Empire. Manufactured by the Aratech Repulsor Company, they use a bank of forward-facing repulsorfield vector guides.[17] They first appear in Solo: A Star Wars Story, in which a patrol trooper piloting one such speeder pursues Han Solo and Qi'ra.[18]
  • Zephyr-J: The Zephyr-J is a model of speeder bike used in the Outer Rim territories and manufactured by Mobquet Swoops and Speeders. It makes its debut in "Chapter 5: The Gunslinger" of The Mandalorian; the titular character uses this type of speeder.[19][20][21]

Cultural impact[edit]

The speeder bike, specifically the 74-Z as seen in Return of the Jedi, has been ranked as one of the top vehicles of the Star Wars universe, described as the "ultimate superbike" and "cooler than Boba Fett."[22] The speeder bike scene in Return of the Jedi has also been described as one of the top ten most thrilling chase sequences in the Star Wars saga.[23]

Many fans of the Star Wars series have also been inspired to build life-size "working" replicas. In 2016, a group of fans used Jetovator water-propelled jet packs to create several 74-Z replicas to film a recreation of the speeder bike chase scene.[24] Vintage Works of Green Bay, Wisconsin built a replica 74-Z speeder bike in 2017 using a Zero electric motorcycle.[25] Also in 2017, a team from Lithium Cycles worked with YouTube prankster Jesse to build a pair of 74-Z bikes using their Super 73 electric street motorcycles which they showed off on the streets of New York City. In order to give the appearance the vehicles "hovered", the team placed mirrors underneath the bikes to shroud the wheels.[26][27]

Although lacking the anti-gravity technology ascribed to speeder bikes, real-life hoverbikes utilize different principles of levitation with the goal of achieving a similar effect. Mark DeRoche of Aero-X maker Aerofex said it was "a tribute to George Lucas' team" that their prototype hoverbike – a low-altitude tandem duct aerial vehicle – resembled Star Wars speeders.[28] The HoverSurf HoverBike has also been compared to Star Wars speeder bikes, though it achieves flight by the same methods as a traditional quadcopter.[29]

Since their inception, speeder bikes have been included in several Star Wars product lines, including Lego models and Hasbro miniatures.[30][31]

In real life a one-person, or unmanned cargo, flying vehicle with four jet motors at the corners using artificial intelligence to maintain stability that has been described as a "flying motorbike" and named "Speeder" was under development in 2022, an idea that emerged from work with the US Navy. By early 2022 several full-size prototypes had been built. Top speed was 200 miles per hour (320 km/h), and flight endurance was 60 minutes.[32]

See also[edit]


  • Barr, Tricia; Bray, Adam; Horton, Cole; Horton (2017). Star Wars: The Visual Encyclopedia. United States: DK Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4654-5962-6.
  • Barr, Patricia; Bray, Adam; Jones, Matt; Horton, Cole; Wallace, Daniel; Windham, Ryder (2019). Ultimate Star Wars New Edition. United States: DK Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4654-7900-6.
  • Luceno, James; Reynolds, David West; Windham, Ryder; Fry, Jason; Hidalgo, Pablo (2018). Star Wars: The Complete Visual Dictionary. United States: DK Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4654-7547-3.
  • Lund, Kristin; Beecroft, Simon; Dougherty, Kerrie; Luceno, James; Fry, Jason (2016). Star Wars: Complete Locations. United States: DK Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4654-5272-6.
  • Walker, Landry Q. (2018). Star Wars Encyclopedia of Starfighters and Other Vehicles. United States: DK Publishing. ISBN 9781465482716.


  1. ^ a b c "Imperial speeder bike (Behind the Scenes)". Star Wars Databank. Lucasfilm. Retrieved 2007-09-07.
  2. ^ a b Burns, Kevin and Edith Becker (2004). Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy (Documentary).
  3. ^ "BARC speeder (Behind the Scenes)". Star Wars Databank. Lucasfilm. Archived from the original on 2011-06-29. Retrieved 2007-09-07.
  4. ^ "Sith speeder (Behind the Scenes)". Star Wars Databank. Lucasfilm. Archived from the original on 2011-06-29. Retrieved 2007-09-07.
  5. ^ "STAP (Single Trooper Aerial Platform) (Behind the Scenes)". Star Wars Databank. Lucasfilm. Retrieved 2007-09-07.
  6. ^ "Flare-S swoop (Behind the Scenes)". Star Wars Databank. Lucasfilm. Archived from the original on 2011-06-29. Retrieved 2007-09-07.
  7. ^ Barr, et al. (2017), p. 188-189
  8. ^ Barr, et al. (2019), p. 315
  9. ^ "Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic/Swoop racing - StrategyWiki". StrategyWiki. Retrieved 25 April 2020.
  10. ^ "Star Wars Sporting Events". Star Wars Kids. Lucasfilm. Archived from the original on 2007-07-13. Retrieved 2007-09-07.
  11. ^ BioWare. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (Personal computer). LucasArts.
  12. ^ Walker (2018), p. 36
  13. ^ Barr, et al. (2019), p. 311
  14. ^ a b Walker (2018), p. 28
  15. ^ a b Barr, et al. (2019), p. 296
  16. ^ "Count Dooku's Speeder". StarWars.com. Retrieved 2021-05-30.
  17. ^ "Imperial patrol speeder". StarWars.com. Retrieved 2021-05-30.
  18. ^ David, Margaret (2020-11-11). "The Mandalorian Season 2 Features One of Star Wars' First Traffic Stops". CBR. Retrieved 2021-05-30.
  19. ^ Phipps, Keith (2019-12-06). "The Mandalorian Recap: Bounty Flaw". Vulture. Retrieved 2021-05-30.
  20. ^ Keyes, Rob (April 11, 2019). "Mandalorian Speeder Bike Revealed At Star Wars Celebration 2019". ScreenRant. Retrieved 2021-05-30.
  21. ^ "Outer Rim speeder bike". StarWars.com. Retrieved 2021-05-30.
  22. ^ Evans, Dean. "Ranked: The top six vehicles from the Star Wars universe". Driven.co.nz. Retrieved 24 August 2020.
  23. ^ Sherlock, Ben (19 July 2019). "The 10 Most Thrilling Chase Sequences In The Star Wars Saga, Ranked". ScreenRant. Retrieved 24 August 2020.
  24. ^ Grossman, David (9 December 2016). "Watery Jetpacks Become Star Wars Speeder Bikes". Retrieved 24 August 2020.
  25. ^ Brandt, Eric (12 July 2017). "Check Out This Real-Life Star Wars Speeder Bike". TheDrive.com. Retrieved 24 August 2020.
  26. ^ Bullard, Benjamin (26 March 2021). "Homemade Star Wars Speeder Bikes Turn Heads on Streets of NYC". Syfywire.com. Archived from the original on 11 April 2021.
  27. ^ STAR WARS SPEEDERS IN NEW YORK - The Speeder Build. YouTube (Video). Super73. 30 October 2017. With links to other videos showing the "hovering" bikes in action.
  28. ^ Barry, Keith. "Jedi Hover Bike Is as Awesome as It Looks, But You'll Never Fly One". Wired. Retrieved 24 August 2020.
  29. ^ Richard, Mike (24 March 2019). "The HoverSurf Hoverbike Is a Real-Life, Star Wars-Esque Speeder Bike". TheManual.com. Retrieved 24 August 2020.
  30. ^ Bartholomew, Peter (7 January 2015). "Review: 75090 Ezra's Speeder Bike". Brickset.com. Retrieved 16 April 2016.
  31. ^ Bartholomew, Peter. "Bandai: Star Wars Speeder Bike w/ Biker Scout 1:12 Model Kit Review". The Fwoosh. Archived from the original on 2016-04-03. Retrieved 16 April 2016.
  32. ^ Morris, Ben (18 March 2022). "How a jetpack design helped create a flying motorbike". BBC News.

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