A Tale of Tails
1995 Kawasaki Ninja 750 (ZX7)
by Bill Webb of Huge Design
Being an Industrial Designer myself I love seeing people who come from the same background applying their in-studio process to outside realms. Of course when this process is applied to custom motorcycles it's like a double rainbow of super interest that I must explore. When Bill Webb of Huge Design had his custom Kawasaki Ninja 750 go live on BikeEXIF recently that booty had me all like dammmnnn. It's rare to see such precisely sculptural forms that are familiar to the design world being applied to one-off custom bikes. The reason is usually because it's simply cost prohibitive. There tends to be a barrier between those who have the hands on skill of metal shaping and those who have the designers eye for beautiful and innovative form language. It always excites me to see people who are able to cross this boundary from one side or the other. Here's a behind the scenes tour of what went into Bill Webb's Kawasaki Ninja booty from the man himself:
"I had always loved the idea of combining all the different styles of bikes that I love into one. I love the performance and raw purpose-built look of race bikes. I love the honesty, nostalgia and subtle simplicity of a stripped down classic café. I also love the f-u attitude of a mean-ass streetfighter (minus the skull headlights and cheesy details). My goal with this project was to make a perfect blend of sport/café/fighter in a subtle “out of the factory” way."
"I have obsessed over other people’s builds, what I liked ...what I didn’t. I figured out that the one area where all other “racebike turned naked street bike” failed is in the subframe/seat. You can pretty easily clean-up the front, black out the radiator, and get some trick lights/bars that replace the front fairing…but the tail execution almost always looks like crap. That’s when I decided I would use my skills as an Industrial Designer to actually design the subframe in my 3D CAD software that I normally use for projects at work.
I took a ton of measurements of the ZX7 frame and tank. I settled on the Ducati 1098 seat as the perfect silhouette that would match the tank and took a ton of 3D measurements of that. [I then] set off designing the subframe to seat interface, designing the inside as well…allow mounting room for all the electronics that needed to fit in this tiny solo-seat part."
"Once I nailed the design in CAD, one of our trusted modelshops machined the the part out of a 110lb block of aluminum. He joked it bared fit on the CNC. After a few days of machining it was done and sent back."
Bill then set out gathering up the rest of the parts he needed to complete the design and the rest of the bike. He had the tank and frame professionally painted subtle shades of silver and spent a lot of time on eBay sourcing all the little bits and bobs needed to button things up. The end result was a quite radical transformation of the Ninja into a crossbred custom with so much modern flare you'd never know it's almost old enough to drink.
Bill says this is only the beginning, "I love what we do (for our high tech clients) but we also want to grow our design capabilities into more ‘garage/shop/custom’ work. Our plan is to move into a larger facility that can have CNC machines, a full shop and ability to prototype both our client work and our passion projects…more bikes to come!!!!"