Si Lanna is a little known national park north of Chiang Mai in Thailand, between Route 107 to the west and Route 118 to the east. Thick deciduous forest covers the Doi Pha Sam Sao mountain range within the park, and springs and waterfalls are present throughout the area. A ride over the mountains from the 118 on route 1150 is rich with views over the surrounding countryside. The road is steep and there are hundreds of corners so make sure your bike is in good condition! The town of Phrao sits in the middle of the area where one can get fuel and refreshment before embarking on Route 1001 for a relatively unspoilt journey to the outskirts of Chiang Mai. In all, the 1150 was a perfect diversion to take on my way back from Chiang Rai.
One of the advantages of travelling frequently is shards of time that can be put to good use. Whether it’s waiting for a plane or sitting on a long distance bus to a far corner of Thailand (Buriram International Race Circuit, for example) there’s often time to sketch.
Why does pen and paper feel meditative? Is it because it is slow? My theory is that slowness gives the brain time to re-appraise first-instinct, to improve, refine, and adapt it.
To start a design sometimes it is useful to apply an engineering framework – functional specification, techical specification, et al.. Equally valid, especially in the area of visual design, is just to start drawing. Let the ideas flow. Don’t delete. Draw many versions so that later you can choose whichever you prefer. Or parts of each.
Is the latest, greatest digital drawing tablet required? A sketch book, an HB, 2B, and 4B pencils, and an eraser are all that’s needed. Sitting down helps.
The first drawing of what became the Assero Air-Blast jacket.
Built by a local Thai businessman, the Chang International Circuit at Buriram held the Thai round of the 2017 World SuperBike Champsionship on 11-12 March. Since Thailand is a large market for “big bikes” the mainstream manufacturers were there to show their latest models. Yamaha arrived with their range of MT bikes, their new R6, the new Aerox 155 scooter and a minature test track.
The 2017 Yamaha R6 has had a substantial cosmetic update compared to previous model years. Taking design cues from the latest iteration of the Yamaha R1 and R1M the bike showed some obvious similarities. Personally I like the new “smoothed” look and the introduction of LED lights makes sense. Whether Yamaha can maintain sufficient customer interest to generate sales volume in the depleted 600cc class is another matter.
Beside their main display area Yamaha had set up a test ride area. I signed a form, chose a bike – the new Aerox 155 – and then I was dressed by two Yamaha assistants in protective knee and elbow armour, and lent gloves and a helmet. All that had to be done was to follow a Yamaha rider around a course of cones for five laps, and then I was given free rein.
What was the Aerox 155 like? The style of the bike is quite “racy” for a bike with small wheels that isn’t going to be raced (officially!). The photo above is from the Bangkok show last December. That bike had a rear seat cowl, an optional accessory.
To ride, the bike felt quite nimble, quite at home on a coned circuit which gives an impression of what it might feel like weaving through city traffic. The engine was smooth. Acceleration felt good enough for a scooter. The rear brake was sufficient to lock up and slide the rear tyre. For an automatic, it felt like a good, practical bike that is relatively “fast” for a scooter. There was even a storage compartment under the seat that could fit a full-face helmet plus half that volume again.
Would I buy an Aerox? No. At 6’1″ tall, the Aerox felt too small. My knees with knee pads pressed against the inside of the front cowling and the sculpted seat didn’t allow me to slide back far enough to be comfortable. Perhaps with a different seat design that allowed for longer legs, the bike might attract the “farang” crowd away from the enormously popular Honda PCX. I certainly liked the Aerox’s style.