Sunday, April 3, 2016

Riding a Motorcycle - Is it necessary for a Motorcycle Designer?

In this post I am going to try to answer the question I am being asked quite often.

"Is it necessary for a motorcycle designer to be a motorcycle rider as well?"

I won't be directly giving you my view on this subject, rather, let's understand few things associated with riding a motorcycle and it's relation with designing a motorcycle.

A motorcycle is a combination of a number of parts/components which work in cohesion to provide an experience called "Motorcycling". Now, this experience is based on two aspects -
1. How all the components behave to provide a riding experience?
2. How the motorcycle in totality tingles your senses emotionally?

To be a (good) motorcycle designer, one has to understand/learn the essence of "Motorcycling" in totality.

When you ride yourself, you get a first hand experience of how the hand grip seems just right while the foot-pegs rubber pattern are making it slippery. How the tank could be flatter at a particular area to provide more grip and the windscreen could be few millimetres taller. How the seat profile you might have drawn could have affected in your movement on the bike... And a whole lot of other stuffs.

So, when you ride yourself, there is something you learn which is at the back of your mind while doing that tank sketch and helping you making it behave in a way it is supposed to behave as a functional component along with "looking nice/cool".

When you ride yourself, you work in cohesion with the engineering and testing teams - not against them.

You can imagine yourself as the customer for whom you are designing that bike. You can imagine, in a better way, how he is going to use it and design accordingly.

When you ride, you can get the fact that the way the bike looks is so important to make that emotional connect, but, so is how it sounds, how it comforts you, how it takes you from here to somewhere, and how it becomes a part of you..

The best part is - riding a motorcycle is a skill, similar to creating this sketch or that CAD model. It can be learned!
And, till now, I am not able to find any disadvantage of it.

So, coming to the answer of the question - Yes, you should ride a motorcycle to be a good motorcycle designer - Because, to be a good motorcycle designer you have to understand "motorcycling"- And, there is no better way to learn motorcycling than to ride a motorcycle - Period.

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