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Manfred, what is the secret of a powerful, rider-friendly, single-cylinder motorcycle like the 701 Supermoto?
"It’s not about any one single element – it’s about having an accurate mix of different factors. Firstly, in my opinion, is the quality of every single component used in the engine. Secondly, is the effort you put on the research and development phase – the attention to details from the very beginning of a project. This makes a big difference. Trying to change a person’s behaviour when they’re an adult is difficult, or requires more effort. Personality is developed from a young age. The same principle applies to an engine. Going further, the third point is having the infrastructure and understanding to assemble all the single pieces together to create the final result – the finished engine. The ‘industrialisation processes’ are key factors in this process. Fourth, if we want to go into details… everybody thinks that big, oscillating masses are the main problem of single cylinder engines. But if you have the knowledge and the technology to counterbalance these forces in the right way, then you can get very good results."
Tell us the top three benefits of a single-cylinder engine?
"Definitely weight, or the distinct lack of it, is the first benefit. Secondly, because of the compact design of the engine, you can play with the dimensions of the bike – ending with very small shapes. Last, but not least, is fuel consumption, which is very good. If I can add a fourth point – a very important point in my eyes – it’s that maintenance and long service intervals are a big benefit as well. Small single-cylinder engines are definitely a “mechanic friendly” structure."
In the future, what will be the key areas of single-cylinder engine development?
"The great thing about engineering is that things are always moving forward. New materials and new manufacturing processes added to new design ideas means that things never stand still. Perhaps today the main thing is manufacturing even smaller engines. But you never know, technology runs faster and faster each day. Engineers are permanently focused on improving – making bikes lighter, stronger, faster, better handling. It’s difficult to say exactly where the single-cylinder future is headed. Can we go further with that? I promise you we can."
With unlimited resources, what would be your dream bike to build?
"We could talk about miracles, but I don’t believe in it. Furthermore, I like very different kinds of motorcycles, from MotoGP to motocross, and even more rally machines. Then it’s difficult to have just a single, specific dream bike. I guess my answer would be this – my dream is always a bike that’s able to offer the highest level of technology available today, to our customers. Doesn’t matter which segment."
Explain simply the ride-by-wire technology to the 701 Supermoto fans.
"Easily done, there are no more cables… It’s a digital wiring, which allows such a smooth throttle response that is unattainable with a cable system."
The new 701 Supermoto is 145 kg and 67 HP. That’s enough to have some serious fun, right?
"The 701 is an incredible single-cylinder bike. How much fun a rider will have depends on their ability, on the bike’s purpose, and other factors. For a supermoto rider, for fast cornering and easy handling, it’s definitely enough."
What inspired you most when designing the 701 Supermoto?
"The contrast between very clean, functional and simple Swedish design that’s applied to lots of products, and the very purposeful and technical approach of objects like Le Mans cars, drones, etc."
What are the three details you like most about the bike?
"* The seat, which is much more than just a seat. It improves the ergonomics and allows such a minimalistic architecture. It’s the key element of the design of the bike and required the development of a new technology of manufacturing. * The integration of the filler cap into the rear fender – the volume creates stiffness for the tail and a totally sleek top surface for the rider to slide on. *The tail light has been reduced to the minimum around the package. It is disconnected to the rear fender and purely designed as a functional/technical part."
Explain the “forms follow functions” concept in more detail?
"Every detail is thought through. There are no playful features. Everything is purposeful. The design is born from a technical aspect to fulfil."
The seat is a unique aspect of the bike. Tell us more about how you arrived at the final design?
"Following Husqvarna’s new approach, and the form follows functions approach, we reduced the bike’s architecture to the minimum with a self carrying tank at the back and a cooler protector/air flow guide at the front. The only necessary part still needed is the seat. In order to keep the extremely reduced architecture, with the minimum amount of parts and the sleekest design for the best ergonomics possible, we developed this new seat. The seat became more that just a seat on top of bodywork, it became part of it. This is the reason why it’s a unique piece that required a new technology. Thanks to the new concept of manufacturing we improved the general functionality, designing textures and ribs to provide better grip and ergonomics. Then the colours and graphics bring the last touch to really blend the seat into the bike as a central element."
Finally, how do you see – from a designer point of view – a supermoto bike in the year 2020?
"We are currently working on the next generation of Supermoto machines so we can’t tell you more about it."
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