Honda first unveiled the slightly wacky X-Adv concept in 2015 and they have now shown the finished production model in Milan. We spoke to Kenichi Misaki, the Large Project Leader on the X-Adv, about the difficulties of making on off-road scooter.
MCN: We heard at the beginning there were two concepts – one SUV styled and one with a more traditional motorcycle style. How did you choose which direction to take?
KM: “The interesting thing is that the actual styling design from the very early concept was done in Italy, at the R&D centre in Rome rather than in Japan. The honest answer for the SUV direction? It just looked better.”
MCN: Did Honda see there was a gap for an off-road capable scooter, or did it just come about by chance?
KM: “It was a decision straight from the heart. It was not a rational decision where we evaluated the market and assessed performances for a new type of motorcycle. We just thought it would be fun to have such a motorcycle.”
MCN: Once you had decided on the concept, what became the primary concern for the production model? Was it comfort, price, the ride etc.
KM: “The biggest concern was to unify the performance of an off-road bike with the practicality of a scooter. From that perspective, the packaging was the biggest challenge we had. If you want to maintain a certain off-road drivability you need longer travel suspension, but that has an impact on the storage space under the seat. Realising both was very difficult.
“In the predevelopment we had a ‘cut and paste’ motorcycle using existing parts, just to test the feasibility of the packaging. When we found it was somewhat possible, it was just a case of building it.”
MCN: And how did you know when you had successfully unified the two?
KM: “It’s a fuzzy border. There was no point when we ticked a box and said ‘we have fulfilled everything’. Each engineer had a personal sense for when we had achieved what we wanted in terms of practicality and driveability. Once everyone was happy, then we knew we had finished.”
MCN: In many ways it has come to look like a baby Africa Twin. Was that always the intention?
KM: “The shape of the X-Adv is a triangle sat between two wheels, which is similar to the Africa Twin. The designer of the current Africa Twin actually also designed the X-ADV, so there is a similar design philosophy between the two.”
MCN: Will we see the X-ADV becoming a range, with different engine sizes?
KM: “[With a wink & a smile] That’s confidential.”
MCN: What is the future of motorcycles in 10 or 15 years’ time?
KM: “[Laughing]It is a difficult question, I do not know. We at Honda are not always very good at thinking too far in the future.”
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