How does Tron Legacy's new lightcycle design compare with the 1982 model? Here's a Top Gear-inspired comparison between the two cycles, based on our research.




Who would have thought that a Disney movie targeted at children would see so many riders on motorcycles sans helmet? Sure, they're computer programs, not real people, and the rider is entirely encapsulated within the lightcycle. But other than the cycle bar, you go in with what you're wearing.



How things have changed! Not only are these guys wearing helmets, but they're wearing full face helmets and what looks like the head-to-toe recommendations of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. Helmet, padded gloves, over-the-ankle boots, eye protection, a body suit with pads on the shoulders, elbows and knees. Additionally, the suit lights up for maximum visibility whenever you're on the cycle. Other safety features include a nice bright headlight on the front of the cycle. There's a light on the back, but as with the original, close-up viewing can be terminal.

Acceleration and Power Curve


The original lightcycles seem to have a drive system that delivers power directly to the ground without the wheels acting as mediators, causing instantaneous forward momentum. You grab the cycle bars, get down into position and you're off like a shot without the need to accelerate over time. You can go faster than this, but you already start a good clip.


You can form your lightcycle in mid-air, but the trailer shows the lightcycle hitting the ground rear wheel first with a bounce. This indicates a nod to real-world physics, in terms of the power being delivered to the rear wheel, driving the cycle forward. It seems as though you can get a boost of speed by changing the cycle's configuration on the fly into a longer, lower machine. This is the only lightcycle indication of something analogous to shifting a real motorcycle. There's a simple click, but once the cycle is down you can power into what looks like the next-highest gear.



When the lightcycles are on the game grid, it's nothing but forward velocity and right-angle turns. From the sound they make, it seems as though while no momentum is lost in the turn, the engine slows down a touch to let you power out of the turn, with the sound of the engine rising. When the lightcycles are out of the game grid, they can turn at much softer angles, but it's a slower motion that seems gimballed.


Unfortunately, we don't see these cycles on the game grid in existing footage. However, they turn like real motorcycles in a non-grid scenario. It's standard look-press-roll on these turns, and we even get to see a little textbook swerving out of these machines, pressing on the handles while keeping the body independent of cycle lean.



Braking really isn't a feature of the original lightcycles, other than to proceed to a stop so you can pull your form out of the cycle itself.


The new lightcycles feature a retractable 'wind brake' that appears to slow the cycle in record time. Unlike a real cycle, it doesn't seem to be linked to any kind of front-brake/rear-brake combination motion, but it's possible that the activation of the wind brake is automatically tied to a succession of downshifts for engine braking.

The Verdict

Whether you ride a dual-sport, cruiser, sport or touring bike, the 2010 Tron Legacy Lightcycle is sure to keep you stable on twisty roads and tear down the highway in relative safety. While not yet approved for emissions standards in the state of California, you can still experience the thrill of riding this awesome machine in a theater near you next winter, regardless of icy road conditions.

2010 Tron Legacy Lightcycle
PROS: Enhanced safety features, far superior handling options and ambient lighting for better visibility.
CONS: More efficient 'Master Control Program' could lead to unexpected changes in group riding situations.

High-res version of Tron Legacy billboard artwork, via Stitch Kingdom.