Lifestyle: Interview

blackest Black

What your motorcycle colour says about you

The Bobber, black motorcycles and the blackest black

The people behind the blackest black ever created give their verdict on why the new Bobber will be a huge hit… and explain the psychology behind our colour choices.

Dark, mysterious, powerful, intimidating, independent, strong-willed and in control. All apply to the Triumph Bobber, a motorcycle that shook up the custom bike scene as the first-ever truly naked factory build. So how do you improve on the stripped-back hot rod ride and drag race sound? Perhaps by going back to black?

Bobber Black

According to colour psychologists, black evokes such intense emotion in humans because of the fear felt by our cavemen ancestors as they huddled together in the dark. “Back then, the dark nights with nothing but the stars for light had a strong connection to fear as wild animals roamed outside. Over time, as the human race developed, that negative emotion transitioned into a colour we now regard as utterly awe-inspiring and intimidating,” explains Ben Jensen, Chief Technical Officer at Surrey Nanosystems.

Total blackout turns everything 2D

Ben knows a thing or two about the colour black. His firm has been credited with creating Vantablack, the blackest man-made black substance on the planet. Its super-black coating absorbs virtually all light on surfaces making it the closest thing to a black hole we’ll ever see, with the power to turn 3D into 2D.

Blackest black

Ben says: “We have a strong emotional attachment to black, which is why you see cars, bikes, mobile phones and all manner of technology in that colour. When we launched Vantablack we didn’t expect the global media interest it got.”

“Any kind of black, whether it’s gloss or matt, has had strong connections for the human race stretching back tens of thousands of years because there’s something primal and real about it that strikes a chord when it comes to design.”

Primal instinct

Triumph’s new Bobber Black builds on that, with black painted exhaust, brake pedal and footrests, gear lever, bars, seat pan, wheel hubs and headlight rim… as well as a host of spec upgrades including the front forks and a fat 16-inch front wheel.

Bobber Black details

Ben says: “The connection with black is interesting because the way it’s viewed has evolved. It’s been seen as dark and evil but during the late Middle Ages there was a move towards brighter, more vibrant reds and oranges and that continued in the Victorian era with the advent of synthetic dyes.

“Since then there has been a gradual search for different colours and the Dutch Masters were the first to use darker shades of black, before the modern age saw people begin to investigate different finishes.”

Total eclipse

Ben believes the Bobber Black’s success will eclipse that of its predecessor because of the way the colour and design complement each other: “Black means ‘not to be messed with’ already, so when it’s on a brutal-looking bike like the Bobber it’s a double hit.

“On a bike, black says sleek, powerful, aggressive and mean and, if you add that to the heritage and expertise of Triumph as a brand, what it represents and what it sounds like, then it’s a very cool proposition that appeals to all the senses.”

“Never say never”

So is there potential for a future Triumph in Vantablack?

“From an aesthetic point of view that would be amazing and seeing a black bike in 2D would be eye-catching, but at the moment it’s unlikely because its primary purpose is in spaceware. But never say never.”