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Interview: Gregory Thüne – Industrial Designer


Posted on May 5, 2011 by Scott in Café Racer, Other. 32 comments

We have all seen amazing concept bikes created by Industrial Designers that never see the light of day. They are created on the computer and spend the rest of their days in the pixel world. Well, this Fiv0 concept was designed by Gregory Thüne who is trying to take it into the next stage — production. We asked Greg a couple of questions about this stunning bike and we cross our fingers and hope it does manage to do a “reverse Tron” and make the jump from pixels to the real world.

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’m a professional Industrial Designer (Canadian by birth) working with Astro Studios in San Francisco — I studied ID in the 90s with the thought of designing my own motorcycle, then really dove into researching the “hows” and “whys” behind designing a functional bike from the ground up in the early 2000s while designing toys, consumer products, electronics and the like, cause you know… a man has got to eat.

So this isn’t the first time you’ve designed a motorcycle?

In 2004, I finished my first overly thorough bike design I called the Ferine (pictured below). This bike was modeled all the way down to the compression ratio and I built a 1/4 scale model. I realized that the cost of producing this machine would be astronomical — also, my needs and taste in motorcycles had changed by then, so I drew one quick sketch of the bike that I felt reflected what motorcycles represent to me. At the time and currently, I’d say the café racer embodies all that is spectacular about Motor-Cycles.

Your latest concepts look like a fusion between a vintage café racer and modern race bike. What was the inspiration? 

When I designed the second bike (the Fiv0), the inspiration wasn’t the café racer because those are mimicking 1950s race bikes, so I only looked at the 50s era bikes which to me was a great time in “amateur” aerodynamics, innocents and passion in the pursuit of speed on two wheels. The name Fiv0 is a short (or long depending on how you look at it) way of saying 19″50″ Five-Oh or Fiv0.

Looks like a lot of thought has gone into the mechanics. Can you run us through some specs?

Yes, this bike was based on a 45 degree V-twin, 55in wheel base, a conventional rear suspension and the single telescoping aircraft style front end. The intent was to have a single monocoque upper chassis bolted to a simple space frame lower-end that could be modified for a variety of power plant substitutions. The Engine shown is based on Randy Torgeson’s 106″ HyperMotor (in external dimensions) with some intake modifications.

You said you are about to go into stage 2, which takes it closer to production. What does this involve?

Money and time, I gotta make a few new friends to help get this thing going. I started to collect components for the build back in 07, but I met a girl whom I now call my wife and there are only 24 hours in a day…

Lastly, what do you ride?

I’ve had a variety of race bikes since 1990, the last was a 93 Ducati 888spo, which I bought in 02 and sold in 07 to help finance the Fiv0.

We love this Fiv0 concept bike and hope Gregory finds the money and time to build it. What do ya think? Worth building for real or do you think it should stay on the hard drive? You can check out the rest of Greg’s impressive portfolio here.








  • Bob

    Very cool looking rederings.. Very cool!
    But I'll just never understand the HD engine fetish….

  • Yikes, Thüne's Fiv0 in Gulf livery (ish?) is unreal must-have. I need a cold shower.

  • KrookStreetRacing

    Very cool. Really like the bullet fairing. I need to learn how to work a 3D-app!

    Bob: the HD engine fetish is easily explained – no unsightly water coolers to mess up the sketches…

  • Gary

    I don't think that drive chain/swing arm set up will work very well.

  • Doug

    Gregory – extremely cool concepts!

    I recommend contacting Curt Winter at BTR Moto. He has been building sport bike chassis for HD big twins for over 10 years and he is close to SF. (east bay). He has a diverse fabrication background (racecar, hillclimb, dirtbike, sportbike, chops, etc)

    see: http://www.btrmoto.com Be sure to click into the gallery page since he has changed the under tail exhausts.

    (Bob – low-end torque and a handsome "v". It just needs a compact unit-constructed bottom-end).

  • Greg

    Thanks Doug!
    Will do.

  • dave in kalifornia

    The "Harley Engine" thing is easy… (besides the fact that H-D isn't the only mfg of big-bore v-twins) They are essentially an 'Iconic' American motor… Much like a small-block v-8. Also, no-one can argue the value of torque. Parallel twins, and inline 4's can't match the torque output of a v-twin. Period. While you can always get bigger hp numbers from an inline motor, the torque is where the fun is really at. Compound the fact that all v-twins are extremely narrow side-to-side in comparison. Nevermind the obvious fact that the architecture of the H-D v-twin is NOT the only version out there. Honda VTX motors, as an example, are excellent v-twins for custom apps such as this. Just b/c it *looks* like an H-D motor, doesn't mean it *is* one.

  • dave in kalifornia

    @ Gary:

    That set-up actually works quite well. The only thing needed to change is an outboard bearing carrier on the sprocket/output shaft. Look @ a Confederate Hellcat to see how it works.

  • I really like it. In particular the bullet shaped fairing. My only reccommendation would be to also build an electric version. You could wrap up a bunch of LiOn's in the chassis in a really cool shape.
    I have a few designs I'd like to get built as well. How do you go about becoming a mass producer of quality motorcycles?

  • Bob

    Okay– before getting off topic, once again- Gregory: amazing renders!

    Now, to the harley motor thing… Krook- I can understand using an air-cooled motor in a rendering due to it's simplicity- but that doesn't answer the fetish question- I've never heard a harley rider mention the lack of a radiator as a selling point. But there are other air-cooled engines Gregory could of used that could of matched the high-performance look of his bikes… If you're going to produce eye-candy, don't put a piece of turd in the middle of the bon-bon!

    Regarding the "iconic" nature of the hd motors… okay… But does an "American icon" have to do these renders? Are cafe racers American icons? No, they're british in nature. How about sport-bikes in general? No again, sport bikes are anything BUT American.. Someone remind me what happened last time someone tried to stuff HD motors into a sport-bike… Oh yeah, they had to race them again much smaller displacement bikes to keep it competitive… And then they got shut down because it just didn't compute.

    And the whole torque and compactness of the motor? What?! A Honda CBR and BMW 1000rr both produce about 85 lbs/ft of torque- a 1500cc Harley produces about 7 lbs more… So a motor that 50% bigger(!) produces less than 10% more torque.. Oh but it's "low end torque". Yes, clearly the rendered bikes look like they'll be designed to burble around town at about 30 mph…..

    Gregory, once again- amazing designs. Seriously, bad-ass, amazing designs. But if you were designing a super car, would you design it around a 1950's pick-up truck engine, or something with a little higher specs?

    Did I just rant a bunch… over a couple of imaginary bikes? Can I leave work now? I'm bored!

  • dave in kalifornia

    Heh! Nice points, Bob… But there is still the aspect of v'isual aesthetics. After all, these are just renderings. Maybe the designer *likes* american v-twins? Maybe he just likes the radial-nature of a 45 degree twin? Maybe he doesn't know anything about performance vs. design aesthetic? Really doesn't matter. Screw the motor, what it is/isn't. These are simply very pretty, nice-to-look at designs.

    And, FWIW- I personally have no love for 'american' motors.. But- you're dead wrong on the differences in torque. Go sit in on a dyno session sometime. I'm not talking "peak" numbers here… Think USABLE torque. v-twins (from any mfg) make more torque across the range.

  • monkeyfumi

    His first design (the Ferine) looks like a cheap chinese copy of the Britten.
    The FivO is much more cohesive.
    Whilst these designs might not be my cup of tea, I hope he succeeds in his dream of physically building them.

  • Doug

    Bob – not every bike that has a sporting geometry and aesthetic needs to be rung out as though it is ridden on a track. I like the current liter sportbikes, but this concept has its place too.

    What's not to like about a 2-wheeled version of the Shelby Cobra? shoe-horn a big, torquey motor into a performance chassis.

    MGS-01 for the street sound good? This is along the same vein.

  • Sascha

    Greg,

    I am interested in what you are doing here… I like the idea of someone who has the drive to make the project come to life. Beautiful designs in my opinion… I would be very interested in connecting with you to discuss the potential of assisting in sorting out financing of this project and discussing your distribution/marketing model. Drop me an email @ dariusmoj@hotmail.com and lets connect.
    I think the world is ready for something like this and there is an apitite for these types of bikes.

  • P.F. Flyer

    Dave in CA, you are wrong. I have done enough roll on contests with Harley's to know this is wrong. Starting at 2000 rpms in top gear (and my bike is geared for 170mph) the H-D will start to pull on me, by 2500rpm's I am starting to reel the bike in, at 3000rpm's all they see is me leaving them. If the race begins in 4th gear, it is no conest! Kevin Cameron (Cycle World) wrote a very good article on this subject. The key is torque multiplication, a four is producing it twice as often as a twin. Unfortunatly dynos lie, because they don't tell the whole story.

  • Troy

    The pictures are just awsome and I would love to see something like this built. Just Beautiful.

  • WFO

    If HDs make such great sport engines why are ALL of the sport bikes made today not v-twins? Seems to me that if they were so "good" that every MotoGP team would be using them.

    They're highly inefficient, It takes a LOT of cubes in a v-twin to "beat" a Jap bike. It comes down to how much air per revolution is being pumped through the engine. Ducati's do it, but those have GEAR DRIVEN CAMS, there ain't no way in hell a pushrod engine is EVER going to produce the power-per-cubes that a gear driven cam engine will make, so Ducati is sortof a non player in this arguement.

    I've owned both .. HD sport bikes and high-strung four cylinder Nippon bikes. The HDs are fine for cruising or for novice sport riders. But they'll never beat the efficiency of the current V4s or V5s that the GP bikes are using. It isn't even a contest. Look at the HD XR1200. An 80hp, 595 pound slug. My stock 1984 Magna 700 cleans those things clocks. It's not even a race.

  • dave in kalifornia

    LOL- I NEVER said anything about "H-D" motors being GREAT sport engines.. They ARE fun to ride in tight locations, IF they are set-up and tuned correctly. Man, you guys need to take a pill, and relax.

    All I was saying, is there are many reasons why designers (possibly) use v-twin architectural design. Also, Please- H-D is NOT the only company making v-twins… can you all just get off that soapbox now?

    On the subject of torque, etc: Dyno-numbers and 'roll-on' street racing aside- when you can take a 1200cc v-twin sportbike or, something like a Hellcat up US 129 *IN SECOND GEAR* and never have to shift… that's part of the differences in tractability. Sometimes it's much more fun sling-shotting from corner-to-corner than just blazing thru it at warp-speed…

    Again: for the slow people: I was just offering possible reasons why a designer *might* choose a cursed v-twin for his design. No need to start a brand-debate, or a motor argument. Some of you need to broaden your horizons a bit…

    Damn pretty designs, Gregory…. Keep up the good work.

  • bubnubba

    Looks beautiful but will look far more beautiful without all the cheesy "sponsors" stickers.
    Good luck, hope you move ahead with it.

  • Troy

    @ Dave in Kalifornia, I aggree with your views and also think that this is one awsome looking bike.

    I think that most people look at every bike as though it is about to be piloted by Valentino, I would expect that most riders who would ACTUALLY BUY a bike like this wouldnt push the boundaries of what this engine offers in the way of performance anyway.

    Further to this its more about styling and having a competent level of performance with a motor that is familiar to the average consumer and has a large bakup of upgrades and replacement parts available. (In my opinion anyway).

    And I still think this is awsome.

  • Robin

    I read Pipeburn all the time and I don't know why I've never asked this:

    What computer programs do people use to produce these 3D renders? I have ideas that I want to visualize but I don't know how.

    Thanks!

  • Robin

    And also, to actually comment on the post, awesome bikes. My favorite is the first image. The bullet fairing with the black and metal finish is awesome!

  • Doug

    WFO – have you noticed that the Ducati WSB bike (a twin) spanked the i4 and v4 Aprilia the first 2 rounds of the series this year? That bike also does Not have gear-driven cams, but belt-driven, just like the street production models.

    I second Dave's comments with…

    what is more fun on the street? riding a fast bike slow or a 'slow' bike fast?

    Not saying a Randy Torgeson's 106" HyperMotor motor is slow, but if Gregory wanted to be economical with his original prototype build (afterall, it would be a proof of concept), he could start with an 88" HD engine off of eBay, which there are lots of them.

    btw..I road my Guzzi with Curt while he was on his black HD sport bike (which currently uses a stock HD motor). This was in northern CA on some amazing roads. That bike is Not slow on the type of roads that matter the most. We had no problem staying with an MV Agusta and 1198

    An engine is built for an intended purpose. Not all engines are built for the track.

  • Love the bike and especially the front fairing. Any plans to sell the fairing?

  • very nice! vintage+modern in a very well thought out design. I wish you luck in making this a reality!

  • dave in kalifornia

    @ Robin-

    Most designers these days (as well as those of us that design/build parts and/or bikes) use SolidWorks. Very pricey. Student versions are available.. <url>www.solidworks.com</url>

  • Robin

    Dave,

    Thanks for that. I had not idea that everyone uses SolidWorks. I use that for work but don't have personal access to it. I'll have to look into the student version. Do you know if there are any other programs that people use? Thanks!

  • Oh man, these is the kind of modern iconic bikes i am looking for.
    Get rid of all these japanese superbikes, which look like crap and sound like hell.
    Bring it on the road and i'll be one of ya first customers.

  • thom

    loving the metal and black, and the v twin looks cool, don't forget Vincent made a very high performance V twin, as did Honda in later years, very nice, good luck with your dream

  • WFO

    Potato … potahto …. it's all opinions anyhow. 🙂

  • michiel

    @ Robin.
    For technical concepts Solidworks is the way to go. You can moddel single parts and assemble them afterwards.
    If your design is very organic I suggest nurbs modelling programs like Rhino 3D
    For renderings there are a lot of good programs. One of the easiest is photoview 360. It comes with solidworks. Keyshot/ hypershot is a bit more complicated.

  • Pupster

    Beautiful design.Visually everything a motorcycle should be. If is was made a reality I would definately want one. – assuming the testing produced a nice handling bike. (and of course a lot of torque.) I do hope it is made for real. if not, it's still an awesome vision of what a bike could be. oh and V twins are cool. the render would be even better with an illuminated headlight and indicators, mirrors etc, but it does give the essential look of the bike. one thing though, where does the gear box fit? if it displaces the underslung exhaust and the bike sits low it would end up changing a fair bit. what I'm saying is could it exist as it is? if not, would be cool in video game.