Virtual Motorcycle Design

Virtual-Motorcycle-Design

Although the demand for car styling has managed to support numerous large design houses over the years, entire companies that can survive predominantly by designing two-wheelers are rare indeed. And so it is with Renfrew Group International (RGI) whose creative output covers a range of sectors from medical diagnostic products to scientific equipment and from pushbikes to motorcycles.

If you’ve not heard of RGI in this context, then that’s probably down to tight contractual clauses, yet, RGI’s work has appeared in successful production designs for manufacturers such as CCM, Dafra, Megelli and Triumph. It has also produced conceptual projects for Honda, Suzuki and Aprilia. Rather than being merely stylists though, RGI supports the entire design process through to production, with a strong emphasis on CAD (computer aided design) and rapid prototyping facilities. While the group offers a complete service for all types of consumer, medical and scientific goods, automotive design represents 30 percent of its output, of which motorcycles constitute a surprisingly high 90 percent.

Renfrew Group International now has a substantial department dedicated to motorcycle design. The designers have plenty of studio space and access to a host of CAD software, as well as traditional creative tools. Engineers take care of chassis design and packaging, while the workshop staff has access to automotive clay modelling studios, along with a wealth of support systems from CNC machine tools to part finishing booths.

motorcycle-styling-design

The most efficient way for motorcycle design

The techniques used to provide data for manufacture have seen a marked change away from reverse engineering, where a hand-finished model of a new design is ‘copied’ using scanning techniques, towards a design which is straight, out of the computer. This helps in both the quality of the output and in reducing the time taken to complete development – an important factor as the timescales to production and delivery targets are becoming ever tighter. These are real challenges, especial ty when there’s a need to communicate accurately with offshore manufacturing partners. RGI’s response to this has seen new motorcycle designs emerge from within a totally virtual environment – in other words, going directly to production data without the need of a full-scale day model.

In a virtual environment, all the interested parties such as production specialists, designers and engineers are involved, and can share simultaneously, accurate data-based information at the design stage. This can boost the team’s creative energy, but more importantly allows for a dynamic assessment of the vehicle packaging across the various disciplines – It also has benefits for the end-user too, because none of the conceptual design thinking is lost in the process,

What you see for sale will reflect the original concept much more closely.

Virtual model tools, are now available, which allow the consultancy to create, access and visualise designs that are so real that decisions can be made without making reference to anything physical. With a CAD model, everything is correct and can be verified accurately by referring to exacting homologation regulations at the design stage. But the use ‘of virtual design tools does not herald any loss of creativity, nor does it ensure a future characterised by bland, featureless machines. In fact, the opposite appears to be the case. RGI’s designers are now in better overall control of the process, and this has allowed the consultancy  greater freedom to conceive new models. The concepts that the designers develop are grounded in data which is already verified for chassis and power train packaging, rider ergonomics, chassis dynamics and so on. This data is introduced into the process as an ‘underlay’, which ensures the designer’s creativity is kept within realistic boundaries via hard points defining fixed physical relationships.

Motard_Bike_design
motorcycle chassis design
Naked_Bike_design

Of course, one of the major benefits of the virtual underlay is the impact it has on cross platform design, RGI’s designers are now used to sharing a common chassis across model ranges with the same or similar power train. Loop or perimeter frames, sub-frames and outrigger assemblies can be common to many models, while steering and rear swing arm geometry may only vary by a small degree between, say/ an adventure bike and a sports bike with the same overall chassis. Common lighting assemblies. foot-controls, mudguards, wheels, brake rotors and a host of sundries can help to contain development costs while reducing tooling budgets and production inventory. The virtual design approach when applied to all aspects of a new motorcycle range can show significant benefits in terms of powertrain packaging, rider ergonomics and manufacturing savings.

The designers at Renfrew Group International are confident that the use of virtual design tools is the way forward, not only to enhance the performance or the manufacturing quality of motorcycles, but to give freedom of expression to creativity in the knowledge that the underpinnings are already sound – and crucially in the right place from the start. These advances bind together the often disparate disciplines of vehicle styling, ergonomics and engineering packaging, and when it’s also backed by years of benchmark experience, can lead to a level of confidence that’s shared by everyone.

Renfrew Group International will continue to expand its creative and engineering teams and provide more facilities for motorcycle design as capacity demands. Most of the studio output is devoted to complete design and production contracts, but it also accommodates clients who need only a partial redesign.

Menu