BIKE magazine High-Tech articles


Royce Creasey July 2004

August 1979
When BIKE magazine rang me up and suggested a monthly column It was a gift. I'd just taken a Quasar to the Isle of Man TT fortnight, for the second year running, and finally worked out why it went so well despite it's primitive specification. At this time I wasn't far out of Formula One car racing, preceded by service as an aircraft technician in the RAF ? so the idea of simply building one myself didn't seem terribly difficult. (It isn't, it's feeding yourself while you're doing it that's tricky...) Getting paid to write about it was a bonus.

But my main mistake was assuming that the motorcycle business, the riders, the manufacturers and the media, merely needed to be shown the way forward. That simply explaining how to make things better would be enough. I assumed that manufacturers would want to make better, safer more efficient products. Now we know, of course, they just want to make more money!

In my view this is the main significance of this series. It's clearly not Great Literature, it was written for money, wandering off subject occasionally and needing perhaps 50% less words but the physics is clear enough and the series was followed by a raft of articles, several prototypes, demonstrations, TV appearances and production projects which had absolutely zero affect on public opinion, manufacturers or legislators, none of whom have shown any interest in the improved performance and safety claimed and subsequently demonstrated. There is less knowledge and understanding of FF two-wheelers now than in 1980.

Anyone interested in the failure of manufacturing industry in England, or the failure of innovation in the motorcycle industry could well study 'the Voyager project'

As a result of this indifference these articles actually describe with some accuracy the series of prototypes I went on to build, including the one I currently drive about that's parked outside as I write. In this first episode we gallop through the process of specifying the qualities obviously needed in a two-wheeler and it's clear that the Modern Motorcycle in 1979 is already in trouble. I'm not aware that anything's changed.

September 1979
In this episode I've concentrated on rubbishing the motorcycle, or motorised bicycle. I've described the several defects in design and component selection which are exactly the same today for the great majority of motorcycles. It still astounds me that the entirety of the motorcycle industry cannot see these problems and their well proven solutions for themselves. Obviously not much imagination in motorcycle racing. Pity about all the crippled riders. So it goes.

It's even more astounding that no lawyer had taken the motorised bicycles manufacturers to court for making unnecessarily dangerous vehicles. I guess not many lawyers or manufacturers read motorcycle magazines....

October 1979
I guess this is the most significant episode. I've tried to present the case for the Feet First riding position as clearly as possible. This case was re-stated in hopefully clearer language in subsequent publications. It's based on simple physics, Newton's three laws, simple mechanics. Every trip I make on Voyager 002 (gFat Joggerh) reinforces it. And people in the street still fall about at the sight of someone sitting comfortably in a two-wheeler. Funny old world.

Someone once said gI can't imagine controlling a two-wheeler from that positionh. There's obviously a lot of imagination failure out there.

November 1979
Getting a bit more conventionally technical now, this is a reasonably practical description of a home-made gDouble-Armh front suspension system. This system was used by the Elf GP racers later in the 20th.Century without any great success. There is a continuing belief in motorcycle gengineeringh that some magic piece of technology, gHub Centre Steeringh (HCS) in this case, will solve the problems of the motorcycle. Possibly only the Hossack system, as now used by BMW and called 'duo lever' is of use to motorcycles and even then only because it separates the steering and suspension, increasing steering stability and precision. The motorcycle will still dive, squat and highside however. It's worth bearing in mind that this consideration of an HCS system comes after the major FF vehicle features have been defined.

December 1979
The term gFFh, for Feet First, was aired here for the first time, it had sounded good for 'Formula Ford' and 'Fast Forward' so why not?

The origins of the 450 Ducati powered FF prototype '001' are also contained here, it uses exactly the jackshaft system described, and drives the fuel pump off it. It's a perfectly good way of shuffling a chain or belt drive motor about in an FF chassis, making room for riders and solving alignment problems. Gave good chain life too. After 001 the Reliant/Moto-Guzzi package was selected for a production prototype but the attendant problems of torque reaction were never dealt with and Fat Jogger today still suffers from the primitive 'live bevel box' set up.

January /February 1980
These aren't really essential reading unless you're amused by the structural system and Velocette engines (Is it Italian?) The February episode has special significance for me however as it contains a really basic mistake around Velocette engines, but no-one ever noticed so I won't spoil it for future students...

Also, you can find the origins of the subsequent Voyager project here, the Reliant engine appears for the first time. It's ironic that it was referred to as 'heavy' when we ended up using the Moto-Guzzi transmission and especially the rear wheel.

March 1980
I guess I must have ben hassled by the Editor of Bike to wrap it up a bit, I remember there was a phone call on the subject gI think the readers have heard enough about FF's now Royce.h Otherwise this lot could have run on for several months....

It's also true that anyone hoping to patent FF features would have been severely disappointed by it. In a bit of a rush it goes through the next ten years of FF production, including the trigger throttle, seat slides, the ish. The Voyager project consisted largely of turning the vehicle described here into reality. It's parked outside right now. It's great, I'm still astounded that no-one's had the wits to copy it ? Hopefully with more modern bits!

April 1980
This is what happen when you've got a mortgage to pay and someone wants you to write an article that's not about FF's. It's probably worth reading if you're studying transmission design. If you're actually designing transmissions you'd better get on with it.

Somewhere there's an article, about the production and finance that Bike didn't want. If I can find it we'll stick it in here too.