Early Prototypes

The bare DucatiMy first designed and built prototype (001) was built as a "proof of Concept" demonstrator intended to convince manufacturers that the idea worked and could result in better single track vehicles. No-one argued, not even BMW when shown it in 1985. Bits of the steering system are in use today in 002. (31KB jpg)

Ducati at malcolm'sMalcolm Newell, who died in 1994, helped me with the bodywork on 001 and here it is being wheeled out of Malcolm's GRP shop. Thats Malcolm at the rear, doubtless looking amused at all the protective clothing that wimps like me go in for.(38KB jpg)

001 and Velocette This picture shows rather clearly how much lower FF's are than motorcycles. The 500cc Velocette Venom is not a large motorcycle... The extreme simplicity of 001's chassis is also very clear.

001 and Velocette 2 Another shot thatmakes clear how much lower the CG of an FF is. 001 can run a lower ground clearance because, unlike the Velo, it doesn't dive or squat under braking or acceleration.

Anna on Ducati001 at final assembly, before the finished bodywork was fitted. The stroppy child has just finished a degree in European Law and enjoys travelling in the back seat of 002(48KB jpg)

The Ducati in action001 was a lot of fun. Seen here at a Mallory Park 'fun day', it would probably still be in use if the Ducati engine hadn't found it all too much. It's currently being rebuilt near Bristol, possibly with a Kawasaki 600 twin engine. (174KB jpg)

Ducati at MalloryAnother picture from Mallory of 001 in action, at the chicane used when the hairpin leg of the circuit was not used. It's ability to turn into corners was limited mainly by the imagination of the rider. 

Ducati at Mallory more The Mallory sesh included Grahams Velocette powered FF and this is about as close as we ever got to an FF race. Am I stuffing him up the inside? Is he coming round the outside? Can't remember.

The bare prototype voyager002,seen here without bodywork, is the Voyager pre-production prototype, intended to demonstrate a specific type of vehicle. Nowadays it would be called a 'concept' model. Although almost every detail was changed for the production prototype Voyagers, the general layout and component list remained the same. (79KB jpg)

The prototype voyagerThis is 002 at it's newest and shiniest. in fact it's so new at this moment that it hasn't run and is about to go into the Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham while the real engine is prepared. (90KB jpg)

The prototype voyager in action002 in action in Bristol. At the beginning of the Voyager production project, in Crickhowell in Powys, Wales, it was used for daily commuting on the sixty mile round trip.(35KB jpg)

crashed prototype In 1988 however a Fiat 132 driver didn't see us coming and the wreckage was parked in a corner while the production project proceeded. This picture was taken by me at the accident site, it's been digitally enhanced to show details more clearly.  This was a high-speed accident, on an open road, which I didn't expect to walk away from. It provided a spectaculer demonstration  of the safety advantages of this layout.  It was rebuilt as the yellow 002, seen in the later years below.

crashed prototype in workshop Here's 002 after recovery from the crash site. You can see how the front structure has crumpled very progressively and the foot plate has come back while still providing foot protection. More interestingly the 'conning tower' front mount, innediately below the indicator lens, has just started to collapse under the ompact of my body hitting the steering control. You can see also how the engine cover, a foam/GRP structure has been driven into the back of the conning tower by my body.

crashed prototype in workshop 2 From the other side the most interesting feature is the hand control, folded up almost 90 degrees by the rider impact, the foam pad can clearly be seen in it's 'protective' position. The seat back has been bent forward by the impact from the content of the boot, chiefly a full pretrol can and a skateboard, this gives a good idea of the impact energy.

The bent lower fork is also clearly visible. This arm was folded right down under the vehucle in the crash, cutting through the 14 guage (2mm) steel sheet in the way and ripping the suspension struts apart. This feature is an essential component in this exceptional crash performance. Apart from transferring a huge amount of energy into the rear axle of the car, buckling it and tearing it out of it's mountings, it also levered the front of the bike upwards, placing the crash padding on the hand control and engine cover in front of the riders body. This was intentional. More unexpected however was that this upward movement of the front of 002 occurred when it's nose was buried in the rear wing of the car, the rear of which was also levered upwards and the entire car rotated about its front wheels out of the way of 002.

axle 1 Here is the axle from the Difazio hub in use at the time of this crash. It's a turned component that was once entirely straight. It had to be cut out of the hub which proved to be otherwise servicable and has been repaired ready for re-fitment to 001 - when it's new owner completes the rebuild.

axle 2 Another shot of the axle to show off the classic 'cup and cone' tensile fracture across the rear face. You can even see how the fracture started at the external corners, which have stretched less a usefull demonstration to designers that even external corners are stress raisers. The axle would have fractured after the wheel had collapsed enough for the actual hub to hit the rear wheel of the car. You're looking at the result of absorbing a lot of energy!

Apart from the pictures in the review "what ever happened" we also have a large library of prototype Voyager photos, a selection of which can be put on these pages if there is any interest.

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History The Banana Early Prototypes Voyagers 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003


Last update 21st September 2004. comments etc to ingrid oesten

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