by STIRworldJul 09, 2022
"Sometimes the most stringent of limitations yield the most unique results," notes Jeroen Claus, Design Director at Belgium-based VoyagerCo., on his industrial design studio’s concept for the SOLID CRS-01—an electric motorbike developed for electric mobility startup SOLID EV. Boasting a distinctly modular design developed for high-speed manufacturing using sheet metal, that deviates from traditional two-wheelers, the SOLID CRS-01 would not seem out of place in any work of dystopian fiction, particularly in the cyberpunk genre, owing to its box-like fairings which infuse it with a retro-futuristic touch. Set for a limited edition run as a made-to-order product, this collaboration between the two companies has yielded a conceptual design that poses intriguing questions about the future of automotive design and manufacturing.
Flat surfaces are traditionally uncommon on most automobile designs, usually due to norms in styling and aerodynamic performance. However, in this case, the severe geometric design language seen in the CRS-01's appearance stems from a desire to make its manufacturing process as efficient and cost-effective as possible. Speaking to STIR, Claus explains, "We had done some previous design work for the guys at SOLID that influenced the general lines of their motorcycles. Our design brief was to design something cost efficient with sheet metal. That alone excludes a lot of frivolities, so we opted to go for a crude but very recognisable volume, with corners that appear to have been chiselled off.”
Headquartered in the Netherlands, SOLID EV is attempting to put a new spin on urban mobility, in order to cut down on emissions and improve environmental quality in cities. Their current flagship electric vehicle, the MOPED SOLID MX, possesses a stripped-down aesthetic with a design language which does have some similarities to the CRS-01. However, instead of sheet metal, the MOPED SOLID MX makes use of a steel frame and an artificial leather saddle, along with a wood-finished panel where the gas tank and transmission would have been in a conventional motorcycle. Exposed bolting and joinery reinforces this, as the minimalism in the vehicle's design distinguishes it from its peers within the same class, evidenced by the absence of any windscreen in the design.
In turn, VoyagerCo.'s design for the CRS-01 extends this minimalism, but refocuses it with a more pronounced sense of weightiness, where the studio's concept has subtle hints to the bold and formidable visual lexicon of brutalist architecture. The choice of materials further accentuates this, with a body fabricated using aluminium and stainless steel sheets welded, bent, or bolted together, with the joints themselves laid bare in a manner that evokes tie holes seen on exposed concrete surfaces. As far as aesthetic predecessors go, there are a number of similarities to the boxy, modular styling and metallic exterior of Tesla's upcoming Cybertruck, unveiled back in 2019.
Large tires at both the rear and front of the vehicle support this heavyset body. Among the most remarkable features of the bike's design is the absence of a discernible saddle in the traditional sense. The tradeoff in this scenario involves preserving the design's near monomateriality and strictly linear profile. Moreover, the front fender and rear shock absorbers have also been left relatively exposed, in line with the theme of leaving the structure bare.
Aerodynamic performance is another major parameter in the design of any kind of vehicle. On this note, Claus mentions, "Since this is a sort of modern interpretation of a café racer, it is intended to be ridden on city streets at relatively lower velocities. You can take it onto the highway if you want to, but that is not necessarily the intention behind our design for the vehicle." For this purpose, the CRS-01 utilises SOLID EV’s drive train technology, housed within its machine-like body.
Headed by Fabian Breës and Jeroen Claus, VoyagerCo.'s impressive portfolio includes a collaboration with UK-based vehicle manufacturer Arrival on the Arrival Car, the FTX27 powerboat for Bernico International, the Ridley Noah Fast bicycle, and concept cars for Formula 1 and Le Mans. With this latest manifestation of their uniquely forward-thinking vocabulary-which according to Claus, required a month of design work from the initial sketch to final production files—the studio has completely flipped the script on its head to create a vehicle that pushes the boundaries of what is possible, bringing what is seen in science fiction closer to reality.