Early in the year here's the very first ever assembly of the Mk11 Voyager front Hub, on the designers desk even. A batch of ten were completed by year end and one is now on test. See [for sale] for full details and photos of the full assembly. It's lighter and the steering geometry's been refined. This is the biggest batch of HCS units made in one go since the Neracar!(89 KB jpg)
Springtime and Mark Crowson continues his effort to demonstrate that everything since the Quasar is irrelevent. Here is his "Quicker Quasar" project on the way home after a session in the the workshop' having Moto Guzzis' latest rear suspension slipped into it. This combines the old five speed Guzzi gearbox, (in the new offset case, with a ten-spring lightwieght flywheel) and the floating bevel box set-up that takes the torque reaction out of the suspension. It also allows a 160/70x17 rear tyre. Mark plans to run a full-house F. 750 racer-spec Reliant engine with a one-off lightweight bodywork and fit one of the Mk11 Voyager hubs. Then he's off to Brno next year for Arnold Wagner's Quasar time trials. Mark's just back from this years Brno event where he chased the Eco's in his mildly tuned road-going Quasar (featured in the July issue of Classic Bike). You can find out all about these adventures on Mark's website. (58 KB jpg)
Here's the Quicker Quasar again. Slipping all this Moto-Guzzi stuff into a Quasar worked quite tidily. Swing-arm widths are within a few mil and the frame layout fitted in well with the new swing-arm pivot locations. Best of all the correct driveshaft extentions proved to be, exactly, two standard Moto- Guzzi driveshafts joined by one standard driveshaft sleeve. Obviously meant to be. The opportunity was taken to tighten up the rear end with a steel diaphragm and a couple of tubes were slipped in to connect all this to the gearbox mount. Perhaps we'll see it again later in the year to slip in one of the Mk11 hubs. It will be a much quicker Quasar!(35 KB jpg)
Recreational activity started off in magnificent form in May, on one of the two dry sunny days that month. Friends of Malcolm Newell, creator of the Quasar in 1976 who died in 1994, organised a Memorial Run. Routes were chosen that were used by Malcolm at work and play and there was a considerable attendance. Here is Mark Crowsons very smart Quasar parked in the lane outside the Newell family home at the start of the run. Malcoms bikes were very well represented and backed by examples of most FF's built since. At the time this was the most diverse gathering of FF's ever, anywhere.(134 KB jpg)
Not just diverse homebuilts either. Marks standard Quasar is followed by a Suzuki-engined Phazar with the Tait HCS system amongst the modern 'super scooters' that represent the first steps towards production FFs from major manufacturers. We're not alone in noticing the connections between warm dry comfortable FFs and warm dry comfortable big scooters. As the year progressed some scooters even grew roofs but that Quasar shape still makes everything else look unfinished(105 KB jpg)
Club Mag editor Paul Blezard is on a mission to get group pictures, here we all are at the farm where most of the heritage wreckage is stored, being lined up again. After a bit of this we realised that the next stop was lunch and there was a general exodus by the shortest route. This group represents most of the English (Or Welsh)-built FFs from the last thirty years. Malcolm worked with the owner of this farm on a number of projects including a tilting three-wheeler and the actual remains of the legendary 'second slug' were revealed.(100 KB jpg)
The first slug, running it's original GPZ1100 motor with carburettors instead of the original fuel injection proved entirely material. It's been to the BMF for the last couple of years but here it is with it's owner at the end of the memorial run, intact and fully functional and about to take him faultlessly back to the other side of the country. In view of this performance, and it's leading postion as a concept vehicle it was awarded first place as "The Vehicle Malcolm would most have approved of"(55 KB jpg)
But what Malcolm Newell approved of most was going quickly. This is not the same as going fast, which anyone with a big engine can do on any German motorway. The final leg of the Memorial run was the actual piece of road which Malcolm took a Vincent and Velocette Owners Club down in 1977. Some of the same people, now riding their own FFs, were on this run, remembering Malcolm and his approach to things generally. Others were in a 911s, one this photographer; "I would have got more shots but I couldn't hold the camera up under the G-load"
Malcolm Newell. Created the modern two-wheeler. Maniac. Died 1994. Remembered 2000(62 KB jpg)
Malcolms Memorial was a private business but a few months later even more FFs from even more countries met at the Beaulieu "Motorcycle World" event in July. This was our first close look at the Swiss Ecomobiles as Arnold Wagner, ECO boss, arrived with three examples of the breed including the new Turbo-Eco seen here followed by one of the standard models.
Arnold had a whole marquee for his show and generously let our motley crowd of local FF's share the space. This made for a display of diversity around a common theme that attracted a lot of thoughtfull attention. Taking into the account the roofed scooters, also in the marquee, this was the first time that the possible range of the FF concept was displayed in place, from the 'Ford' to the 'Ferrari'. It was a most interesting event for everybody involved, the worlds first FF trade fair.
These photos were taken during the 'demonstration' sessions around a circuit made up of footpaths, the arena and an access road. Such a tight track made demonstrating these big FFs difficult but you can see that Arnold is really moving that Eco. These full cabin-FFs must really rule on motorways and long distances, but in traffic they're cars. (265 KB jpg)
Even our little FFs found it all a bit tight. 002 with it's Convert gearing was in first gear for the whole lap but it's a nice group in historical terms with production Voyager 05 following, in turn leading the project prototype, the Banana, and finally the vehicle that started it all - Marks' Quasar.(74 KB jpg)
The whole event was put together by Simon Evans of Motion Promotion to show the range of new two wheelers with roofs. There was a prototype Benelli with a neat folding roof that goes in the boot but unfortunately no seat back as yet, the BMW C.1 which will go much better when the roof is cut off and the Bubble, a neat English roof conversion for existing scooters. But FFs with big engines and proper suspension are much more fun and here's another picture of some of the biggest group of FF's from all ages and countries ever assembled in one place. Racing about the place as usual.(265 KB jpg)
We havn't seen much of the Banana recently, it's owner has been working too hard to get out much but here they both are in fine form. The new tail section provides much better fuel consumption, reduces the noise considerably and makes it a little faster. The engine, now fully protected from chassis loads has settled down nicely and sounds just like a CX500 motor having an easy life. It's mananged to make the transition from experimental prototype, lashed together from bits to hand, to a well-sorted early HCS FF. It'll probably outlast most of it's successors.(73 KB jpg)
Here's a final shot of the frolics at Beaulieu. I'm trying to work out how to pass something this long but you can see what a tidy shape the ECO is. This is Arnolds latest development of the BMW 16 valve 'brick' motor, fitted with a Turbo and that interesting trim tab controlled fin. Apparantly it's used, via strain guages on the steering, to reduce controll effort at very high speed. However you look at the Eco it isn't simple and it isn't light...(54 KB jpg)
You can get the real ECO story from firstname.lastname@example.org The Bubbles can be found at www.buubblecorp.com , Benelli's UK people are at www.benelli.com and the man who made FF's at Beaulieu possible, Simon Evans, is at email@example.com Don't take my word for it!
Thanks for these Photos to; Graham Robb, Colin Binns, Ian Kew.
Did you read about any of this in your favourite motorcycle magazine?
Meanwhile, back at the ranch it's 2000, 21 years after 1979 so the family car must be a grown up. What's a car doing in this collection of photos? (This is a car?) How do you think all these bits of FF get carried about the place, how did we get to the scrapyard in the first place? An old Thames van appears in some of the early Banana pictures and this is what replaced it. The Rear Wheel Drive Ford Escort. The finest small saloon car made in the 20th. century. Still raced and rallied. There are five components in the front suspension. No grease nipples. It's been to the DDR (Got a parking ticket in Schwerin). Repairs and replacements have come to less than £200/year for the last twelve years. It cost £155. It'll be around for a while yet.
Worth a picture.(41 KB jpg)
The other vehicle might be a bit more efficient and innovative but it wears out just the same. This year they've kept pace on milage and it's apparant that the uncomfortable appetite of this two-wheeler for tyres is offset by the four wheelers' relatively voracious thirst. (then there's the traffic and the parking...) Apart from that it's a fairly similar matter of watching pads wear, plugs erode and fan belts slacken. Here's 002 with all the access panels open about to have these routine details attended to. The 26" width allows it to pass through standard doorways so I can do it all in my own backyard.
It's finally got fitted with the "goldilocks drive" (Not too high, not too low) The 8:33 CWP from the current 1100CC Moto Guzzi range. It's just 10% higher than the old 'standard' ratio, not the 22% we've had to run untill now, using the 'convert' ratio. The result is much easier urban manners and acceleration. The clutch should last a little longer too.(111 KB jpg)
This is what the world's biggest batch of HCS wheel units look like. This collaborative effort between four people who never all met at once worked really well. Email allowed close contact to be maintained and the end result is a real improvement in front suspension and steering performance. It look longer than a similar commercial project, but this was mainly because the object was to get it right, not fast.
Here's a Mk11 unit fitted to the Yellow Voyager. This unit runs the 16" Super Venom just like the Mk1.5 unit it replaces. This allows an exact comparison to be made between the two. Trail has been increased from 33mm to 43mm. As hoped this has given the steering a little more authority at very low speed and slightly more stability at high speed. This suits the Yellow Voyager very well indeed, it's a more relaxed ride but without the slightly excessive stability of the Production Voyagers.
And, yes, nearly all the Voyagers went to Silverstone again. The Doctor on the "Show" Voyager visited, but once again one of us couldn't make it. Will these six Voyagers ever meet again? Etc. Fortunately Mark Crowson brought his Qusasar, while Graham Fryer failed to hide his Honda VF500 FF out of shot.
History The Banana Early Prototypes Voyagers 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2003
Last update 22nd April 2001. comments etc to ingrid oesten
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