05 December 2011
Unveiling the RMIT air-powered motorbike
A clean and green motorcycle prototype designed by RMIT University student Dean Benstead has been unveiled at the 2011 Sydney Motorcycle and Scooter Show.
The motorbike is a fully-functioning prototype, fuelled by compressed air.
RMIT Lecturer and Acting Program Director, Industrial Design, Simon Curlis with Dean Benstead and his O2 Pursuit.
The original concept design for the motorbike, which won Mr Benstead a Melbourne Design Award in 2010.
Mr Benstead, a final-year Bachelor of Design (Industrial Design) student, has designed and developed the O2 Pursuit, a functional prototype of a motorcross bike that is fuelled purely by compressed air.
Using the Di Pietro air engine developed by Angelo Di Pietro of Engineair Australia, the O2 Pursuit is based on the geometry of a 250cc motocrosser.
Mr Benstead said the project aimed to explore the future of motorcycles, looking at air as a genuine alternative to petrol and electricity.
"It's about what the bike represents; it's not about performance engineering but about stretching my capabilities as a designer and imagining what the future might hold for sustainable motorcycle design," he said.
"The years I spent as a child riding dirt bikes inspired this design, a motocross bike based around the Engineair engine.
"Developing the working prototype involved balancing many design elements to get the bike functional and show-ready, but also meet budget, functionality, tight timelines and skill requirements.
"My studies at RMIT have enabled me to develop my work and get it noticed by industry leaders, who have become involved in the design process and reviewed my final project outcomes.
"I've been heavily involved in product and transport design throughout my years at university and with further product design experience consulting for industry during my studies; I'm looking forward to working in these areas once I graduate."
Preliminary testing has shown that the O2 Pursuit can hit speeds in excess of 100kmh. Running gear from a WR250R was donated by Yamaha Motor Australia.
In 2010, Mr Benstead won the Product Design - Automotive and Transport category at the inaugural Melbourne Design Awards for the original concept design for the O2 Pursuit.
Industrial Design lecturer Simon Curlis said the project came out of the RMIT Ecomoto design studio, the only motorcycle-specific design studio in Australia.
"The studio gives students the chance to develop their ideas into feasible concepts, through the full process of understanding the market and sustainability objectives then using CAD development and rapid prototyping to realise creative potential."
The Ecomoto motorcycle design studio is one of several studios run under the umbrella of the Car Design Research Network (CDRN), a design think tank within RMIT's Bachelor of Design (Industrial Design) program.
The CDRN aims to visualise plausible scenarios for the future and then propose vehicles appropriate for those scenarios.
The network engages designers from the studios of Ford, Holden Toyota and other automotive industry leaders in developing student concept vehicles to a level of industry standard under the guidance of Simon Curlis, Associate Professor Soumitri Varadarajan and automotive industry design expert, Marcus Hotblack.
In 2011, Mr Benstead worked with the CDRN to develop the O2 Pursuit from the concept design devised in the 2010 Ecomoto studio to a fully-functioning motorcycle.
The project capitalised on existing CDRN partners and fostered new relationships with Mr Benstead's design practice network and fabricators in his home town of Bright.
The O2 Pursuit was displayed on the Two Wheels exhibit during the three days of the Sydney Motorcycle and Scooter Show (25 - 27 November), Australia's largest showcase of everything on two wheels.