Ian Galvin and Craig Mackiewicz developed a new motorcycle design, the NERO, as their senior project at CCS, the College for Creative Studies. The pair forsees the possibility of a new golden age of motorcycles in America due to the convergence of factors such as traffic congestion and restrictions on fossil fuels. They believe a mid sized naked bike might best address those issues.
The NERO draws on the Vincent name for the qualities of performance, price and technology it embodied during its day. They pulled design influence from some obvious sources such as the Confederate Wraith and Renovatio plus John Britten’s superbike.
I think the concept has a lot going for it, the girder front suspension and overall clean lines, but it looks to me as though the proportions are just a little off, either the wheels and tires are somewhat small or the rider sits very high. Looking at the one image they offer with riders on the bike, it seems like the center of gravity might be too high but maybe that’s just me.
More photos and links below:
UPDATE: Brian Case added these observations:
My take, if I’m even qualified to do so, would probably have to focus on the fact that this is an exceptional student presentation. And for that I give it a solid A+. What drew me to it was the overall presentation in Ian Galvin’s portfolio, particularly how the Vincent brand and inspiration board was incorporated as a complete package. When I was in school, this is what teachers graded on. This style of presentation is more commonly associated with car and product design programs. I’m very pleased to see more and more schools, especially American schools, encourage motorcycle design and treat it as it’s own genre. Design software used to communicate concepts these days, such as Studiotools, Sketchbook, Photoshop, have certainly come along way, and are almost as essential to a designer as is a pencil. So, presentation of concept, A+.
The concept itself, I would have to say is good. I’m a sucker for funny front ends, so they sold me on that. And I like the light-weight minimalist approach. But this is a school project, so I can’t really say anything bad about it. If this were a concept released by a company, then my critique would be entirely different and probably based on my opinions of practicality, market, etc. I second what Paul wrote about the proportion being off. Assuming the front wheel is a 17″ rim, my ruler-to-monitor calculations tell me the seat height is ok at 32″, so maybe the scale of the motor is a bit too small. This can happen quite often in CAD, which is why full scale mock ups are usually the next step. However, I think the proportions become one of the most unique aspects about this concept. It is difficult to break conventions in shape and form, especially in motorcycles. People expect to see what they are already familiar with, that’s just the way our brains work. It seems to me, beauty, in terms of a unique design that stands out in the crowd, has a very fine line between slightly exaggerated proportions and whimsical nonsense.
As far as Confederate bikes being an inspiration? Well, that’s nice to say, but all I saw on the student’s inspiration board was references to Vincent, Britten, cars and aircraft, which happen to be some of the same references used in Confederate designs. The angle of the dual rear shocks on a Hellcat? Inspired by a Vincent. The Vincents were great bikes way ahead of their time, I’m sure lots of designers use them for inspiration. The Britten too. Although, the Britten V1000 had a hossack-style front suspension not a traditional girder, so I would say the story of John Britten’s remarkable achievements were used more as inspiration at Confederate than the actual design of the V1000. And despite popular belief, the Wraith carbon fiber and aluminum front end is every bit as light as conventional forks, and could be even lighter if it was re-engineered for mass production. The fact that it’s “heavy-looking” has nothing to do with physical weight. The girder’s demise after the ’50’s seems to be entirely based on materials and processes at the time. With new materials and processes developed everyday, I’m sure lots of out-dated concepts will continue to resurface. The Barber Museum has 1100+ examples of out-dated designs ripe for the picking, if you’re a budding designer looking for inspiration. It was JT Nesbitt who opened my eyes on the practicality of girder front ends, and motorcycle design itself, so I thank him for that.
Other aspects of the NERO concept seem to come entirely from Vincent bikes, as intended. The rear suspension looks like a direct reference to the Black Shadow, as is the minimal monocoque chassis and, of course, the aircraft-derived Vincent radial twin engine. I like it, and I think these guys will go far in their careers. Looking back, it’s a shame Bernard Li didn’t come out with something like this when he tried to re-launch Vincent a few years back.
Link: NERO design portfolio