Motorcycle Manufacturing: What Happens Before a Bike Reaches YOU

Motorcycle manufacturing process explained in 10 broad pointers. Know how a motorcycle comes to life and reaches you…

What happens before a motorcycle goes into production? Or before you get to ride it? How is a motorcycle manufactured – right from the ideation stage to manufacturing…?

Let us discuss quick pointers about bike manufacturing. How companies decide to launch a bike? Which procedures work behind the designing? Which are the processes adopted for bike designing and testing?

motorcycle manufacturing

Motorcycle Manufacturing Process

1. Market Research

The safest way to launch any product in today’s competitive market is to have research: Research about who will be the customer, what customer likes, and what customer needs. These researches are carried out by marketing department of the companies or given to other surveying companies.

This market research also depends on the type of vehicle that a company wants to introduce i.e. new segment, facelift version of previously launched vehicle, or DNA type vehicle. Market research becomes more vital when any company plans to launch a new segment. Customers are openly or circuitously involved in this type of survey. New segments may be decided with respect to fuel economy, price tag, top speed, type of engine or type of vehicle.

Companies develop few concepts after studying market research and finally one concept gets selected by the authorities either mandatorily or by voting.

2. Sketching

Drawing or Sketching was the first language used by Homo sapiens and it still used in all industries either on paper or on computer screens. It is the most productive and economical method to develop and predict any concept. Same is also applicable with the automobile industry. Each and every vehicle running on the road today was a conceptualized sketch on paper few years back.

motorcycle manufacturing

Numbers of sketches are prepared by designers on the final concept that gets selected by the authorities. Designers also have to include benchmarks of the company along with engineering aspects. Engineering aspects like dimensions, space, and feasibility of manufacturing of exterior components are considered in conjunction with aesthetics. First of all, one sketch is selected as a final product which contains overall look. After that, overall dimensions are selected according to vehicle’s segment and engineering terms. After deciding vehicle as a whole, designers start sketching details of the vehicle like head lights, side indicators, RVMs, tail lights, tank, seats, fairings, wheels, axles, muffler, foot rests, locking nuts etc. One more time vehicle is assembled on paper and final sketch is prepared for modelling.

3. Software Modelling

Modelling is done before starting any designing of a vehicle. This provides idea about space available with engineers to design any component. It already has become very easy to prepare a model for any product with the help of softwares and robots. In the case of automobiles, this process is very important and requires precision. Modelling gives three dimensional judgement about the vehicle.

motorcycle manufacturing

Today’s computer technologies help engineers to prepare full models of vehicles in just few mouse clicks because modelling of individual components itself is easy with the latest softwares along with readymade libraries. Special libraries are available for each and every component commonly used in automobiles. Parametric facilities also help engineers to develop models very quickly. Individual teams work simultaneously to generate models of each and every component because number of parts used in vehicles is very large. Finally all the components are assembled to have a complete model of vehicle.

4. Clay/Wax Modelling

Besides soft modelling, many companies also prepare clay or wax models of motorcycles. These models are used to judge the bulk and to predict aerodynamic characteristics of the vehicle. Generally, clay models are prepared for expensive rides. It is just like a hard copy or printout of any softcopy from the computer.

motorcycle manufacturing

Robots are generally used to create these types of model. Robots help to get precision and reduce process time. Before technical revolution in computers, this was the only method used for modelling of any vehicle.

5. Designing

Designing is a complex synthesis and analyzing process of forces and stresses on any component. Each and every component of vehicle is analyzed with the help of softwares. Designing software works with that model which is generated in modelling software. This is done with the help of Interface facilities. Engineer has to import the ready model of component from modelling software to designing/ analyzing software.

Earlier, trial and error method was used to analyze components or systems. It got disappeared quickly with technological revolution because of cost and time consumption. Manufacturers had to spend lots of money at the time of failures. Analysis softwares have made this designing system very prolific and errorless. Engineer can check any component under static, dynamic, thermal, or cyclic loads and can predict component’s life.

6. Simulations

Particularly for automobiles, simulation softwares are computer logics for vehicle’s dynamic conditions. Simulation softwares can generate identical road and wind conditions which an original vehicle is going to face.

This helps engineers and designers to predict and modify any of the dynamic characteristic of vehicle before actual production. Just like analysis softwares, simulation software also reduces cost and time for testing a vehicle. Different road profiles like smooth road, bumps, pit holes etc. can be generated and vehicle model can be tested without the original vehicle.

7. Testing

No one can remain dependable on softwares when safety comes into picture. Software can generate wrong results if input data differs slightly. That’s why each and every company tests it’s vehicle before starting its production.

motorcycle manufacturing

Generally 5 to 10 vehicles are manufactured after completing all design, analysis and simulation processes. These vehicles are used for different road tests, rollover tests and crash tests. Experience test riders are given to ride these vehicles up to extreme conditions on the testing tracks. This testing period is kept long enough to get exact idea about any failures. Many a times new failures arise which are not exposed by the analysis or simulation softwares.

8. Pilot Vehicles

Spy photos which we all get excited on seeing, in which bikes mostly remain covered with black cloths or camouflage, are called pilot vehicles. Pilot vehicles are limited edition type original vehicles produced for testing purpose only. Testing of manufacturing facilities within the plant, testing of machining ease, testing of interchangeable parts, testing of material handling etc. takes place with the help of pilot vehicle.

After satisfactory modifications in plant operations, these pilot vehicles are allowed to run on the road. Whole bunch of pilot vehicles are distributed between company’s local test riders. The company collects feedbacks for different riding conditions. All the necessary modifications in vehicles get completed before final starting of production.

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9. Production

Finally production starts after completing all the required modifications in manufacturing facilities. These modifications includes testing rigs, testing tracks, material handling methods, material handling racks, manpower, production of subassemblies, assembly lines, quality testing, paint shop, vendor management etc. Company announces official launch of vehicle and starts distributing fixed numbers of produced vehicle amongst each dealers.

motorcycle manufacturing

Then sales department studies the market demand through dealers. New production schedule is introduced according to demand and supply chain. Each vehicle is tested according to minimum standards decided by country’s governing body (As ARAI in India). Vehicles are distributed in different numbers to different dealers according to their regional demand.

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10. Sales

At last, day comes when we are called by the dealer for vehicle delivery. It is the the most precious moment of any biker’s life when he holds his vehicle the very first time. From that instant, the motorcycle becomes everything in his life for which he has waited for a long time, has crossed many obstacles and has worked hard.

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So, now you know what goes behind the terribly long and cumbersome process of introducing a new vehicle on the road for the common public.

  • Dhruv Panchal