We set out to build a custom tracker that could live on the street as well as the track. Instead of going right for a modern bike, we enjoyed the simplicity and honesty of an old carb'd machine. Not too old though; the Case Study Tracker actually started life as a 2000 Yamaha WR400F that had a previous life as an adventure bike exploring the deserts of the Southwest.
The design became rather experimental when we threw all convention out the window and looked towards MotoGP architecture. The fuel tank is a bespoke aluminum unit under the seat and tail, the suspension built specifically by Traxxion Dynamics, and the Arrow exhaust can supplemented by a mechanically organic pipe made from 30-odd laser pie-cut pieces, the whole unit is titanium.
With no more fuel up top, we could push the seat all the way forward and the old backbone-style steel frame allowed for a very skinny bike. The traditional rider envelope became more modern with the rider's weight much more forward. It still functions really well as a tracker because of the fuel mass over the rear tire providing great drive out of corners.
As the bike evolved, the experimental ergonomics and simplicity of materials echoed what Charles and Ray Eames intended with modern design in the 20th century. However, now in the 21st, we have assigned such a high premium on "original" mid century modern pieces that it borders on absurdity. The Eames', especially, were producing progressive design en masse to make modernism affordable and attainable.
It was here that we did away with the "traditional bike" finishes like paint and carbon fiber. All the materials creating a motorcycle are the same as used in furniture, they just serve a different purpose. Instead of painting fiberglass, we can just tint the resin. Instead or anodizing the aluminum we can just brush it. Instead of trimming it with carbon fiber panels we can use plywood and veneer... Okay, that is obviously our biggest nod to the Eames, those panels are 3/4" pressed ply with American Walnut veneer just like the Lounge Chair.
So the bike has become our case study of sorts: a useable, evolving experiment. It simultaneously pays homage to these mid century design icons while critiquing the relative stagnation in the 50 years since then.