Motorcycle Use in Pakistan – A Design Challenge
June 16, 2014

Author: Talha Hassan

Motorcycles are possibly the most commonly used form of transportation in Pakistan, especially in urban areas. If we look at a basic 70 cc motorcycle, it has been designed to seat two people: a driver and a passenger. There is no accommodation for any large items one may be carrying. Safety is an important issue, as there is no protection for the driver or passenger in the event of an accident. Strict traffic regulations have dramatically increased the usage of helmets among motorcyclists, but even then only the driver wears the helmet. It is rare to see a passenger wearing one.

At IPAL, we are currently working on developing a modular canopy which can attach to multiple 70 cc motorcycles available in the local market. The primary goal of the canopy is to provide protection to the user from the elements (sunlight, wind, rain), as well as protection from airborne debris. We are also looking at integrating a basic roll-cage into the canopy to act as an impact attenuator in the event of a crash.

Our chief design concerns include modularity, easy assembly/disassembly, robustness, aesthetics, cost, and air flow through the canopy. A chief concern of many people associated with the project is what effect will be canopy have on the overall stability of the motorcycle. We aim to alleviate these concerns by optimizing the flow using computational fluid dynamics to simulate air flow within the canopy. Aesthetic value is another major concern for the user. With such a large proportion of motorcyclists under the age of 30, one can almost see each motorcycle decorated according to user requirements. Hence, the canopy not only has to function well, but also has to add to the look and feel of the motorcycle.

While working on the canopy and identifying key user requirements, another aspect of travel via motorcycle was established. When needing to transport large, bulky equipment, be it a cardboard box full of clothes or even a small refrigerator, users do not shy away from using their motorcycle. The safety of such transportation is always under question, in many instances the goods/equipment fall off the motorcycle and can destabilize the driver. Thus an offshoot of working on the canopy will be to implement some sort of fixture to help motorcyclists load/unload and fix equipment to their motorcycle. This will add to the safety and comfort of the driver.

At IPAL, we aim to design for the developing world and introduce appropriate technology to our region. The canopy can become a product coveted by motorcyclists, introducing safety and comfort to the otherwise risky and arduous form of travel.