Like most of the people here on this site, I have a serious sickness. In my case the disease has progressed steadily from the time I was diagnosed as a speed freak as a small child. Its visible manifestations varied from pedaling bicycles downhill and insisting on putting my dad’s lawnmower engines into self made go-cart frames to building the biggest ramps I could at the bottom of the biggest hills around. From here I succumbed to a 2-stroke related complication and spent years as a teenager never touching a wheel to asphalt. After reaching the 'legal driver' stage of my affliction I had a common complication and had a 4 wheel diversion in the form of a 1968 Camaro inspired by the #16 Sunoco racecar
. A large amount of speeding tickets followed. Attending college in Manhattan required downsizing from 4 wheels to 2 and a subsequent regression to an earlier stage of the disease. It was here in NYC that I met several people who would be instrumental in bringing me to the brink of.....well, I'm not sure what it was the brink of but I'm it sure was a lot of fun. We rode, we road-raced, and eventually we got dirt bikes and made a mess. One of those guys was Gregor Halenda, a frequent poster (sakurama) and ringmaster of the City Blocks to Slick Rocks
trip. We all had a ball (even Flanny
) but I was a bit out of shape and in over my head. After a few years of racetrack exclusivity it was great to get back onto the dirt and have some pure unadulterated fun. The racetrack is fun but it is a focused, high effort fun that can be wearying. It is also a harsh taskmaster more than willing to chew up and spit out any half-assed efforts. Its benefit is that increased performance is clear cut: lower lap times=better performance. It eliminates a lot of the subjective evaluations and cuts to the chase: is my design faster or slower?
Anyway, I'm here to share the details of the end-stages of my disease. Although I love dirt, I am a speed freak at heart and that means asphalt or salt and straight or turns. At least somewhere without a lot of trees! I chose asphalt and turns and decided to spend every available dollar going fast. After hooking up with Gregor and another friend, Todd, we started roadracing under the Team Incomplete moniker. It was expensive but a whole lot of fun. We were using the standard motorcycle used to teach future Grand Prix riders, a Honda RS125 2 stroke GP machine. While it was an extremely competent machine I started to wonder why all motorcycles looked so similar and shared the same basic architecture. The answer was, ‘well, because’, an answer any engineer would not accept. This ‘why’ question started my investigations into the details of motorcycle handling dynamics and the desire to build a clean sheet design, the holy grail of any engine designer.
Gotta run now, will continue in another post.