15, 2011 - Main page with latest update here.
Bonneville, part 1
In early 2010 I was asked by my mate OZ if Iíd like to go to Bonneville in 2012 to watch him make a record attempt on his Honda CBR1000. I hesitated for a millisecond and said yes.
That night I sat and thought about it some more. Iím not really into spectating, so I rang him & asked if I could take a bike. He too replied ďYesĒ. However, the only bike I had was my Indian, and that was a rather tasty trike, so I pulled the engine out & sold the remains (for peanuts) on eBay. The next task was to get a copy of the regulations (thanks Lars) and start sourcing parts while I had some money.
However, it was obvious nearly everything would have to be hand made. It had to have wire spoked wheels, and theyíre a bit thin on the ground nowadays, especially chain drive ones, but I managed to find a rear wheel & front end off a Honda Shadow, so the build could begin.
First a jig needed constructing. As I spent 20 years as a professional frame & bike builder, this was easy. All a jig has to do is to line up three things, the rear wheel, front end & engine. I made mine with slots in it for the wheels to drop into, so I could build the whole thing at waist height. After a lot of measuring, I had to offset the engine to the right by 1½Ē, which is no big deal as I knew that Harley motors were offset 1¼Ē as standard.
With it all set up, & using a borrowed hydraulic bender, I soon had the frame built. Tubing is heavy wall ERW, thereís no need for fancy seamless on this bike, and itís all MIG welded. I have a very good welding set, and can weld to a very high standard.
To finalise the length of the bike prior to welding on the headstock, I used a very technical method. I lay on the floor with the end of a tape measure between my feet, and measured to my hands. Using caution, I tacked the headstock on and put the rolling chassis on the floor. Sitting on a pillow, I tried it for size. Too long. So back it went on the jig.
One note when building a frame. Before putting the headstock on, finish-weld the whole frame & check for distortion. On this bike the front downtubes were fitted after the headstock was fully welded, as they really do distort badly. Finally the gussets were cut out using my trusty Chinese plasma cutter, an excellent bit of kit.
With the frame finished, I put the chain on, but where Iíd estimated there would be tons of room with a standard sprocket, there was a chance of it fouling with the one I intended to race with...
...so the centre downtube was cut out & a new one bent up.
As you can see, this isnít a full cradle frame, the motor is a stressed member as per the original Indian one.
Another detail worth mentioning is that the frame, whilst it looks simple, isnít. A lot of time & consideration were put into making sure I could get the barrels off with the engine in, or remove the whole engine leaving the gearbox & primary undisturbed.
Well, thatís the rolling chassis done. Next time itís bodywork, oil tank & petrol tank.
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This is the story of Chris Ireland's 741 Land Speed racer.
A race bike built on a shoe-string
budget by sheer
For more information, or offers of help or sponsorship, contact Chris on firstname.lastname@example.org
Chris is the editor of Brit