Cycle News - Archive Issues - 2000's

Cycle News 2001 03 14

Cycle News is a weekly magazine that covers all aspects of motorcycling including Supercross, Motocross and MotoGP as well as new motorcycles

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Page 94 of 95

• 30 YEARS AGO... MARCH 23, 1971 BSA-mounted Dick Mann graced the cover of Issue 110 after winning the Daytona 200 for the second consecutive year. He was only the fourth man in history to win it twice in a row. The flfst Daytona motocross race, held in the infield of the Daytona International Speedway, was held as the final round of the Florida Winter-AMA MX Series, and Bryan Kenney (Hus) won the Open class, while Gunnar Lindstrom completed the Husqvarna sweep with a win in the 250cc class... Ron Bohn (Hus) took the victory in the Alligator Enduro in Daytona. followed closely by John Penton (Hus). It seems many people burned the last check and were either disqualified or lost a lot of points, because a course reroute took them up onto the highway for the last 25 miles, at a speed average of 24 mph. Many riders couldn't keep their bikes at 24 mph on an open road for an hour and just had to ride fiat out. 20 YEARS AGO•.• MARCH 18, 1981 Dale Singleton posed with his piggy for the cover of Issue 110 after winning the Daytona 200 on a Yamaha. Polesitter Kenny Roberts did not finish the event and neither did Freddie Spencer, who was way ahead of the pack in first place when his engine failed. Eddie Lawson (Kaw) took the lntemational Ughtweight victory at Daytona, ahead of Jimmy Filice (Yam) ... Team Suzuki's Darrell Shultz took a hard-fought win in the Daytona Supercross. Donnie Cantaloupi (Yam) and Jim Gibson (Hon) chased him home in second and third. Shultz inherited the points lead after Daytona, 122-117, over Mark Barnett... We interviewed Terry Cunningham, who, at 22 years of age, Dick Burleson called one of the very best. Cunningham had two straight ISDT gold medals to his credit... KTM continued their habit of building the biggest, most powerful motocross bikes with their 1981 KTM495, which we tested and found to be for really experienced motocrossers onlyl 10 YEARS ABO.•• MARCH 20, 1991 The Honda-mounted trio of Miguel DuHamel, Ronnie Jones and Jeff Stanton were featured on the cover of Issue 110 for their victories during Daytona Bike Week. DuHamel was featured for his victory in the 50th running of the Daytona 200, while Vance and Hines Yamaha teammates Jamie James and Thomas Stevens finished second and third. Jones got his cover shot for winning round one of the AMA Grand National Championship Dirt Track Series at the Daytona Short Track, his 10th career win on the Daytona short tracks. Chris Carr (H-D) and Steve Morehead (H-D) finished second and third. And Stanton illuminated the cover after becoming the first person to ever win the Daytona Supercross three times in a row. Jeff Ward (Kaw) and JeanMichel Bayle (Hon) finished the rain-soaked event in second and third, respectively ... Canadian Blair Sharpless (Suz) took the win in the Alligator Enduro, besting Kevin Bennett (Hon), Lany Roeseler (Kaw) and Kevin Hines (Kaw) in the process. orrect me if I'm wrong, but in the - absence of a true mass-market high-performance unicycle with an engine, the motorcycle is the purest and simplest way of using an internal combustion engine to achieve very high performance. I'm preaching to the converted perhaps, but the point is worth making, because the simplicity and consequent efficiency lends an idealistic purity to the lunatic business of riding fast motorcycles fast. Let alone racing them against a bunch of similar lunatics. Simplicity also limits the number of possible variations. Design parameters have changed only in detail over the past two decades or so, on road bikes and race bikes. And in GP racing, the almighty V-four twostrokes have been pretty much stagnant in broad terms, if not in detail, for all that time. Yet in all cases, performance conti~ues to improve. As GP engineer Hamish Jamieson (Garry McCoy's man over at Red Bull) told me last year, wisely if rather defensively: "There must have been some development, if you look at the lap times." Over the years, I've watched with interest this perversely fruitful stagnation. In my youth, I was crazy about alternatives ... ways of ditching the "bicycle with an engine" character of your basic motorbike. One by one I've watched various attempts fail - the Difazio hub-center variant, an Isle of Man also-ran and frightening endurance racer; various alternative forks from Foale's leading-link logic to Offenstadt's trailing-link cantilever craziness. And then a succession of Elfs, each one more highly engineered than the last, and always equally off the pace. So now, like an old fart (as well as the world's major pit-lane motorcycle engineers), I view alternatives with the gravest suspicion. As well as being simple, you see, motorcycles run to the most complex of dynamic equations. Not least because they have to balance themselves, and lean over in comers. All this further complicated by having a constantly adjustable center of gravity (depending on where the rider puts his weight). It's so complex, that no engineer has yet found the formula to improve on the old engineering by C instinct that developed the overall layout of the machine. All this might change in just one year, with the opening up of GP rules to include the new breed of prototype racing four-strokes. There's a feeling in the air that the Old Fart tendency is about to face yet another serious challenge. Perhaps this is all a bit too fanciful. These things take time. But, as I said, there's this kind of a mood around the testing circuits and GP garages where all sorts of new possibilities are - er, possible. Even necessary, since the full prototype four-strokes of up to 990cc are going to ask a whole lot of new questions, both of the riders and of the machines. This is because of those two elements - power and weight - both as destructive to all-around performance as they are necessary for effective racing. The need for power goes with- by that paragon of performance Mick Doohan). Bumping up the power again may change all that, however. The problem with the four-strokes will be more acute, especially for multi-cylinder motors like Honda's quin. Lots of riders already enjoy the smooth and predictable flow of power in Superbikes - this is what makes them easier to ride than GP bikes, and allows them to lap almost as fast. But the numbers are rather smaller in the production-based series. And smooth power is exactly what shreds tires, according to the conventional wisdom that gave birth to the Big Bang back in 1993. Softening the power will only work up to a point, since the extra weight will require the ponies to accelerate at a competitive rate. At the same time, heavier bikes don't turn as well, handing another advantage back to the two-strokes, which are already braking better because they are lighter. It all adds up to one thing - that the new generation four-strokes will have the power and the top speed over the two-strokes, but they will find it hard to beat them around a racing lap - especially at tight modern race tracks, where top speed is never reached. Which is to say, almost all of them. One way to ensure that the new order prevails might be to slow down the two-strokes with added weight or fuel-consumption penalties. The danger then is that the 250s will be faster than the replacement 500s. Science will have to come to the rescue to avoid this absurdity. And I'm thinking that maybe this time there really will be a breakthrough in chassis design. Today's engineers know a whole lot more than their predecessors - all the billions upon billions of bytes of on-bike data archived at the factory race headquarters make sure of that, if only they have the time to analyze and understand it all. Plus data-gathering grows more sophisticated at an exponential rate. Not to mention all the CAD/CAM computer software. Maybe, just maybe, the new fourstrokes really will force a revolution in chassis design, and the traditional bicycle/motorbike may eventually follow twin shocks and wire wheels into retro-heaven. eN So now, like an old fart (as well as the world's major pit-lane motorcycle engineers), I view alternatives with the gravest suspicion. out saying, but the ability to use it is even more important; the need for weight is specified in the regulations, and even the lightest category of four-stroke (twins and triples) comes in 11 pounds heavier than the V-four two-strokes. You want some numbers? Predictions are for 200 horsepower plus from the new four-strokes - Honda says they have easily reached this mark with their new five, in early bench testing). In other words; rather a lot. The most searching questions will be asked of the tires. These are already hard-pressed, and the major limiting factor in lap times and race average speeds. For one thing, the power dictates a much wider tire at the rear than the front - skeWing all the geometry the moment the bike is leaned off the center of the tire, as the contact patch moves further sideways at the rear than at the front. At the same time, tire technology has advanced impressively, both in endurance and rider friendliness in slide control. As a result, the Big Bang engines are no longer essential for winning races (a discovery made v- • Daytona 200 by Arai • Daytona Supercross • Daytona Short Track • Okeechobee GIICC Opener • Alligator Enduro cucle n __ S • MARCH 14.2001 91

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