I started work on our first race bike three months before DLRA Speed Week 2018. It’s an event that land speed racers spend all year preparing for. I knew we were going to be up against it from day one, but we decided we were going to be there.
There was everything to be done;
We had to build a race bike, form a racing team, confirm sponsors and arrange everything we would need for the 4000km journey into the remote outback.
Building a race bike with our own product, and with limited time, proved a great challenge. Ideas and planning only get you so far when you’re in unchartered territory. We started with one of the first 2018 Fat Bob’s to land in Australia. Within a few months it was in pieces. Parts were placed on shelves and in boxes throughout the workshop.
How far could we push the new Milwaukee 8 engine? I had some level of expectation, but we were going to be one of the first to take it to the limit. There was a lot of work ahead.
DESIGNING & PROTOTYPING
I started designing and prototyping the parts we would need to turn it into a race bike. Pistons were custom made, balance shafts were modified, a new camshaft ordered, and cylinder heads sent off to be worked by RAMS Head Service.
Sometimes I’d spend hours just staring at the half-completed bike. Looking at it night after night made the task seem impossible. Speed Week at Lake Gairdner is determined by weather and only occurs once each year. There was no way we were going to miss it. We were going to get there no matter what.
Over the next month I looked at several different wheel configurations. The wheels had to fit the Shinko tyres that I wanted to run. In the end I selected Buell wheels. Fitting the front wheel was fairly straightforward.
But the rear wheel took some brain power. It didn’t fit in the swingarm. I kept telling myself that there must be another way. In the end, I did some extra machining and made up some new wheel spacers. Meanwhile, I decided to remove the front brake and use the front brake lever to control the rear brake. There was no need for a front brake on the salt.
We had a lot of big ideas and not a lot of time to act on them. The rearsets and shifter with mid-mount primary conversion had to be designed and manufactured. The handmade rear fender and seat also took time to fabricate. Once the tank, fenders, seat pan and front fairing went off to Marc at Sydney Custom Paint it was time to re-assemble the engine with our new components.
Three months after commencing tear down our race bike was finally back together, filled with ETS race fuel and ready for dyno tuning. There was no time for a test ride though, the first time I would ride the bike would be on the salt.
I worked 19 hours straight some days and loved every minute. By the time we left for the salt I was exhausted. But the bike was ready, and the journey ahead was well worth it.
Sponsors who helped us with this build: