May 4, 2012

BB Series: Designing a Custom - Step 1 Concept

Customising your first motorcycle can be a daunting but exciting prospect. But it's something that can get out of control and consume your time, relationships and the loose change in your back pocket.

BB Series: Designing a Custom - Step 1 Concept

Customising your first motorcycle can be a daunting but exciting prospect. But it's something that can get out of control and consume your time, relationships and the loose change in your back pocket. This is one of the reasons why you'll find on Ebay a number of unfinished projects with looking for new homes.

This is how finding funds to a lot of projects end up
source :
After managing to complete a couple bikes to a set budget.  I thought it may be useful in noting down some ideas on what we've found important throughout the process of concept into reality.   

If you're a backyard builder like we are, there are a number of difficulties faced.  Amongst the top ones for us was budget, skills and time.  How do we create something that's been an idea in our head into our driveway ready to turn the throttle within a limited budget to fit within the schedule?

In this first post of our Backyard Builder(BB) series we'll concentrate on the concept design stage.  I've left out the bit about purchasing a project bike as it's been covered a million times before in forums etc.  Basically you want something that fits within a budget, preferably runs, and something you can see potential in.

Ok now for the fun stuff.


This is where you start gathering your ideas and influences, to work out which direction you want to take your project.  I think most of us do this without giving it a title, we use google, read magazines and blogs and take photos.  There are a couple of cool tools out there to help with this, and one of them is Pinterest.  Pinterest allows you to pin an image that you've seen on the web into your personal account.  Great alternative to saving images on your computer.  

Mac Motorcycles are renowned for the great digital concepts

It's also here that you can start thinking about budget.  What ideas do I think I could afford to do, and do I have the skill to accomplish this or the budget to get a helping hand.  

Once you've got a rough idea of which direction you'd like to take your build you can start visualising.  For me I like the traditional Pen and Paper to sketch out my ideas.  I've tried a couple of sketchy things on the IPad including Paper by 53 But if you're a bit more efficient on the computer you can opt to use programs such as Photoshop and Illustrator to help work through ideas.

There's a reason why they call it PhotoChop, as it's perfect for taking bit and pieces from one bike and seeing how it looks on another.

Pinterest is a great way to keep the ideas you like

The beauty of working through different concepts is that it forces you to think about the overall design elements of the bike.  What stance will the bike have? what theme will the bike have? What will the paint scheme be?  Although if you read my previous post the paint can wait till last!

PhotoCHOP - What it says on the tin Once you've got an idea of your fancy build, you can even start sketching up and brainstorming specific design elements of you build.  Things such as rear sets, fenders, bars, seats, dashboards can all be worked out to an extent also.  Of course things don't ever run smoothly but it just helps distinguishing what you need, as it can save time further down the track and reduce the "OH-SHIT I forgot about that" factor.

You can sit back and enjoy the ideas that you've come up with, I always find doing the 24hr test works a treat.  That is if you don't like the look at what you've come up with 24hrs after the fact.  You should ditch it.

That's it for the concept stage.  Really it's the best bit along with putting the bike back together and kicking it for the first time.  I found it really important in understanding the direction and overall look of the bike.  It also helps me think about budget and any other constraints to limit surprises down the track so to speak.

Paper by 53 Lets you sketch on your IPad.
Only problem is that you need an IPad

Motorcycle Concept Sketches Drawing - Jeremy Lacy

Of course if you're in the same mould as Shinya just get in the garage and start welding for god's sake and forget the dribble that I just wrote.  Everyone has a preference, that's just ours.

NEXT POST... Detailed design and creating a budget.

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Hope everyone has a great new year and manages to stay up long enough to see your local council spend a bucket load of cash on fireworks.Hope 2012 brings fun times, great bikes and great rides for y'all.
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