Project Rhodium Omega
#ProjectRhodiumOmega Yamaha GTS 1000 for the 21st centuy.
In April 2015, I had a discussion with James Chen who’s an successful businessman and passionate of all things on wheels. In one of our various lively chats, he talked about the first motorcycle that he saw when he was young that shocked his imagination by creating unlimited possibilities for the future of motorcycles. This was the Yamaha GTS 1000 introduced in 1993, a motorcycle that was ahead of its time. The most noticeable part of it was the out of this world RADD (Rationally Advanced Design Development) front suspension designed by James Parker and the frame to handle it. Unfortunately it was so ahead of its time, people didn’t understand the value, and didn’t last. It sold in the USA for two years and elsewhere for only seven. It was a shame that the concept didn’t survive.
James said, “Wish I could give this motorcycle a re-appearance in line with the 21st century so a new generation of young people can open their imagination the same way it did when introduced on 1993”. With that idea, he described his vision for the motorcycle and we went through a couple sketches. Sketch after sketch our passions raised to the point that it was determined to make this dream into reality.
Working with the lines of the motorcycle it was decided that the overall design of Project Rhodium Omega is pentagonal. No matter the seat, air intake, or different viewing angles, each panel has influence from the pentagon.
Why name it Rhodium Omega? The word Rhodium is the name of an metallic element that is rare, highly resistant to corrosion, and extremely reflective. We chose this element to express the feeling of this ultra-futuristic design. The word Omega is actually the name of the frame of the motorcycle which resembles the omega symbol at profile view. This is how we came to the name Rhodium Omega.
The project took JSK Moto Co. over 30 months to build. The most time, sweat, and frustration in our build history. For the moto-nerds out there, we share the build process below highlighting what it took us to create this motorcycle. With this project completed JSK Moto Co. can show that not only can we design modern-retro builds, we also can build functional futuristic motorcycles as well. We hope everybody likes it and be able to once again spur the imagination.
For the moto-nerds, the build history
The Yamaha GTS 1000 was originally designed as a touring motorcycle and weighted 274kg/604lb. The steering was very upright and did not fit the ultra-futuristic design we wanted, so we redesigned it. This first task was to figure out how low can we go that still allows us to put back important components and reduce weight.
2. Rod Cage and Frame
After we got the concept down on paper, we started to construct a skeleton wireframe to better assess how much things can be simplified and how are we going fit the internals.
3. Tank and Radiator
Due to the new frame, we created a custom fuel tank. We also created a custom radiator to fit the new dimensions yet be able to hold the same amount of radiator fluid per original design.
4. ECU and Electricals
Around 1993 we found there was basically no ECU made exclusively for motorcycles, as well as ABS controller. They are big and covered with rubber for protection from the elements. To try to save space within the motorcycle, we left out the ABS controller, plus shorten, and simplified the wiring. We also installed a modern gasoline filter that has similar density as the original but 3x smaller. And of course, change the battery to RCE’s super compact yet stable and high-quality batteries.
5, Mounting Plate
Because we are building a rideable motorcycle we needed to reverse engineer in a way that we can mount pieces back together. We started with cardboard cutouts to get the shape we want, determine the mounting points, then transfer the references to metal. Because we will use clay to shape the body panels, holes were drilled on the plate so the clay can stick. This was a very labor intensive process but necessary no make this motorcycle functional yet try to stay within the budget.
In order to achieve the ultra-futuristic style, we used a costly but versatile racing-rated AiM full color dashboard. This allowed us to freely change color and add sensors to meet various needs. Before purchasing the speedometer we first got the dimensions so we can create the mounting brackets, and understand the positioning for it.
7. Side Vents
Every design must consider functionality. In addition to the front air intake, the radiator will also need vents to dissipate heat. The side vents may appear even from outside but in fact the inside is cut unevenly to not interfere with other components. To make the vents fit, we started with paper templates to make sure the dimensions are correct. Then we created a vector file to have the pieces laser cut and ready to assemble. The whole process took us about five days to complete.
The headlights are always very important for any vehicle. As you notice from past JSK builds, we spent some time perfecting it. We had at least sixteen different sketches for the headlights. Some are easy to source, some are fully custom but too expensive to make. The final decision that fit our budget was to purchase available lights that fit the design and then we found a specialist to help us customize the wiring and circuitry to make the lights work for our build. Thank you Chenkai Zhang (A-Wen) for the help with this.
9. Front Vent
Inspiration for the air intakes was an anime called Gundam that I watched when I was a kid.
The method of making the front vents are the same as the side vents, which was also very labor intensive. Because this is a four-cylinder engine the shape is wide, so it was difficult to design a muscular shape that didn’t make it look chubby when viewed at different angles. It was also a challenge to translate the design from 2D to 3D. The end result should allow enough air intake and exhaust from the motorcycle while completing the aesthetic.
In addition to the air intakes on both sides of the motorcycle, there is a hidden air intake grill behind the speedometer to help the engine breath more. Thanks to Black Smith CNC Co. for the help in machining the design to reality.
11. Seat Base
We also had Black Smith CNC Co. to create the seat base. The original design was a simple flat rectangular shape that was found too boring. Thankfully we worked together before that made it easier to communicate the current, more organic design from my sketches.
12. Steering Guide
A new steering guide was designed but due to the budget restrictions we couldn’t go forward making it. We will first try to make a modified stock steering guide work. If it really is hard to steer, then we will try alternative options.
13. Clay Molding
The body panels where sculpted in clay. It took three months to get the shape right. In that time, many people asked why not use 3D printing? I like to see the shape being formed 1 to 1. If I didn’t like how it looks, it was easier and more economical to add or take away clay then re-printing each time with a 3D printer. The cheapest that we could find for 3D printing was $500, and that is for a fist sized object, imagine the cost of a gas tank. Thank’s Josh Gronitz for completing the final touches of my sculpt and making the silicon fiberglass mold.
14. Rendering design concept
Good rendering helps to communicate the design concept to third parties and gives customers a idea how it will look before its built. Thanks Edison Liao on helping with the rendering during his Summer and Winter break from design school in Detroit, Michigan.
15. Metal Work and Paint
To make this project happen we needed to spread the work to many specialized craftsmen and unexpected events may happen. For example, we spent $8000 to make a mold. Unfortunately the mold got damaged when shipping to another specialist for the fiberglass panels.This was one of the main reasons why this project took so long to complete. Thanks to the master fabricator from One Hand Made Metal Fabrication who helped sort the issue. He thought of creative ways to fix our body panels, some became metal and some fiberglass. Also, thanks to him on helping us to execute the design for the pop-up hood that allows access to the fuel cap. As for the paint, time-and-time again we have our trusted Jeffrey Chan from Air Runner Kustom Paint to get the job done.
Thanks Kingsman Seat’s Sara Dai who carefully cooperated with us on each step to hand craft the leather seat. Their expertise in seat making and hand-dyed leather always raises the level of quality in our builds.
There were no shocks that we can find that fit our needs for the GTS. Thanks to Gears Racing in developing the front and rear shocks that are custom tailored for this build.
These are the components that completed this project. With a set budget, countless hurdles, and many delays Project Rhodium Omega is complete.
Model: GTS 1000
Air Runner Kustom Paint
Beringer: Master Cylinder
Gears Racing: Shocks
Kingsman Seat: Seat cushion
RCE: Power: Lithium Battery
Black Smith CNC Co.
Queen Hong (One Hand Made Metal Fabrication)
Read more about Project Rhodium Omega at: