Design and Tech

This Naked Airplane Was Inspired by Custom Motorcycles

The new Savage Bobber gets rid of its bodywork so you can feel the wind in your face

This Naked Airplane Was Inspired by Custom Motorcycles

The Savage bobber leaves its aluminum trellis frame completely free of bodywork, giving pilots the feeling of flying outside the airplane. Photo: Zlin Aviation

If you’ve been following recent trends in the custom motorcycle world, then you’ll know that minimalism is the new chrome plating. Bodywork is passé, colors are muted, and honest function is the end result. Apply that treatment to a cruiser, and you end up with a bobber. So it makes sense that renowned bush plane maker Zlin Aviation is calling this new, minimalist airplane the same thing. 

To create it, they started with their Savage Classic model, peeled off the body work, and cleaned up the mechanical components so they look nice. Not only is the plane’s mechanical function on display, but the pilot is too, leading to extraordinary vision, and a total feeling of airborne freedom. Zlin is an Italian company, located in the northern industrial center of Verona. That's fitting, as the Bobber is incredibly reminiscent of the Monster Ducati makes in nearby Bologna; both put their trellis frames on display as the designs' centerpiece. 

Passengers ride behind the pilot in this narrow (the "cabin" is only 23.6 inches wide) plane.   Photo: Zlin Aviation

Functionally, losing the bodywork saves 55 pounds (handy, when the plane’s total carrying capacity is just 446 pounds), and is also said to make the plane less subject to cross winds. It also allows the pilot to carry all manner of oddly shaped cargo, or even kit the plane out for a specific mission. Dedicated racks are available for hunting rifles, fishing gear, and surfboards. In a nod to its two-wheeled inspiration, a set of classic leather saddle bags can also be mounted behind the front seat. 

With a cruising speed of 90 miles per hour, wind blast behind the Lexan windscreen should be familiar to motorcycle riders too. This Bobber, and the Classic it’s based on are lightweight bush planes, designed to facilitate exploring remote backcountry. You might not get anywhere far away very fast in it, but in return you get a plane that only needs 260 feet to take off, and which can fly as slow as 34 miles per hour without stalling. That should be perfect for taking advantage of small clearings, level spots in rough terrain, and for low-altitude, low speed spotting of wildlife. 

Want all those attributes, but need to fly in cold weather? Savage sells a cabin kit that encloses the sides of the cockpit. That’s just one of several dozen custom features you can spec, along with different colors for the protruding engine headers, or frame, and a variety of landing gear suitable for anything from smooth tundra to rocky mountains. 

A full-size plane a little rich for your blood? Savage also makes exact-replica RC versions of the Bobber in two different sizes. It’s al fresco flying for the masses. 

The 100 HP Rotax engine is left bare for all to see.   Photo: Zlin Aviation

Filed To: Indefinitely Wild

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