Chain chatter, January 1951


Over the past season there have been three unsuccessful attempts at ultra-high speed on two-wheels, all with the object of setting up a new maximum speed record for motor-cycles. That all three have been unsuccessful was due to lack of knowledge of high-speed aerodynamics when applied, to a vehicle relying upon balance for its stability. Obviously the subject is a very vast one and also one fraught with difficulties, such as alternating air currents, that cannot be produced in a wind-tunnel. The three men concerned in these attempts at 180 m.p.h. or more deserve the highest praise for their courage in taking on an extremely hazardous task. Noel Pope, Bob Berry and the American Roland Free are all men with a great deal of high-speed motor-cycling knowledge behind them, as well as practical knowledge, and yet all three attempts at, record breaking with a streamlined shell surrounding the motor-cycle ended in failure due to the machine getting out of control and crashing. What is most incredible is the fact that in each ease the rider escaped serious injury and vet they were all travelling at about 150 m.p.h. when they crashed. In each base the trouble was caused through air currents upsetting the stability of the machine, although wind-tunnel tests had shown the streamlining to be near perfect.

Without wishing to detract from the efforts of the three riders concerned, it must be wondered at that Ernst Henne put up the existing record of 174 m.p.h. before the war on his B.M.W. and was using a streamlined shell. It would appear that the Germans knew quite a lot about the Stability at high speed of aerodynamic “eggshells.” In mentioning Hennes records it is interesting to reflect that after many tests with a completely enclosed model, his actual records were taken with the top hatch removed, leaving the rider’s head and shoulders in the air-stream, so presumably the B.M.W. concern did not know all the answers on streamlining and stability.

It is easy for us who have never travelled more than half as fast to say we hope they will not give up their endeavours to solve this problem. One does so with all sincerity, for there are not many men who are willing to “delve into the unknown” as these riders have been doing, and having bad the bad experience of coming off at such high speed no one would blame them for saying they had had enough. If this year sees further attempts at the “maximum” by any of these men, and I feel more than one will have another attempt, we must certainly give them every assistance and acknowledge to the full their bravery, while equally brave will be anyone having a first attempt, knowing what has happened before.

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With the Autumn Congress of the F.I.M. now over and the calendar of events for 1951 arranged we can view the future more clearly. Among tinimportant items at the Congress was I Ike longoverdue re-admission of Germany into the F.I.M., which means that not. only can German riders niul B.M.W., D.K.W. and N.S.U. Compete in European racing once more, but that, other rulers can go to Germany for racing. While Germany has no Grand Prix date for 1951 she has other dates for ordinary International Road Race Meetings and undoubtedly her teams will compete in the Classic events outside her own frontiers. There are to be ten events in the list of Classics to count for the World Championships, and among them are two newcomers, the Spanish event and Albi, the latter’ counting as the French Grand Prix. Whether the Spanish event is to be held on the Montjuich or Pedrables circuit is not yet clear, but if it is at the former me great deal of work will have to be done to make it suitable for a Grand Prix event. As a circuit meeting Barcelona’s Montjuich Park is ideal, but that is as far as it goes. With so many Classic events on the calendar it is not Surprising that the tune between some of them is very limited and with the Belgian, Dutch and French events on successive week-ends commencing early in July, the factory teams are in for a busy time. Similarly, the Swiss Grand Prix is followed very . closely by the T.T., and it looks as though the Swiss event will consist .solely of Italian teams and the T.T. of English ones. *

An important change in F.I.M.

which should have quite an effect during the coming season, is that the sidecar class is now limited to 50o c.c. as against the past COO c.c.. While being a break front tradition it is a very worthwhile one, for net only will private owners have more makes to choose front, but we may sec more interest being shown by manufacturers. At the end Of last season M. V. Agusta were toying with the idea of a works sidecar entry, while B.M.W.. arc certain to try. Whether this reduction to 5(a) c.c. will encourage anyone like A.J.S. to try three wheels is not known, but one of the snags of the past has: now been removed.

For the regular circus rider the removal of the rule ‘forbidding a. machine to be ridden twice in one day will be most welcome, for it will mean that a man wit b a quick 850-c.c. bicycle will now be able. once more, to pay his way round the Continent by tieing two starts at each meeting instead of the one enforced during 1950. Books on motor-cycling matters, are very few and far between and certainly good books on the subject. .The wellknown scribe in Motor Cycle, lxion, has written the history of motor-cycling from the beginning until the present. day and this ” Motor Cycle Cavalcade ” is

certainly full of interest., for it is written not by an observer of the pioneer days of motor-cycling hut. by an actual pioneer himself. It really is a very full story of the motor-cycle in all its aspects and should appeal to all types of twowheeled rider. A more complete book on motor-cycling it would be hard to visualise and it fully justifies a place on the bookshelf among the well-known Badminton Series. Priced at I Os. ed. it is a nicely produced volume of the standard that olw normally associates with the house of Iliffe.

The recent spell of icy weather must have sorted out the true-blue motorcyclist from the occasional user, for there can be no more. arduous job than riding a solo on sheet ice. While sliding, to earth with the machine is not too wortYing in itself, the inability of following fourwheelers to .steer or stop causes It big deterrent to ice riding. On the other band, fit a sidecar to your solo and you hnve what must surely be the perfect vehicle for snow and ice. A recent 100mile run on sheet ice with a fast 500-C.c. and sidecar convinced the writer once: again that three wheels are the best wear. With direct steering and no possibility of lost motion between the hands and the road wheel, the sidecar is fantastically controllable. Even a very /pod car does not conic up to a sidecar for responsiveness of steering, for the necessary gearing down from the , steering wheel to road wheels causes a, time lag when controlling a vehicle that is literally, skidding all the time. Also, it has to be a very good car with sufficient power to steer with the rear wheel and the throttle, which any 500-ex. motor-eycle can do. While many people feel that insurance companies are not just, their 50 per cent. reduction for sidecar machines does show that they have a very good ‘idea abtnit road vehicles. Last month the Annual Press Trial for the Carbon cup was run, this being the one event of the year in which motorcycling scribes have an opportunity to show the world that they are motor cyclists. An excellent entry of. 24 was received and it included many motoring writers who showed great courage in turning out under the foulest. of weather conditions: C. E. Allen, who writes for the Leicester Evening News and was the founder of the Vintage M.C.C., was the outright winner. ” Carrozzino ” lived up to his name by riding the Sunbeam sidecar outfit used by Harold Taylor in

the While very unsuited to Mud-plugging and narrow paths, the Sunbeam performed extremely Well On the road and proved to be a very quick point-to-point outfit, even though it Was never pushed beyond the 05-m.p.h. mark. Once again we fully appreciated the sidecar outfit as we hitrried hack through the dark and pouring rain, for visibility front behind. a Saloon car windscreen was very low, while the clear view from the saddle made for great safety, even if the rain did not make for .comfort. Further, the ability of a ” chair ” to be deflected from its path with great rapidity eliminated the norntal solo nightmare of unlit. bicycles and wandering pedestrians.