Wheel alignment

Wednesday 28 April 2010

Farkle day!

Jennie has gone to the next town on a shopping/lunch trip with one of her mates.  As I've not been presented with a list of chores, a very happy morning has been spent fitting my newly-acquired radiator guard and a quickly detachable mount for a GPS.  I mentioned in a previous post that in October, I'm competing (if that's the right word) in the annual Rusty Nuts Grand Challenge 1000 miles in under 24 hours endurance ride.  For the 5th time actually, which is probably a good mental state indicator given the world of pain that is the Grand Challenge!  Anyway, the front guard on the Triple is very short which exposes the radiator to missiles flicked up from the tyre.  A punctured radiator in the middle of the night on some crummy back-road miles from anywhere doesn't bear thinking about, so a guard seemed a sensible precaution.

After perusing the 'net, a titanium guard from Cox Racing Products in Oregon was chosen.  Beautifully made, perfect fit and weighs nothing.  Fabulous service too, only 5 days from ordering to delivery in NZ.  Took about 15 minutes to fit.

On the previous 1000-milers riding the BMW and the Blackbird, I've always used a paper map with the route marked on it but in the middle of the night when you're on some unlit goat track in the pouring rain, it's easy to miss a critical turnoff!   We've had a Garmin GPS for use overseas and in the car for 2 or 3 years so now is the time to give it a try on the bike.  We get a few hours' notice of the intended route before the ride starts so there's no problem programming it before setting off.

The hollow headstock spindle seemed a good spot for a quickly detachable mount so found a plastic rod in the workshop (I knew there was a valid reason for never throwing anything away!) and epoxied and screwed it to a car GPS cradle.  Ran a power source from the switched side of the electrical circuit and we're away! Must test it in the next few days, particularly in the dark but ergonomically, it feels fine.  The GPS doesn't have voice alerts, just visual signals and alert beeps but that should be fine.  What an excellent morning it's been!

Tuesday 27 April 2010

I love Autumn weekdays

Autumn is absolutely the best time of year to ride a motorcycle on the Coromandel Peninsula where we live. The temperatures have dropped a bit meaning that wearing leathers is no longer your own personal sweat lodge!  More than that however, the number of tourists are dropping off and whilst the roads are rarely clogged, there is virtually nothing on them; especially on a weekday.  Monday chores taken care of in the morning and then it's off to play on the peninsula.  Thought I'd take you on out for a ride on our local roads so hop on board.  It's ok, I'm a careful rider, especially when there's precious cargo on the back, honestly!

Here we are in our front garden with the Triple all loaded up and waiting for me to stop stuffing about and get the riding gear on!

First stop is Kuaotunu beach, towards the east of the peninsula.  Parts of the Coromandel Peninsula and Firth of Thames is where the Bar-tailed Godwit lives.  So what you might ask?  This incredible bird begins its trek from NZ in late March to Alaska - some 11000 km in 5 or 6 days.....  almost unbelievable!  Sadly, they've all packed their bags and departed and there's just me (and you of course!) on the deserted beach contemplating the marvel of these amazing birds.

Next stop is the town of Whitianga on the east coast of the Peninsula.  Static population of around 5000 although it swells enormously in summer with tourists and holiday home owners.  I'm in two minds about this place.  Clean and tidy, good cafes and restaurants but some of the developments are unsympathetic and  make it look like a lot any other beachside development in the world.  I'm simply not sure what it's trying to be.  Guess the locals won't be giving me the keys to town anytime soon with remarks like that.  Really nice harbour and people though.

The man-made waterways above are in the process of construction and whilst nicely done, a couple of years will see the views totally blocked by developments.   Wonder how much silting will eventually occur as these are well over a kilometre inland.  This is a development that sort of grates with me.

Right, re-trace our route back to the west coast of the peninsula north of my home town of Coromandel where the coast remains pretty much undeveloped save for a few farms and forestry blocks.  Absolutely lovely and I can count the other vehicles I've seen for the last 20 or 30 kilometres on the fingers of one hand.  Twisty roads running right alongside the upper Firth of Thames - doesn't get much better than this!

More twisties and a slight scare with unmarked gravel on a bend up the coast until the tiny settlement of Colville is reached - I LOVE this place!!!  Colville and the surrounding hills have a lot of alternative lifestylers who have been around since the hippy days of the 60's.  The dense native bush no doubt hides more than a few plants of a ummmm.... more recreational nature but the people are just lovely - always happy to chat or help out in any way they can.  The store shown in the photo is run by a local commune and the range of goods is amazing, including great tubs of beans and grains that no-one has ever heard of.  Want a mantle for your ancient camping lamp?  No problem, they're bound to have one.  From Colville north, the tar seal turns into a fairly well formed dirt road which runs up the coast for another 40 km to the top of the Peninsula. The Department of Conservation has a handful of well-maintained camping areas right by the water up here.  Fabulous for families, hikers (called trampers in NZ) and fishermen wanting solitude in stunning, unspoiled, safe surroundings.

The afternoon is getting on and time to re-trace the route to Coromandel, my home town.  Coromandel has a population of around 1600 although this is considerably increased by tourists, particularly in the summer. Coromandel came to prominence in the 1800's when gold was discovered on the Peninsula.  Unlike Whitianga, Coromandel has kept its old buildings and the main street is utterly charming.

It's only a couple of kilometres to where we live down on the harbour so saddle up and head for the lookout near our house before the light fades.  The dots in the water near the island are commercial mussel beds and it's a wonderful area for fishing.  This is where Jennie and I anchor our runabout and occasionally take our kayaks for a good paddle.

Well, its been a lovely afternoon's ride with almost no traffic and in gorgeous scenery that never fails to stir the soul.  Hope that you've enjoyed the journey as much as I have!

Sunday 25 April 2010

Aftermarket suspension - value for the average rider?

For most of my riding years, I've stuck with stock suspension, and probably much of it was with tired units because as young 'un with not much money to throw about, most of the early bikes were second hand or worse.  Still, you don't know what you don't know so you ride to the best of your ability and if it wallows like a pig on corners, produces the odd tankslapper or bottoms out on savage bumps in the road; it's all part of riding a motorcycle eh?  If there was any surplus cash to throw about, it always seemed to be spent on bling, farkles - call them what you will.  OK for "pose" value but probably with little impact on performance!

Owning a Honda Blackbird was where I started to really wonder about a suspension upgrade. A fantastic bike in virtually every respect. Trouble is, some of my mates had pure sports bikes and once we got into the tight stuff with uneven surfaces, trying to stay in touch on a fast ride required so much physical work wrestling the heavy old girl through the bends that it was like doing a full aerobics workout at the same time, not to mention the odd fright from pushing the boundaries.  Raising the rear ride height to sharpen the steering helped quite a bit but by 50,000-odd km, the standard shock was definitely past its best.

It was more or less at this time when I read an article on checking sag and found that both the standard front and rear suspension had significantly greater sag than the recommended values.  This wasn't really a surprise given comments I'd seen on various Blackbird websites about the relatively budget standard suspension.  I did think about replacing the rear shock with a new standard unit but one of the American 'bird sites was organising a group buy of Penske units through Cogent Dynamics Motosport in North Carolina.  From a bit of research, it appeared that the Penske brand was pretty much on par performance-wise with Ohlins albeit less expensive; particularly with the group buy discount. The owners of Cogent, Rick and Joyce Tannenbaum; were a joy to deal with and very exacting in getting details of my weight, riding habits and road types so that they could spring and valve it to my specific needs.  Most impressed with the specification but still some reservations at this stage as to whether an average rider like me would really notice much difference in improved damping control and  a custom spring.

At least it took care of my birthday present from Jennie and she even had the grace not to ask how much it was going to cost - phew!

The 8983 Penske rear shock duly arrived what a beauty!  Rose joints top and bottom to reduce friction and alignment issues, with a remote compression damping reservoir for easy adjustment.  Also a comprehensive manual for set-up and maintenance.  All I did prior to fitting it was to increase the length by 8mm to match the ride height spacer previously used with the OEM shock and fitting took less than 2 hours.

Before heading out on the first test ride, sag was checked and it sat right in the recommended range, so the temptation to fiddle was resisted!  I know every bump and corner on my favourite racetrack (errr... sorry, favourite public highway) and the new shock was an absolute revelation.  There are bad truck ripples on one of the bends which threw the 'bird badly off line at speed with the old suspension and with the new rear shock, it just about completely evened them out with the superior damping - incredible!  What this also meant was that corner entry and exit speeds could be higher with no greater effort and with better levels of control.  Similar advantages were apparent on straight roads with poor surfaces - bumps and other annoyances were hardly noticeable.

However, the downside of having a top drawer rear shock was that it exposed the stock Blackbird front end for what it was - grossly under-sprung and probably under-damped. Wasn't game to push my luck with my Chief Financial Manager for a full rebuild so settled for some longer, heavier rate springs and shorter spacers from the UK. A piece of cake to install and what a difference!  No excessive diving or bottoming out under hard braking or road shocks being transmitted through the bars over rough surfaces.  As well as having precision steering, I was now less fatigued on journeys - an additional safety bonus!

So would I recommend a suspension upgrade for an average rider?  The answer is unequivocally YES and buy it well before bling like aftermarket mufflers and so on - you'll be faster where it counts anyway!  I'm probably a slow learner and you'll be rolling your eyes and saying that I'm stating the bleeding obvious, but it really was a revelation with respect to just how big the difference was despite having ridden bikes for so long.

I think that my Street Triple will also benefit from having better damping.  Although the handling is superb, its light weight means that it tends to dance about a bit at speed on uneven surfaces, albeit not in a really unsettling way.  However, as it's only 7 months old, there might be a Disturbance in the Force if the matter is raised in the immediate future!

Oh yes, and a final benefit if you're of a mind to approach your infinitely Better Half for permission to spend money on a suspension upgrade....  I reckon that conservatively, tyre life on the Blackbird increased by at least 2000 km due to lower stresses.  In other words, the tyres weren't trying to compensate for inadequate suspension any longer.  So there you are - go and discuss the saving on tyres with a straight face and (almost) clear conscience!

Thursday 22 April 2010

A brief departure from bikes......

Bikes aren't mentioned in this post but hope you don't mind as we are very proud parents.  We just got back from Christchurch in the south island where yesterday, our daughter Victoria was capped Master of Psychology.  A grand affair by the University of Canterbury held at City Hall followed by a superb congratulatory dinner at a French restaurant!

Victoria completed her thesis whilst working full time on violent offender rehabilitation within the NZ Justice system so it was a fantastic effort. I'll freely confess that my views on crime are to the right of Genghis Khan where offenders should have their heads displayed on long poles in city centres at the very least.  However, since I've found out about some of the significant long-term success stories in rehabilitating offenders with a troubled past, I must admit that my black and white views are softening a little.  In any event, I have nothing but admiration for people like Victoria who have an unwavering commitment to trying to help those who want to improve their lot.

For those who have already expressed their views on my lucky red fishing shorts in a previous post, you will be delighted to see that they don't feature in the photo below as I wanted to live past sunset.  Mind you, permission had to be gained from both Jennie and Victoria for the silk tie.  Guys apparently know nothing about fashion according to close female sources.  Or at least, there is ONE male according to the same female sources who is barely capable of dressing himself!!!

As an aside, we flew to Christchurch in absolutely stunning weather and the following 2 photos taken through the cabin window are of Mt Egmont, a dormant volcano in the north island and a portion of the Marlborough Sounds at the top of the south island - a mecca for water sports and fishing.

Friday 16 April 2010

Road skills – what keeps you from harm?

Riders in NZ are about to pay a whole lot more for annual motorcycle registration and I’m not happy, not happy at all. When I cough up for annual registration next month, I’ll be paying NZ$511 as opposed to the current fee of NZ$253. (The new fee being equivalent to $US363 or ₤230). It's not about money, it's the rationale for raising the fees.

This has come about partially as a result of laziness, incompetence and probably arrogance by our public servants in reviewing legislation and statistics covering injury/accidents. Let me explain....

In the mid 1970’s, legislation was introduced for an injury compensation scheme which signalled a significant shift in how New Zealand dealt with the consequences of injury. It proposed a move away from a litigious, fault-based system, toward a completely new ‘no-fault’ approach to compensation for personal injury.

The recommendations were for a national scheme that covered:

- All injuries to earners whether occurring at work or not, funded by a flat-rate levy on employers for the cost of all injuries to their employees. A levy on the self-employed to pay for injuries occurring at work or outside of work was also proposed.

- All motor vehicle injuries, funded by a levy on owners of motor vehicles and drivers.

In general, this legislation has worked very well by largely keeping lawyers out of the equation and dealing with injury compensation quickly and fairly. Problem is, medical care costs have been rising at a higher rate than contributions to the scheme so increases are required.

The motorcycling community has been hit harder than any other single group. The proposed increases were in fact going to be significantly higher but nationwide protests have caused the increases to be lower than originally proposed, albeit still substantial. It wasn’t just the protest rides on parliament that caused the rethink, it was public questioning of the statistical basis used by public servants to justify these increases and in short, the justifications were found wanting; not only by motorcycle groups but by academics and others. Nonetheless, we still find ourselves saddled with increases based on dubious statistics.

In any case, simply increasing fees to meet increasing costs whilst failing to address the root causes is in my view, bordering on criminal incompetence by our public servants – a real “cost plus” mentality which is a drain on the public purse and does nothing to actually reduce injuries. This is what has outraged me more than anything.

Along with many other motorcyclists, I have made submissions based on raising the standard of compulsory training for both learner motorcycle and car drivers before they are able to attain a license but incredibly, there has been no response to date whatsoever by public policy makers.

There’s obviously a lot more detail behind the overview I’ve just covered but getting down to the nitty gritty, if I were to recommend a couple of additional skills to be introduced to inexperienced riders/drivers to reduce road accidents; what would they be?

When I undertook formal advanced roadcraft training in 2002, my instructor was the ex-head of driver training for the New Zealand Police, covering police motorcyclists, highway patrol, and special driving skills for groups such as Diplomatic Protection. In other words, here was a guy who really knew his craft. The first casualty on the course was my ego (massive damage!) but it became clear that the instructor had laid the platform for mitigating the risk of serious harm and for that, I’ll forever be in his debt. Although he taught me a wide range of techniques, the two aspects of roadcraft which he stressed as having the greatest impact on my well-being are:

Situational Awareness. This is a slightly fancy name for being aware of your surroundings. It’s incredible how few pure car drivers have good situational awareness and I’ll freely admit that prior to attending this course, my own skills were lacking; even having ridden a motorcycle for over 30 years at that stage. This isn’t the place to talk in detail about what exactly was taught but some of the techniques could easily be applied at a more basic level of training. An example of one such technique is what’s called the “12 second rule” where the rider or driver constantly scans the environment all round for a distance equivalent to the distance you’d cover in 12 seconds at the speed you are currently maintaining. If done properly, you’ll not only be aware of other vehicles and what they’re doing, but taking note of road surface conditions, side turnings, the potential for wildlife to run into the road and so on. Not rocket science at all, but still a life-saver.

Avoiding any implied criticism (and thereby life-threatening injuries) of my wife’s driving as she’s pretty darned good anyway, I subtly introduced her to the 12 second rule and it was noticeable how much more she subsequently picked up in the way of potential hazards and their mitigation. I know I’ve mentioned it in a previous post, but this video:  Great roads, great rides pt 1   and  Great roads, great rides pt 2 is the best I’ve ever come across in showing just how powerful good situational awareness is in keeping you safe. So why don’t we ram it home at a much earlier stage of riding or driving?

Emergency Braking. The instructor prefaced this part of the course by saying that one day, knowing just how hard I could safely brake would mean the difference between avoiding an incident or coming to serious harm. He was absolutely right. He taught “staged” braking which increases the force of braking without locking up and it was drummed into me with repeated practice until it became the norm in real life situations rather than just grabbing a handful and locking everything up with all the attendant risks. On the course, I ended up braking so hard under perfect control that my wrists and elbows were creaking and my wedding tackle was painfully wedged hard into the tank! I would never previously have dared brake that hard for fear of coming off.

We could go on and on about safe riding and driving techniques but my perceptions (in NZ at least) are that:

- Current standards to get a full licence are lamentably low.

- There are additional simple techniques which will reduce the risk of injury and which should be taught at beginner level.

- Raising the cost of licensing does nothing to address the root cause of accidents and therefore, accident statistics are unlikely to improve (and discriminates against those with a good record).

- You can never afford to stop learning. This may be apparent to more motorcyclists than pure car drivers, many of whom seem to think that a full licence means that they are adequately equipped for the rest of their lives.

- Don’t rely on public servants (including politicians) to come up with an effective answer. They will do what is politically expedient, not necessarily an effective solution. To support this contention, a close friend and riding partner is a senior engineer within a government department dealing with all manner of transport issues. A fair amount of his time is spent undertaking objective analysis (filtering might be a better description!) of proposals by public policymakers who have little idea of the impact of their proposals. These are my words, but I think he partially sees himself as a gatekeeper to rule out the ideas of fools if anyone will listen!

Road safety is a complex subject and I’m far from being an expert. I do know however that WE and no-one else have primary responsibility for our own safety and consequently, we also have the responsibility to continually raise our skills, both for our sake and the sake of our loved ones. If we wait for leadership from others, Hell will freeze over first.

Hope that I’ve stirred a few thoughts about how we ride safely and our personal responsibilities. I don't have the answers but at least by raising my personal skills, especially situational awareness; I'm better protected than I used to be.

Addendum:  See the post HERE which summarises the direction I chose to raise my skills with the IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists) in New Zealand.  Literally the best thing I've ever done on 2 wheels.

Saturday 10 April 2010

Some days are better than others!

The northern part of the north island of NZ is currently in the grip of a drought but on the positive side, it's meant calm, warm days which are perfect for outdoor activities.  Having been retired for almost exactly 2 years, we have time to use these days more or less how we want!  All days are pretty good but yesterday was a bit special!

It started with jumping on the Street Triple first thing in the morning and riding 50 kilometres over some hills and down the coast to a nearby town to pick up some electronic goodies.  Warm, sunny, virtually nothing on the road in either direction.  In short, it was one of those spiritually uplifting rides that makes you at one with the universe.  Not fizzing with excitement, just perfect harmony if you get my drift.  The first picture shows the road I travelled on so you can see why I love it so much.  The photo of me was taken by a friend last year when I still had the Blackbird but the scenery hasn't changed!


In the afternoon, the tides were favourable and Jennie was keen to go fishing so we launched just down the road from our house and anchored in the commercial mussel farm just offshore.  The conditions were so magnificent that it wouldn't have mattered if we didn't catch anything but catch we did!  Both Jennie and I had our 20 lb lines broken early on in the expedition so there were clearly some big fish around!  We ended up with Jennie out-fishing me 8 snapper to 4 but at least I salvaged some honour with the heaviest fish of the day. I publicly apologise for my appalling dress sense  in the final photo but it's my lucky fishing gear!

After riding in the morning, fishing in the afternoon followed by filleting and a very pleasant dinner, sleep came easily; as it does when you've had a fulfilling and carefree day.  Days like this are good for the soul!

Sunday 4 April 2010

Innovation ain't what it used to be!

I suppose that having ridden for more than 40 years, you notice trends and can compare them with past periods of time. Looking backward doesn't mean I yearn for the bikes of yesteryear though as today's bikes are clearly superior in most respects.

To obtain performance increases in modern bikes, for the most part; it seems to mainly involve buying bolt-on goodies from specialist sources from around the world with perhaps less personal innovation to get that all-important boost or edge.

However, I have a (maybe half-baked) theory!  Less money and lack of easy access to tuning equipment or expertise may have driven greater self-reliance and an innovative approach in the past.  Nosing through some bike photographs I took a few decades ago, I thought I'd post a few of them and comment on some of the innovative features on these bikes.  With one exception, they're drag bikes, partly because I was campaigning a short-stroke Triumph drag bike called Icarus at the time (see: Growing up a bit) but also because they're a great example of interesting ways of pursuing outrageous performance!

Super Nero

The Vincent V twin-powered Super Nero was what might be described as the ancestor of "modern" drag bikes in Europe.  Its builder, George Brown, was a talented road racer in his earlier days who worked at the Vincent factory at one stage in his career. It's hardly surprising therefore that he chose this power plant for a series of  bikes, culminating in Super Nero.  George was a sprinter, as opposed to drag racer, preferring the battle against the clock over numerous distances as opposed to against a competitor over the quarter mile. The Vincent V twin had its origins in the mid 30's and it's testament to George's development skills, aided by a big supercharger  and alcohol-based fuel that Super Nero set a number of world and national records throughout the 60's in both solo and sidecar configuration. Over 4 decades later, Super Nero's performance is still incredible.  Over the flying quarter mile in 1968, he averaged 182 mph in both directions to set a new world record and in 1970, he averaged 190 mph in gusty and wet conditions.

His persistence in continuously improving Super Nero was legendary and his tenacity was further demonstrated by taking on the international motorcycling body, the FIM.  The FIM had an arbitrary age limit of 55 for international competitors and George had already exceeded this whilst he was still chasing international records.  His persistence paid off and the age limit was lifted, allowing George to set his 182 mph record at the age of 58!  Truly innovative and inspirational.

Alf Hagon's JAP

Alf Hagon was a champion grass track racer who got into quarter-miling in the early days of the sport in the UK.  Alf's bike also used a V twin with pre-WW2 origins; a British JAP.  His innovation was to build the bike as a real lightweight (some might say flimsy!) to increase power to weight ratio and whilst the early version had a 2 speed gearbox, the final version had a single speed countershaft and spectacularly smoked its slick for almost the entire quarter mile!  Alf also showed considerable balls by laying over the exposed cylinder heads, especially as drag motors can be likened to hand grenades with the pin pulled!  His ingenuity paid off in spades when in 1967, he achieved the Holy Grail of quarter-miling at that time, the first ever sub-10 second bike run on UK soil.  Even more remarkably, it was on a runway in indifferent condition, not a specialist drag strip.  Later that year, he became the first motorcycle in history to set an official 2-way quarter mile world record in the 9's.

Alf didn't rest on his laurels though. In 1968, he took his bike with higher gearing to a British air base with a 9000ft runway.  On what was essentially an unfaired bike with minimal suspension, he clocked a staggering 206.54 mph; becoming the first Englishman to exceed 200 mph.

It's funny how innovation seems prevalent  with V twin motors!  As well as Englishmen George Brown and Alf Hagon, Kiwis Burt Munro and John Britten also enjoyed considerable success on the international stage with their V twins; albeit some decades apart!

Pete Allan's Twin Triumph

Although twin-engined drag bikes made their 60's debut in the USA, Pete Allan was arguably the first UK drag racer to have one which ran both competitively and reliably.  Coupling the two motors together was not a straightforward exercise because of power pulses putting enormous stresses on the drive chains but Pete's beautiful engineering largely overcame this.  The American twins of this era were normally aspirated and used nitromethane to develop big dollops of horsepower.  Pete's bike used both nitro AND a big supercharger to produce outrageous horses!  The photo clearly shows the massive intake to the supercharger and the pressure release valve between the two engines (the rear engine has the head reversed to minimise intake piping and fuel condensing).  The pressure release valve also had considerable value as a safety device in event of a backfire when starting the bike on rollers!  Pete Allan emigrated to Australia in the early 70's and also competed at the highest level there. He's still well-known for his non-riding involvement in the drag and custom bike scene.

Twin-engined bikes are still on the drag race scene but are arguably more of an oddity than performing right at the top.  Probably the most famous and successful twin drag bike of all was The Hobbit, campaigned by John Hobbs from 1975 to 1979.  It had twin superchargers fed with nitromethane and at its peak, was covering the standing quarter mile in a fraction over 8 seconds with terminal speeds of around 180mph.  All this from engines which had their roots as early British road bikes!

Vic Phillip's Impulse drag bike

In the early-mid 60's,  Japanese 4 cylinder road bikes had yet to be launched but it was clear that multi-cylinders could offer significant horsepower advantages compared with twins or singles.  One of the early believers was Vic Phillips who built a sidecar drag bike using a tuned 1000cc Hillman Imp motor.  I lost touch with progress early in its development but as with the other bikes and builders mentioned here, it was a highly innovative approach with limited resources.  What's more, the standard of engineering was superb, one example being the flawless hand-made fairing.  The photos were taken by me at Santa Pod dragstrip, close to where I used to live prior to emigrating.

Money sure helps, but it's sheer hard work and clever thinking which carries the day!

Impulse from the front

Ag's Barra (Angus McPhails Barrow translated from Scottish English!)

When sprint/drag bikes are mentioned, the mental image is of big capacity monsters producing equally monstrous horsepower.  However, there are a number of smaller capacity classes where arguably; it is harder to achieve a favourable power to weight ratio compared with the big 'uns.  Angus McPhail raced a tuned 250cc Arial Arrow.  Conscious of the need to shed as much weight as possible to offset the relatively modest power of the 250cc engine, Angus went for a tiny hand-crafted monococque alloy frame, tiny wheels and equally tiny front suspension to minimise weight.  At least he didn't have far to fall if things went pear-shaped!

I'm a bit hazy on exactly how fast the bike was but if I remember correctly, it set a number of British records over several distances.  However, the main point was that it was yet another example of ingenuity rather than money yielding good results.

The next photo is of Icarus, my ultra-short stroke supercharged Triumph.  Details  HERE
(photo taken by Pete Miller).


The final example of ingenuity is not a drag bike, it's a circuit racer developed by the Triumph Factory.  The name has been proudly carried forward nearly 4 decades to grace Triumph's current 675cc sports bike:

The 1960's 500cc Triumph Daytona Factory Racer.

The Daytona 200 has been America's premier motorcycle race for several decades and it's fair to say that the earlier days were a Harley Davidson benefit with the factory-backed bikes cleaning up virtually every year.  The US bike market was where Triumph had its greatest sales and a win at Daytona would have a huge impact on increasing market share.  Doug Hele, chief development engineer of the Triumph factory and a US dealership set about building a twin carburettor 500 based on the Tiger 100 which was light, powerful, having a low drag coefficient to take it to around 150 mph and be very manoeuvrable for the tight infield turns. In 1967, Gary Nixon blitzed the field to take line honours and to celebrate, Triumph released the first Daytona road bike the same year.

The photo taken at Mallory Park in the UK shows a works Daytona raced by chief tester Percy Tait.  Note the huge amount of tread on the race tyres and the foam-lined brackets to isolate the carburettors from vibration and fuel foaming.  The bike's light weight and superb handling gave Percy many short circuit victories against the likes of Agostini on the MV Augusta 500 as well as other aces on factory machinery.  In 1969, it was even entered into the Belgian GP as a one-off which Percy led for several laps; eventually finishing second to Giacomo Agostini.

Well, there we are - money undoubtedly helps, but it's smart thinking (REAL engineering!) which can win the day when the money isn't there!