Industrial Design Project: Buell Lightning XB9R

These are sample 2D Concept Sketches showing a style I use to quickly show aesthetic variations. While some Designers will spend more time in 2D, I personally learn more about form by jumping into 3D sooner-than-later, especially considering the nature of a Motorcycle in that the exterior is also it's interior; form and function must fuse.

Moving into the 3D Design Phase allows for real-time form, fit, & feel, of our designs. Clay is packed around a prototype chassis, or buck, and carved to translate our 2D into 3D. Photoshop was used to visualize color breaks which allows for better understanding of profile breaks and proportions. (Note: Chris Hisey, my friend and fellow Industrial Designer working on this project with me, can be seen carving away in the background.)

Once our Clay Sculpting yields an approved Design Direction it must be translated into usable data for Computer Aided Design, in this case Alias Class-A Surfaces. To do this, we used a Faro arm which traces 3D curves in space. These curves are imported into Alias and used to Reverse Engineer our clay-work into Alias. Clean surfaces are developed in CAD/Alias and used to CNC/cut molds. Fiberglass parts are made from these molds and used to validate the CAD/Surfaces.

These are just a few examples of Alias Surfaces that were developed and exported to Styled Surface Engineers. Surfaces are then offset to give part thickness, ribs, mount provisions, etc., as well as used by FEA to analyze the part, ensuring it will survive the stresses of real-world use.

The Maiden Voyage! Eric Buell, himself, taking the XB9S (at this time had a project name, "Venom") on a test ride. This was a fully functional prototype build with pre-production components built from Fiberglass, CNC'd aluminum, and a whole lot of passion from the team at Buell Motorcycle.

© 2023 by MATT WHITBY. Proudly created with