After watching a computer controlled 5 axis milling machine turn a solid block of aluminum into a very precise facsimile of a motorcycle helmet, you might get the impression that the days of low tech hands on work are over. After all, who can compete with all of that industrial high tech capability? Well, take a look at this. Over in India, the Bajaj Pulsar is the largest selling motorcycle. It's very functional and does the job it's supposed to do but, every one looks like every other one, hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of the same bike. Sounds like an opportunity for a little creativity to make them look unique.
Akshay Sharma teaches in the industrial design department at Virginia Tech but he grew up in India. He learned about scooters and motorcycles at a very young age and developed a fascination for them that carries through to the present day. Over the years, he thought he would like to build something special and finally decided to do something about it.
Every year Akshay travels home for the summer and he designed a custom body kit for the popular Pulsar, but he didn't want to build a one off, he was thinking of making a custom kit for motorcycle enthusiasts in India so they could personalize their own bike.
Taking his design to India, he assembled a small team, of dedicated hands on workers who created the clay mockup, made the molds for the fiberglass and put together the body. This very low tech operation resulted in a motorcycle that looks quite distinctive and attractive.
You can tell from the photos, this was not created in a multi-thousand square foot high tech factory, it was done in the most basic working conditions by a team of hands on builders.
Costs for the whole project were very low:
Used Bajaj Pulsar - 400.00 USD
Getting the clay model done, and the molds made - 150.00 USD
Wheels, new tires- 150.00 USD
Paint - 75.00 USD
Miscellaneous - 100.00 USD
Akshay sums it up as, "Roughly $900.00 and an unlimited number of thumbs up, whenever I ride it."
It looks like and sounds like the kind of project anyone could do if you set your mind to it.
As Akshay says:
It has also been a test for my own conviction. We all talk about doing this and that. I was like that as well, but this one time, I just decided to go with it, and the result has been nothing short of amazing. I surprised myself. It still needs lot of fine tuning, but that I think is a positive. People who don't take risks, make very few mistakes, and I was getting to be like that.
I think it's a very nice example of hands on work by a group of "doers" who just made it happen. The process could be repeated by many others on projects of their own, no huge investment necessary. I like it. Nice work, Akshay!