Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The future ain't what it used to be....

Above: Design contest winner James Ferron of Warsaw, New York, dreamed up this Wankel-engined beauty that featured shaft drive, cast-iron wheels, rubber fuel bladder and thermo-formed plastic shell. "I feel it is pointless to try to project much beyond present technology or styling trends," Ferron argued. "Cars of the future often have a tendency to look ridiculous in five years’ time.

By Keith May-Via the cycleworld blog
"In the March, 1971, issue of Cycle World, Publisher Joe Parkhurst asked readers to submit their visions of motorcycling future for a chance to win a $1000 credit from Suzuki. A lot of money back then, and the winning ideas were presented in the October, 1971, issue in a story titled “Project Future Bike.” Wankel power, fuel-in-frame, titanium swingarms, magnesium wheels, fiberglass body panels, monocoque chassis, anti-theft systems, hydrostatic transmissions, pollution control, two-wheel drive, cable steering. Some crazy ideas were offered. And some, not so crazy after all.

Ferron’s Bonneville concept

Contestant Joseph Ferraioli of Brooklyn, New York, said: “When given the opportunity to design a motorcycle of the future, one can speculate for a distant time or confront a closer projection. If the distant future is chosen, the conjectures of conditions and design factors become so hypothetical as to be unreal and irrelevant.”

Joseph Ferraioli's idea of a scrambler of the future

I wonder what Mr. Ferraioli might think of the innovations we now enjoy 36 years into his future. Electronic fuel-injection, traction control, fuel-in-frame, monoshocks, ABS, GPS, digital speedo/tachs, radial tires, single-sided swingarms, 15,000-rpm redlines and sportbikes that can rocket right out of the showroom at 186 mph would seem like science fiction to the motorcyclist of 1971.

Gary Cox's unusual FF concept

Evolution is a tedious result of trial, error, success and disaster. Ideas that work are cost-effective and deemed marketable survive only until another engineering breakthrough replaces it. It’s survival of the fittest and the winner is the man (or company) that stays one step ahead of the competition."

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