Sunday, March 13, 2016

What is Motorcycle Design?

What is Motorcycle Design

I will try to keep this as simple and crisp as possible.

Motorcycle design mainly consists of three important parts: -

1. Engineering
2. Business
3. Art

Well, it also consists of Passion, Love, Enthusiasm and quite a few other aspects. But, it will be difficult for me to explain those. If you are reading this and even have a slight bit of interest in motorcycles and riding, I guess, you will already have an understanding of these.

So, let's focus on the three mentioned aspects one by one.

1. Engineering -

Every motorcycle is made of components and most of them are visible. The major difference between cars and motorcycles is that, in cars things are hidden under the surfaces. It does not matter whether the engine is an in-line four or a V-6. But, in motorcycles the engine's size itself defines a lot of things. And so does the packaging, suspension, tank capacity, and nearly everything else.

That is why a motorcycle designer should possess some short of knowledge (not necessarily an expert level) on how a motorcycle is made and the function of each component.

The other part where engineering knowledge is required, and this is applicable to all areas of Industrial Design, is production feasibility. When you design a component you should have some basic knowledge of the material and the production process by which the component will be manufactured. Off-course, in most of the cases you will be supported by an engineering team, but again, some basic knowledge would greatly help in reducing the iterations and cutting down the time required.

2. Business: -

For a motorcycle designer, the term Business- Understanding can be broken down into few parts -
a. Customer Understanding
b. Market Understanding
c. Environment Understanding

In motorcycles there is a lot of rider involvement, in terms of operation and also emotional. So, it's very very important to understand the target customer and his needs. A good understanding of how the customer is going to use the bike and his requirements from it is the most important and sure shot way of creating a successful design.

The market understanding mainly consists of studying the market in terms of competitors, price-positioning and product- positioning. For example, if there are similar products available in the market, what would make the product you are designing really stand out. This study also helps in sorting out the features required in the product.

The environment defines where the product is going to be used. Factors like road-conditions, traffic- conditions, weather, etc. are factored in and studied to provide the best design solution. For example, a motorcycle designed to be used in Bangkok city must have a good turning radius and very nice manoeuvrability. It will also require a not-so-high seat height. These will be derived after looking at the traffic and the way motorcycles are used there. Similarly, there can be a number of derivations which can be made.

3. Art: -

So you developed a very good understanding of the market and are aware of the technical requirements and production processes. What next?

You have to convert everything into a motorcycle idea and then put that idea on paper (screen now a days). For doing this you have to learn Art.

Now art in Industrial Design is slightly different. While the master-pieces you have seen on the walls of museums are mostly to tickle the senses of the viewer and make him/her create his own idea. In our case, we have to make sure that there is no scope for imagination for the viewer and the idea is very clearly presented.

Also art in industrial design is a skill anyone can learn and master. Off-course, there is a possibility of creating your own unique style.

The skills can be sketching on paper (alcohol based markers are extensively used), 2D softwares like Adobe Photoshop or 3D softwares like Alias and Rhino.

It doesn't really matter as to which platform you choose to present your idea if you are presenting it clearly. However, different organizations have different ways of working, and sadly sometimes, the sketches and renderings are given more weightage than the genius of an idea. So, it's always good to practise and keep improving the skill of art as it's anyways going to help you, one way or the other.

That will be all for today's post on Motorcycle Design. I hope it turns out be useful in some way. Please feel free to put your thoughts, doubts and random comments.


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