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The majority of the human population with a steady income prefer to drive cars over motorcycles, this is a fact. Ok so we all already know why that is. Some of these people will never feel comfortable with the concept of a 2 wheeled mode of transport no matter how you change the design. However, there is the rest of this bracket that choose not to ride motorcycles for other reasons. Why? Perhaps they feel that what is currently available on the market does not appeal to them?
So we have a new generation of target users emerging who are highly design and trend conscious, influenced by media and place huge emphasis on their social image.
How can we design a motorcycle that appeals to such a vast range of riders with varying interests, hobbies and values? The truth is we simply can’t. So how can the motorcycle be made more attractive to an individual who has their own preferences? We allow them to apply themselves to their motorcycle.
The concept of assembling a car is not new in any regard. Nor is the idea of the same principle being applied to a motorcycle, however - vehicle assembly is complicated and generally only appeals to a mechanically minded audience. However - the idea of a simple - user centered kit that can be assembled by anybody is. There is undeniably a sense of satisfaction and value in showing off something that has been built or put together by you. The idea of an icon that screams out “i built this” never seems to lose its impact. Ok, so the user becomes part of the assembly and gains a sense of accomplishment and bond with their new purchase, but how is it different? This is where individualism is key.
A motorcycle can be broken down into 7 core parts. These are what make up the bones of a bike and the rest are arguably designed to improve the experience of riding.
Drive module (motor) combustion/electric
If a basic motorcycle kit was to provide the bones for assembly of a bike, the dressing of it could be left up to the user. Snap on fairings could be custom painted, removed, upgraded, modified in the same way that the modern generation replace their phone covers. Freedom is the ability to change something on demand or choose it in the first place. Generation Z are far more driven by their social image and communicating through various mediums. The motorcycle may very well be seen as an accessible tool to do this. The key is a universal, reliable and safe ‘core’ that is graffiti’d with what ever the hell its owner wants. A whole new class of motorcycle will be one that is completely one in itself.
There is also huge potential for a open source community to emerge with competitions, tips, made to order graphics, materials, lighting schemes etc becoming available to anybody. More importantly, the process of assembly has an educational aspect to it as well. Users will become more familiar with maintaining their bike once they understand how it works and how it fits together.
Traditionally, there is the tendency for small capacity motorcycles to adopt the aesthetic of their larger and bigger brothers. Arguably, a revolution in motorcycle design would be a new wave of larger capacity bikes that are inspired by the 125cc Honda Kit. Here, there is also the potential for longevity. Owning a bike that isn’t the “learner utility”. Can bigger motors be fitted within the same frame once the rider becomes more experienced?