Saturday, September 10, 2011

The French have a great expression for, well,.. everything

I was reading a post on Hell for Leather earlier this morning, about the implications of the 'frameless' Ducati MotoGP bike's failure on the soon-to-be-released 1199 production bike. It was better than the average motorcycle blog post, but one sentence stuck out...

Michael Czysz credits himself for perfecting this arrangement on his stillborn C1 GP bike...

You know, the French have a great expression that, loosely translated = The only things that are new are those that have been forgotten.

I can't possibly know what part of this design Czysz claims to have invented, but 'frameless' motorcycles have been around a long time. Phil Vincent's famous twins used the engine as a stressed member and had only a rudimentary 'spine' bolted across the tops of the cylinder heads.

More recently, John Britten's V-1000 was a frameless design. So there's nothing particularly new or innovative about cantilevering the steering head off the motor. At the other end, the MZ Supermono Cup race bikes pivoted the swing arm through the cases. And my friend James Parker has designed bikes that are even more frameless than any of those examples. So what's the innovation here? Building that front subframe as a monococque and using it as the air box? Maybe, but quite a few very conventional bikes draw engine air through the castings of the steering head, so the idea is only as big as expanding the volume of that channel, to make it a resonating chamber.

Is there something about those electric motorcycle entrepreneur types that makes them especially prone to claiming to have invented ideas they've, at best, repurposed?



  1. Thanks for the compliment Mark. Sadly I think you've erred into common trap of the blogger, attacking before investigating. If you'd scrolled down to the comments you'd have found one from Michael clarifying my statement. He was the first to use a stressed carbon airbox as the front subframe, an arrangement Ducati began using on the GP9.

    Guess this was a case of my recollection not being strong or detailed enough.


  2. I can't read the comments! I'm too poor to pay for web content. My apologies in this case... But I still rankle at the way MC talked up the counter-rotating cranks as a big idea (in that stillborn MotoGP project.)

  3. In some sort of amazing bit of karmic evening process the said frameless ducati's makers have claimed to be the first production motorcycle with LED headlights. Setting aside for a moment the 10's or perhaps 100's of thousands of chinese motorcycles with LED headlights, the Confederate Wraith had one on their production bike in 2007. I pointed out that slight factual error on one of the presskit reposting websites that pass for motorcycle journalism these days. I thought I might get an "oh yeah" or a "thanks". I got banned instead.