The Art of the Motorcycle

Several years ago I had the tremendous opportunity to view the "Art of the Motorcycle" exhibit at the Guggenheim in New York City. Wow! The whole idea of motorcycles at the Guggenheim shocked the art world, but not me.

Having been interested in motorcycles since I was 13 years old, this was a dream come true. For me motorcycles are unique in that they embody everything that is right about design, form, function and emotion. My first bike was a 1971 Suzuki TC90R offroader, it's purchase was one of the most significant milestones in my life. It cemented my interest in not only motorcycles but also design. Few products by their very nature so strongly connect form with function. Simplicity, power, visibile innovation, exposed structure; these are the things that interest me still.  

Photo by Nancy Hill

Me on my Suzuki

"The motorcycle is an immortal cultural icon that changes with the times. More than speed, it embodies the abstract themes of rebellion, progress, freedom, sex, and danger. The limits imposed by its possible forms and functions, and the breadth of variation that has been expressed within these limitations, provide a framework in which to examine the motorcycle both as object and as emblem of our century." Solomon Guggenheim Museum

I still own and ride motorcycles today, including two offroad racing bikes. One is a 1979 Husqvarna 250WR that I restored to it's original grandeur. At the time of its introduction this bike dominated the world of serious offroad racing. The all black engine and bright red gas tank are a striking color combination that makes you want to own one, but it's much more than just color.

Photo by David Hill

There is a interesting parallel I think between the design of a motorcycle and a notebook computer. They both demand a delicate sense of balance between power, control, and weight, with a style that seems to nearly emerge from these relationships. At the center is the human who must skillfully guide and control the experience. It's funny how often I hear the phrase "I need to get on my ThinkPad."