Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Mighty ZRX

There are many different types of motorcycles on the market today. Most of them are designed to fit a specific need, cruisers for old fogeys and fat asses who want to look cool and rebellious, sport bikes for young idiots with little sense and huge balls,  motards for people who know how to ride, have fun, and break all the rules, and finally, standards, for people who want real performance without a bad back and high insurance but still want day to day functionality. It is under the former category that, in my humble opinion, the greatest motorcycle ever made makes its home, the Kawasaki ZRX. The ZRX is something of a jack of all trades, good at everything, great at nothing. In its stock form the Rex boasts a 100hp inline 4 with a fantastic amount of tourquey grunt that makes stoplight to stoplight jaunts something of a white knuckle affair. The lines and styling are remarkably similar to the KZ1000 and thats definitely a good thin. The looks of the rex immediately bring memories of ripping through the gears on an 80's vintage superbike, relish the feeling of being Eddie Lawson coming around the carousel at laguna seca as you merge with traffic on the I-45. All jokes aside, the ZRX is amazing mostly because in stock form, its great, but with a few inexpensive mods its downright amazing. You can make a ZRX into anything you want it to be with some minor tweaking. It can be a drag racer, a road racer, a cross country tripper, a dirt bike, anything. When I think about what the perfect bike for me would be, I always end up coming back to the Rex as the sensible way to satisfy your in-sensibilities. It is for that reason the Rex will always hold a special place in my heart.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Garths Dream

Garth Kopke's GK1 is a highly modified version of a popular composite kit aircraft, The KR1. Kopke took what was already a very sleek, streamlined design, and made it even more so.  The GK1 used a different canopy and cowl design, as well as a p-51 style belly scoop for cooling purposes. Garth's design differed greatly from other KR1 homebuilts was the use of an automotive water cooled inline 4 engine from a Honda civic. The KR1 was designed to fly with an 80hp air cooled VW boxer style motor. The inline 4 used by Garth produced nearly 50 HP more that the VW at 130hp. The use of the honda motor combined with the aerodynamic improvements made by Kopke, the GK! was able to cruise at 240mph at 75% throttle, thats 60mph faster than a standard build KR1 at MAX SPEED. Unfortunately Garth was killed whilst flying fire fighting missions in australia. The GK1 now belongs to a fellow in New Zealand who has graciously sent me tons of scans of Garth's drawing and schematics. I am basing my own build off of his designs.

The Vincent Obsession.

Vincent, the name immediately evokes strong feelings in any motorcyclist who is worth his salt. The only american v-twin that even comes close to being as beautiful as a Vincent v-twin is the knucklehead, and  a knucklehead just isn't capable of producing the same kind of horsepower. The fact that it is,to this day, common to see a Vincent screaming along the Bonneville salt flats on its way to another record, is a testament to the engineering that went into these motors. The British hold all their mechanical achievements in the highest esteem and never hesitate to boast about shit they have done right, I hate them for this, but, in this one case, they are absolutely right.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Making Waves

Designed by legendary aerodynamicist and Lockheed Skunk-works member Bruce Boland, and entrepenuer/air racing enthusiast John Sandberg, Tsunami is unique for several reasons. The main reason being that it holds the distinction of being the first unlimited air racing aircraft to be 100% scratch built.  Designed from the ground up to be as aerodynamically perfect as possible, tsunami was able to reach front runner speeds without having to utilize the same amount of horsepower as the more common WWII fighter based racers. The design immediately evokes visions of Tsunami's world renown competition the Republic p-51 Mustang, though in truth, Tsunami is 6 feet shorter and has 100 square feet less wing area than the mustang, When viewed side by side, tsunami is a much smaller and more compact craft. In spite of the similarities in silhouette the 2 aircraft actually have very little in common. The engine, Was actually a merlin 720. Originally designed by Rolls Royce for use in commercial aircraft, this is not the same merlin that was used in the p-51 and was actually a little lighter than the model used in the Mustang. The aircraft competed for 5 years without ever achieving the a championship. The design suffer standard early teething problems but had flashes of brilliance at Reno. Most notably at Reno in 1991 on the last lap when tsunami came from very far behind the leaders to basically catch the lead pack. It is possible that to do this tsunami was running 20-30mph FASTER than the front running aircraft, this is unheard of and there are no precedents for this kind of performance. Unfortunately the biggest flaw in Tsunami's wasnt actually anything to do with the actual aircraft, it was the designer. John Sandberg was notorious for being a "tinkerer" and proceeded to make too many changes to the airframe from year to year which stalled the teams progression. By all accounts Sandberg took an airframe that was a purpose built racer and transformed it into more of a "sport plane" by moving the wing to give it a more foreward CG and adding flaps to a flapless design. Unfortunately John was killed ferrying the plane when he sufferd a flap failure on lading which rolled the aircraft into the ground. I believe that this racer could have gone down as one of the great aircraft designs of history, it is unfortunate that we will never know what heights John, Bruce, and Tsunami could have reached together.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Pollock of a different color

Richard Pollock of Mule motorcycles builds motorcycles that will be amazing to ride, they come in the form of street trackers. I am only going to post pics of one but, do yourself a favor and check out his website. I connect very strongly to flat track racing and the people associated with it. The Americana behind a sport with such a rich heritage of skilled riders and amazing motorcycles is very easy to connect to.

... I guess you could say, these bikes have "soul".


Shinya Kimura

Shinya Kimura has to be one of the best custom motorcycle builders out there today. His builds are some of the most unique and interesting designs I have ever seen. Shinya take a normal Hardly Dangerous and turns it into something that is truly one of a kind. Everything on his bikes is hand built and one off. He also rides the crap out of em. He ran his knuckle to Bonneville to the tune of nearly 100mph.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

This motorcycle, much to the chagrin of a certain owners group I belong to, is 2 things. 1. its a harley 2. it is very very fast. In fact, this motorcycle is the first non-streamliner to achieve the feat of going over 200mph. Leo Payne originally drag raced this particular harley with great success. So much success that he got tired of whooping the tar out of everyone and decided to make the transition to land speed racing.


This is the motorcycle that Rollie Free took to a world record on the Bonneville salt flats. It could either be a black lightning or black shadow. Regardless of what actual model it is, it was a custom order from the factory and is rumored to be 100lbs lighter and 45hp more powerful that the stock model. On previous runs, the protective leathers that Rollie wore had torn due to wind resistance and could not be worn. Instead of packing it in and going home, Free stripped down to a speedo and some borrowed tennis shoes and made the run. Rollie could be seen speeding across the flats in his unusual stretched out prone position wearing little more than his birthday suit. This run resulted in not only a world record, but one of the most famous pictures ever taken. Not only does that run represent a milestone for american motorcyclists, it also represents the spirit of motorcycling at its core. Most people jump on a motorcycle to experience the danger and adrenaline that comes with careening down highways filled with steel vehicles piloted by oblivious soccer moms and octogenarians...

Imagine doing it naked!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Speed, and how to recognize it

What you are looking at is a picture of a Lockheed f-104 starfighter doing what it does best. This is what speed looks like. If you were the man taking this picture you would be viewing a red and white streak blazing across a desert floor at near 1000mph. This aircraft was built to do one thing well, and that's go fast. By all accounts it sucked in every other aspect of the flight envelope. Chuck Yeager said they were difficult to land, which means they were probably nearly impossibly to safely pilot to the ground. the first flight of this aircraft was in 1954, at the time this photo was taken the f-104 had been out of service for 10 years. This is one of the greatest aircraft ever flown.

A little introduction

Let me start this off by saying I am not really into reading peoples blogs. I follow a few from various welders and fabricators because they will regularly post pics of cool shit they are working on. These are men who are blazing the trail of originality in their respective fields, people that I admire for the quality of work they produce and the standard of perfection they aspire to. Too often do I see the "today I rode my fixie down to starsucks and had a venti decaf mocha espresso colonic whilst comparing my toms with all the other hipster faggots" bullshit. This pretty much started out as me posting tons of pics of motorcycles and shit that goes fast on facebook with a little bit of commentary. The nature of the picture posting system means that most of the coolest stuff I posted wasnt really being seen, so here I am. I generally hate the idea of a blog, but I will be able to vent out all the cool stuff I have seen as well as maybe open some eyes to the whole other world of neat mechanical stuff that is out there. I may go off on rants from time to time but generally I will stay on topic. I am not a writer and my grammar and punctuation are barely passable, so grammar nazis check your iron crosses at the door.