When Sebastian Sturm, a member of the Motorcycle team at EDAG Munich, presents his innovative motorcycle concept to his friends, it is sure to meet with incredulous astonishment. Even experienced bikers will look twice and have to rub their eyes in disbelief. Why? Because the bike's handlebars appear to hover above the front wheel, with no connection to the bike. The classic telescopic fork is missing, and it looks as though it has been airbrushed out. The 29-year-old is not, however, a Hollywood set decorator or artist for science fiction comics - in fact, Sebastian is a Bachelor of Engineering, and has been working as a chassis design engineer at "EDAG Motorcycle" at the Munich branch for the last 4 years.
"While I was still a student, I was already thinking about an alternative front wheel drive for motorcycles. I really didn't like the way the bike bucked during braking with the classic telescopic fork. Especially in bends or if you are braking in a emergency, any bucking of the bike significantly changes the driving geometry, and this is not always an advantage. In fact, it is a drawback to the driver, and restricts safety, comfort and vehicle stability", explains Sebastian Sturm. "There had to be an alternative. I wanted to find a different solution." With his aim of wanting to bring about an improvement, the lateral thinker found in EDAG a congenial partner and an employer open to original ideas.
Besides seeing to regular day-to-day business, Marc Dongus, head of the Motorcycle + Chassis department at EDAG Munich, gave him the time and technical support he needed to turn his idea into a patented, close-to-production concept.
In essence, this new concept is a novel type of front wheel suspension integrated in an innovative motorcycle platform concept. As a result, not only is it possible to adjust bucking - something other systems can already do today - but the new concept also provides a far greater degree of variability, e.g. for alternative drive concepts such as an electric powertrain with a battery pack or hybrid solutions. As with passenger cars, the internal combustion engine has long since ceased to be the only dynamic means of getting about on two wheels. "I was definitely inspired by the platform strategy adopted in the passenger car segment. In addition, I planned a few extras that would improve my concept from a point of view of cost," explains Sebastian Sturm. Shifting the chassis structure to the lower third of the vehicle creates new package options, and these can provide potential for improved flow conditions for the cooler and air intake. There is no longer any need for intricate measures to install modules such as the powertrain or body parts in the chassis, as these can now be attached one after the other. Another advantage is that, due to the design, the load paths within the structure can be ideally shortened, to create a chassis platform that is both lightweight and strong. This does away with the great distance between the handlebars and the front wheel via the telescopic fork, prevents unwanted friction forces in the fork, while also saving material during production.
Instead of ball joint bearings and linear guides, his solution makes use of antifriction bearings, as these tend to be more durable and have a significantly lower breakaway torque under high loads. Tried and tested brake systems and front wheel rims can also be used without any changes being made.
In addition, the steering angle of up to 40 degrees in the new model is identical to that of the classic telescopic fork, so the only thing the biker has to get used to is the futuristic appearance.
When presented at the Aachen Colloquium, the new concept developed by "EDAG Motorcycle" in Munich met with enormous interest. And it has the additional attraction of being the fascinating subject of the theses written by five students.
With this new close-to-production concept, EDAG's motorcycle team have proved that they are highly qualified partners well capable of creating new ideas and taking these, as a complete project, through to SOP.