Motorcycle design

Last updated

Motorcycle design can be described as activities that define the appearance, function and engineering of motorcycles.

Contents

Professionally it is a branch of industrial design, similar to automotive design using identical techniques and methodology, but confined by a set of conventions about what is acceptable to the buying public. These conventions have been defined by the acceptance of the industry and media as a whole to the assumption that the public will only purchase machines that bear more than a passing resemblance to competition machines of whatever kind. In some large OEM motorcycle manufacturers, the term designer can also be applied to the project leader or chief engineer charged with laying down the principal architecture of the vehicle. In recent years it has also become associated with custom or "chopper" builder culture.

Professional design

Professional motorcycle designers almost always hold degrees in industrial design, industrial design engineering or similar, and have training in styling, modeling, as well as knowledge in aspects of technology associated with single track vehicles. Although no degree as a specialisation exists per se, the majority of candidates graduate through colleges and universities with established transportation design courses, and are trained as automotive designers.

Most OEM motorcycle manufacturers, such as Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki, BMW, Ducati, Piaggio and others have in-house design studios dedicated to this purpose, while others such as Yamaha and KTM depend on specialised independent design consultancies.

Methodology

Design and engineering relationships

Due to the high importance of mechanical components or even exposed engines to motorcycle styling, almost always designers will have a greater sensitivity to and awareness of engineering than will typical car designers. In OEM situations, large teams of professional engineers and specialists will collaborate on each project development, allowing the designer to focus on the more intangible or subjective aspects of design, such as styling, human-machine interface psychology, and market and cultural relationships. In other matters such as pure mechanical ergonomics (such as seat height, handlebar placement, etc.), or basic layout (the location of major components, storage, etc.) there is usually considerable overlap between the designer and engineer. The designer will nominally approach each problem from a human interface, or "feel" or "irrational" point of view (example : "Does this material feel cold or warm, and is this feeling appropriate to this vehicle's target consumer?"), while the engineer will attack each problem with the "rational" or clinical approach of empirically weighing the cause and effect of each design decision against the project's technical and economic design targets (example : "Can this material be moulded into the designer's desired shape? Will that be too expensive to produce?")

Research and Concept Design

In OEM motorcycle design, the normal procedure of developing a new motorcycle involves the same steps in other professional design disciplines : identifying a target consumer, researching them to identify benchmarks and project targets, then proposing concept directions in a written form known as a Design Brief or QFD. From this point, artwork is developed to visually communicate the designer's ideas. These are presented in 2Db drawing or illustrated form, from which a winning direction is down selected for further development. Once a satisfactory design is established on paper (the term paper is a generalization that can include traditional hand renderings, digital artwork or CAD drawings), then full scale modeling begins to realise the design in tangible 3D form.

Styling

Often used as an interchangeable term with "design", styling is in fact just one component of the design process. Typically, styling is developed through sketches, renderings and illustrations then realised in 3D form using automotive styling clay, specialised industrial modeling foams such as Sibatool, Renshape or Epiwood, or in increasingly limited cases plaster or body filler. As the most subjective part of the design process, the various members of the development team must depend heavily on the judgment, skill and experience of the appointed designer to create an appropriate look.

The most misunderstood element and the most dangerous to the success of a product, is the idea that team members should evaluate the design based on personal tastes or preferences. Industrial design is not an art form, but a focused creative expression using the scientific data and analysis in the Design Brief and QFD as ultimate guidelines. The target user, their needs and tastes should be reflected in the final design, not necessarily exclusively those of the design team. Of course, many complex variables such as the OEM brand identity, past successes and failures, and whimsical trends often skew or distort styling decisions. In instances where the factors are overwhelming, OEM's may err on the side of cautious conservative design.

Parallel development

Because of the need to reduce development time and costs, the "styling" design model is usually developed in parallel with the engineering 3D design. While there is an increasing amount of digital design input in the modern OEM design process, nearly all major motorcycle manufacturers still rely on full scale clay models to render the master style model, then scan and import the styling surfaces into suitable 3D software packages (Alias, CATIA, ISEM Surf) for integration into the 3D engineering CAD platform (CATIA, ProEngineer, etc.). Once combined, the design team can virtually refine the motorcycle by optimising component assembly, checking for any undesirable interferences between parts, and predict and eliminate possible engineering problems. Typically, designers and engineers will have the greatest number of conflicts during this phase of development, as designers will fight to maintain the original styling and design of the clay model and artwork into the production vehicle, while the engineer will eliminate all problems in the most efficient manner possible. The success of the final product depends heavily on the level of cooperation between these often conflicting needs.

Amateur and specialists

Custom builders

In recent years, largely due to the popularity of television programs like Orange County Chopper and Biker Build-off, the building of one of a kind "chopper" or "cruiser" type motorcycles has become more mainstream, leading to a flourishing builder industry. As a whole, these vehicles are not designed in the professional sense, but rather crafted by hand by metal workers and artisans using traditional skills. The resulting vehicles tend to be very elaborate, expensive and difficult or impossible to reproduce in mass production, but are highly valued for the same reasons.

Among custom motorcycle culture, certain names have become famous for their creations and have led to mainstream acceptance of previously unacceptable design solutions such as extreme ergonomics, totally rigid rear wheels without the benefit of suspension, minimal lighting and limited ground clearance for cornering. These design characteristics are purely emotional in nature, being led by styling and image rather than technical or performance considerations.

"Specials"

Custom and specials motorcycles are similar to the above but tend to be super sport type motorcycles, or at least high-performance based, using many special add-on parts, one-of-a-kind or limited series frames, racing wheels and parts or hand-made components to maximise performance. While modifying motorcycles is an activity as old as the motorcycle itself, the "special" culture or "streetfighter" began to flourish in the mid-1970s as a response to the myriad high performance Japanese motorcycles then available, but whose power far exceeded their handling. Individuals would choose premanufactured parts from catalogs or from other bikes and redesign their particular machine to suit their desires. In general this activity is limited to one-of-a-kind vehicles and, as with custom motorcycles, uses very little genuine engineering or design methodology, although some small-scale manufacturers exist who make limited runs of a given model. In some cases, these tiny specialists were successful enough to grow into full-scale OEM companies such as the Buell Motorcycle Company and Bimota of Italy.

Related Research Articles

CATIA CAD/CAM/CAE commercial software suite

CATIA software(, an acronym of computer-aided three-dimensional interactive application) is a multi-platform software suite for computer-aided design (CAD), computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), computer-aided engineering (CAE), PLM and 3D, developed by the French company Dassault Systèmes.

Industrial design Process of design applied to products that are to be manufactured through techniques of mass production

Industrial design is a process of design applied to products that are to be manufactured through techniques of mass production. Its key characteristic is that design is separated from manufacture: the creative act of determining and defining a product's form and features takes place in advance of the physical act of making a product, which consists purely of repeated, often automated, replication. This distinguishes industrial design from craft-based design, where the form of the product is determined by the product's creator at the time of its creation.

Creo Elements/Pro, or Creo Elements/Direct Modeling, formerly known, together with Creo Parametric, as Pro/Engineer and Wildfire, is a solid modeling or CAD, CAM, CAE, and associative 3D modeling application, running on Microsoft Windows.

Automotive engineering, along with aerospace engineering and naval architecture, is a branch of vehicle engineering, incorporating elements of mechanical, electrical, electronic, software, and safety engineering as applied to the design, manufacture and operation of motorcycles, automobiles, and trucks and their respective engineering subsystems. It also includes modification of vehicles. Manufacturing domain deals with the creation and assembling the whole parts of automobiles is also included in it. The automotive engineering field is research -intensive and involves direct application of mathematical models and formulas. The study of automotive engineering is to design, develop, fabricate, and test vehicles or vehicle components from the concept stage to production stage. Production, development, and manufacturing are the three major functions in this field.

Gruppo Bertone Italian Automobile Company

Gruppo Bertone, commonly known simply as Bertone, was an Italian automobile company, which specialized in car styling, coachbuilding and manufacturing. Bertone styling is distinctive, with most cars having a strong "family resemblance" even if they are badged by different manufacturers. Bertone has styled cars for Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, Citroën, Ferrari, FIAT, Iso, Lancia, Lamborghini, Mercedes-Benz, Opel and Volvo, among others. In addition, the Bertone studio was responsible for two of the later designs of the Lambretta motorscooter. In the late 1980s, Bertone styled the K20 motorcycle helmet for Swiss bicycle and motorcycle helmet manufacturer Kiwi.

Autodesk Alias

Autodesk Alias is a family of Computer-aided industrial design (CAID) software predominantly used in Automotive Design and Industrial Design for generating Class A surfaces using Bézier surface and NURBS modeling method.

Car platform Similar design and engineering specs shared between multiple cars.

A car platform is a shared set of common design, engineering, and production efforts, as well as major components over a number of outwardly distinct models and even types of cars, often from different, but somewhat related marques. It is practiced in the automotive industry to reduce the costs associated with the development of products by basing those products on a smaller number of platforms. This further allows companies to create distinct models from a design perspective on similar underpinnings.

Harley Earl American designer

Harley Jefferson Earl was an American automotive designer and business executive. He was the initial designated head of design at General Motors, later becoming vice president, the first top executive ever appointed in design of a major corporation in American history. He was an industrial designer and a pioneer of modern transportation design. A coachbuilder by trade, Earl pioneered the use of freeform sketching and hand sculpted clay models as automotive design techniques. He subsequently introduced the "concept car" as both a tool for the design process and a clever marketing device.

Grille (car) protection over an automobile radiator, usually on the front

In automotive engineering, a grille covers an opening in the body of a vehicle to allow air to enter or exit. Most vehicles feature a grille at the front of the vehicle to protect the radiator and engine. Merriam-Webster describes grilles as "a grating forming a barrier or screen; especially: an ornamental one at the front end of an automobile." Other common grille locations include below the front bumper, in front of the wheels, in the cowl for cabin ventilation, or on the rear deck lid.

R.T. Quaife Engineering, Ltd. is a British manufacturer of automotive drivetrain products. It designs and manufactures motorsport and performance orientated gearboxes, gearkits, differentials, steering racks and axle kits, along with many other associated drivetrain products.

Automotive design process of developing the appearance of motor vehicles, including automobiles, motorcycles, trucks, buses, coaches, and vans

Automotive design is the process of developing the appearance, and to some extent the ergonomics, of motor vehicles, including automobiles, motorcycles, trucks, buses, coaches, and vans.

Magnesium wheels are wheels manufactured from alloys which contain mostly magnesium. Magnesium wheels are produced either by casting (metalworking), or by forging. Magnesium has several key properties that make it an attractive base metal for wheels: lightness; a high damping capacity; and a high specific strength. Magnesium is the lightest metallic structural material available. It is 1.5 times less dense than aluminium, so magnesium wheels can be designed to be significantly lighter than aluminium alloy wheels, while exhibiting comparable strength. All competitive racing wheels are now made of magnesium alloy.

Integrated Micro-Electronics, Inc.

Integrated Micro-electronics, Inc. provides electronics manufacturing services (EMS) and power semiconductor assembly and test services (SATS) with manufacturing facilities in Asia, Europe, and North America. Its headquarters is located in Biñan, Laguna, Philippines.

Marzocchi Italian firm

Marzocchi is an Italian manufacturer founded in 1949 by the two brothers Stefano and Guglielmo Marzocchi. The company profile doesn't include hydraulic industrial pumps anymore but only suspension components for motorcycles and bicycles. The Marzocchi Pompe is still in the hands of the Marzocchi Family and produces gear pumps and motors in Bologna. In 2008 the company was acquired by American automotive parts manufacturer Tenneco.

Daxcon

Daxcon Engineering, Inc., is a company headquartered in Bartonville, Illinois, that provides engineering and manufacturing consultation to the Defense & Aerospace, Mining & Construction, Automotive, Consumer Products, and Agriculture industries. On 15 January 2010, it was acquired by Infotech Enterprises America Inc., which is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Cyient, a firm in India.

MTS Systems Corporation

MTS Systems Corporation (MTS) is a global supplier of test systems and industrial position sensors. The company provides test and measurement solutions to determine the performance and reliability of vehicles, aircraft, civil structures, biomedical materials and devices and raw materials. Examples of MTS products include: aerodynamics simulators, seismic simulators, load frames, hydraulic actuators and sensors. The company operates in two divisions: Test and Sensors.

Honda Fury Honda VT 1300 CX Fury

The Honda Fury was the first production chopper from a major motorcycle manufacturer Honda. In a break with tradition, the Fury was the first chopper to have an anti-lock braking system The Fury's styling has been likened to custom-made choppers from Paul Teutul, Sr. or Arlen Ness. The Fury has been sold not only in North America, but internationally as well, although in some markets Honda eschewed the Fury name and offered the bike simply by its model ID: VT1300CX.

Outline of motorcycles and motorcycling Overview of and topical guide to motorcycles and motorcycling

The following outline is provided as an overview of motorcycles and motorcycling:

Parametric design is a process based on algorithmic thinking that enables the expression of parameters and rules that, together, define, encode and clarify the relationship between design intent and design response.

Industrial and production engineering (IPE) is an interdisciplinary engineering discipline that includes manufacturing technology, engineering sciences, management science, and optimization of complex processes, systems, or organizations. It is concerned with the understanding and application of engineering procedures in manufacturing processes and production methods. Industrial engineering dates back all the way to the industrial revolution, initiated in 1700s by Sir Adam Smith, Henry Ford, Eli Whitney, Frank Gilbreth and Lilian Gilbreth, Henry Gantt, F.W. Taylor, etc. After the 1970s, industrial and production engineering developed worldwide and started to widely use automation and robotics. Industrial and production engineering includes three areas: Mechanical engineering, industrial engineering, and management science.

References