Always gets in the way of the fun projects. Sorry about dropping off for a few days, its been been a bit crazy around here.
Anyway, that post to the FIM website was the impetus behind changing my project from a single cylinder to a multi. That rule package was intended to create the replacement class for the 250GP class. A 250GP bike is a fearsome machine. It looks compact and manageable, but the 250cc two stroke powerplant has a viscous power delivery and can easily highside and send a rider into low earth orbit. Ask Gregor how his ankles are doing these days. His 250 was a lively one and he was never shy on the throttle! The GP change was a push from the manufacturers to mothball 2 stroke motorcycle racing in order to make room for 4 stroke machines intended to help them improve their production machines. You know, the street bikes they race in World Superbike.
After reading the initial rule package I knew what had to be done: build a true GP bike. A GP bike is a true race bike unlike most of what people see when they watch motorcycle racing. Now I may come off as a bit of a snob here, but so what. Most motorcycle racing is done by purchasing a street bike, removing a bunch of parts (lights, emissions controls) and then going racing. This is a perfectly acceptable way to go racing but if you're feeling a bit creative it can be quite limiting in that in the interest of keeping a level playing field you are not allowed to seriously modify or replace any major components. Bummer. A GP race bike is a vehicle that was never intended to be used on public roads. If you take a part off a GP bike it usually won't run, meaning that there is nothing on the bike that is not dedicated to going as fast as possible around a track. Lights, kickstand, even a starter system, are all considered not necessary for the task at hand: racing.
Anyway, for a speed freak and bike designer like myself a GP bike is the holy grail. To get a chance to actually design one from scratch is like......., well I can't even think of an appropriate analogy.
Here was the chance staring me in the face. I jumped in with both feet, not worrying about any of the what-ifs or other possible drawbacks. It was a few busy months. I was able to quickly determine that the chassis and suspension that had been designed for the big single would be just right for a V4 600cc. The only problem was that no current V4 600cc engine existed. Never one to shy away from a big challenge I enthusiastically started research on what a 600cc V4 configuration would be and how i could go about building several.
Once I had a high degree of confidence that the overall design was doable I started hunting up some funding as this would definitely be too much of stretch to go it alone. I am lucky enough to know a motorcycle collector why was enticed to help out with the project. He was mostly obsessed with vintage Norton race machines but that actually was a big help. He had in his collection several one-off factory race prototypes and knew the potential value of having a one-off to add to his collection. After a few meetings we agreed on how to proceed and I started in earnest to work out the incredible number of design details that would make or break the project.
Progress was smooth until the unthinkable happened. At this point I'll leave you all hanging again, but tomorrow I will continue on. I'll also start to put up more pretty pictures as this narrative stage is getting a bit boring for me to type and I assume for you all to read.
See you tomorrow....