While it’s not my preferred method of transportation, there’s just something about a motorcycle that screams “freedom” and beckons you onto the road. When it comes to manufacturing them, 3D printing offers a similar siren call of “design freedom,” as the technology can be used to create custom bikes with more lightweight parts, complex geometries, and personalized touches.
A design studio in Austria, aptly named Vagabund Moto, focuses on building custom motorcycles, and you can see many of its unique concepts and creations on the studio’s Instagram page. For one of its latest projects, Vagabund designers spent two years completely transforming a 1991 Honda NX650 Dominator motorcycle, using 3D printing to make custom parts in order to update the nearly 30-year-old vehicle.
“A motorcycle can‘t stand still, movement is in its nature. Vagabund Moto has dedicated itself to the reinterpretation of this timeless method of transportation as it is singular in aesthetics and performance,” the Vagabund website states. “We‘re not reinventing the wheel, but we‘re rethinking it.”
The Vagabund studio is inspired by classic motorcycles, but the designs they create are based around their original styles, not carbon copies of them. Just as their motto above states, they’re just rethinking the wheel, and not completely reinventing it.
“Our projects are never forced into a form like cafe racer, scrambler, tracker, brat, chopper or bobber. These are just guidelines, ready to be broken,” the site continues.
In terms of the ’91 Honda NX650 Dominator, or Vagabund V13, the studio designers spent over two years working out new ideas to update the classic bike, and then putting those plans into action. A lot of the new elements for the motorcycle were 3D printed, which took a long time, and the parts that weren’t produced with additive manufacturing were custom-made in other ways. For instance, the motorcycle features a custom license plate holder, along with a new brake light and turn signal combination.
The Vagabund V13 has a custom designed seat, which was also reupholstered with alcantara, a durable, synthetic textile that feels like suede. There’s a completely rebuilt engine on the bike, along with power-coated wheels with stainless spokes, new wiring, and a custom rack, featuring magnets for easily attaching a bag to the motorcycle, which can carry some extra fuel for those long trips up the winding highway.
According to designer Stefan Leitner, one of the most difficult parts of the entire project was making the new V13 a bike capable of off-roading while still featuring a minimalist look; in my humble opinion, Vagabund definitely nailed the aesthetic it was going for, and then some.
Leitner also explained that the project took so long due to prototyping, because the entire project was completed in-house at Vagabund. But it seems worth the wait—the V13 has new handlebars, levers, and controls, and the exhaust system has a stainless steel manifold with a custom two-in-one collector and modified Akrapovic muffler.
The motorcycle’s fuel tank, which was 3D printed out of Polyamide 12 with an integrated motogadget mini speedo, was one of the other biggest challenges the designers had to overcome. By the time everything was said and done, the air filter cover, handlebar switch housings, indicator light bracket, and rear end were also all 3D printed.
Thanks to some compromises and hard work by the team, the Vagabund V13 motorcycle is actually street legal in Austria, which is good news for the person who’s purchased the beautiful piece of machinery. But, as Vagabund notes, you can never truly own its motorcycles.
“These high-octane pieces are custom-crafted by hand in a workshop located in the North of Graz, Austria. You can find them worldwide. You can never fully own them though, because a true vagabond forever belongs to the road.”
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(Images: Vagabund Moto)
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