Most of this article was written by Tony Middlehurst for the May 1986 issue of SuperBike and hence their copyright is acknowledged. It decribes the start of the competition for the bodywork design of the Q2.
click for more photos.
Tired of looking at the same old variations on a theme? Ready for something a bit different? We certainly are. That's why we've teamed up with Tony Foale to produce a brand new project bike for the '80s and the '90s ---- meet Quantum 2!
When was the last time you were excited by a new motorcycle? Really excited? By a truly new motorcycle?
Here at SuperBike, we're no different from the rest of you out there. We appreciate developments in existing chassis and suspension design that make it possible to exploit equally impressive forward leaps in engine technology. We go "coo" at the prospect of laying our hands on the latest road-burners. We get a rush from unleashing on the street the kind of performance that won open class races not so very long ago. We love all those things about motorcycling in 1986.
But there's something wrong. Something missing.
The kick we get from testing modern motorbikes has a hollow feel to it somehow. Year in, year out, we speed around on machinery that is for all its apparent sophistication little more than mutton dressed as lamb. Concealed behind graceful sweeps of brightly painted ABS, fronted by a facade of impressively acronymed tack-on technoid afterthoughts, the 1986 motorcycle is in reality nothing more than that: a cycle with a motor in it. The intellectual bankruptcy of the crude enclosed cradle bicycle frame is disguised and never abandoned by computer optimisation techniques that result in geometrically obscure but pleasingly high tech looking concoctions in silvery box-section metals. Front wheels are attached by long, thin tubes. Suspension methods could hardly be less satisfactory, even by design. Major hand controls are offered up to the rider in time-honoured, and illogical, fashion. And to cap everything off, a box of fuel is balanced over the engine, often located by nothing more than a rubber band.
Manufacturers, you might imagine, should be working furiously toward the goal of bringing the motorcycle out of the Stone Age. In the car world, so-called "concept" automobiles have been head-lining at motor shows for decades; while the show cars rarely see production themselves, individual features both major and minor are regularly incorporated into rank and file products. The Japanese car makers are especially active in this field at present. And yet, how many concept motorcycles have you seen? Until the announcement of Suzuki's FalcoRustyco recently, there hadn't been a single one from Japan. Ever.
Bimota, Elf, Britain's Malcolm Newell and Tony Foale have been alone among the recognised builders in a low-budget crusade to bring about the long overdue revolution in motorcycling. Between those and the Ner-A-Car of the '20s there's been nothing. Why have Honda, Kawasaki and Yamaha been so reluctant to advance their own cause? Why has it taken so long for Suzuki to come up with anything? And then why do they tell us that, if we're good, we might be riding something like the FalcoRustyco in "only" five or ten years' time? In the case of the first three Japanese manufacturers, there are only two possible explanations. Either they're not clever enough to design anything suitable, or they are clever enough and they do have designs ready, but they are for some reason unwilling to reveal them to the public.
Obviously, we can dismiss the first option right away. There can be no question that the firms in question have massive reserves of talent available, in R&D departments of almost infinite potential. Any one firm could probably knock together a concept bike in a weekend if they wanted to. That leaves the second option. The Japanese manufacturers would appear to be deliberately holding back on what should be the natural advancement of the motorcycle, for whatever reasons they may have. The only cynical interpretation we can offer is that each individual company is waiting for the others to take the plunge first. That way, your own firm won't be stung by the expensive backlash of a sales flop.
After all, everybody knows that the motorcyclist is super-conservative...
Well, we don't think that you are. We think you're about ready for something a bit different from the normal run of the mill. So we've decided that we're not going to wait any more for an event that may never happen; we're going to go for our own completely new Project Bike, taking into account all the shortcomings of the present-day motorcycle and hopefully doing away with them in one fell swoop. What's more, we're going to ask you to design the look of the bike for us. Read about that at the end of this article. This is your chance to make a mark on motorcyling history; in later life, you'll be able to tell your grandchildren that you shamed four of the world's largest manufacturing concerns into action. Plus you'll get to go on holiday with me, some would say an even greater honour.
First though, let Tony Foale give you the gen on this exciting new project. It's his idea and his baby, and so that this doesn't go the way of all previous project bikes, he's building it from start to finish. The design is so simple and elegant, most of the cycle parts that go into it can already be seen in the photographs accompanying this article. There'll be more build-up features to come, of course, but in the meantime it's over to Tony F. for the first instalment...
It has long been a contention of mine, that the main thrust of motorcycle development has been in the wrong direction. By this, I do not just mean that the quest for power has not been matched by suitable chassis development. What I am getting at is far more fundamental than that. All the major manufacturers are using progressively higher technology to prop up basically outmoded concepts.
This point is illustrated graphically by Suzuki's recent release of electronically controlled hydraulic valves in their anti-dive front damping system. This solution does nothing to strike at the heart of the problem; only one symptom is treated, and the cure carries with it various detrimental side-effects. The real problem is the dive inherent in telescopic forks. Would it not be better, perhaps, to at least consider the replacement of these forks with a system of improved concept? This is only one example, of course; this approach can (and should) be applied throughout the machine.
I am not against the use of modern technology, far from it, but I am against its application to prop up features which are long overdue for a re-think. Hi-tech used in the manufacturing process leads to lower production costs and we all benefit from that, but incorporating hi-tech unnecessarily into the product itself often leads to increased costs. It is therefore my contention that our bikes should be of the most advanced concept, but constructed with a level of technology appropriate to each part. Why use, for example, an expensive carbon fibre frame if a changed concept could eliminate the need for a frame in the first place?
Opinion as to just which design features represent advanced concepts naturally varies. To some, no motorcycle is worthy of consideration as advanced unless it is of the feet-forward genre. To others, exploding gas bags, roll-over bars, seat belts, deformable structures, speed restrictors and other fun-inhibiting gadgets are de rigeur. This SuperBike project is about exploring some alternative concepts. The scope and depth of this exploration will naturally be limited by resources. There are three main limitations.
One, the budget; you only get a small piece of the future with the equivalent of the publisher's luncheon allowance..
Two, time; you the reader, will undoubtedly be expecting this to go the way of most magazine projects, i.e. after a few progressively less enthusiastic articles the whole idea will fade and die. That is not going to happen, but I am not brave (nor daft) enough to quote a finishing date other than to say that it will be months rather than weeks or years.
And three, manufacturing facilities; the beast will mainly have to be, made in my workshops, except for some aspects which will be subcontracted out, such as casting the wheels. Now, while my facilities are no doubt better than most of yours or SuperBike's, they are not quite up to the standard of HRC. The design must take this into account.
So, within these limitations we have decided on an all-out sports bike to be powered by a GSX1150 engine suspended at both ends by single-sided, single swing arms, connected together by minimal frame work. The bodywork will be reader-designed as per the whizzo competition described at the end of this piece, so the visual details are hidden from us at the moment, but suffice to say that they will be radical. The essence of the chassis design is simplicity. In my experience this is the best way to achieve light weight. In due course, a copy of a weighbridge certificate will be published, and I am confident that this will make Suzuki's own 'lightweights', the GSX-Rs, seem positively obese.
This will be within the hub-centre family, for reasons which I have outlined in previous issues. It will be single-sided because this speeds wheel removal, and for similar levels of strength and stiffness I feel that this is lighter than a double-sided design. In addition, I expect that it will also be of single arm form, as outlined in the October '85 issue. I have done some initial tests with this system and it looks promising, but in the event of insurmountable, unforeseen problems then we will revert to the double link system which has worked so well on the QL. The suspension unit will be the French Fournales gas shock. I have long been a fan of pneumatic springing, as it gives a naturally progressive rate and what could be lighter than air? I am very impressed with the standard of design and construction of these particular units and in addition they incorporate a very valuable feature for use on the front of a motorcycle: there is a built-in rebound spring. One problem that I have come across on the front when using damper units primarily designed for the rear or for automotive use is that they are prone to severe topping out under acceleration. The non-bump loads on the front wheel vary from virtually 100% of the weight of the machine under braking to 0% under hard acceleration (long wheelbase feet-forward machines excepted). This places large demands on the suspension unit designer, and M. Fournale seems to me to have cracked it with his shocks. Time will tell.
For the reasons given above, the rear will also use a single-sided arm. The wheel, disc and sprocket will he mounted on a specially cast aluminium hub, which in turn will rotate on a rigid stub axle. This axle will be fixed into a single eccentric chain adjusting block, clamped at the end of the swing arm. In what may initially seem to be a retrograde step, the suspension unit will be mounted between the seat sub-frame and the active end of the swing arm, BMW K100 style. Where's the fashionable rocker gone, then? There are two reasons for using a rocker or one of its derivatives; these are to provide a progressive rate at the wheel from a near linear rate at the spring, and/or to locate the unit in a particular place for space reasons. Remember the across-the-frame units on racing Yamahas a couple of years back? However, with air springing we don't need any other means to get progression and there is no shortage of space in the preferred position. The unit is also very light, and so there is practically no C of G height penalty either. The overall weight is certainly less and the high local pivot forces involved with rockers are absent, making other detail weight saving possible. A large proportion of the load carried by the rear is from the rider, and with this design this load is fed directly into the unit, whch is not exposed to the hot and filthy environment to which most rocker schemes are subject.
When I first started designing this type of machine, it was to be for a Kawasaki Z1R engine. This has very rugged crankcase castings with substantial mounting points. Because of this the intention was to use the engine as the main structural connection between front and rear suspensions. But I also wanted a frame concept that would be suitable for most of the big Jap fours, and when I came to study the GSX-R750 engine it was apparent that this approach was less suitable. Suzuki's laudable weight saving efforts extended to the engine mountings and I considered it too risky to use as the frame in this way, and so I decided to go for the fabricated box section 'C'-on-its-back construction shown in the pics. The detail of this piece can easily be changed to suit a range of engine makes and sizes. It has the practical advantage that prang-induced crankcase damage should be much reduced compared with the complete structural engine. I think that this is a reasonable benefit to derive from the 8lb weight penalty. Space is too short to go into more chassis detail; perhaps that will come on another occasion, when maybe Pip Higham will also give some details of the mods necessary to turn the modest 125bhp engine into a more suitable power source (that's a joke. TM).
As you know, this has yet to be designed by one of you. The basic idea though is to leave the design as unrestricted as possible, but there are some practical details to consider. The following is a brief guide to some of these requirements and some hints as to the characteristics likely to be found in the winning entry. The previous comments re alternative concepts, apply just as much to the styling as to the dirty hits, so don't trouble us with yet more race replicas please.
The bike will be sports/cafe-racer orientated, with occasional dual seat capability. Room for at least a toothbrush to satisfy one's touring instincts would be an advantage, though not essential. In addition to clothing this project machine the bodywork will subsequently be used on similar machines that I will produce for customers, so try to give a little thought as to the ease with which it will adapt to other in-line four engines. It is not anticipated that the winning entry will comprise separate seat, tank, fairing and side panels in the conventional way. Simplicity is expected with the minimum number of pieces, although due consideration must be given to the ease of manufacture. Mould split lines should be kept to a minimum number and located (where possible) on less prominent surfaces.
Some entrants will probably be current students on design courses; to these I would urge a cautious approach when it comes to material use and selection. Techniques that may be great for Ford or Honda may be far from suitable for such low production as this (50 pa expected). Hand lay-up GRP is anticipated, but we are ever open to suggestion. Try to use readily available light and indicator lenses. Almost adequate performance should ensue from over-the-top engines combined with low mass, and so the ultimate in aerodynamics is not essential. Wind tunnel work on the animal is unlikely, and often an aerodynamically "dirty" shape is more predictable on the road than a slipperier form that is not quite right. Image is the name of this game. Neither Tony M nor I like riding without mirrors, so if it does not compromise your design see if they can be nicely incorporated into the basic shape.
There are some pics included nearby which show the profile of the naked bike to reasonable scale. It may be an idea to consider using the unusual chassis as a styling feature, but this is not an order. The following features have already been decided upon, and hence your design must work around them. Wheels will be the 16" Mark Walker designed 3-spokers as shown. Front disc will be the Lockheed ISO rim brake as used on the QL. Handlebars will be of the semi-upright type with levers that move parallel to the bars, as per QL. This gives interesting styling potential. The exhaust has already been made by Alan Baker, the Motad boffin, so do not expect that to be changed. I have designed some electronic instrumentation, viz, digital speedo (mph or kph at the flick of a switch), bar graph type tacho, similar though smaller bar graph for the fuel gauge and the usual idiot lights for other natural functions. The display will probably be LED rather than LCD (unless you can direct me to a suitable LCD bar graph unit), so try to locate the panel out of the direct sunlight (yes sunlight, the bike will be ridden abroad).
A few comments on mudguards may be useful. If the single arm front suspension system is used, then it is unlikely that a steerable mudguard could be used, and so unless it is made very wide it will not be possible to extend the sides downwards. It may be worth thinking about hiding it under some matt black paint. Many modern bikes feature kicked-up styling at the rear but this is often spoilt by a big ugly black guard hanging down. The alternative solution, of a separate smaller mudguard mounted off the swing arm which moves with the wheel, would not be unacceptable. Perhaps the chain guard could be incorporated in the mudguard mounts, and could be either lost in black or made into a feature as on the FalcoRustyco.
Pedals will probably be made from aluminium castings, as will the detachable pillion footrest plates, so give some thought to the design of these smaller items. Paintwork can totally change the appearance of a bike, so give us suggestions as to the graphics that best suit your design. That's about it then. Get scratching and send us as many designs as your imagination runs to. An accurate profile is needed, plus as many other views as you feel necessary to explain the shape. It would bev a great help if the winner was prepared to travrel to my workshops to discuss the three-dimensional interpretation of their design around the actual hardware. Speak to Tony M nicely and I expect SuperBike will pay your travel expenses. We have no preconceived ideas on the actual winning shape but it is probably safe to say, that if you had designed the Bimota DB1 or the Suzuki RustyFalcon before they were announced, then you probably would have won.
NOW BUILD YOUR BODY...
Make you mark on motorcycling: design our project bike!
How would you like to be famous? Yeh, me too. Unfortunately, in my case there's not much chance, but if you've got what it takes (ie a bit of paper, a pen, and some drawing skills), then you could be responsible for reshaping the future of motorcycling. Yes!
Well, nearly anyway. We want you to design the bodywork for our Tony Foale pro]ect bike, which for the sake of argument we'll call QUANTUM 2. The bare bones of the bike are shown in the picture, and described in more detail in Tony's piece on the previous pages.
We want it to be a sports bike, with passenger accommodation that could be described as "1+1". In other words, primurily a solo machine but with the cupacity to carry a pillion in discomfort. In the interests of practiculity, we've made the decision to incorporate the Motad NETA exhaust system at the pre-bodywork stage, but this shouldn't inhibit you too much. Other important points to note? For a start, remember that there will be wheel travel to take into account. We've indicated how much we're expecting on the illustration opposite. Don't have the bodywork so close to the wheels when the bike's at rest that the first pothole will snap off both ends. We look quite stupid enough already without having lumps of fibreglass dropping off all over the place as well, thank you.
Headlamps will be supplied by Cibie, quite simply because we think they're the best. Apart from the normal circular units, Cibie do a nice line in compact oblong shapes. We're not bothered which type you use in your design, although if you go for round ones we'd prefer two side-by-side, GSX-R fashion. Instrumentation will be digital electronic, and within a panel roughly five inches wide by three inches deep. In case you're wondering where the battery is, we haven't decided yet, but rest assured that it won't affect the lines of the basic machine as shown opposite, so you can forget about it for the purposes of this competition.
Don't worry worry including dimensions either. Your drawings can be in colour or monochrome, but they must be submitted on A4 size paper. We can accept pencil drawings, but ink is better.
The creator of the winning design will be brought (at our expense, natch) to meet up with Tony Foale, and the, editor of this fine organ (me) with a view to having a chat about life in general, the price of eggs, and the finer details of producing the bodywork. Then, some time in late summer this year. we'll be taking the winner on a little European trip, using the completed QuamtumM 2 and assorted other bikes, plus a photographer ina car, to visit various interesting locations. Like for example, the amazing BMW exhibition near Munich, Fritz Egli's workshop and Moko in Switzerland, Porsche Design in Austria, and anybody else we can squeeze into a week or so. All expenses paid, of course, with the winner getting a chance to ride his or her very own creation on sun-kissed Alpine roads, plus whatever test bikes we have, on our insurance and using our petrol money. If you don't ride a bike, you cun go in the car with the photographer, so don't let the lack of a bike, licence put you off entering.
In addition, the winning design will be prominently featured in SuperBike, and will then go on to be used for subsequent production models of the QUANTUM 2. The designer's name will also de recorded for posterity on the finished bodywork.