February 3, 2016: what's wrong with new motorcycles, Part II

After being notified of my "letter of the month" accolade for my previous rant on this subject, I was relating the story to my wife, when I realized another strong design "theme" (I'm not sure what word to use) that describes the modern motorcycle design esthetic. But first, some history.

Around World War I, people were experimenting with ways to camouflage ocean going war ships: dreadnaughts, destroyers, etc. How do you hide a really big floating metal boat?

If you try to paint it "sky colored", you still have the problem of the shadow, the paint not matching "the sky", so just painting it one color (or two, split at the horizon) isn't very effective.

One solution that became hugely popular during World War I is called dazzle. The idea is to paint "crazy" black and white stripes, triangles, etc. all over the ship. Up close, it looks insane; how will this ever be "camouflage" ?

However, when viewed from afar, a funny thing happens. The black and white shapes "break up" the "boat shape" so that the human eye can no longer see "a boat". Since the (presumed enemy) lookout is looking for a boat (ship, whatever), but their brain cannot see "boat", the dazzle camouflaged ship is rendered invisible.

This brings me back to motorcycles. The modern design aesthetic breaks up the surface of the motorcycle into many facets, shapes and colors. At least in my case, I can no longer "see" the shape of the motorcycle. I see the two tires; I see the place that my ass goes, and where I hold on; but the rest of it is just noise. I cannot figure out where the bodywork ends and the front fender begins.

For me, this ruins the motorcycle. How can I sit in a lawn chair at a rally and enjoy looking at my bike if I can't even see my bike?

It also occurs to me that when motorcyclists are constantly struggling for better visibility (so as not to get run over by inattentive car and truck drivers), the last thing we want to be riding is a vehicle that is designed to be invisible. As it is, car drivers are looking for "cars and trucks", not "all possible vehicles", but designing the bike to not even look like a bike can't be helping matters.

See the images below for an example.

Bill Dudley
New Jersey



2010 BMW S1000RR



HMS Kildangan (1917)




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