The 9th Edition of the Biennale Internationale Design Saint-Etienne 2015 (a prestigious design exhibition in France) is coming up and Yamaha is going in with a rather odd entry this time. Instead of getting their bike design team deployed on the project, Yamaha decided to do something outright eccentric.
One day, the chap in charge of assigning the team picked himself up during the board meeting and said, “Hey, don’t we have a couple of boffins who design pianos and guitars? How about we get them to design a bike?” And the rest of the suits in the room nodded in agreement.
Jokes aside, Yamaha Corporation and Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. decided to joint forces and exhibit at the event. In preparing for "project AH A MAY," the design divisions of the two Yamahas exchanged their design fields, and without any constraints related to production or commercialization, created a plan according to each Yamaha’s method and way of thinking.
Thus the Root (√) was born. Yep, they called the concept bike the “√”. To build it, they took a brand new MT-01, stripped it off whatever little body panels it had, replaced the fuel tank with one that is the size of a mineral water bottle, and essentially reduced the bike into an engine and two wheels.
The seat stretches over the tank and to be brutally honest, it looks more like a surfboard made of leather. The design philosophy behind the oddball seat design is interesting to read too: “By taking the meters on the instrument panel off the motorcycle rider’s view, the idea of the design is to enable him or her to be a part of the passing scenery,” says the blurb. Sounds poetic. But practical? Not at all, and we're certain that only a few riders would love to be “a part of the scenery.”
In the design team’s defense, this is a design study about experimenting with form—ergonomics isn’t the priority here. Our problem with the bike, more than anything else, is that whenever its name has to be typed in, the writing comes to a halt. Damn you, special characters!