The Space Bike was often used by Dave Lister to move around Red Dwarf instead of walking. Lister is seen riding the Space Bike down the corridors in various scenes in Series I. Lister would also leave Red Dwarf on it to "joyride through asteroid belts", according to Rimmer.
Lister used the Space Bike during the early years, after he came out of three-million years in stasis after the radiation leak which killed rest of the crew, to find that he's the last human being alive and had the whole run of the ship to himself. It is unknown if Lister actually owned the Space Bike, or if he merely found it after the accident.
Lister's Space Bike was destroyed after Lister lent it to Kryten, who flew it into an asteroid. Lister recovered and repaired Kryten, but was unable to with his Space Bike. However, other characters have used other Space Bikes at different times.
In the first episode of Series II, Lister helps Kryten disobey the overbearing Rimmer and break his programming. Kryten dresses up in leather as Marlon Brando in The Wild One, which Lister had shown him in the cinema. Lister lends Kryten the Space Bike on which Kryten rides off. Neither Kryten or the Space Bike are seen again in Series II.
The actual shot of Kryten leaving Red Dwarf on a floating space bike was cut from the broadcast episode; instead it finished with Kryten getting on the space bike. The shot was cut for timing reasons. However the shot of Kryten leaving Red Dwarf on the space bike can still be seen, on the Series II documentary "It's Cold Outside", in the The Bodysnatcher Collection.
The opening scrawl of Series III reveals for the first time officially in the series that the Space Bike could fly in space, and act as a form of spacecraft. Kryten had gone off on it to find an S3 Planet and begin growing a garden, his dream. However, Kryten crashed the bike on an asteroid, and Lister recovered Kryten and was able to rebuild him (explaining the change in actors playing Kryten from David Ross to Robert Llewellyn; the events would have been further elaborated on in the "lost episode" Dad). Kryten then joined the Boys from the Dwarf permanently, but Lister's Space Bike was not seen again.
Ace Rimmer rides a flying Space Bike during a heroic mission into Nazi Germany to rescue a princess from Captain Voorhese. Ace kills the Nazis, and flies away with the princess on the back of the bike, and victoriously writes "smoke me a kipper" in smoke through the sky as he leaves. (RD: Stoke Me a Clipper)
- According to the cast commentary on the Series I DVD ("Future Echoes"), Lister's Space Bike was Craig Charles's idea - and the first one seen was Charles' bike. Craig Charles suggested to the writers that given Lister is meant to be a slob, it would be unlikely that Lister would walk everywhere aboard the empty Red Dwarf. Especially considering that the ship is the size of a city, and Lister is too claustrophobic to use the Xpress Lifts often, so another mode of transport was necessary for the character. The writers agreed, believing the space bike would also be an interesting addition to the show.
Behind the scenes
- The original space bike had the base model of a Sinclair C5, albeit heavily modified by the effects crew to make it more "space age". They also included things they thought Lister would have put on, such as the flags and the horn.
- The original space bike was again heavily modified to appear in "rocket mode", which Kryten left Red Dwarf on and crashed into an asteroid with at the beginning of Series II. This space bike was a different Sinclair C5 than Lister's original.
- Parts of Ace Rimmer's Space Bike from Series VII's "Stoke Me a Clipper", were reused in the model for the Kinitawowi battle cruiser in "Ouroboros".