I suppose all of us have dreams we feel will one day become a reality. The reality is few of us ever make our dreams a reality. In many ways we are our own worst enemies. The biggest thing for me was allowing myself to be true to my dream rather than being afraid of it. Chasing your dream isn’t as easy as it sounds and getting started on this project is the result of several years of hand wringing.
Many moto addicts idolize certain motorcycles and dream of owning them. Somewhere along the line I left the clear and simple path of “buying my dream bike” and fell down the steep and rocky single track known as “building my dream bike”. Perhaps it’s the journey, or maybe it’s the finished result and being able to say “Of me, by me, for me.” Regardless, I knew that nothing less would satisfy me.
Initially, I wasn’t willing to let myself believe that I had started down that path. Not because I didn’t like the idea, but because I knew exactly what that idea meant: An all-consuming project of epic proportions. Easily thousands (possibly tens of thousands) of man-hours and who knows how many Dollars poured into a project to build one copy of that motorcycle.
That’s A LOT of riding time!
The Dream, a First Pass
It all started for me several years ago, I don’t remember exactly when. One evening I sat down and began thinking about the dream. I asked myself a simple question: Assuming I completely re-imagined the sport bike, what would I do? Several hours later I felt I had a basic idea of what I was really after. Here’s that idea:
Overall purpose: To build the F-16 of the motorcycle world. A highly advanced and integrated motorcycle chassis, engine and computer combination with multi-mission capability. The bike should be traction limited rather than power or drag limited making it the fastest bike for it’s weight in a straight line without sacrificing cornering performance. Packaging and operation to be similar to existing motorcycles. The bike should play into the rider’s hands and be as tame or as wild as the rider is willing to be with the ability to “catch” him if he runs out of talent. The computers should augment the riding experience by allowing the rider to focus on the strategy and technique of riding the bike, not on keeping an uncontrollable monster on a leash.
Engine: Water-cooled, computerized, supercharged uniflow 2-stroke V-4 with direct fuel injection, wet sump lubrication, integrated transmission and a displacement of approximately 800cc’s more or less. The power target is around 400HP to the road. The engine should run on the lowest octane fuel possible, perhaps at reduced power. Engine imbalances should be minimized by whatever method possible. It should feel incredibly powerful and pull hard at a wide range of speeds without being overly peaky or too refined and dull.
Ergonomics: Similar to existing sport motorcycles but adjustable for riding position and optimized for a rider of 5’1″ to 5’6″ tall and between 100 lbs. and 145 lbs.
Chassis: Similar to existing motorcycle architecture but with a greater use of molded composites, semi-monocoque riveted aluminum structure and exotic alloys, as required.
Weight: TBD. Perhaps slightly heavier than existing motorcycles to improve traction but not so heavy that the chassis becomes slow and cornering speed suffers unduly.
Aerodynamics: As low a Cd as possible without sacrificing the basic utility of the motorcycle.
Appearance: Unimportant. If it’s fast it will look the part. Color scheme: White, Process Blue and Black.
Suspension: Geometry undecided, but computerized and automatically adaptive to varying road surface conditions, predictive based on external inputs and pavement learning.
Steering: Computer-aided stability control tied into the suspension system and engine control system.
Stability and traction management: Computerized multi-axis inertial reference platform with external inputs from the suspension to manage traction in all modes of operation from braking to cornering to accelerating and combinations of all three. The system should operate fast enough to “catch” the motorcycle from a traction loss event before that situation results in a crash, but still allow the rider to access the full range of traction.
Transmission: Dual-clutch automatic with the ability to emulate a standard 6-speed sequential-shift or possibly a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).
Rider interface: Fly-by-wire with helmet-mounted heads-up display with simple and intuitive grip-mounted controls.
Drive arrangement: Classified
Well, there we go! 10 years work outlined in a few paragraphs. Now maybe you, the reader, have an understanding of why starting this project has been such a challenge. The job is daunting, but doable. For the moment at least, I’m young.
While this project will require an immense amount of design, engineering and research I must be careful not to get too tied up in the minutiae of it all.