Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Flyin High Pt. 1

When Mike Arnold designed and built his one off AR-5 the only real goals he had in mind were to build a light, cheap, composite fighter plane that he could use to slice holes in the sky. What he came up with has set 2 records of note The first is in FAI Class C1.A/O for fastest aircraft weighing less than 661 pounds at takeoff at 213.18 mph.The second is the fact that the aircraft breaks an aerodynamic rule that some thought would never be broken, the 1sq ft aerodynamic flat plate rule. If you calculate the drag of the entire whetted area of the aircraft the sum of the drag of the surfaces would be equivalent to pushing one flat plate 1 square foot in area through the air. While this doesn't really sound impressive, when you consider that no aircraft ever constructed before this had achieved the same specs, things start to come into perspective. Throw on top of that the fact that Mike is a self taught amateur aircraft enthusiast and pilot, and not a member of Lockheed's famed "skunkworks", or NASA, and things start to become very interesting indeed. Mike served an apprenticeship building sailplanes with acclaimed designer Fred Jiran where he learned his skills in composite building. He then took those skills and created an aircraft that is in a class of its own in more ways than one. One last thing that will make all of this even more impressive. Mike accomplished all this and a record breaking speed of over 200 mph on a power plant capable of producing an ESTIMATED 65hp MAX. It is not out of the realm of possibility that Mike's Rotax 582 was producing more like 55-60 HP as we all know manufacturers like to fudge production numbers a bit.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Spoiled Brats


Im pretty sure that is where this all started but I haven't concluded my research on the origins of the style yet. This small shop in Japan has been producing, in my opinion, some seriously innovative bikes. So much so in fact, that it has caught on over here in the states in a big way. Given the recent rend toward chopping 70's era Japanese bikes these days( i.e. xs650) it is definitely good to see guys doing something original as opposed to multitudes of freshly hard tailed bikes you see rolling out of suburban garages every day. The trademarks of the style are basically everything the American chopper is not. A short wheelbase, compact riding position, REAR SUSPENSION(the popularity of the hardtail design confounds me based on anything other than looks), and retention, if not modification, of all or most of the stock parts. The thing I like most about these bikes is they retain every bit of their original function, whilst showcasing the builders ingenuity and creativity. A fine juxtaposition to the stale, and unimaginative state of the american bike scene.

These are just some of the bikes that I feel are superb examples of the style. The high bars and tight seating position, as opposed to the American compunction to put forward controls on everything, is definitely more suited to a more "spirited" ride. In spite of the smaller displacement of these bikes in general, I imagine you would be hard pressed to find a big twin that could keep up with these little guys on a mountain road, or when traffic gets tight.