The Devil is in the Details

posted in: Bike Life | 0

Okay, so I am a detail person. And I adore detail challenges. Example, on nights out with my cohorts, various ponderables come up and I am invariably the one to hunt down the answer– probably because I am the only one who NEEDS to know the answer to such minutae like:

Why does raki turn white when mixed with water?

Why is the sea blue? And where in the world is it bluest?

Where can one find zebra wood custom guitar plates in Istanbul?

You get the point.

My recent ponderable: in Istanbul, I noticed that starting last year, the Renault Clios in red and blue (particularly the red) have a luster to the paint that is far deeper than any other car on the road. Enough for me to turn and stare at every red Clio I see.

Okay, no big deal to most people. But I’m a detail person. Also the daughter of an automotive designer (and biker) who used to make me pick out all the differences between the latest year’s models and the previous year’s. So, I notice cars and motorcycles.

In fact, I luxuriate over their design details.

During my last visit to a motorcycle store, I spent nearly an hour admiring the aesthetics of the graceful curve of the exhaust pipes on Kawasaki’s Versys 650, the stylized muffler casing on the Kawasaki Ninja 1000, and, as Motorcyclist Magazine’s James Parker describes, the trend in “design intent and smoothing” which I took note of on bikes like the Yamaha YZF-R1 as well as Yamaha’s Fazer 8.

On bikes and cars, though, paint is not usually the design detail that stands out. So this difference was well worth exploring for me.

First, you have to know what goes into a good metallic paint job. Metamerism–spectral density of the light (amount of distribution of the wavelengths) is how they match exactly what the color/depth of luster should be. If done improperly, then you don’t get the depth, you might see the metal flakes, or experience other problems that flaw the finish. To do a proper metallic paint job, the spray gun has in its paint can a mixer that continually mixes the paint so the metallic flakes remain very evenly distributed.

After I began noticing the Clio luster gap, I was dying to point it out to Dad during a trip to the US and discuss this with him (the one responsible for giving me this critical eye for auto/motorcycle design)… but didn’t see any Clios on the road there. I had to look for any other make with that paint-job-on-steroids.

Who’s got it? Turns out Lexus and Corvette do.

And Lexus takes it very seriously.

“For anyone still unfamiliar with the term, Lexus Takumi are the automotive equivalent of a 10th Dan black belt. Each of the ten Takumi specializes in a key area of the vehicle—and each commands enormous respect in the Japanese auto world.”

Kimihiro Sakakibara is the paint Takumi at Lexus, and this is how he makes this magic…

Mystery (deliciously) solved.


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