Motorcycles

Samurai concept aimed at making Japan (aesthetically) great again

Samurai concept aimed at makin...
Samurai motorcycle concept: a vision of a truly Japanese motorcycle design aesthetic
Samurai motorcycle concept: a vision of a truly Japanese motorcycle design aesthetic
View 26 Images
Samurai Motorcycle concept: sidecar
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Samurai Motorcycle concept: sidecar
Samurai motorcycle concept: doesn't look like a touring seat
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Samurai motorcycle concept: doesn't look like a touring seat
Samurai motorcycle concept: thin profile
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Samurai motorcycle concept: thin profile
Samurai motorcycle concept: presumably conceived as an electric, as there's no exhaust or foot controls
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Samurai motorcycle concept: presumably conceived as an electric, as there's no exhaust or foot controls
Samurai motorcycle concept: a vision of a truly Japanese motorcycle design aesthetic
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Samurai motorcycle concept: a vision of a truly Japanese motorcycle design aesthetic
Samurai motorcycle concept: aerodynamic fork sheaths
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Samurai motorcycle concept: aerodynamic fork sheaths
Samurai motorcycle concept: flat electronic dash built into the top triple clamp
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Samurai motorcycle concept: flat electronic dash built into the top triple clamp
Samurai motorcycle concept: simple but elegant rim design
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Samurai motorcycle concept: simple but elegant rim design
Samurai motorcycle concept: hatch lettering looks like it's straight off a gundam suit
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Samurai motorcycle concept: hatch lettering looks like it's straight off a gundam suit
Samurai motorcycle concept: origami-inspired folds create the tank shape
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Samurai motorcycle concept: origami-inspired folds create the tank shape
Samurai motorcycle concept: if you can sleep on a futon, you can ride on that seat
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Samurai motorcycle concept: if you can sleep on a futon, you can ride on that seat
Samurai motorcycle concept: sword hilt wrap looks great on handlebar grips.
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Samurai motorcycle concept: sword hilt wrap looks great on handlebar grips.
Samurai motorcycle concept: understated headlight
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Samurai motorcycle concept: understated headlight
Samurai Motorcycle concept: sidecar
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Samurai Motorcycle concept: sidecar
Samurai motorcycle concept: doesn't look like a touring seat
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Samurai motorcycle concept: doesn't look like a touring seat
Samurai motorcycle concept: thin profile
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Samurai motorcycle concept: thin profile
Samurai motorcycle concept: presumably conceived as an electric, as there's no exhaust or foot controls
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Samurai motorcycle concept: presumably conceived as an electric, as there's no exhaust or foot controls
Samurai motorcycle concept: a vision of a truly Japanese motorcycle design aesthetic
18/26
Samurai motorcycle concept: a vision of a truly Japanese motorcycle design aesthetic
Samurai motorcycle concept: aerodynamic fork sheaths
19/26
Samurai motorcycle concept: aerodynamic fork sheaths
Samurai motorcycle concept: flat electronic dash built into the top triple clamp
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Samurai motorcycle concept: flat electronic dash built into the top triple clamp
Samurai motorcycle concept: simple but elegant rim design
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Samurai motorcycle concept: simple but elegant rim design
Samurai motorcycle concept: hatch lettering looks like it's straight off a gundam suit
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Samurai motorcycle concept: hatch lettering looks like it's straight off a gundam suit
Samurai motorcycle concept: origami-inspired folds create the tank shape
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Samurai motorcycle concept: origami-inspired folds create the tank shape
Samurai motorcycle concept: if you can sleep on a futon, you can ride on that seat
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Samurai motorcycle concept: if you can sleep on a futon, you can ride on that seat
Samurai motorcycle concept: sword hilt wrap looks great on handlebar grips.
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Samurai motorcycle concept: sword hilt wrap looks great on handlebar grips.
Samurai motorcycle concept: understated headlight
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Samurai motorcycle concept: understated headlight
View gallery - 26 images

It's an odd looker at first glance, but the philosophy behind this Samurai motorcycle concept is an interesting one: why don't Japanese motorcycles adhere to the traditional principles of Zen aesthetics? And what would a motorcycle look like if it did?

Traditional Japanese design is based on seven Zen aesthetic principles. Simplicity and removal of clutter. Dynamic, balanced asymmetry. Naturalness and absence of pretense and artificiality. Subtlety. Freedom from the routine or formulaic. Energized calm. And understated austerity.

It's a beautiful philosophy that has led to a popular and familiar aesthetic that pops up in art, architecture, furniture, food, music and a ton of other disciplines.

Samurai motorcycle concept: simple but elegant rim design
Samurai motorcycle concept: simple but elegant rim design

So… Where is it in the Japanese motorcycle world? Don't get me wrong, I love me some "GSZXCBR1000RR" action, but I can't see how Japanese motorcycle design has ever echoed traditional Japanese style, and to my mind the Europeans have done a far better job in recent years of building form in with the function of modern two-wheelers.

And that's the idea of the Samurai concept here, a bike that looks like it's Japanese first, and a motorcycle second. Something that draws inspiration from places like origami, robotics and anime, in search of a truly Japanese design feel.

Samurai motorcycle concept: hatch lettering looks like it's straight off a gundam suit
Samurai motorcycle concept: hatch lettering looks like it's straight off a gundam suit

The two guys who created it, Artem Smirnov and Vladimir Panchenko, aren't really motorcycle people; they're automotive designers. And this bike's never going to get made, so let's not be too hard on the obvious impracticalities of the thing, like the central twin shocks, the comical, height-adjustable plank of a seat unit or the highly knee-unfriendly tank shape.

Instead, let's look at it for what it might offer: a suggestion on a direction that may lead Japanese design back toward the traditional Zen principles. Simple, straight lines that contrast with the more voluptuous curves of an Italian bike. Gentle bends and folds that give an impression of solidity and lightness. Neat touches like the aerodynamic wing covering each fork, the flat electronic dash built into the triple clamp, and ergonomics that adjust at the touch of a button to change the fit and feel.

Samurai motorcycle concept: thin profile
Samurai motorcycle concept: thin profile

Honestly, I picked this story up planning to make fun of this thing. But the more I look at it, the more it makes me think yes, Japanese motorcycle design from the big four companies does need a kick up the bum. It doesn't take advantage of Japan's rich design heritage and there's clearly room for some fresh ideas.

Something like this might kick off a valuable discussion. Jump into the gallery, take a long look and tell us if you think this concept has anything to offer.

Sources: Artem Smirnov and Vladimir Panchenko

View gallery - 26 images
5 comments
CarlosEpp
As a design exercise, I love it. A lot of inspiration can be taken from this concept. I get that that this bike is merely a design exercise but I think they should have thought through the wheel placement of the sidecar. But that's just a minor nitpick though.
mebaddad
Not sure how this bike could be 'japanese' as Artem Smirnov and Vladimir Panchenko are Russians and I can 'see' Russians themes in this design
keith14
I hate the look of the thing. But one thing that bugs me is that Just how is it powered and what CC is it and where are the exhaust pipes. How many horse or camel power is it.
Grunchy
The bike looks really dramatic. But then if a great fat guy rides it, he might look ridiculous. It's missing a lot of practicality, there's no fenders or centre stand or passenger pegs, no helmet lock, no place for luggage, maybe not even a tank bag. The slab-sided body looks great, but I think makes servicing difficult. If it's electric, why does it need a clutch lever & radiator? Where's the tailpipe? Where's the electrical socket? I know these design exercises are supposed to be about "what's the visual impact" well, here's my visual impact, the thing looks impractical. It's missing about 100 useful features that you'd want on a bike. I way prefer the design exercises where they take a working bike that has all the necessary features, and ADD to that & still make it look terrific. It's like the old show cars, they deleted the roof & opening doors and had all these terrific design elements, but the car is impractical! And after the show they'd cut them up into scrap! Because they were fundamentally useless! Also I think this thing is just a 3d rendering anyway. It's not real.
the webman
While this is a rather interesting design, it reads as far more European than Japanese. For starters, I see no reference to or any way to make room for the "patina of age," (Sabi in Japanese aesthetics) so essential to traditional Japanese design. I would love to see this quality show up in a contemporary Japanese motorcycle. This idea is alive and well in Japanese custom motorcycle culture, but we don't see it in new machines. All you need to do is look at how they lovingly care for unrestored pre-war harleys. No 100-point concours here....