Shape Study #3

This is Project Streetliner Concept #3. After watching Gizmag’s fantastic video on narrow and single track vehicles, I wanted to explore a form that was as narrow as possible. More specifically, I also wanted to explore what the original kernel of my idea would look like. That is, if I took a Piaggio MP3, stretched it into a recumbent form factor, then built an aerodynamic body shell around it, what would I have? Well, I’d have this. It’s very trim and very shapely and definitely pays good homage to its Velomobile roots. Of my concepts so far, it would stand to reason that this one would be the most efficient in terms of aerodynamics, but I’m ambivalent about something so narrow. This is mainly because of low-speed stability and the need to put a foot down or not. Riding a normal MP3 is really no different than riding a standard 2-wheeler except that under just the right circumstances, you can lock the tilt at stop lights and things like that. That works for those situations, but there are times when you need to unexpectedly stop and catch the bike with your feet. If you’re already leaned over, locking the tilt isn’t going to keep you from falling over. However, if the front wheels were a bit further apart (like Concept #2), I’m optimistic that an on-demand tilt lock would keep the vehicle from tipping over in a sudden stop situation, even if the vehicle is fairly well leaned over.

As much as possible, I want to avoid having to Fred Flintstone this vehicle (that is, have my feet hanging out the bottom), including when I need to back up. But that’s a separate problem.

All in all, having shaped Concept #3 I think that I’m getting closer and closer to a final idea and that this idea will ultimately be somewhere in between Concept #3 and Concept #2. It’ll be restricted to half the width of a conventional car, but that’s still quite a bit wider than the Piaggio MP3’s current wheel span. Perhaps that’ll indeed be the sweet spot.

Shape Study #2

This is my Concept #2 Streetliner. As I sculpted Concept #1 in clay and later in birch, I realized that making a body style like that tilt and lean into turns was going to be pretty difficult without perhaps having the mechanics under the body shell lean independently of it. As much as I love those european curves, that’s a level of complexity I can do without. So for Concept #2 I knew I wanted to try a nearly open wheel design. Inspired by a modernist 1930s era kid car on display at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the initial sketches have taken shape. I’ve loving it! The single headlight up front gives it a feel one part airplane, one part streamliner locomotive. This is the front-runner aesthetic so far.

Streetliner Shape Study #1

This is my Concept #1 Streetliner. With so many converging inspirations, I’ve had to basically pick one and just go with it to see where it goes. This concept starts primarily with the classic Bonneville Speed Week streamliner racers that have set speedy fire to the salt flats for decades now. Specifically, while re-watching the movie The World’s Fastest Indian (Burt Munro being no small inspiration for this project himself) and seeing so many of those sleek, ’60s go-fast machines. I must also admit a bit of british roadster influence as well. I’m highly skeptical that I could make this body style tilt without some major wedge under-cutting of the shape under the car. As such, I probably won’t develop it much further. But it was definitely fun to get my hands dirty in modeling clay!