Designing a Dakar bike

Discussion in 'Racing' started by 640 Armageddon, Dec 22, 2015.

  1. 640 Armageddon

    640 Armageddon Xplorer Supporter

    Joined:
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    This thread is a story of how me and some other friends/inmates either in this or other fora designed from scratch half the Suzuki Dakar bike which will participate in Dakar 2016.

    It all started in June 2015.
    For the last couple of years we have close ties with Team Suzuki Rally. The team is a semi factory effort, with Japan closely watching what is going on in the field, how the bike is being developed, feedback for problems, alterations, reliability etc. The team is located in Spain and up until now, was running parts, which were very similar to Meca rally kit, both fairings and nav tower. The team was/is using rally gear from us, and being happy by the way things were unfolding, it was decided back in June to design and build the fairing and a new nav tower.

    This is the old bike, used during the last couple of years.
    [​IMG]


    The bike looked nice in my opinion, but with using off the shelf parts, it could not be differentiated from the bulk of the private efforts using the same fairing.
    The exact same look can be seen in Meca CRF, or in some KTMs so there was no ''Suzuki'' in there. The team asked for a more refined look of the front of the bike, since the rear was already in V2 of the tank you see in the photo. A smaller, more refined CF rear tank with some tricks inside. The other constraint was to keep everything minimal and as close as possible to stock. This would give the potential to the team to market the rally kit easier, which is the ultimate target I guess for them.
    Were we in? Hell yeah...

    'Why would you do it?'you may ask.
    Because I was given the opportunity, because I liked the challenge and because I thought at the time ''we can''. Some inmates get into financial details a lot, and if no money are involved, they usually chicken out, no hours are spent in front of their PC's unless $$ are running. I differ and would like to think that other people are out there, like minded, who are more into 'open sourcing' doing things because they like the... ehm... things. Not the $$. If you sit in front of the CAD, Google Earth, or something only because you are getting paid, then chances are that you do what you do, because of the money. In rare occasions both things coincide, and you do what you like and getting paid as well.
    Dakar is what it is. An expensive ''party'' if you like and watching even companies that were established long ago begging for money, makes you think that it's only the true factory efforts that can survive Dakar. All the others, both teams and privateers make gigantic efforts to even be at the start of the rally. Of course, we don't see these semi factory efforts going around rally fora asking for money, but anyways... Enough of that, off to the ''how we did it''.

    The design team.
    Usually you need one of those to design a bike. The challenge made me appreciate and understand a lot of things about industrial designers and how to communicate with them. Nobody is inside your mind, so ''transferring'' that mental image of what needs to be drawn, sometimes took days, was always crucial to keep things on track.
    It is very fortunate that about the same time we made contact with Jon, (inmate mrwwwhite) about the kit690.com project that he was busy with. Jon is extremely talented in CAD and his background made him perfect for that task, but at the time, he had to focus on the kit690 so we said that we would keep each other informed of what is going on and come back should more assistance was needed for us.
    We then scouted in Deviantart, a well known artistic forum with people exchanging info, drawings, anything that has to do with the art of design. From cartoons to future cars and space characters to running shoes and gym equipment.
    As expected, not all the members were approached. I will not go into great detail about all the members who were approached, but I will highlight the ones that impressed me the most and these were the ones who contributed one way or another to this project.
    Lisa (GremlinCat) was approached first. Her background in vehicle design was not that broad, but she had some nice designs in her gallery and after a brief discussion she looked at this task as a nice challenge for her.

    [​IMG]

    We then approached Mr. Hun (Toyonda). His gallery seemed impressive, with lots of concept cars.
    [​IMG]


    s-redha, had some serious renderings in his gallery. He did comment that he lacks knowledge on the specific subject, and time too, so he forwarded us to a friend of his.
    [​IMG]

    (Oblyz)
    [​IMG]

    TTking.
    [​IMG]

    konkon49
    [​IMG]

    renxo93
    [​IMG]

    gousman
    [​IMG]

    Some of the above people, combined with the knowledge we had gained from running Aurora allowed us to quickly get to the drawing board. Not all accepted the challenge, but we got three of the above to assist.
    Remember that the other task was to design the tower for the bike. That was assigned to another team. Combined with feedback and help from Highwaydirtbikes and having Jon in the background made us (at least me...) confident that we could design everything that the rally team asked for.

    The plan.
    We had the directions, we had the team, what could possibly go wrong? :D
    Each Deviant member was given the same information and they went their own way to do what they know best. Design.
    Since the semi factory team did not ask for specific details, we went the old school way. We tried to modernize DRbig. Much like you see the first gen of the new Mini Cooper, or the Beetle or the Fiat 5oo. The Big is (with Katana's too) one of the most iconic bikes in Suzuki's history (and not only).
    After the drawings, we could either have a sculpture of the design and use it as a prototype, or CNC polystyrene, use it as a mold to vac CF. Then the work to produce them would be easy busy.
    Now. Put all this to perspective. It was June.

    Where is the bike?
    In Spain. :D
    What we had is a 'phantom' frame (i.e. an empty frame), a front tank and the stock shrouds. That's all. On these parts we had to do all the testing, the fitting and the 'imagination' part of the built.
    That is one of the drawbacks of operating with a small team, but every effort was made, both from Suzuki's and our side to make sure that we make the best out of it. Do or do not. There is no try.

    What really happened.

    As you can imagine, we did not run full time on this, but we run most, if not all our free time there. I have to personally thank, all, and I seriously mean it, all the people who got involved and gave even nanoseconds of their free time. These days it's a privilege to have that. From Facebook chats with friends, to the people that ''allowed'' us to work every single night and minimise holidays to get the project done.
    Both design teams (tower and fairing) had to communicate almost every day so that we do not drift off.


    The tower design.
    Although the rally navigation thread in this forum is one hell of kind, one has to always keep moving forward. What do we need from a tower? Especially one that will have to endure Dakar? When inmate Jaybo run Australasian Safari, we had accelerometers on his tower. It is common to see +10g on the tower, meaning that a 6kg thing, will load the stem of the bike with 60kgf in medium hits. Expect elite riders to load much more, hence the need for their light structures.
    So, (1) we needed the tower to survive those hits. Flexibility is a key to survival, so polymer materials were chosen. (2) We need the tower to support all navigation equipment, all switches, fuse boxes, buttons, Iritrack, Balise, lights. Only light spares are usually placed on the tower. (3) We need the tower to survive Dakar. One tower, one Dakar and then some more. This approach is valid in all the manufacturing or design work I and the team that we work with do. We fail to understand why people buy stuff that may break. Even the lights on the tower have lifetime warranty. Truth to be told, we had discussed the option of a Suzuki Tower with HighwayDirtbikes before, and some designs were exchanged back then. It was these drawings that were used and subsequently modifed in order to design the above tower.

    So...the tower design finished before..... let me think.... :hmmmmm:hmmmmmbefore Morocco.
    To be exact, three weeks before Morocco. We got in contact with Vladimir Kusnier, (inmate 690RR and Chavo's mechanic last year). Also spannered for Pal Anders in the past, a well known figure in the Rally Arena. He got us another contact (see how it works? :scratch ) in Astrium. We talked to a very nice French lady there, who agreed after seeing our tower design, to send us an Iritrack unit (the safety device that rally bikes use) in order to be able to see if we meet the design criteria for that. Iritrack is a very tricky device, and ASTRIUM has specific rules of what can or cannot be covered on the devise to allow proper use should it needs to be operated by the rider. The brackets, up until now were the classic ones that Iritrack had designed, either a small or a large one (which is the old design and suits cars the most). Knowing that KTM did not get it right on the RFR, we had to be really careful of what we do with this unit. Now, why KTM did not get it right is beyond me and out of the topic of this discussion, but it was a red flag for us, as to where the Iritrack should be placed.
    It's approximately 1.2 kilograms and it is quite large to fit on the tower discretely. I will not go into great detail about the iritrack bracket, it's not important imho. But unless they see it from ASTRIUM in Dakar, nobody can be actually sure that it would pass. V1 did not in our case. V2 did. It always takes two versions anyways...
    The first version of the tower had some unique features. Made out of clear polymer, was flexible to survive all the hammering we threw at it in the lab. Time constraints did not allow us to optimize the design, so we had to switch to a more conservative one (but not that much at the end :deal ). The design was unique as it was clear polymer, which if combined with a clear screen, would make the bike look :ricky .

    The first step was to get the part that bolts to the stem of the bike. To do that you need the frame in digital format. We had just a frame in the lab. Digitizing can be done in different ways these days. Either using photogrammetry software (ReCap, Memento or similar) or by actually 3D scanning the parts, which produces the best results. A local company (http://www.hellasprototyping.com/) was in great help in this. They scanned the frame, and a couple of days later, we had what you see ''white'' in the photo below. It's a very good approximation of the real deal.

    [​IMG]

    What we see in the photo is the blue part that is bolted onto the RMZ's frame. The problem is that the RMZ frame is really thin, therefore does not allow for a rear plate to be installed inside the frame and bolted. You actually have to open threads and bolt it there. Hence the two side parts which grab the front tank mount and act as a stiffener.

    [​IMG]

    That part can be seen in printed powder, using an antivibration device, similar to what you see in the bar ends.

    The tower was designed in such a way that the iritrack was inside the tower, but perpendicular to the bike axis.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    The iritrack bracket had the option to ''slide out'' should the rider/orga wanted to take it off the bike.
    As we get 'away' from the frame, vibrations increase, reaching their peak on the top front of the tower, the place that is the farthest from the mounting point. That is the general rule. So antivibration gear was placed there too. Spending some time to review my University notes, books and internet, resulted in small bars with different end shapes. Turns out that you can design the ''pendulums'' so that they cancel out specific vibrations. To do that of course you have to know what these vibrations are. In our case we had zero data, except these from the accelerometers that we had put in JayBo1's bike. From the graph you can analyse what is going on and design ''approximately'' . Then test with and without the device, and see if there is a difference. We did not go that far anyways...

    The Suzuki logo was used as an integral part of the tower, not only to counteract for the iritrack that is above (to bring the center of gravity lower), but also to give the tower better stiffness to the point which will suffer in a side impact.

    For the lights two Baja Design Squadrons were chosen (the sport model) giving enough light without consuming a lot of energy and at the top we had the classical mounting plate we have used. We just added the anti-roll bars, carefully fixing them to anti vibration pads on one end.

    In the lab:
    [​IMG]

    The finished towers:
    [​IMG]

    On the bike:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Although the design was well thought out, the iritrack was the weak link. even though there was access to it: [​IMG]

    There was so much material removed from the tower, which did not make it stable anymore.
    To continue this way would be ok if it was February, but the last check in Morocco meant that there was no time to be lost anymore. That upset everything. The tower had to be redesigned, but the fairing design team had taken this tower as a constraint. :patch
    Two options were there. (1) Try to ''patch'' this design, or (2) design from scratch. There were 3-4 solutions to be tested in that tower and reinforce it in the gap between the plates. One could always use honeycomb structures, parallel structures or more stiffener blocks. But if the solution did not work? The time that would be left by then, would not be enough to allow us to design something from scratch.

    This is were I need to pause and go back to the fairing design.

    What do we need from a fairing, other than aesthetics? We need it to be strong, to be easily removable and to integrate some characteristic looks. We also need it to be different from what there is in the market today. There is no point of creating an Aprilia lookalike or a Jvo copy.

    Some art work is here to show the designs that we discussed, and although I am not allowed to show everything, you will get the idea. As I am not allowed to show everything, I can show you which ones were discarted.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    At this point the team started talking more seriously with Japan. There was a meeting, and it was decided that the fairing had to look, someway similar to Vstrom. That was a major step backwards at least from the design path we had taken. This is where Jon (inmate mrwwwhite) comes into play. Although when we started, designers did draw as requested, blending information from old and new Suzukis with some personal touches, a 'limit' was reached and then they started drifting off, adding their own design elements. Although this was normal and expected, the time limits were now hitting red. August is the month that nobody is 'operational' and all factories, suppliers and such would be impossible to trace. We were about end of July at this point. Without a final tower and without a fairing design.
    Jon had already been called to swoop in, as it was apparent that we would not be able to make it in time. So by the end of July we are at this stage:

    3D scan using Memento, everything done by Jon at this point.
    [​IMG]
    It does not look good, but gives you a very good visual in CAD so that you can replicate (if need be) the part. We discussed with Jon what we want to achieve. A combined DRBig, Katana, Vstrom look was the decision that we discussed with the team and we got the green light.
    Jon proposed that we make a screen, similar to the GSX750s New Katana.

    The Katana:
    [​IMG]

    This is nice, reminds Suzuki and its one of my favorite bikes. But how on earth would he blend it to the front nose? :scratch
    The design that reminds me of that screen is the DRBig Dakar version with the cover for the lights.

    The DRBig
    [​IMG]

    You can see in these two photos that the fronts of the bikes are not that different. That characteristic look had to be designed. Jon used 3D to model everything, time consuming but allowed us to communicate and exchange data the easy way. More often than not there were ''translation'' difficulties, but I think we did great given that these two packages have conflicting targets (Alias - visual/art/design , Inventor - Mechanical design/manufacturing)

    After lots of iterations we arrived at this stage:
    The RMZ.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    This was done while Jon was developing his kit690 and was preparing for the Transcarpatic Rally as well. You will notice the old tower in, this shows the approximate time stamp. Both Spanish and Japan people liked the design. At the same time, Mr. Hun from Deviantart, was doing some Photoshop renderings. This would provide a much quicker 'view' version of the bike in different colors, also giving some room to Jon to continue his own work.

    [​IMG]
    There was a green version but out of respect to Kawasaki I am leaving it out :D

    Although it difers from the 3D CAD, it's an option that we had to exploit to make the screen more ''aerodynamic''. We did some preliminary CFD work to see what is going on.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Jon's last model was similar to that:
    [​IMG]

    The fairing was in its final stages by now and then disaster happened.
    The stock tank was too small for the bike and we were informed that this would have to change.
    So, it's August, we have no tower and the fairing needs to be redesigned... Well, that was an interesting turn of events. :fpalm


    The new tower.
    As I mentioned in a previous paragraph, the tower had to be redesigned. And fast. We had to run Morocco with the new tower, and as this was supposed to be the new, 2016 bike, failure was not an option. It never is, but just saying :lol2 .
    Taking time off work, to chase it, meant that we had ten days to deliver a new tower, complete with iritrack brackets and nav plates for our gear.
    Working together with Highwaydirtbikes, the new tower was ready in time. It had some nice details too.

    [​IMG]

    The tower would be made out of both polymer and aluminium and the Dakar version would have up to 9 dampeners in to attenuate vibrations. These could be increased to 13 if need be and the side plates would then be completely separated from each other. It would be adjustable in all directions, height adjustable too using different polymer plates, and the team could use it's lower part to add a to add a light, put the Balise there or install an oil cooler, which was the original request form them. The polymer would give some controlled flexibility and given the terrain the team could swap plates with either less or more flexible ones to increase the chances of the tower surviving a crash. We did try out some safety options but nothing that was tested in the field. Four gas struts were used in one assembly to hold the roadbook plate. They would be compressed should the rider hit them, but strong enough to maintain position. It's a design that we may see on the bike during 2016, but nothing that could make it to Dakar in such a short notice.

    I know a lot of people here who would say keep it simple, stupid, but it's 2015, and that (at least for me) does not apply anymore the way it used to in the old days. We have examples of bikes that were kept simple and failed to finished both Dakar and Baja for example. We can discuss this later, but it really depends on the team budget on how heavy the bike would be. If the team has enough money to get 7-10 spare towers for each bike, then it is ok. But my approach is to finish Dakar with the bike you started it. So, the weight was important, but it was not the designing factor. Design it well and it can hide it's weight well. Put them on the bike once and forget about it. This is the approach that I take, and with that in mind, we decided to let Suzuki run the exact same Roadbook holders that run Dakar 2015 and all the training and racing season this year. Will they make it? I don't know, but they were performing good, and unless we reach the limit, we cannot improve. So thanks to the team for backing us up in this decision.

    [​IMG]
    Back to the tower...
    The lights are in their ''Morocco'' position, since by that time the fairing design was running in parallel. In Morocco the team used an old fairing that was modified (hacked to be more specific...) hence the lights had to account for this. The red parts (light supports) are interchangeable. You take them off, and then you can put other versions on to move the lights in other positions to account for different fairings. This allows the team to change the look of their bikes. Being a lite race? Put the HDB fairing and the matching light supports and off you go.

    The bike in Morocco:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    The tower passed the Morocco tests, therefore there were little alterations to be done, to ensure that the tower will endure. One thing to note, is that the any problems were not visible to us, unless the bikes were ridden by the racers. That was a lesson that we already new from the roadbook development, but confirmed here. Especially Santosh, he was the factor that affected tower design the most. So, unless the correct people test it, then you can continue doing CAD work, for days, weeks sometimes, and then all of a sudden you get different feedback and all the work goes sideways.

    Having finished the tower, it was time to manufacture the fairings. And boy, they were beautiful....
    The plug for the fairings was hand built. Which means that another factor was there to compensate. Everybody in the ''rally open source'' puts their personal touch on the bike, making it different and prettier on its way to the next step. As you understand, having only the frame, is a pita. Where will the shrouds bolt? What about interference with something? What about the clear screen?

    Now the bike hand sketch that made it to the press was something like that:

    [​IMG]

    The end result is this one:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    There is no clear screen. Neither a flip up light of course. The clear screen may appear in the near future, nobody knows when :D and the flip up... ehm... Let's leave it for now.
    The are things that you will see in V2 of the fairing, but these cannot be discussed at this time.


    In Facebook I saw this:
    [​IMG]

    Are they the same? No. The RMZ has zero volume compared to the Big which was indeed big. But the characteristic ''fin'' and the New Katana similarities are there imho. A low fender may be better, but that is a team decision.
    One thing that we all learned is that (1) you cannot please everybody in the room and (2) it is impossible to create something that everybody likes. There is no reason to discuss about ''beauty'' as this is highly depending on the person who judges it. Does everybody like the new BMW or the new Triumph? No. So what? :patch

    Remember that when you have a team and start to discuss that ''it would take me a couple of hours to design the fairing, but I wont do it'' or that ''Who has the larger screen?'' or ''Keep it secret'' then it can be proven mathematically that you will fail.

    Will the bikes make it to the finish without problems? It remains to be seen. All of us gave our best effort and then some more, to finish the project in time. As always in manufacturing, the person with the huge load now are the team mechanics. They will correct/alter anything that we did not have time to. Small things, but still they are heroes.

    The above project took place between June and December 2015 and I am happy I was a part of it.
    Happy that I met people from this forum that are like minded, happy that I did co-operate with them and happy that the bike eventually will make it to Dakar 2016. I firmly believe that the open source community should grow and I will keep trying to that end. Knowledge is there to share, look at the navigation bracket thread. How many people got inspired to just 'try' ? There is nothing like building something with people that don't give a damn about who will get the credit. I am sick of people doing that every day, so it's like a dream that there are people who like to share their knowledge, their skills and most important, their free time. Secrets are for Victoria :sweeti :lol2

    There will be more details, as time and team allows both for the tower abilities and accessories and for the fairing accessories. But let's keep that for a later post :cob


    :wave
    D.
    #1
  2. WIsixfitty

    WIsixfitty rock and roll the bones

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    now this is going to be some great evening time reading.

    In.
    #2
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  3. VxZeroKnots

    VxZeroKnots Long timer

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    I don't even know what to say, other than amazing job and the bike looks the business. Thank you for taking the time to share this piece of rally history with us.
    #3
  4. wrk2surf

    wrk2surf on the gas or brakes

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    cool
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  5. Evil Invader

    Evil Invader Been here awhile

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    :drif
    Wow!
    Just.....
    Wow!! :bow
    Absolutley stunning work!! :clap:clap:clap


    Good thinking scouting Deviantart. My sister put some of her drawings there and there´s some really nice work around!

    Bravo! :thumbup
    #5
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  6. Baja Dad

    Baja Dad Long timer

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    GREAT WORK !!!!!!!
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  7. Myway

    Myway Long timer

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    You can send it to me, :clap
    #7
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  8. 640 Armageddon

    640 Armageddon Xplorer Supporter

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    This was another rendering with a side scoop. Out of respect to Myway :ricky, here it is:

    [​IMG]
    #8
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  9. troy safari carpente

    troy safari carpente Team f5oolery

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    ^^^.... and hey presto...! :clap Kawasaki rally platform... :D:rofl
    #9
  10. Schalkvdm

    Schalkvdm Adventurer

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    Well done! I think that Suzuki looks absolutely awesome:clap

    The fairing almost looks like there is some inspiration from the new V-storm. Was that intentional or just coincidence?
    #10
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  11. Deadly99

    Deadly99 Fast and Far

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    Thanks for sharing D, nice too see passion versus commerce :thumb
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  12. N4pSt3R

    N4pSt3R SaradisSt

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    Nice bike guys!!!!

    Μπράβο σας!!!
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  13. joenuclear

    joenuclear Still here....

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    Thanks!
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  14. theantipaul

    theantipaul Reforming Neandertal

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    I might be a little biased, but Dimitri this thread is bitchen! Very intelligent design process.

    I like everything about the design, all aspects addressed, aesthetics and engineering morphed together the way it should.

    The use of talented input all coming together with multiple options, visual and structural simulations, all considered for merit and then integrated. All I can say is I hope you were compensated for at least a fraction of your time.
    #14
  15. live2ridetahoe

    live2ridetahoe BSN, RN, CEN, TCRN, MICN Supporter

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    This is awesome! Nice work!!


    Tahoe
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  16. twotyred

    twotyred Practising Recedivist

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    Really enjoyed the read. Great stuff!!!
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  17. dtysdalx2

    dtysdalx2 Just send it!

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    :thumbup
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  18. cameron110

    cameron110 Been here awhile

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    Thank you so much for taking the time to post about this project! :clap
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  19. MaxThePanda

    MaxThePanda Psycho Panda

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    Fantastic story and incredible build. I'll be watching and holding thumbs for the bike this Dakar!
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  20. malamala

    malamala chilangoland

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    Gracias por compartir la historia, excelente.
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