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How RYCA used augmented reality to design a cafe racer

The new CS-1X from RYCA Motors—designed with augmented reality
A decade ago, the Californian outfit RYCA Motors cracked an almost impossible code: they figured out how to turn the Suzuki Savage into a good-looking cafe racer. Then they made a kit so garage builders could do the same, using just basic tools and skills.

It was a big success, and they’re now celebrating their tenth anniversary with a new ‘CS-1X’ kit that was designed using augmented reality. It’s an approach we’ve never heard of before, and quite intriguing.

The new CS-1X from RYCA Motors—designed with augmented reality
In case you’re not familiar with AR, it allows you to superimpose 3D elements on top of real-world objects.

RYCA founders Ryan Rajewski and Casey Stevenson are fans of the tech, and have big plans for using it. It was Casey who first got the idea to combine AR and motorcycles a few years ago: when remodeling his house, he used basic AR apps from furniture retailers, and was impressed by how useful they were for visualizing ideas.

The new CS-1X from RYCA Motors—designed with augmented reality
“I called my friend Yohan Baillot—now our CTO—who is a true pioneer in the field of AR,” he says. “I told him I had been using the IKEA app, and asked him if we could do something with motorcycles. We built our first AR prototype based on a Ducati Scrambler, and it turned out great.”

“We got the ‘virtual’ parts to just snap right on, like magic. So when it was time to build a tenth anniversary edition of the CS-1, we wanted to use AR in practical, realistic ways. To prove it’s not a novelty or a toy.”

The new CS-1X from RYCA Motors—designed with augmented reality
Casey and Ryan wanted to maintain the general aesthetic of their original kit, but take it up a notch. Starting with a 2006-model Suzuki Savage (also known as the Boulevard S40), they prototyped the CS-1X with a mix of existing and new parts.

“On a typical day, Ryan would come up with a design idea, and I would piece together a 3D model of the concept,” says Casey. “We’d use AR to ‘see’ it on the bike, in full context, then either go with it, or move on to something else. It’s the most fun we’ve ever had designing and building a motorcycle.”

The new CS-1X from RYCA Motors—designed with augmented reality
One of the biggest departures from the original RYCA kit is the fuel tank. The original setup uses the Suzuki’s stock tank, but the CS-1X uses a new, bolt-on upgrade. The 2.4 gallon steel shell is supplied by an external vendor, and then modified in-house with a new tunnel and mounts that are specific to the Savage.

On this prototype, Ryan also had the tank polished and triple chromed by Brett at Cal-Tron Plating Inc. (Brett handled the satin chrome and nickel plating on the rest of the bike too.)

The new CS-1X from RYCA Motors—designed with augmented reality
Next up was the CS-1X’s unique ‘double barrel shotgun’ exhaust and intake. “I wanted to create something a bit different this time around,” says Ryan, “so I designed a ram air style intake that crisscrosses and runs parallel to the tightly tucked mid-exhaust. It’s a stylish and functional system that looks and sounds awesome.”

For the Suzuki’s tail section, RYCA went with a fully upholstered version of their current cafe-style seat design. Ryan then made up a new set of side covers out of aluminum—featuring vented slots—that hide the new electronics tray.

The new CS-1X from RYCA Motors—designed with augmented reality
Ryan also decided to ditch the Savage’s belt drive for a chain conversion, but most of the other finishing kit is straight off RYCA’s shelves. They’ve fitted their own rear-sets, clip ons, rear shocks, and their front fork lowering kit too, which uses internal spacers and ships with a special tool to perform the conversion.

The matching 18” wheels are also part of the kit, and are wrapped in vintage Super Classic 270 tread from Shinko.

The new CS-1X from RYCA Motors—designed with augmented reality
Just like the kits that RYCA first created ten years ago, the CS-1X is so clean and well proportioned, it’s hard to believe it’s based on a goofy cruiser. Ryan has helped by keeping the color palette minimal, with a mix of plating and Cerakote finishes throughout.

RYCA are offering the first five limited edition kits as perks to people who invest in their FantomView concept—an AR platform they’re developing that has raised an incredible $65,000 via crowdfunding so far. It’s aimed at everyone from motorcycle dealers that want to mock-up a showroom, to garage builders who want to ‘preview’ parts on their bikes.

The new CS-1X from RYCA Motors—designed with augmented reality
“The last customer we had in the shop—before the world closed down—was looking for a pair of reverse cone mufflers for his cafe build,” says Casey. “They weren’t particularly expensive, but he was on the fence about the purchase. He turned to his friend and said, ‘I wish I could see them on the bike first’.”

That’s why AR makes a lot of sense in the custom world. And if RYCA pull it off, it could change the way we modify motorcycles for ever.

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