A Q&A with Icon’s Kurt Walter on the awesome Brammo livery

Dailies -



Regardless of power source, regardless of series, regardless of country, regardless of speed, the Team Icon Brammo Empulse RR sports the finest sponsor livery we’ve seen on a motorcycle in decades. To learn more, we spoke to Icon Design Director Kurt Walter, who penned it.

Why do all other sponsor liveries suck so bad?
Designing graphics for race bikes is a difficult challenge. There are usually way too many cooks in the kitchen when it comes to livery design. A lot of those ‘cooks’ are of the corporate variety with non-moto friendly brand standards. They usually make it such a pain in the ass that the designer will just give up and accept a poor design solution.  Since we are the title sponsor for the Brammo team, as well as the helmet and suit sponsor, we had almost complete control over the entire livery package. It’s an ideal solution for a designer.

Why is Icon sponsoring lame electric motorcycle racing? 
We’ve been involved with Brammo for a number of years. It’s been a good relationship for both of us from a marketing standpoint. When the initial discussions of sponsoring the Brammo race endeavors came up we thought it was a good opportunity. They were very open to letting us throw a ton of ‘ICON’ at the project – which took some real courage on their part. Conversely we are willing to take a bit of a chance with a fledging race series. ICON firmly believes in the future of electric motorcycles, for both racing and street use. Supporting this belief through a partnership with Brammo, a like minded Oregon company, just seems to make sense.  

What’s that helmet Steve is wearing?
The helmet is called the Icon Airmada. It’s a new platform that will be releasing in the upcoming months. Light, low profile, awesome fit, ECE/DOT/SG/SAI standards. There are a couple of Japanese companies that are not going to like this lid. More details to follow.

How’d the livery idea come about? Were there other options?
The Livery used on the bike is pattern that we’ve had in the pipeline for a year or so. The pattern worked well with the Brammo application, more so than our usual garish skulls and flames. Oddly enough the Brammo guys originally requested a wizard theme. Unfortunately we didn’t have any wizards up our sleeves.

What’s the livery say about the bike? 
It’s got lightning bolts so it’s fast, it’s got #1′s so it’s the best.

Did you guys just copy my Dazzle helmet?
The secret to any great designer is their ability to hide their sources. But no, your Dazzle helmet wasn’t one of them. 

How many HP does the paint add?
By HP I assume you mean Hit Points, and based on the crash damage from Infineon…clearly not enough.

Is this Icon’s first foray into road racing sponsorship? Will there be more in the future?
As a company we’ve always focused on the street scene, though we personally enjoy our share of track time. ICON will sponsor roadracing when it makes sense from a marketing standpoint. For instance, we are currently the title sponsors for the StreetMonsters fighter race series in France. We also sponsor the JDster drag racing series in Japan. Supporting unique moto-oriented competitions, such as TTXGP, XDL, or even Sideburn’s Dirtquake, is valuable use of our marketing resources. 

What’s the reaction to Icon like from the rest of the racing circus? You guys hated as much there as you are on forums?

It’s really quite amusing how much one clique of motorcyclists can despise the other. Generally we’re fine with the animosity levied against us by certain riding communities, it shows people are paying attention. As for the more vitriolic internet hate – we are going to make a donation to ARRRF (Amateur Roadracer Rage & Resentment Fund) to try and win over the forum trolls. Fingers crossed. 

  • http://greatjoballweek.blogspot.com/ Case

    Not sure how you get to ‘finest sponsor livery we’ve seen in decades’ from this ugly mess. One man’s opinion. At least they’re getting out the checkbook.

    Looking forward to hearing more about the helmet.

  • http://twitter.com/metabomber Jesse

    Airmada, eh? Looks like I’m holding off on pulling the trigger for a new lid for a few months.

    • Mr.Paynter

      Nuts, I just pulled the trigger on a Shark Vision-R…

  • nymoto

    Well this one man’s opinion is that it is fucking rad.
    I think its faster looking – yes def looks faster.

  • http://www.muthalovin.com the_doctor

    Dude, the wizard would totally add loads more HP to the bike. They should have done that.

  • Holden and Annette

    … lightning bolts? …

    • protomech

      Tessellation of a black lightning bolt on a white background; or a white ’1′ on a black background.

      • Edward

        Awesome. Didn’t see the ones until you pointed that out.

  • Alex


  • Scott-jay

    This piece is different than when I read it the first time, a few hours ago.
    I like it when you guys write about style & design.

  • Harten Bane

    First thing I did after reading this was google “Airmada”
    no results.

    • Zach

      Same here.

  • je

    I like the design for the pure fact it reminds me of camo on concept cars. I think the the sponsor logos should have followed the tank lines, giving it a cleaner look. Tale section reminds me of the aprilia rsv4 which is a good thing. I really dig the bright green battery bracing but it doesnt flow with the bike at all.

    My single fav thing on this bike is the lack of exhaust.. Bikes look so much cleaner with out that can hanging around or stuffed under the seat. I think that is one of the reasons I dig the buells so much.

    • http://www.cdavisdesigns.com Chris Davis

      Should the one visual element that makes this bike unique flow with the design? I would contend that it shouldn’t.

  • smoke4ndmears

    They definitely codged your dazzle lid -don’t let them sweet talk you. Seems like there are plenty of potential ICON billboards in DSB too. Do it ICON!

    Cool new lid. Wish they would get rid of that cheeseball snap on cover on the side of the face shield though. They always seem to fly off of my helmets.

  • dux [87 CBR600, 95 XR600R]

    Funny! And I had lightning bolts shaved into my head when I was 6 years old. Definitely HP+5

  • Campisi

    It’s got lightning bolts so it’s fast, it’s got #1′s so it’s the best.

    Can’t really argue with that.

  • Frosty_spl

    Lightning bolt! Lightning bolt! Lightning bolt!

  • oldblue

    Finest sponsor livery. Hmmm.

    My daughter has a pair of pyjamas in a near-identical pattern…

  • http://www.twowheelsplus.com/ Anders

    Best thing since the Rothmans Honda’s

    • Devin

      No love for the Gulf livery? I’m totally biased though, my uncle owned a Gulf station before their Canadian business was bought out and I got tons of swag as a kid.

  • Devin

    That is a really steep swingarm angle to the rear wheel.

    • doublet

      It may be.. I’m no genius with swingarm geometry. However, it is not nearly as steep as it looks. It is a very pronounced gull wing design, and if the bike sits as the drawing above shows, the pivot is directly in line with the countershaft, and ahead of it (not behind). That’s all sorts of new, me thinks! I’ve read enough stuff as to how these factors affect a bikes handling, but I’m not that smart. It only tingles my brain that it should be good, or at least an experiment that’s different!

      • http://www.cdavisdesigns.com Chris Davis

        The pivot is in the typical spot. The swingarm is “L” shaped, likely for motor packaging reasons.

  • Archer

    It’s always interesting to note how variable the design to taste relationship is with people. Some things are universally hideous (eg. London Olympics logo), others polarizing (eg. Honda graffiti, Speed Triple headlamps) others universally appealing on some level (eg. Agusta F4 in red and silver, Rothman colors, and RWB Hondas).

    This one is polarizing.

  • http://www.damiengaudet.blogspot.com damien

    Really looking forward to seeing that helmet come out. Holding off on a Vector 2 until it does.

  • rohorn

    Design influence? Reminds me of parts some of M C Escher’s work (Metamorphosis/Development/etc…)

  • Adam

    Hehe.. Wizard’s sleeve. I get it.

  • Core

    I liked this interview. It was humorous and informative.

  • http://www.xenophya.com Xenophya

    Love it. Done my fair share of colour and graphics and it’s not as easy at it looks.

    Simple idea but very effective. If you like it or loathe it you can’t ignore it so it’s done it’s job perfectly.