Bandit9's Nero MkII
By Anthony van Someren - 31 Oct 13
Daryl Villanueva is the creator of Beijing-Based Bandit9 Motorcycle Design a workshop that's clearly not afraid to do things a little differently in terms of donors, designs and presentation. Not only is Daryl creative and talented, he's also a good storyteller, so we'll let him pick this up in his own words. "I’m originally from the Philippines, raised in Hong Kong, studied in Australia and Malaysia, lived and worked as an advertising creative director and art director in Los Angeles, Dubai, Saigon and now Beijing. I moved to Beijing because of my career in advertising but after 10 years of working in the brutally demanding industry, I left the prison that I had been so used to, to restore the much-needed balance in my life. So I decided to create Bandit9 in 2011 and I slowly made my escape from the advertising world. I look back at my days in Saigon as the seeds of Bandit9. There is such a strong motorcycle culture there and I was addicted to the euphoria of riding on the streets. The experience of riding in Nam is very close to being in a meditative state because of the natural beauty that surrounds you. My very first bike was a 50cc Honda Cub and I have really fond memories of that motorcycle. I started with something really simple like painting the Cub a different color but I progressed into more complex redesigns on more serious machines. I’m referred to as the Bandit Chief – creator and chief designer of Bandit9. What started as a 3-man team is now down to two core players – myself and my long-time friend, Jacob Barry, who is like a Swiss army knife of talent – photographer, web designer, creative strategist (only advertising folks will know what this is). It’s a very powerful partnership because we fill in for each others weaknesses and play off each others strengths. The Nero Mark II is a mutation of a Chinese military motorcycle, the Chang Jiang 750. The Nero Mark II is the next generation model of the original Nero we released in 2012. It’s everything I wanted the original Nero to be. With the Nero Mark II, we wanted to create a bike that was hard to classify. We don’t know if it’s a chopper, bobber, café racer, or street fighter. We just wanted to make something cool that turns heads. I think we pulled it off. The only thing that has been restored from the original Chang Jiang is the 750cc twin engine. Everything else we discarded. We created a longer frame to give the Nero Mark II a lower, more aggressive stance. We wanted to make the bike look like it was constantly moving, even when parked, so we designed a perfectly flat, hexagonal tank and rear fender set that tapers from all angles – like a spear. The Nero Mark II is an exercise in minimalism – you have to look closely to appreciate the details. The handlebars are directly welded to the fork and you get a really clean effect – no nuts, no bolts. The brake lights were integrated into the fender itself and it gives the bike such a futuristic touch. We wanted the bike to feel like a living, breathing animal so we left the suspensions exposed – it’s like watching a cheetah run and you see all the muscles flexing. There’s also a whole host of upgrades – HD headlights, LED brake lights, upgraded front disc brake, handmade and re-engineered foot and hand controls. And of course, we kept the Nero’s signature matte-black. This bike is for superheroes only. The Nero Mark II is a limited edition motorcycle, only 9 will ever be created and only 5 are left available for purchase. The first customer is, Mat Nicholson, an ex-Ferarri Designer who had a lot of brilliant inputs on the bike. Is he happy? Well I received a very excited phone call from him one evening telling me how “f*cking amazing” it felt to drive. Apparently, folks on the street were sticking their heads out their car windows to film him zip down the streets. Maybe they thought he was Batman. What’s next? I have no idea but part of Bandit9’s mission is to reverse the stigma behind “Made in China” – this idea that products made here are of poor build quality. We’re working fiercely to team up with other Chinese talent from various industries to topple that global mentality. There’s a new wave of Chinese inventions and innovations, in fashion, art and technology. Bandit9 wants to be part of the tectonic shift that changes the global game." This is certainly a bike to provoke comment, and although we expected it to be extremely polarising most people seem to simply love it. We certainly do, and look forward to seeing more from Bandit9 here on the Bike Shed.