V-REX - Tim Cameron's next big design
By Mike Hanlon
February 22, 2005
February 23, 2005 Motorcycle designer and 3D artist Tim Cameron caused a sensation in the motorcycle industry two years ago when he released computer generated images of his DREAMBIKE design - magazines around the world clamoured to obtain images of the radical design and ever since, Tim has been one of the in-vogue designers for the motorcycle industry. Now here's a world exclusive - Tim's next big design, the V-REX.
Graphic and 3D artist Tim Cameron has been riding bikes for 23 years and designing them for roughly the same time – inside his head. From his first Kawasaki 100cc two stroke motorcycle to his current 2005 model bright orange Z1000 Kawasaki, he has been “living, breathing and riding motorcycles as well as sketching, scribbling and painting them on a daily basis for 23 years.”
“I’ve always been interested in the artful form of the motorcycle,” says Cameron. “I consider that any well designed object can carry along with it a powerful and uplifting emotional quality for its user - whether pride, reassurance or just a slight smile of pleasure whenever such a shape is beheld sitting quietly in the privacy of the owner’s garage.
“Motorcycles are already exciting shapes to me, and it is my greatest pleasure to work with such dynamic forms - working with them and hopefully pursuing new design directions is a dream come true for me.
“The new generation of 3D computer design tools with which I work daily, when used properly, give an artist a whole new level of creativity - bringing their wildest imaginings kicking and screaming into existence!
“I tend to pursue any concept I develop from first thoughts straight on through the rough sketch stage and rapidly into 3D modelling. I can’t wait to see if my sketchy, scribbled idea could actually be built or not by modelling it as a solid 3 dimensional shape, albeit computer generated.
“My first 3d design was the 401 – I wanted to make something original as I was learning to use the 3D tools and figured it was worth modelling something that I would persist with. So that’s how it started.
“The 401 is another inline four. A fairly conservative design with a single-sided shaft drive. I put the radiator up behind the rear wheel so that the viewer has an uncluttered view of the engine and pipes which have been chromed. This rear-mounted radiator system is not original as both Benelli and Harley-Davidson have used similar systems. Personally, when I’m sitting in summer-time traffic with the radiator fans blowing hot air all over me from my bike’s FRONT mounted radiator, I think I would prefer this system! Other bits n pieces in this design are the under-engine exhaust canister and a slight nod to the old Suzuki ‘waterbottle’ of the 70’s via the badged sidecovers.”
Since then, Cameron has designed more than a dozen motorcycles, a sampling of which follow, with Tim’s own words describing them
‘Dreambike’ has been making news around the world and stories about it have been published in Australia, France, Greece, Spain, Mexico and the U.S.
Harley-engined custom cycles are currently enjoying a new popularity in the states, but I have to admit that they always seemed a bit ‘low-tech’ to me, hence the Dreambike design, where I have attempted incorporating futuristic features in both chassis and drivetrain coupled with the classic American V-twin engine - what a combination!
The main feature of the Dreambike design is the hydraulic, two-wheel powered drivetrain. Australian bike designer Ian Drysdale pioneered such a system back in the 80’s and only recently Yamaha introduced a similar system on one of their dirt bikes, but only on the front wheel.
While I was at it I designed a ‘hub-centre’ steering setup also powered by the hydraulic system in the form of two gear-driven sliding arms deflecting the front wheeel.
Since the design has been released, I have received numerous enthusiastic offers from various companies to build the Dreambike in low production volumes, but so far nothing concrete has been confirmed. Roadster
A simple inline four that ended up looking somehwat semi-retro. The ‘70’s ‘four pipe’ look must have got inside my head, with a touch of 70’s scrambler. The most interesting part of the design for me was the idea of using the main frame rails in double-duty as engine cases.
The first in the series, designed more than three years ago, Skeletor is a real throwback featuring a skeletal, single-plane frame constructed in high-tech honeycomb carbon materials bonded to alloy skin on either side, slicing the machine in half visually from headlight straight through to swingarm.
A U-shaped radiator hides part of the airbox and the EFI workings are well hidden inside the rounded housing behind the cylinder head. A small Buell-style under engine exhaust almost drags along the ground. Various other styling elements come from all sorts of different machines such as flat trackers, scramblers, trailbikes and even modern mountain bikes.
The idea of the frame continuing forward and extending further than the steering head invited a reaching, head-forward hopeful and slightly aggressive attitude. Not really a sportsbike, not really a retro-sled either, skeletor is 100% streetbike which attempts to involve technology as an aesthetic force. Camel Spider
Following BMW’s successful lead of packaging its dual-purpose GS series as sophisticated yet tough technological marvels, Cameron has used the single cylinder off-road Camel Spider to showcase some novel suspension ideas as well as show off the use of polished alloy and punched metal elements as aesthetic components fitting the rugged theme.
The ‘slider’ front end is composed of hollowed out billet pieces with hidden suspension units rolling on compact, high-tech bearings. The ‘gearcase’ rear suspension comprises a gear train effectively driven by suspension forces in a sealed hydrualic fluid bath which transfers suspension loads laterally to an internal torsion spring unit as well as acting upon a damping. This use of hydraulics is in keeping with fluid drive used to send power to the rear wheel also in evidence. Lo-Go
The newest of the three designs, The single cylinder powerplant is now an integral part of the frame. It has been laid forward as a horizontal unit filling up the stretched out custom-style wheelbase. Twin radiators either side of the shrouded barrel become a part of the lines and the substantial box-section frame doubles as both an airbox and storage area for electronics, EFI components and the compact battery unit.
The lines get a real shake up with the addition of forklegs that develop from cylindrical to ellipsoid as they approach the triple tree and feature ‘winglets’ on their rear edges which help merge the lines of the kicked out front end back into the tank. Power transfer is via a shaft drive in the single sided swingarm. The seat’s material extends all the way up and over the tank where it meets the compact LCD instrument package.
“The twin headlights are from old endurance racers of the 70’s. The outrageously high swingarm pivot I’ll admit is impractical as is the adjustable backrest for the ‘pilot’ - only those with triple-jointed legs need apply! I have faired in the trademark boxer engine which is a pretty ugly lump at best and colour-matched the heads to the bodywork in attempt to further smooth the shape out. The overall look is meant to be mean and stocky.”
Harley-Davidson’s big twin V-twin powerplants along with their many close aftermarket ‘derivatives’ have been a mainstay in the custom bike scene for decades. There have been untold thousands of custom or owner-built machines built in various forms of raked-out choppers, chrome encrusted, low slung cruisers or accesorised baggers.
Curiously though, there doesn’t appear to be very many streetbike/sportbike styled machines powered by an Evo or Twin Cam powerplant. Of course Buell flies the Motor Company’s performance machine flag these days, but all its machines use engines derived from the Sportster engine and appear as narrow-focused (read ‘uncomfortable’) as many Japanese hypersport bikes.
V-Rex was designed as a sort of ‘crossover’ streetbike with some sporting pretensions, in a conservative style that I thought might appeal to the more mature rider. I was interested in a simple, stylish bike capable of cruisin’ around town, but with a more modern chassis design as well as wide rims for radial tyres and decent suspension for when the road got twisty.
The powerplant was envisioned as any decent spec S&S; motor in a dark chrome finish. EFI is hidden behind twin air ‘intakes’ keeping things symmetrical. A six-speed unit box switches drive to the righthand side. Electricals take up the space under the ‘tank’ with the real thing located under the seat and behind the engine.
The bike has old-fashioned twin rear shock units although cantilever linkages leading off the rather beefy swingarm allow them to be laid down beyond the horizontal, similar to Yamaha’s MT-03 showbike. The frame is a complex tube-section trellis affair from which the engine ‘hangs’ via a rubber-mounted subframe . The two large sideplates at the rear provide support for the now unit gearbox as well as holding the swing arm and rear subframe.
Bodywork is minimal and the instruments are basic, comprising a small low profile LCD multi-function unit. Twin projector-style headlights sit side by side in the large, swoopy-looking headllight nacelle. The bike also sports twin high-mounted exhaust mufflers in polished alloy joined via a central collector box beneath the solo seat.
Tim is a member of the Paris-based Motorcycle Designers Association http://www.motorcycledesign.com and can be contacted via his web site