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– 1998 Honda VTX1800 concept
1998 Honda VTX1800 concept
While it’s true the Rune sprung from the fertile minds of Honda’s futurist designers, shades of this revolutionary machine were seen in real steel nearly 10 years ago. The Rune traces its lineage back through a line of concept vehicles all the way to 1995, when Honda revealed the radical Zodia at the Toyko Motor Show.
The Zodia was an innovative concept cruiser, a high-tech custom showcasing engineering concepts never seen in production, and styling that blended elements of classic retro lines with new-age futuristic technology. Some of the Zodia’s more shocking design elements, such as the trailing-link front suspension and single-side swingarm, are now seen in the Rune.
The Zodia’s senuous body lines wrapped around many other unique features. Powered by a 1500cc maintenance-free overhead camshaft V-twin, the Zodia transferred engine power to the rear wheel via Honda’s innovative hydro-mechanical automatic transmission, the HFT (Human Fitting Transmission). Braking was supplied by unique rim-mounted brakes assisted by Honda’s latest generation of Linked Braking/Antilock Braking System.
The T-Series Concepts
Three years after the Zodia first appeared, Honda revealed another concept machine, this one based on the Gold Wing’s horizontally opposed six cylinder engine. T1, as it was known, would be followed by three more concept bikes in the T-series, each seemingly more radical than the next. While all four began as Honda Research America (HRA) ideas and sketches, outside sources-including a master fabricator not connected with motorcycling in any way-were also tapped in order to push the boundaries of design beyond the usual limits. All the T-series concept bikes were shown to the public, and Honda carefully gauged public reaction. Of the four, T2 clearly triggered the most response. In fact, so strong was public opinion that Honda should build a motorcycle exactly like T2 that this perspective became the core objective of the Rune. Not surprisingly, the Rune and its T2 concept forebear appear nearly identical.
Concept Type 1
First to be introduced to the public in late 1998/early 1999, T1 aims to evoke a hot-rod or muscle car image.
Purposely abbreviated body parts shift the focus of T1 away from exterior parts and onto the engine.
Based on a steel-tube twin-spar frame, the brightly painted frame members sweep back to lend a sporty image, one that is enhanced by the chromed, cast-aluminum swingarm pivot and stylized grab rail.
The grab rail is faired into the rear fender (a similar treatment was given to the VTX), which is chopped for a shorty look and also sports an integrated LED taillight that produces a clean, uncluttered appearance in the rear end.
The smoothly integrated tank/seat junction has also been echoed in the VTX, as is the handlebar-clamp mount for the speedometer-two more styling elements that make for sleek, clean lines.
The design of the T1’s exhaust pipes has been loosely derived from sportbikes and muscle cars, thereby adding to the sporty, performance image.
The rear suspension is a distinct departure from the Pro Arm single-shock design. A cast aluminum swingarm and a chrome-plated strut lead to a single shock that purposely peeks out from under the seat and fuel tank.
Concept Type 2
– T2 blends together a neo/retro persona; retro with respect to the deep fenders and low-slung tank that are evocative of lowered and chopped roadsters from the 1940s and ’50s. Yet the T2 is cutting-edge with its use of a six-cylinder engine and aluminum twin-spar frame plus Pro Arm rear suspension.
The radiator shroud transcends function to become a full- on styling element with sweeping curves that also hark back to classic roadster grills.
On the T2, the single-sided Pro Arm swingarm stands out in its full glory; note the massive construction!
Taking advantage of the right-side Pro Arm, the left rear quarter has been purposely left unencumbered to highlight the gorgeous rear wheel that is perfectly framed by the strong lines of the sweeping, flared rear fender. Notice the clean and functional look provided by the knock-off wheel hub.
The beautifully integrated, faired-in muffler was kept short to keep the rear wheel area open, but it makes its own powerful statement along the way.
The bold, massive look to the radical two-shock trailing- link front end lends a strong mechanical presence, further feeding the neo/retro presence.
The unique dual-bulb headlight treatment includes a projector beam in the bottom portion, which gives the headlight a very different face. Note the painted headlight shell with the chromed cap.
With the instruments packaged into the wing-shaped handlebar cover in futuristic style, plus the flush-mounted LED taillight/turn signals, the T2 offers a distinctly neo look from head to toe.
Concept Type 3
– The drag strip served as the inspiration for the T3, with styling aimed toward a more performance-based machine rather than a pure cruiser. Note the tubular steel frame, flawless hand-formed aluminum body pieces, and air scoops on each side, in keeping with the drag bike look.
With a raked front end, bold pipes and short fenders, the T3 takes on a very businesslike appearance.
– The sweeping fan-shaped arrays of triple exhausts on each side tickle the eyes and tease the ears; with six-into-six pipes, what would this bike sound like at full throttle.
Drag-style handlebar and an upright speedometer lend a functional air to the T3’s treatment, one that is capped off by the gigantic 230/60-16 rear tire. The conversion to chain final drive is most appropriate.
The front wheel presents a beguiling look; the brake discs bolt up directly to the wheel’s five spokes rather than through central disc carriers, creating an unusually open and airy appearance.
The T3’s rear fender offers a nicely integrated, organic style treatment as it flows curvaceously forward and downward into the seat and “side panel” area.
CONCEPT TYPE 4
Unlike the first three designer-driven T-bikes, the T4 concept is unique in its intent as a technical material study-an internal showpiece that is a rolling exercise in construction techniques. T4 was formed by the hand of master fabricator Mike McCluskey, a man who usually spends his time restoring Ford Cobras and vintage aircraft. Striking as the styling may be, it’s the flawless execution and expert craftsmanship that really stand out.
The twin-spar frame consists of three sections of solid billet aluminum per side plus the steering head; all have been milled to shape, then welded together in virtually seamless perfection. Billet aluminum triple clamps top off the exquisite front end
– The three pieces of the swingarm were likewise milled from billet, and the exposed-shaft driveshaft moved outboard for rear-wheel clearance. The driveshaft’s front and rear gearcases are also milled billet items.
Even small, unobtrusive pieces such as the front engine hanger have been milled from billet; it’s a real piece of artistry in metal, squirreled away from sight.
With flush-mounted allen head bolts and clearcoat finish over brushed aluminum, the T4 finish exudes a very mechanical presence.
More than a styling exercise, the hand-formed aluminum chin piece also houses the radiator element within its vented confines. Note the tidy little coolant reservoir that resides on the right side of the engine.
Nothing too subtle about the rear drag slick-it’s the real deal, a 26.0 x 9.0-15. Outrageous? You bet!
Custom-made pieces include the exhaust system, coolant tank, battery box and taillight.