Designers Talk#2
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V4 Concept

Challenging the impossible—a radical approach to VFR series design

Introduced at INTERMOT Cologne 2008, the V4 Concept featured an ultra-sleek engine and wheels that, although abstract and thus nonfunctional are more than mere objets d’art.

Representing a radical approach to VFR design, the V4 Concept conveys the excitement of motorcycle riding with highly emotional styling.

Taking VFR series refinement into the future

Arriving in 1986 as the successor to the VF750F, the VFR series bikes combined super sports bike agility with the stamina to tour 1,000 km in a day.

Instead of overt racing styling, refinement defined the design of this series, sophisticated in appearance and suggesting the power within—a true bike for adults respected by many a European rider.

In keeping with the traditional Japanese sense of elegance, refinement—conveying hidden strength with relaxed beauty—has been the design identity of the VFR series. Honda’s aim was not only to push forward with the VFR series going beyond existing technological limitations, but also to endow the V4 Concept with a message of Honda design to be passed on into the future.

Within that composed exterior, however, was a presence whose power exceeded all expectations. Again and again, Honda has done the unexpected to perfect this engine born of Honda’s racing challenges. Over time, it has become a symbol of the power of Honda motorcycles. In re-envisioning the V4 engine, simply creating an attractive appearance would not have been enough. Instead, the concept design also needed to respect the engine’s inner art.

Transcending the current V4 engine with a powerful new concept

The V4 Concept was to portray the full potential of both the VFR series and its technologies, taking design to the same high level as the bike’s performance. Given a chance by veteran Japanese designers to take the initiative, young European and American designers accepted this daunting challenge.

Giving birth to the inner art and power of the V4 Concept, the young, talented designers fused technical feasibility with aesthetics, creating with passion and enthusiasm a radical, unprecedented design that envisioned a new way for person and machine to interact. In turn, the experienced Japanese designers strove to impart to the design concept the traditional refinement of the VFR series. At the start, both sides found themselves in constant conflict.

Aligning these two approaches to achieve the ultimate goal was no simple matter. While the young designers were focused on the ideal vehicle of the future, the Japanese designers better understood the VFR series rider and the history and trajectory of its design, focusing on the goal of rider satisfaction. Moreover, in keeping with Japanese culture, the Japanese designers sought to intuit the opinions of all group members without extensive discussion, whereas, in keeping with Western culture, the American and European designers sought to discuss their positions until a conclusion was reached.

Yet, the contrast and opposition of almost savage power with composed refinement was nothing new in the history of the VFR series. Thanks to this clash of forces resulting in mutual enrichment, the V4 Concept was born, impressively portraying the past and future of Honda design in three dimensions.

The result of the project—a stunning motorcycle design

Surfaces that flow moderately and elegantly to create natural lines curves and angles that bring the entire design to life. The quiet space between other elements on the cowling that serves as the ideal position for the classic Honda Wing emblem, balancing the visible with the invisible. The unity of the emotional body with the engine and other propulsion components. While inheriting the traditional design logic of the VFR series, the V4 Concept sets aside the issues of cost and viability of commercial production the functional parts of the motorcycle are conjoined to form an ideal of mobility.

In three dimensions, the V4 Concept brought to life the core of Honda motorcycle design with an unprecedented level of purity and realism, affecting those who experienced it with their eyes on a deeply emotional level—and even more those who were to ride it.

For Honda, motorcycle design is about merging ideas and technologies to create an exceptional experience for the rider, who is central in the entire design process. With a history of restrained aesthetics, Honda’s designs appeal to the heart via the sense of sight, effectively communicating with their riders and rewarding them with increased enjoyment every ride. Building on this tradition, Honda created the V4 Concept as the vanguard motorcycle in a new and revolutionary era of design. Many other exciting models were to follow.

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