I studied the bike for a while before attempting a steampunk version of it, and it’s rather unfortunate that there isn’t really much information about it available. Most of the knowledge is based on what little can be found in the books and the movie, and how it is interpreted by the fans. This strikes me as a bit odd, since Kaneda’s bike is probably one of the most popular elements from Akira and you’d think that a something like extra material would be a good idea. But as it is, I can’t even find what the bike is called – and believe me, I have looked for that bike’s name ever since I first watched the movie back in the 90s, and each and every time I read through the books again.
In any case, looking for references, I focused primarily on this site, which seems to have the clearest (if not the best as well) images and info on the bike, all with the purpose of building a real one (check it out, it’s really awesome).
For my Steampunk version I made a lot of changes to the bike, but keep in mind that I know absolutely nothing about mechanics, bikes, steam or anything of the sort. I made it a lot less aerodynamic, and decided that it would be built out of metal and wood. Having finished it and given it an extra look, I realize that Kaneda has no way of putting his leg out of the bike in order to keep it up whenever he stops. But then again, Steampunk designs have never been famous for their practicality, so I guess we can let it slide. This time.
I considered adding a lot of decoration, too. Stuff like patterns or some nouveau-styled markings on the side panels. But then I figured that even in a Steampunk world, Kaneda is still just a 15-year-old boy trying to look tough in front of his gang, so he probably wouldn’t want those sort of things. Also, I avoided gears like the plague. Ever since I saw that YouTube video “Just glue some gears on it and call it Steampunk” I can’t look at gears the same way (I kind of agree with the song say, too).
Anyway, this is my Steampunk version of Kaneda’s bike. I hope you like it. maybe I’ll do more Steampunk interpretations of stuff in the future, who knows?
NOTE: If you know the bike’s name, please post it in the comments. I’d feel really stupid if everybody knows it or if it’s someplace really obvious, like right there on the website I linked to. But as it is, I place more value on learning what it’s called then keeping my geek cred.