Interview with Daryl Villanueva, Founder of Bandit9 Motorcycle Design

Interview with Daryl Villanueva, Founder of Bandit9 Motorcycle Design

I first came across Bandit9 Motorcycles and the work of Daryl Villanueva back in 2012. I don’t know much about motorcycles or the culture but I know good industrial design when I see it. The work that Daryl is doing is pretty phenomenal so I spoke with him about his start in the business, his newest concept Bishop, and if he’s found his true calling.

Tell me a bit about yourself and how you got into making custom motorcycles. How did Bandit9 get started?
I’m Daryl Villanueva. I was born in the Philippines, raised in Hong Kong, Australia and Malaysia, studied graphic design in the States, worked as an Art Director/Creative Director in Los Angeles, Dubai, Vietnam and Beijing. Now I am the creator and chief designer of Bandit9 Motorcycle Design. I’m back in Saigon to start our new Southeast Asian operation.

Bandit9 Motorcycle Design

I started messing with bikes in Saigon in 2009, hence the 9 in Bandit9. My very first motorcycle was a 50cc Honda Cub. My first ride on the Cub was like achieving nirvana. I used to go out for these midnight rides with my girlfriend – the streets were empty, nothing but stars above you, a quiet lake on one side and a jungle on the other. It was completely quiet except for the buzzing of the 50cc engine. There was something really poetic about the experience. Something clicked inside; I fell in love with motorcycles.

A few years later, I was in Beijing and I was starting to get sick of my advertising gig so I planned my escape. I didn’t have that “fearless” entrepreneur spirit so I had to juggle both jobs for a while. I wanted to test whether or not people would be interested in my designs. It started real slow but after 3 years of building a brand and learning about the motorcycle industry, I finally freed myself from my advertising chains.

Bandit9 Bishop

You’re working on a new bike called Bishop (seen above), which to me feels quite different from other bikes I see. What’s the story behind it?

Bandit9 Saigon is focused on designing high-end motorcycles at affordable prices.

What we try to do with every release, Bishop included, is to create some sort of controversy. The response we got to Bishop was quite polarizing. People either really loved it or really hated it. And that tells me a few things:
• it’s a sign that Bishop is something unfamiliar
• it conjures up an emotion, which is what I want whenever we design bikes
• love it or hate it, people give a damn about it.

Besides the design challenge, ensuring that the bike is affordable is quite difficult. It easy to dream big but dreaming big on a budget is hard. It takes a lot of research and negotiation with suppliers. And if it goes over what I think is affordable, I’d have to go back to the drawing board. $6400 is not a small amount of money but if you look around, it’s hard to get something with the same craftsmanship and design aesthetic as Bishop for less than $15,000.

You’ve made a lot of beautiful custom bikes in the past, what do you think sets the Bishop apart?
I think Bishop is the only bike that allows the purity of its materials to do the work. It has no paint, it has no finish, it has no tricks, no bells, no whistles. It’s simply a mixture of elements – wood and high-grade metal. That’s definitely my favorite thing about the bike. It’s quite an honest design.

Bandit9 Motorcycle Design

What do you think of the motorcycle market in general? Is there a growing desire for more handmade bikes?

To be honest, why people still go for stock bikes completely baffles me. Buying a motorcycle, at least for me, is more of an emotional response to a piece of art-machinery. I must be missing something but I don’t see the artistry in today’s stock bikes with all the decals, bumpy lines, and odd proportions.
Yes, the market for handmade bikes is growing but I’d love to see it grow at a faster rate.

Other than yourself, who do you feel is making truly beautiful bikes?
I’m a huge fan of Shinya Kimura. I think his designs are a testament of what a bike can be. Shinya’s designs aren’t just incrementally better than the other builders, he leapfrogs them. The most incredible thing about Shinya is not his motorcycles but Shinya himself. This sounds like a man crush but I love what the man’s about – his philosophy, his character, his wisdom, everything! The man is a living legend in my opinion.

Bandit9 Motorcycle Design

Do you feel like building motorcycles is your one true calling? At this point can you see yourself doing anything else?
Ha! Today it is. Can I see myself doing anything else? God, I hope so. I don’t think I can stick to one thing. I’m interested in so many things. I want to design video games, I want to be a street photographer, I want to create furniture, I want to do more work with charity, I want to travel more, I want to go back to school. The list is absolutely endless and I do hope I get to all of it before I’m in the ground. One thing’s for sure, I can’t imagine doing only one thing for the rest of my life.

Bobby Solomon

August 22, 2014 / By

This New Commercial for Tesla Is More Art Than Advertisement

A New Commercial for Tesla Is More Art Than Advertisment

A New Commercial for Tesla Is More Art Than Advertisment

The allure of Tesla is that they do things differently. They revolutionized the concept of the electric car with their Roadster and Model S, the upcoming Model X is due in the fall of 2015, and the Model 3 is due after that, supposedly being priced at $35,000 yet still offering 300 miles per charge.

Director David Holm has tried to capture that allure with epic cinematography. The Model S is shown only in brief glimpses, instead the commercial focuses on bringing to light the idea that Tesla is creating the future. This vehicle is fast, mercurial, and that it lives in a world, maybe universe, of it’s own.

Bobby Solomon

July 28, 2014 / By

The Secret Hack That Lets You Find Out What Your Uber Passenger Rating Is

The Secret Way of Finding Out Your Uber Score

The world of transportation has been fundamentally changed by start-up ride share service Uber. One feature that differentiates Uber from the traditional taxi experience is their rating system, which allows the passenger to rate their driver and vice versa. Is your driver swerving all over the road? You can leave a poor rating and a comment knowing that Uber will take care of it (they even write you an email back). But what about your own rating?

Aaron Landy has found a great hack that tells you what your score is in four easy steps. This should help answer whether or not that night you blacked out and took Uber home may have been more of a mess than you remember. I’m proud to say that after 30+ rides I’ve still got a perfect rating.

Uber Passenger Rating

If you’ve never used Uber before you’re totally missing out. Use the link https://www.uber.com/invite/uberthefoxisblack to get your first ride free (and I get a free ride in return).

Bobby Solomon

July 28, 2014 / By

CYLO: A Handsome, Well-Designed Urban Bicycle

CYLO: A Handsome, Well-Designed Urban Bicycle

It’s always fun to see new takes on an old classic, and the makers of Cylo, a well-designed, urban bike, have certainly made their mark. Based in Portland, Oregon Cylo is an effort to create a bike that’s both stylish and functional while at the same time a bike that’s easy to hop on and go.

We grew up in a small town where we could do everything by bike. Once we got our first jobs in bigger cities like New York, London, Berlin, and Portland, we kept on cycling. There is nothing on the market today that answers the rigorous needs of the city with an iconic design for today. Our mission is to build beautiful bicycles that you can simply jump on and ride without having to think.

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Bobby Solomon

May 2, 2014 / By

The Future of Car Interfaces Begin To Appear

Apple CarPlay

Earlier this morning Apple announced CarPlay, it’s plan to integrate iOS like functionality into cars. The system is actually an extension of the iPhone itself, allowing you to easier use some of the features the phone has to offer. Out of the gate you’re able to, with the help of Siri, make phone calls, answer texts, put on music, or get directions. Kind of the standard things you do while driving.

A few weeks back we also saw Matthaeus Krenn’s innovative idea of what a car human interface could be, pushing boundaries using unique touch gestures. I feel like we’re starting to see a trend here, and it makes me wonder if car user interfaces will be the next weather app?

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Bobby Solomon

March 3, 2014 / By

City Identity in Subway Maps by Zero Per Zero

Zero-Per-Zero-City-Railway-System-Maps-01

Many budding designers cut their graphic design teeth redesigning a metropolitan subway map because of the challenge it presents. Usually the objective is to create a map that’s easy to use and conveys all the necessary information clearly in a small amount of space. Typically, a good subway map is equally well understood by locals and tourists, and isn’t frustrating to read when trying to get from point A to point B. Zero Per Zero, a graphic design studio based in Seoul, has an ongoing project redesigning city railway system maps according to a different objective than the usual.

City Railway System is a new approach to projecting the identity of a city onto its subway map. Whereas conventional subway maps aim at conveying information as clearly and concisely as possible, the City Railway System by ZERO PER ZERO distinctively incorporates symbolic elements of each city into its map while preserving clarity.

In their subway maps, Zero Per Zero preserves some of the sensation of living in a city.

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Charis Poon

January 24, 2014 / By

Muni rebranding concept by D. Kim and Mirtho Prepont

Muni rebranding concept by D. Kim

The San Francisco Municipal Railway, better known simply as “Muni”, is San Francisco’s main form of public transportation, starting operation in 1912. It’s omnipresence in SF is both a blessing and a curse. It’s seen everywhere but the mark is dated and looks like it was created back in the 1970’s (not in the good way). That’s where D. Kim and Mirtho Prepont come in, offering up a smart rethink of the iconic mark.

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Bobby Solomon

January 14, 2014 / By

‘Art of the Automobile’ is An Exhibit to Take Your Eyes for a Ride

ArtofAuto-Exhibit-1

It’s said that “form follows function, but both report to emotion.” This statement could not be more appropriate in describing the automobile. One auction (turned exhibit), “Art of the Automobile,” presented by RM Auctions, celebrates the masters of vehicular design and the marks they’ve made on its history. Featuring over 30 cars, it’s on show at New York’s Sotheby’s galleries and is the first high-profile automotive auction that the city has seen in over a decade. To me, there’re many reasons why “Art of the Automobile” already stands out as one of the must-see exhibits to check out in NYC this year.

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Nick Partyka

November 20, 2013 / By

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