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Motorcycle Designed with Alias AutoStudio Takes Biking Into New Territory
Start with an idea for a boundary busting motorcycle, add the legendary Dodge Viper V-10 engine, two extra wheels, plenty of edgy design and the result is Chryslers knockout road bike named after the U.S. cruise missile, the Tomahawk. The radical, 400 mph hunk of metal looks like something out of a ?Terminator movie, combining art-deco styling with extreme engineering.
Fast on the Road and on the Drawing Board
The Tomahawk is all about speed and muscle and so is the story of how the bike was developed. It was built as a concept vehicle for the North American International Auto Show held in January 2003 in Detroit. Approval to proceed with the project wasnt received until late June the year before giving developers less than half the time usually available for designing experimental showpieces.
Mark Walters, senior designer at the DaimlerChrysler Product Design Office in Auburn Hills, Michigan, took on the challenge. He started with the original idea put together by two Chrysler motorcycle enthusiasts, Dave Chyz, technician and Bob Schroeder, clay model maker. Walters had help from several experts in various areas, but for the most part, the design of this extreme machine was carried out by one person using one software program, Alias AutoStudio.
To make the most of the limited time situation and improve the communication flow, Walters moved himself and his computer workstation to the headquarters of RM Motorsports Corp in Wixom, Michigan, where the bike would ultimately be built for the auto show. Walters began by bringing Chyz and Shroeders paper sketches into AutoStudio and took off from there, building a new machine whose only pre-existing element was the Viper engine.
Digital Approach Helps to Set a Record
?The process was unusual because I was able to eliminate many of the steps in our normal development cycle, remarks Walters. ?For instance, the parts of a vehicle that require high precision for manufacture are normally handled by engineering tools like CATIA. Instead, I worked exclusively in AutoStudio, finding it more intuitive. I built up parts from manufacturers data for such mechanical elements as bolts, screws and bearings. I even surfaced the transmission case and designed the brakes and suspension with AutoStudio.
Walters also veered from the normal path by skipping the clay model stage. Instead he moved AutoStudio data straight to final milling where the major parts were cut from solid blocks of aluminum. ?We were a bit nervous because any miscalculation in the design could cause us to start over, explains Walters. ?Not only would that set us back time-wise, but if you know anything about auto making, you know that aluminum blocks are very expensive.
Walters had confidence in his 3D model and it proved to be right on target. The first cut was the last and a brawny beauty was born in less than six months.
Red Hot Reception
The Tomahawk was unveiled during a media preview at the Detroit Auto Show where Chrysler Chief Operating Officer, Wolfgang Bernhard, rode the 1500 lb. motorcycle onto the stage. A stunned and appreciative audience could hardly get out more than ?Wow!
The concept has proven to be so popular that Chrysler has decided to make up to ten hand-built reproductions, each to be sold at the smooth price of $555,000. If youre power junkie looking for a collectors item, this is the ultimate trip.