Saturday, September 03, 2005

A little bit about "TAatSotM"

For those of you who don't have the ninety minutes to listen to Professor Falco's lecture on "The Art and the Science of the Motorcycle," here a neat little synopsis of one of his main points:

Motorcycle design in the twentieth century split early on into two distinct schools that paralleled the main design schools of the time: Bauhaus and Art Deco. The exemplar of Bauhaus, then and now, is of course BMW; the exemplars of Art Deco then were Harley-Davidson, Indian, and a host of others. Only H-D remains as a continuous purveyor of Art Deco design from its inception.

Bauhaus of course hews to the dictum "Form follows Function," hence the radical functionality driving German design, with each component fitting into a unified whole, polished to a fare-thee-well in relentless CAD-designed, wind-tunnel perfected iterations.

Art Deco believes that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and, essentially that if it looks good, well, then it is good. Of course, Falco says all this much more eloquently and convincingly, and in much greater detail (actually, about 87 minutes more detail...).

But this insight into schools of design has gone a long way towards helping me get a handle on what I like and dislike about different motorcycles. If you've been reading RLYMI, my bias probably shows through.

I believe motorcycling is an act, a dynamic endeavor; it is not static. It is not about looking at or being looked at—it's about being in the moment. I would suggest that a functionally designed bike contributes to that goal and a non-functionally designed bike detracts from that goal.

Or, to put it another way, if motorcycles were meant to be chromed, then why is the atomic weight of Chromium 51.9961, and the atomic weight of Aluminum is only 26.981538? Huh?
Don't forget, A=f/m!

And besides, if I wanted something to polish, I'd have bought an apple...

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