Gungnir, a Norse Mythology inspired Motorcycle

Well, if you're reading here I take the liberty to assume that you already know all about the Petrolettes Wrench off by Royal Enfield, if not, please check it here. With the general, broad framework of this competition out of the way, I wanted to delve deeper into my personal project, my very own journey into the dark, shady meanders of motorcycle custom building.

Aside from it being my first real motorbike customisation project, the Gungnir build has been a lot of "firsts" for me: first time carving metal, first time trimming and cutting fiberglass, first time fabricating bits in a low tech way. As a designer by trade, it has been quite easy to visualise how the final product will look like and how to make adjustments along the way. However even at the half point in the build I feel like I've learned so much about the different fittings and ways to fabricate the custom parts you might need in a specific project. Not everything can be sourced, and there's room for the argument that not everything should be sourced. The little solutions you find and create for your bike are also part of what makes it special and unique.

What is the Gungnir? Well, aside from it being Odin's spear in Norse mythology, with my version of that story here, the Gungnir build is a multi-layered project, with each layer delving into new symbols, ornaments and designs.  

Starting from the basics, on the mechanical level there hasn't been much freedom to make extensive modification to the frame or motor of the bike, however, the Gungnir has been fitted with top of the line, racing spec YSS rear suspension and front fork hydraulic valves. The exhaust system is masterfully adapted with HP Corse silencers and is due to be ceramic coated. The footrests, also made by HP Corse are mounted on prototype mounting plates, fabricated by hand, especially for this bike. At the front of the bike, low sitting, black racing clipons have been mounted instead of the standard high-rise ones and the full black console look is completed by a set of Messner Moto switches and mirrors. A quick action throttle has been added, for faster acceleration.

 The second layer is the bodywork, and this has definitely seen some changes in plans since the original idea. The fairings, provided by Motoforza fairings, originally were planned to be more of a half fairing style, yet as the project moved on, the front piece morphed into a bikini style quarter fairing, with one asymetrical headlight. The seat is a racing inspired neoprene pad, glued to the retro style rear cowl. The fenders and side covers are raw aluminium to help the rough, bare metal aesthetic flow from front to back, throughout the bike. The bodywork layer also includes the intricate and daring paint scheme by Lucky 7 srl. After many hours of deliberation we've decided on an audacious combination of colors, one that will bring not only the darker aspects but also a nod to the feminine mind behind it.

The final layer is the symbolic layer. Carvings, engravings and runic inscriptions adorn the engine covers of the Gungnir, dedicating it in a non transient way to its patron god. On the clutch side, a painstaking fineline feather texture encapsulates a blown-out aegishjalmur (helm of awe) which, at it's center, makes space for a runic circle with the name "Gungnir" spelled out in Elder Futhark characters, being traversed by a spear as a homage both to the instance of Odin's sacrifice and to the actual object, the spear.

On the stator side, the engraving takes the shape of circular panels, delimited by another Ægishjálmur, for extra fierceness in battle. The writing in the runic circle recites "Gefinn Óðni', given to Odin, and it's a quote from the Hávamál itself where Odin describes sacrificing himself to himself. This phrase is also used in other instances, where a sacrifice to Odin or an imminent battle is described, where the opponents are "given to Odin" and are proclaimed as those who are about to die.

The other panels on the stator cover are dedicated to two pairs of ravens, which symbolise Hugin and Munin, thought and memory. These are Odin's ravens who fly across the worlds and bring whatever news they find to their master. The central picture panel depicts a little Valkyrie, with a cloak, sword and an outstretched arm holding a horn of mead. The general design of the Valkyrie has been inspired by existing depictions on picture stones and an archeological find of a pendant in that shape.

Near the stator, the sprocket cover is carved with a pass-through design, inspired by the Urnes style carvings. It is an intertwined design made of gripping beasts and serpents.

Overall, these designs are a bit of a mix and match between different themes and even different periods. The choice of Elder Futhark runes, the later Viking age symbology and ultimately the much later Aegishjalmur symbol don't belong together from a strictly historical point of view, but they are more of a "ice core" specimen rather than a cross section of the subject.  The extrapolation of these symbols and designs from actual mythology and findings brings a certain authenticity to the concept, going more than skin (or paint) deep. The act of carving and engraving the metal was instrumental in making the Gungnir what it is.

Ultimately, in all of my research I wasn't able to find an artifact that encompasses motorcycling and Norse mythology in a somewhat authentic way, with most of the Viking and Norse inspired works leaning more towards the fantasy side depictions, or more generic pop culture decorations. So, with no reference other than what I've learned on the subject, I set off to decorate the motorcycle in a way that would symbolically imbue it with power, like one might do with a weapon or tool. Hopefully my efforts will be successful.

I hope this piece has been able to shed more light and give you guys some insight into the project and thought process behind it. As I'm writing these lines, the bike is nearing completion and begins to take its final form. If you would like to learn more about the subject of Norse legend and Myth, from a reputable, down to earth source, please make sure to check out the great body of work put forward for free by Dr. Jackson Crawford as well as the nice collection of resources and artifacts you may find on my partner's website at Grimfrost.com .


 

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