Bonneville Bike Updates

(this is a slightly abbreviated version of update letters sent out earlier this year to the sponsors of our fundraising efforts for the next trip to the salt flats) Thanks for reading!

June Update:

Well it has been a very busy time here with the spring season in the shop finally underway.

Taking care of business is occupying a great portion of already strapped mental and physical resources and this feeble mind is pedaling as fast as it can to keep up.

We had a great time at Sundance608 Theatre in the first showing of “The Bonneville Project”.  Matt and Jason put together a film well-received by all who attended.  As you know, quite a number of our sponsors came too and it was great to see all of you.  I did offer to redo all the interview segments and suggested more voice-over to counteract the observation that the shop was immediately identifiable by the chaos and while Lou, Fred and Nick did a great job the other interviewee looked like he wasn’t up to the task and a bit disheveled.   In any event it was a great time and cudos to Second City, a sponsor as well!

The mold taken off of the finished structure
the piece is cast and waiting to be removed from the mold. At the last second, an extra strip of carbon fiber was added in between the layers to increase rigidity at the top of the arch

The reworking of the bodywork has been no small task.  Lots of smoothing and shaping and molding and casting. Looking up into the canopy it looks like I could take a passenger along there is so much room, especially compared to the previous iteration.



This operation does involve two phases and the nitro bike has been providing its own challenges.  The first trip to the dragstrip on June 2 with the 999 motor didn’t provide the performance we were looking for.  A best of 8.96 on the last two runs was not what we were looking for and considering the atmospheric conditions (which were pretty darn good), a disappointment.  Not to be deterred, we tried the new JE pistons from last year and the heavy cast iron liners.  The next trip to Byron on June 30 was another exercise in frustration as the Valdosta combination never really got going.  With some wild tuning swings we never got going, with a best of 9.07 and percentages as high as 98%.  The miles per hour were down and while we learned about the clutch and airbox pressurization, it didn’t get us what we needed.

That Monday off the pump went to Kinsler to get checked, the motor leaked down, with nothing scary there but a warped exhaust valve, leaving us to wait on the pump tests and teardown of the motor.   We also ordered some ignition system capacitors from Johnny Vickers at Hawaya Racing to see about reworking the ignition.  Johnny offer a Nitro Harley opportunity to both ride and learn to tune a Pro Dragster Harley and you should check him out at

July Update

July has been very busy and unfortunately the biggest news is not good.

Bill Warner, the first person to go over 300 mph on a conventional motorcycle was killed in a land speed run attempt at Loring Air Force Base in Maine.  It appears he went off the right side of the track after the 4,000 foot mark in excess of 285 mph and crashed.  He survived another hour and passed away that Sunday.  The rest of the meet was cancelled and the world lost a great competitor and truly nice person.

I would not be telling the truth if I said thoughts of this very thing happening didn’t cross my mind.  It is in the back of it but can’t be allowed to dominate the thought and effort process.  The opportunity to get to know Bill and his generosity with his time and knowledge really are appreciated beyond description.  We spent quite a bit of time at the Dealer Trade Show in Indianapolis discussing the aerodynamics and setups he has tried.  Being the constructor of his own bikes, we had a lot to talk about just from the philosophical approach, much less the practical aspects of his phenomenal successes.

Our bodywork changes are made with his efforts in mind, and a nod to Joe Amo, another gracious land speed racer.

His willingness to relate details of handling characteristics and how they changed at the elevated speeds helped prepare me for the 212.95 mph run.  Hopefully the bodywork changes will allow the speeds and stability to increase this fall.


The nitro bike got a new/old ignition and harness this month in anticipation of testing this Saturday and Sunday August 3 & 4 at Byron Dragway.  Had everything gone according to plan, we would be getting ready to take in the Manufacturer’s Cup Race at Indianapolis in three weeks, but with the power output down, we needed to be able to make more passes than would be afforded us at IRP.  So now we are using the cam-driven version of the old series ignition we ran at Valdosta and Bonneville last year.   An addition of capacitive ignition boosters recommended by Johnny Vickers will be tested as well.  On our trip back from the Motorcycle Museum in Iowa, Jim Morin was kind enough to avail me of his tuning knowledge and bypass area calculations as pertaining to humidity and secondary pressures as pertaining to barrel valve leakage and throttle response.

With a set of Total Seal gapless top rings, the JE pistons and heavy iron liners we will go do battle with the ¼ mile dyno.

Next up….cutting the windscreen hole and mounting the front fairing!!


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