It is a tortured art form that results in some of man’s most beautiful creations, and yet must do so while hamstrung by budget, middle management, regulation, and engineers. So, the motorcycle designer must have skin as thick as leather when the reaction to their work is either a love or hate it response. Ignoring the designers’ months of devotion to the process, the public can be a cruel beast. Yet thanks to the likes of Kohama, Davidson, Tamburini, and Terblanche we have machines that have become as much a part of the rider’s personality as they do the culture within which they exist. For two creative Italian minds, collectively known as Dotto, the design process is their expressive form and until now you’ve probably only seen the renders, finally revel in the real thing, ‘Biancaneve’ has been born.
Dotto Creations is the brainchild of Francesco Iannuzzi and Gianluca Bartolini who met while working at the universally renowned Pininfarina design studio and have years of experience at other major players of all things automotively beautiful, Italdesign Giugiaro and the Volvo group. A number of years ago they asked themselves the question, what are the basics for a product to be considered a motorcycle? For the lovers of wine, jazz and all things automotive, this raised many questions and their work sought not only to find answers but for the theoretical and philosophical to then be born into a fully-fledged functioning machine.
The final answer to what they sought is Biancaneve, a completely reimagined 1979 Honda CX500, the bike before you is the final prototype, from which a limited production run of just twenty will be built. But to truly understand this machine, you cannot simply list its parts, but need to delve further into the design process. A motorcycle is after all simply two wheels, an engine, and a way to ride it. From there the hamstrings take over and we tend to end up with this universal motorcycle that so many manufacturers offer. They are but cookie-cutter versions of themselves, essentially the same bike but with a different badge on it.
What Dotto creations then committed themselves to was tossing aside the prerequisites and instead focusing on the opportunities that each challenge presented. Here they saw the motorcycle in two distinct states of being, the parked-up motorcycle that is a static display and represents the rider in a way a statue once did for the nobleman. Then there is the moving object, the practical machine that must move man between destinations. For now, they decided to purely focus on the aesthetic and let their design minds run wild.
But being the automotive nuts that they are, they wanted to draw inspiration from the machine itself, so the old CX500 was not just torn down, but each and every part was dissembled to its final piece, even the pesky spokes of the Comstars were drilled out and removed into each separate section. The engine too was pulled down, the parts studied intimately, and then all of the mechanical components rebuilt so that the boys had a solid foundation. Their experience in automotive design then taught them to deal with the practicalities.
So, the entire wiring system has been replaced, a vast array of Motogadget products used, and the functional components hidden so that the focus was on the form. “This approach gave us the opportunity of starting to model it as a pure shape, not caring much about the driver position, with the result of a body that seems to flow even if it’s still.” And that body is absolutely beautiful, almost floating over the awkward CX frame and yet still wrapping it in a loving embrace. The cylinder heads are allowed to extend with the body narrowing at the hips before presenting a generous rear end.
Like all monocoque bodied motorcycles, it has a special feel, this is not like any other machine. But where others require compromise, the genius of Dotto always had confidence in finding solutions. The most obvious of which is the solution to the requirement for a seat, where others simply perch the riders astride as if sitting on top of a missile, there would be a more elegant physical explanation. Twin gas struts and a trifecta of mechanical arms allow the body to open and reveal an inviting seat, perfectly padded and now with a stylish tail for when on the move.
In front of the rider is another hidden compartment, which when exposed reveals the hidden fuel tank and filler cap. The result is lines that are as smooth as butter and yet compromise nothing on function nor formality. To balance the lines of the new bodywork, a new set of Hagon shocks was selected that raise the rear by an inch. The negative space under the seat is achieved with a set of pod filters and the slash-cut exhausts give the bike the bark to match its beauty.
The simple truth is that only being in the physical presence of such a machine can do it justice, the words are but a requirement. So, if you can, head to the Bike Shed Show in London or FuoriSalone in Milan to feast your eyes on Dotto’s curvaceous creation.