“We’d like to show the possibilities of the trendy, underground stunt modifications based on the XJ6” says design director Shimizu. “In an urban and young spirit.”
French designer Nicolas Chapel adds: “For this concept model we could do something crazy! At the same time, our design philosophy is always to keep the function in mind. So we developed the design based on the function needed for playing tricks with the bike. It’s not just a styling exercise!”
The design team started from the XJ6. “This is a good base because it is a light bike, a good tool as a first step into this world. The engine is easy to control. We did not want to go for a 1000cc bike that only pro riders can handle. We wanted a young appeal.”
Then the functional requirements came in.
“There were 3 main areas we wanted to work on” explains Nicolas.
“First of all you have to consider the rider moving around. That means we developed bmx-style footpegs in front and rear of the bike. Also the handlebar area had to be very clean so we redesigned that completely, and moved the instruments to the tank.””Then we added more controls on the bike. A thumb-operated throttle in addition to the normal one, and an extra rear brake lever on the left handlebar. And to make the bike ultra-responsive and pull hard, we installed a huge rear sprocket.”
The third requirement is actually the most visible one.
“To protect the bike itself was a key item for us. We designed a completely new protector cage around the engine. The design of this cage actually mimicks the bikes’ frame itself! This is visually so strong that we started to nickname the bike ‘Cage6’ instead of ‘XJ6’.”
He adds “Also we did extra pads on the fuel tank and on the rear, to prevent scratching. Oh, and finally we integrated a kind of wheelie bar too. By the way, did you see the eye-wink on it? And we shaped the ignition key as a bottle-opener. We loved doing this project!”
Graphic designer Yuki Meashima came up with the remarkable coloring scheme. She explains: “The luminous yellow and light grey is really an eye catching combination, inspired by the young extreme sports culture. We combined that with freestyle graphics and color accents in places you don’t expect, very different from ordinary bikes.”
Amazingly, underneath the outstanding design is a fairly ‘standard’ XJ6.
Shimizu explains: “The engine, the frame, the wheels, the suspensions, all of that was kept original. The XJ6 is such a good base for personalization. And actually the engine guard, the wider handle and the hand protection are good items for city riding. So in this concept, the practical function and trendy style come together!”