Miss The Honda Motocompo? Here’s One Made From Laser-Cut Walnut
Are you familiar with the Motocompo? How about the idea of a “trunk bike”? A compact scooter made primarily out of plastic and 1980s geometry, the concept was simple: what if your already-tiny Honda City hatchback still wasn’t small enough to navigate the urban tangle of a major hub like Tokyo or Yokohama? What if you wanted to ride a little rectangle around instead?
The design is exceedingly practical—in its folded form, the Motocompo is only slightly larger than luggage, and it fits neatly into the spaces Honda designed to hold it—but it’s also decidedly stylish. At the very least, it’s an emblem of its era; the three-spoke wheels and CAD-style graphics running down its flanks make its origins obvious.
Even though more than 50,000 were produced in the early 1980s, they’re still pretty obscure in America. However, with his Lasercompo homage, ArtCenter alum Kirk Shinmoto is drawing fresh attention to the niche machine in 2018. An animator for studios like Dreamworks and Titmouse who also finds the time to teach drawing at his alma mater, in his spare time Kirk enjoys building and designing scale models, along with the 1:1 Nissan 280Z in his garage.
Back to the minibike at hand; if you thought it couldn’t get more ‘80s than the original, adding the word “Laser” to the name might do the trick. It’s his first laser-cut wood project (walnut veneer to be specific), but Kirk’s experience with sculpting and 3D printing translated smoothly into this medium, and his interest in the Motocompo gave him the perfect subject matter: planar and hard-edged, it was the ideal form to recreate in flat wood.
Here’s Kirk on the process of creation: “The whole kit was designed in a CAD program called Fusion360, and the process was pretty straightforward: just stacking, cutting, and combining virtual pieces that had the same thickness as the wood it would eventually be made out of. From there the faces of those pieces were exported as flat, 2D shapes that could be sent to the cutter. The hard part was keeping in mind how every element would fit together like pieces of a puzzle. There ended up being a lot of prototyping to get the folding mechanism just right.”
The finished product is impressive on more than one front, for not only did he totally nail the proportions in this eight-inch tribute, the foldaway handle bars and seat are functional, and even under the external layer, the accuracy of his recreation holds up to the real thing. It’s also beautifully packaged in its pre-assembly stage, and Motocompo fans will be happy to hear that Kirk is offering these kits for purchase.
The build time is said to be roughly three hours, so if you miss playing with LEGO and model car kits, why not build a Lasercompo next weekend?
Purchases of the Lasercompo can be made here, and we hope to see Kirk taking on similar projects in the future.