Tuesday, December 29, 2009

CR&S Designer Donato Cannatello

In this article I interview Donato Cannatello, lead designer at CR&S, about his work, his approach to motorcycle design and the development of the DUU.

What is your educational background and work history in industrial design?

I started with graphic design (that’s the basis of all the design), entertainment software development, some studies in engineering, a degree in industrial design and a lot of hand made jobs/projects/prototypes all of which lead me back to my earlier passion: motorcycle design.

Do you have a design philosophy in general? Regarding motorcycles specifically?

I have an “industrial” design philosophy. Industrial design is not Art. Art is something made in one piece, Industrial design is produced in more than one. So, as opposed to Art, design needs to respond to some important rules.

For sure, design in motorcycle production is strictly connected to the function of the part in drawing, but generally the first thing you need to consider about a design project is the target, so design rules need to follow market rules. Then I like to take what I have, and apply it throughout the job; starting from the capabilities of the producing company, ending with the functionality of the part I’m drawing.

Who and what are your influences/favorite designers?

In accordance with my age, my influences are strongly lead by ’80s & ’90s motorcycle production. These were not the happiest years for motorcycle design, plastic was everywhere, but it was the birth of modern industrial design in the motorcycle field. Later I discovered values such as “strength” and “feeling” in design, and so plastic was substituted by more noble and durable materials such as iron, alloy and carbon fiber. So I can say I have no influences from any single person, but from their work and the materials and shapes they used.

Can you give some examples of what you consider to be great design?

I think the design of an object is as difficult as it is useful. This is why, the more it is useful, the less it needs aesthetic design. So the best for a designer is to produce something useful, appealing, cost-correct, extremely durable, and revolutionary (if required). For example in the field of industrial design I love my Motorola S9 bluetooth earphone, it’s minimal, very well working, great sound but revolutionary and cheap. Yes… No design is the best design.

What was your role was in the design of the VUN? And the DUU?

Other than some minor restyling and additional parts I did not work on the VUN.

On the DUU I started from the drawing of the first concept based on the X-wedge engine. Later my first job was focused on the layout and distribution of the components. Then I lead the entire process, for sure under the leadership of Roberto (Crepaldi), but was even busy with the 3D modeling of some parts of bodywork and of mechanical components.

Can you share some insight into the design philosophy that was applied to the DUU?

The whole motorcycle (the DUU) has been built and conceived around the know-how of CR&S and its target, so expressing the maximum possible between those two parameters. According to this, the final design of the DUU respects at the best the function of each part, and going on, no “useful” parts are covered but are instead exposed. The engine, the suspension, the frame, and wheels are naked and we made a great effort to fit all the rest around, not in front of, those components.

What is your favorite part on the DUU? Why?

Generally about the DUU I like all the component layout. I think the motorcycle works very well in this field, and this is confirmed by the modularity aspect. The motorcycle works in any configuration and this means the base project was correct. Anyway, in detail, my favorite part of the DUU is the fork clamps and risers group, I think they look strong but light, modern but classic.

Can you describe the design process at CR&S, who are your main collaborators and how do you work together?

Experience with the DUU was very interesting because it lead us to a more modern way of building a motorcycle. In the design development we have applied some new technologies allowing us to have processes that avoid scale modeling and reverse engineering.

Everything began with Roberto (Crepaldi), he gives me the basis to work on. Then I made the first drawings on the general volumes, structure and design. Later I built a more deep step in 3D, and the engineer Beppe (Bulla) started working on the possibilities to make such a frame and structure. We made a complete 3D model of the motorcycle (even internal bolts), so Domenico (Lavorata) and Nicolò (Koschatzky) built the first prototype following our drawings. Then me and Stefano (Destro) worked on the bodywork surface parts and other mechanical details, and built them directly with CNC technology.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

VUN Mini Fairing

One of the areas where the VUN suffers compared with other sports bikes is streamlining. The standard VUN is basically a naked bike with sports handling in the café racer style.

Lack of streamlining affects the VUN in three critical areas:
  • Top speed,
  • Fuel economy,
  • High speed comfort.
A standard VUN is easily capable of 180 km/h. This is quite a reasonable speed (illegal in most places), but is still pretty slow when compared to most other sports bikes. Going out for a Sunday run, your friends will be amazed at the VUN's speed around a tight road, but once you hit a few long straights you will be left in their dust.

My VUN is fitted with clip-ons which allows me to ride in a lower, more stream-lined position. It has also been tuned to provide a bit more power. Lying flat on the tank on a flat road I have managed to hit 200 km/h but, above that, wind resistance wins the battle.

Sustained speeds of more than 170 km/h on the VUN is impractical and uncomfortable. What the VUN really needs then, to keep up with bigger bikes on the straights, is streamlining. But how to make a streamlined VUN without spoiling that beautiful, minimalist silhouette?

Below are presented three conceptual drawings of a VUN front fairing design. I would like to know your opinions: (a),(b),(c), or (d) on which option you like best (click each image to enlarge).

Option (a) - Bezzi Design #1

Italian motorcycle designer Oberdan Bezzi was kind enough to create this rendering of a VUN mini-fairing design.

Here Bezzi presents a minimal front fairing which utilizes the standard headlight and bolts directly to the existing carbon fiber instrument support. The bottom half of the fairing flares outward to wrap the leading edge of the side mounted radiators.

Option (b) - Bezzi Design #2

In this image, Bezzi has removed the radiator cowlings to keep the side profile as small as possible. The lower fairing has a straight line of attack which then curves upwards to meet the lower line of the fuel tank.

Option (c) - Modified Bezzi Design

I modified the bottom profile of Bezzi's #2 design to provide a more flowing curve starting from the front of the fairing and blending into the fuel tank. The change is hard to see here, but click on the image for a larger view and you will notice the difference.

This image also adds a lower oil reservoir cover for some visual balance. The oil reservoir cover is already available from CR&S as a standard option.

Option (d) - Standard Fairing

The standard VUN fairing is shown here to provide a reference point for comparison.

Friday, December 18, 2009

VUN Ace Cafe: For Sale

Previously, I wrote about the special VUN that was built for this year's Ace Cafe run. If you liked that bike enough to want to own it, you can! Urban Motor GmbH are advertising the VUN Ace Cafe edition for sale at €13,890.

Follow this link (in German) for more information.

Lesto Exhaust, Update

Lesto Racing report on their Blog site that the new exhaust system they are developing for the VUN could be ready as soon as January next year! Good news indeed.

Search below for older news and photos regarding the Lesto-VUN exhaust system.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Mind... the Gap

The post rate on this blog will go down between now and the end of the holiday period, especially next week, as I am flying to New Zealand to escape the northern winter.

Typical New Zealand village scene.

Unfortunately my VUN will be staying here in Europe. So for the next four months I will probably be writing more about Ducati TT2 replicas and the biking scene in New Zealand and there will not be so many VUN-related blog articles.

My TT2 shows off her wasp-like dimensions

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Virtual VUN - Part 1

Teaser preview of the 'Virtual VUN' 3D modeling project.

Model of the VUN's frame, swingarm & rear suspension

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Triumph Produce VUN Clone

Well not really, but that was my first thought when I saw this image. Actually this bike was on display at the LSL stand at EICMA 2009 last month. It looks really good, the side profile has more than a passing resemblance to the VUN, and it carries the kind of front mini-fairing that is really needed for the VUN.

It is a special that was built by LSL using the Triumph Street Triple 675 platform as a base. Weight, including oil, coolant and gas, is claimed to be 190kg which is surprisingly heavy. Motoblog.it claim the bike is available at a cost of €16.000. Presumably this is the cost of a doner bike plus the special parts produced by LSL.