Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Scooter Nose Pieces

Taipei Scooter Style just returned from a visit to the Seattle area, where many scooters were photographed for discussion in a later post. Today's topic is as plain as the nose on your face.

There are many angles to admire scooters from, and straight on gives a view of the nose pieces. Here are a few examples that show the variety of designs that one sees on a daily basis.
This one from Kymco promotes its nano-meter coating, whatever that is. If you scratch a Taipei scooter, as often happens, you'll soon learn that the paint seems to have been applied with a nano-meter of coverage. The underlying plastic lurks a quantum distance below the paint. Another noteworthy feature of this example is the carbon fiber look in the black area. It appears that carbon fiber has been used to construct the nose, but how useful is that going to be? One wouldn't expect the stiffness of the carbon fiber to give much protection in an accident, given such a small area has been covered. More likely it's just paint, but how did they achieve the look?

The Attila remains one of the perennial odd names for scooters in Taipei. Did the designers intend to conjure Attila the Hun? That would not be image one would expect to be applied to a scooter. Attila, the much feared lead of the Huns in the fifth century was described by the Greek historian Priscus as "Short of stature, with a broad chest and a large head; his eyes were small, his beard thin and sprinkled with grey; and he had a flat nose and tanned skin, showing evidence of his origin." This is taken by Wolfram to indicate Attila's Asian origins, but there is little agreement to the etymology of the name.

Mikkola thinks Attila may be Germanic/Goth form of the Turkish Atlig, meaning "famous" while Poucha finds in it the Tokharian Atär, "hero." According to Wiki, neither of these are assumed to be reasonable, but they might have looked appropriate to a Taiwanese scooter designer. Maenchen-Helfen suggests a German origin, citing the Gothic Atta, which means father, combined with the diminutive suffix -illa. The Greek author Menander, however, used Attila as the name of the Volga River. The name Attila has many variants in different languages, such as Atli and Atle in Norse, Attila/Atilla/Etele in Hungarian, Etzel in German, Attila, Atilla, Atilay or Atila in Turkish, and Adil and Edil in Kazakh. I think they would all be appropriate nonsense names for Taiwan scooters.

I find this design to suggest the face of a humanoid robot. I admire the simplicity of the shapes, the contrasting red in the cut-outs, and the sweep of the curve in the horizontal piece. I guess there is also a bit of Jason's hockey mask from the Friday the 13th films.

Yamaha's Cuxi is one of the most popular scooter models on the streets of Taipei today. The front piece is wide and fairly flat. From the decal on the right we learn that this is apparently the "cafe racer type". The checkerboard motif found on the flag shown at the end of a motor race suggests the competitive nature of this scooter design, but the style reeks more of a city cruiser bulling its way through crowds of more aerodynamically attired scooters.

Here are two more Cuxis, showing the variety of nose-piece designs. The one of the left combines  racing stripes popular in the 1960s with a heraldic crest. On the right, the racing stripes and checkered flag design have been ditched in favor of a lightning bolt suggesting the American flag along with a five-pointed star.