Frog, the design firm which made its bones back in the 1980’s creating slick, user-centric looks for Apple computer products, applied their vision to the the cases for the Apple IIc and the first versions of the Macintosh.
But they didn’t stop back then and rest on their laurels.
The company kept at it and turned their focus toward other products as well.
Hartmut Esslinger, Frog’s founder, wanted more from his company and in 1985, he set his sights on creating a vision of the motorcycle and what it should be.
He asked himself a simple question, one he had asked regarding other products in the past. How does a designer give the same esthetic feel to an electric motorcycle which is inherent in a classic motorcycle? What he and his company came up with was the Frog FZ750 Rana. And it was brilliant. It’s essential components, styling and bodywork are still visible in the look of sport bikes today after nearly 30 years have passed.
The original design for the Rana was just included in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and to celebrate that success from days gone by, Frog now gives us what they’re calling a “provocative new concept motorcycle” – the eBike 2012. The work of senior designer Jinseok Hwang, he says the eBike 2012 is a reaction to the latest trends.
“So much of design is dictated by the mechanical components,” Hwang said. “It’s almost as if fossil fuel-powered vehicles belong to the ‘steam punk’ era, whereas EV have more affinity with consumer electronics and smart devices. The question becomes, how do we imbue something electric with the emotion of a classic motorcycle?”
The eBike 2012 utilizes an electric motor that hides the powerplant inside it’s “hubless” rear wheel. What does that mean in terms of the bike’s esthetics? It means you can’t see the “engine” but the shape does retain the traditional motorcycle profile. In place of the center mass area which would traditionally house engine components, you know get what can only be described as a void.
Many of the other components of eBike 2012 fly under the radar as well. Such cutting edge systems as a “fly-by-wire” steering system, a dedicated helmet fitted with a Heads Up Display and an always-on cloud connection complete the vision of the motorcycle as technological tool.
“It’s all based on existing technology,” Hwang said. “The technologies may not yet be mature or practical for these applications, but in theory it all makes sense. That is what design concepts are for: to push the boundaries, to inspire continual advancement of research, technology, and expression.”