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Is India Becoming the Design Center of the Motorcycle World?

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The Indian motorcycle market is massive, and is clearly more important than the U.S. market at this point. This trend will only continue into the foreseeable future, as the Indian consumer moves to larger displacement, higher performance models. Pictured above is a Hyosung ST7 cruiser concept, which the South Korean firm designed and developed in India. The video below gives some insight into that design process. The new ST7 will likely displace close to 700cc, and the Indian market is certainly ready to embrace larger displacement bikes.

We have already talked extensively about the tie-up between America’s Erik Buell Racing and India’s giant Hero MotoCorp.

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Honda’s new wind tunnel in India

Perhaps the biggest indicator of India’s increasing influence on motorcycle development and design is the establishment by Honda of an R&D center in India focused entirely on motorcycle development. Encompassing over 10,000 square meters in Manesar, India, the new Honda facility is quite impressive, and includes, for instance, a state-of-the-art wind tunnel for anylyzing aerodynamics of new two-wheeler designs (both motorcycles and scooters). Honda considers this new Indian facility unique in its global operations, despite the fact it has several R&D facilities worldwide.

India has many talented designers, engineers and computer scientists. It is already a popular location for outsourcing of high level engineering and design by multi-national corporations. While European manufacturers may continue to design the vast majority of their products in Europe, we may be witnessing a major shift by Japanese and Korean manufacturers to design centers in India.

38 Comments

  1. jim says:

    Do they outsource design to India because they are cutting edge or because they are cutting jobs?

  2. Alan C Brown says:

    I would like to see a full size model built. The model would not have to run but things like the seat height, swing arm length, gas tank hump size, cables, rear fender and front fork angle/rake could be done properly sized/designed to represent a motorcycle that could you actually ride on the street rather than a concept bike or show bike drawing.

  3. Jorge says:

    Finally, design with purpose and practicality. If I had a dollar for every time I wanted to buy a goat and bring it home along with Grandma and three kids but still be comfortable while shifting in sandals…

  4. jozimoto says:

    The Taj Mahaul! If India is the big market they will get what they want. Too much Blade Runner for my taste.

  5. Joe B says:

    these are not the droids you are looking for, move on.

  6. Bob says:

    “Is India Becoming the Design Center of the Motorcycle World?” The motorcycle in this article presents the best argument against it.

  7. Gronde says:

    Hoping this is all just a bad dream…

  8. GKS says:

    It only makes sense that motorcycle manufacturers will tailor their designs to fit the markets with the largest sales, meaning India and China. These two countries will be (if not already) the world’s largest motorcycle markets. And the majority of potenial customers were/are riding scooters. Look at Honda’s laest offerings, such as the NX and CTX, definitly scooter like. The days of most designs catering to the American and European markets is past. Hopefully they will continue to throw some tidbits our way for the entusiasts.
    For more on this opinion, see the back page of the current Motorcyclist magazize.

  9. Jose Barreira says:

    No, no, no… You got it wrong. What they do in India is what its also done in China. Somebody in Europe designs a motorcycle and they just copy 80% of it!

  10. jodyz says:

    I just threw up in my mouth a little.

  11. Rennie says:

    So Honda has a design center in India. Viewing this piece of whatever explains therecent and horrible Honda design trends, ie CTX, etc. Really hate the etc

  12. zuki says:

    Weird, somewhat disturbing. Anymore, I can’t get the Ganges river corpses out of my mind thinking of India.

  13. Colors says:

    “Is India Becoming the Design Center of the Motorcycle World?” – Well, they shouldn’t!

  14. Ricardo says:

    The designres are at Ducati, this model looks like a Diavel knock off. India y likely to follow what China did, taking advantage of other designs, modfying them and sell them at a cheaper price. Capitalism rules!!

  15. Michael H says:

    Talent follows money and opportunity.

    Remember when the Japanese and the South Koreans were scoffed at for having the ridiculous idea that they could design and build cars that would appeal to Americans? And how their first cars were goofy looking and under powered for America?

    It’s India’s turn to step into that arena. Indian organizations will shorten the process by purchasing top-quality design and engineering talent (hello Eric Buell) along the way. This is in addition to the thousands of Indian students who have lived in the US while earning their engineering degrees.

    HD was well served by having its new 500 and 750 models designed entirely in India.

  16. michael franklin says:

    It isn’t because the’re good…… it’s cause they work cheap.

  17. skybullet says:

    Hey, it’s a concept. The stretch wheelbase alone makes it unworkable. Asians seem to like futuristic, weird design following “if a little is good, more is better” plan of overkill. Styling is important. If any product is pleasing to the eye, it sells better, right?

  18. todder says:

    Bollywood Bikes!!!

  19. Ductec says:

    If I had a dollar for every Hyosung concept that never came to fruition (in the U.S. market) I’d have about five dollars.

  20. TexinOhio says:

    Man! I like odd looking bikes, but this is way over the edge. It’s pre-stretched and slammed for the parking lot crowd.

  21. Oilhead says:

    Looks like the British Empire left them to their own devices.

  22. Provologna says:

    “…While European manufacturers may continue to design the vast majority of their products in Europe, we may be witnessing a major shift by Japanese and Korean manufacturers to design centers in India”

    This is pertinent, even though design and manufacturing are two different things. I am high end audio and music instrument professional. Focal (France) and Scan Speak (Denmark) are two very old and well known names, both makers of some of the most costly loudspeaker drivers for high end loudspeakers.

    For a few years now both companies manufacture in China. My understanding is Focal still make some drivers in France. Then there’s this blog item about Scan Speak: http://techtalk.parts-express.com/showthread.php?242188-Scanspeak-is-now-officially-a-Chinese-company

    I don’t even know who owns (Italian) Ducati now. German VW? Ruminations of VW CEO….”Do I want to pay a design employee $125k in Italy or Germany, or someone with similar skills and talent in Mumbai about 1/5th that amount?…Which employee leaves more money for my CEO salary and pension?”

    Do you need a calculator?

    Check YouTube videos for the typical driving experience in Mumbai. Don’t have anything in your mouth because it won’t be there for long. I watched these videos after prompting from my married couple friends who travel between their two homes, one in Florida and one in Mumbai. Gives new meaning to the term “unbelievable.”

    Remember the bill of goods Reagan and every President since him sold us: “We move all the ugly, difficult, and polluting manufacturing to China, and we all live an easy life just buying cheap stuff made some where else.”

    They left out the part of no more well-paying manufacturing jobs, landfills reach to the sky with useless cheap disposable crap you don’t need, and the primary beneficiaries are the .1% (compare corporate profits vs. real income which has fallen steadily since about 1990).

    If you don’t like working at Wall Mart, join the “all voluntary” military, see the world, and get a low cost education.

    • MGNorge says:

      “…Which employee leaves more money for my CEO salary and pension?” It’s all about the bottom line. But from what I’ve seen, CEO’s and the upper echelon rarely sacrifice what their contracts stipulate. It’s the lower level employees that tend to be held in place by rising costs.

      “Remember the bill of goods Reagan and every President since him sold us: “We move all the ugly, difficult, and polluting manufacturing to China, and we all live an easy life just buying cheap stuff made some where else.” I remember reading of a futurist, I suppose, during the .com boom the same exact thing. Many thought this was everyone’s meal ticket to wealth and posterity. When asked what we’d all do for jobs he said we’ll manage the world! The next question was the kicker, what if we’re not all mangers? What if someone works with their hands and is skilled at what they do but they’re no manager. It didn’t faze this guy. He didn’t care, as far as he was concerned he was going to get his and you either get in line or you miss out!

      Where do people get this stuff?

      • dino says:

        Where do people get this stuff? In college, earning their MBA’s. If common sense doesn’t fit their plan, it must be wrong. They have all the charts and theory, so it must be better than common sense.

        It’s good to see some emphasis on “made in the USA” again. We need some balance these days.

        • Gronde says:

          I like made in the USA, but we need to get price competitive if to be competitive and that’s not going to happen anytime soon. Americans actually like to get paid wages that let you eat at least 3 times a day. Unless we lower our standards to India/China levels, it ain’t gonna happen.

  23. dave says:

    That is horrible.

  24. Big Bobby Bee says:

    Just take a close look at the rear exhaust pipe.

    • Starmag says:

      Oh, I did. I had a Schiwnn with that much rear “fender” and it put a less-than-attractive stripe up my back every time I rode in the rain or fast through a mud puddle. But who cares? There’s no need to impress the girls you won’t be taking for a ride anyway.

  25. Starmag says:

    Nice one ABQ but it should be “their design R&D is to make less attractive ( ugly is such an ugly word )copies of Diavels?”

    I’m sure that fenderless rear tire will be perfect for the average Indian road.

    The single seat will mark you as a bad ass “Lone Wolf”, enjoyment of reproduction practice be damned.

    I’m beginning to think that molded plastic is the bane of motorcycle design.

    • ABQ says:

      And that exhaust on the right side is bent for maximum burning of the shin and ankle. Genius!

  26. Tank says:

    “India has many talented designers, engineers and computer scientists” – too bad Hyosung hasn’t hired any of them.

  27. ABQ says:

    Their design R&D is to make copies of Diavels? OK

  28. kjazz says:

    ….apparently not.