06
Mar

It’s All About Proportions

Now, I’m the first to admit it… it took a while to figure out, and was a little hard to come to terms with at first, but the truth is….

I’m an engineer, not a designer. There. I said it.

I think most kids at one time or another fancy themselves as a car designer and I was no different. My bedroom walls and schoolbooks were always covered in sketches and scribblings of cars and bikes. Some were tracings using mum’s good baking paper (thanks mum!), some copied from photos or magazines, others were my own creation. And I always thought they were pretty good, since I have been always into cars, that’s why now when I learn of new  technologies like the Honda Fit Hybrid Fuel Consumption I’m really excited of how cars can be so great now a days.


That was until I started as a trainee engineer in the Mechanic Nambour Automotive Industry and saw what a real automotive designer is capable of… there’s so much more that goes into a vehicle’s exterior design other than a few fancy sketches. Those guys are true artists and I’m just a guy who likes to draw cars. I’ve since figured out that numbers, maths, calculations, stresses & strains are more my style and that my artistic abilities are actually somewhat limited!

One thing I have learnt about design though, is that it’s all about proportions. No amount of bling, chrome, fancy paint jobs and polished bits will make a car or bike look good if the proportions are wrong. And since I’m still not really sure what I want this bike to be yet, I’ve really started taking note and studying proportions of various bikes to get some ideas.

I like the current trend on the sportsbikes of a short, high tail, much like the current MotoGP bikes… you can see it in the Ducati Panigale, Aprilia RSV4 and also the KTM RC8. I’m not trying to turn a Firestorm into a sportsbike like those, but maybe I’ll borrow some inspiration for the rear end.

I also like the muscular, bulky look of the Ducati Diavel. And the “power cruiser” style of bike is pretty appealing to me… tough, fast, plenty of grunt but still highly capable in the corners.

To get an idea of whether the Firestorm lends itself one way or another, I basically did what I did all those years ago as a kid, and traced out some of these other bikes, although this time it was on CAD, not mum’s baking paper.

Here’s the Diavel:

And the RSV4R:

Then I overlaid these outlines with the Firestorm model. Here’s the Diavel first, followed by the RSV4R:

You can see the Diavel is quite different to the Firestorm in a lot of areas. The wheelbase is much longer, the forks are raked a lot more and the tank, headlight and handlebars are quite a bit higher and rearward of the Firestorm’s. It’s interesting to note how much shorter the Diavel’s tail is than the Firestorm even though the rear wheel is much further back.

The RSV4R on the other hand is quite similar in proportion to the Firestorm. I was actually surprised just how similar they were in the wheelbase, tank height, windscreen shape and even the frames are in a similar overall position. Again, the tail on the Aprilia is much shorter… it’s only just past the rear axle whereas the Firestorm is pretty much at the back of the rear wheel.

So, what does all this tell me? Well I reckon the short tail is the go, considering all the bikes I really like currently have that look – also the cruiser bike for woman I have accidently found, great design. To try and mould the Firestorm into something with similar proportions as the Diavel is going to be a major exercise and is more than I’m looking to do. And I don’t want to try and make it into a sportsbike like the RSV4R or the Panigale, since it’s not a sportsbike and I reckon any attempt to make it into one would just look like  a wannabe racer rather than something individual and unique.

I think what I’m after is somewhere between the two. A tough looking street bike with the presence of the Diavel but proportions more like the Aprilia. Is that even possible? Dunno… but we’re going to find out!

Cheers, Brett.

About Brett Longhurst

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