‘Motorcycles’ - Category Archive


Starting from a Sketch

April 23rd, 2010

The new 2010 Aprilia RSV4 is out.

It has made the rounds on the web and motorcycle magazines. It continues to garner great praise for it’s step into the liter bike discussions and rivals the beauty of Italian bikes like the Ducati 1198 and the MV Agusta F4.

But it all started from a sketch.

From the Robbiano Design firm, or more accurately, Sergio Robbiano himself. He helped work on the Ducati 916, perhaps the most accomplished bike in terms of design. He also has to his credit the Bimota DB5 which won an MDA award in 2004.

Sure 3d cad drawings and renderings were done through the process, as was the more traditional clay prototypes, but like Foose of Overhaulin’ fame, it starts with a designer, an empty sketch pad and a few pens.

The final product doesn’t look too bad either.

Confederate Motorcycles

November 7th, 2009

Motorcycles are machines. They offer transportation and supply functionality to their commander. But they are also independent creations. Marvels of their engineers and owners. They are the output of hours of consideration, crafting and creation, of welding, oiling and inking.

So when I first saw a picture of a Confederate motorcycle, I was stuck by the railyard ruthlessness and industrial inspired construction of these machines. They appear conceived not from a director’s chair in Hollywood, but from a revolutionary living in a left-for-dead town as he struggles to put pieces and polish on scrap metal and left to his warehouse and his genius creates an unapologetic beast that breathes fire and design and looks like no one else. And I want one.

The current year’s production include the Wraith, the Fighter and the Hellcat. My personal favorite is the Wraith, although I’ll have to wait a few years before I can cash my entire 401k to cover the $92,000 list price. What strikes me about Confederate, besides their mission statement to “deemphasize volume” which feels sorta throwback American in its effort to sell fewer, higher priced items than the consumerism jungle created by Sam Walton is their ability to actually maintain a business.

Confedearte - Wraith

Confederate - Wraith

I’m all for expensive toys. And I’ve already admitted that I’d love to ride one of these untamed wildebeests. But what this tells me is that while functionality is important, I’m sure the 1967cc engine fires on the first go, that the chain powers the rear wheel and that the bike certainly lunges forward, design, from concept to visual, thought to appeal carry a very real sense of value. So while not everyone may be in agreement over the Wraith’s design, there is a truth to how design affects our decisions, attitudes and perceived worth. Car manufacturers continue to roll out almost identical designs with Siamese-like trim and engine options, but motorcycles have found a way to transcend this monotony with unique approaches to the same problems.

Nesbitt, of Confederate comments,

But I’ve come to realize what I was yearning for was to study vehicle design, which they didn’t have in the curriculum and I didn’t know to ask. But I’m so fortunate I didn’t find out it existed because if I’d run through the mill like everyone else I’d wind up doing stuff like everyone else’s, too. My design approach is much more art-form-based, more inspirational.”

– JT Nesbitt

Confederate - Hellcat

Confederate - Hellcat

Artful and inspirational for sure, and even thoughtful. Matt Chambers, the founder of Confederate Motorcycles, even writes great articles on the company’s blog.

Confederate Motorcycles is a fresh reminder of the new America, the idea that copying only creates more of the same, that craftsmenship is a dedication to building a better planet and that innovation as a concept is for everyone even if the final product is only in the hands of a few.

Vintage Aspen Honda

October 29th, 2009

Life needs more green lights

October 27th, 2009

Vincent Black Lightning

October 13th, 2009

Over 60 years ago Rollie Free laying over the seat of a speeding motorcycle set the land speed record in the flying mile out at  Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. He clocked a top speed of just over 150 mph and was framed into history with the famous “bathing suit bike” photograph seen below.


Bathing suit bike

But this photo isn’t about half naked men and their hair brain ideas. Its about the vintage bike, the Vincent Black Lightning.

Depending on where you visit or which site you believe there are anywhere from 16 to a 100 Black Lightnings built, all by hand of course. The Vincent Motorcycle Co. is long gone, and while there is little information available, this brand was so revered that an attempt to revitalize the brand was made.

Without going into the technical specifications of building a record setting bike, just look at this design beauty.


1949 Vincent Black Lighting

And the stylish modern redesign.

Modern Design for the Black Lightning

Modern redesign of the Vincent Black Lighting

Estimated retail for a perfect 1948 Black Lightning: $125,000