The ABC 500 motorcycle is an absolute master class in minimal automotive design


ABC 500 Moto Minimalist Design Niki Smart

With a design that’s about as basic as its name, the ABC 500 from A Bike Company (talk of no frills) shows how “no design can also be a good design.”

Defying the very notion of automotive design, the ABC 500 actually defends the “lack of design”. Every part of the bike is exposed to the elements with an aesthetic close to the territory of the dirt bike. Despite its lack of mass, the bike still manages to have an immense character. He almost looks like an alien in his defiantly thin but well-balanced appearance… with perhaps his only solid mass being his fuel tank.

Designer: Niki Smart A bicycle company

ABC 500 Moto Minimalist Design Niki Smart

While it might seem simple enough to ride a bike without any bodywork, visually balancing it can be quite tricky… something the ABC 500 does effortlessly. If the posture of a bicycle is comparable to that of a jungle cat, the ABC 500 is an incredibly lean mammal with a toned torso. The fuel tank has the most visual mass of the bike and your eye is drawn to it first, followed by how the top contour of the tank translates the rear into that smooth, cantilevered seat. At the opposite end of the tank (the front) is perhaps one of the most interesting suspensions you’ll see. First developed in the 1970s by Norman Hossack, the Hossack suspension uses a linkage-type arrangement to help smooth out a bumpy ride. The suspension visually dominates the front of the bike and is accompanied only by a speedometer on top. In an unusual design choice, the LED projector headlights are located on the right fork, just slightly above the front wheel axle.

ABC 500 Moto Minimalist Design Niki Smart

Eyes then turn to the incredibly thin and wide 26-inch wheels, which perfectly complement the no-frills aesthetic of the bike, and come with carbon fiber spokes attached to an aluminum hub. The rear wheel connects to the base of the seat via the rear shock absorber, with the bike’s slim tail light located just above it, sitting under the stressed carbon fiber / kevlar seat.

ABC 500 Moto Minimalist Design Niki Smart

ABC 500 Moto Minimalist Design Niki Smart

The ABC 500 is fitted with a 1980 Honda XL500s 500cc engine (hence the name) and a 5-speed gearbox developing 33 hp. The bike is fitted with a standard Keihin carburetor, with a quick prototype custom air intake trumpet mounted with a conical air filter.

Minimal as it sounds, the design of the ABC 500 took 10 years. It is a common trap to think that minimal design “takes less time / effort” due to its seemingly minimal nature, however, the ABC 500 is an absolute master class in creating visual poetry with the less possible. Everything from the choice of parts and materials to its colors, symmetry and silhouette is a lesson in how a bike as sleek and slender as the ABC 500 can look as menacing and powerful as even the most beefy and bulkiest of superbikes.

ABC 500 Moto Minimalist Design Niki Smart

ABC 500 Moto Minimalist Design Niki Smart

ABC 500 Moto Minimalist Design Niki Smart


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