2007 Husqvarna SM510R

The Irresistible Allure of the Impractical

By Sam Quarelli Fleming






















One day in July of 2006 I was visiting with an associate in his offices, which were understatedly decorated to resemble a post industrial revitalized art gallery. We were, as was our custom, shooting the shit about the potential for a currency crisis in the dollar due to: oil prices; current account deficits; the inability for American high tech companies to staff on shore due to inane limits on highly skilled immigrants; and general animosity towards all things American. Once we had that settled we turned to more important topics.

Buell Über Alles

Buell 1125CR

Berlin, Germany
September 29-30, 2008

“I drew this bike 18 years ago. Four valve, liquid cooled, split radiators.  I never dreamed it would take 18 years to get it built,” confided a jet lagged, but satisfied, Erik Buell.  We are sitting around the hospitality section of a demountable garage at a test track an hour east of Berlin to sample the track manners of the 1125CR.  The question was “Is it liberating to be able to source engines from Rotax?”

Buell is now competitive with the world’s best on price and performance.

Roehr 1250cc

September 5, 2008

By Samuel Quarelli Fleming
Photos by Tom Riles

Walter Roehrich is very nervous. It’s 10:30 a.m. on an overcast day in northern Illinois and he only slept a couple hours last night before arising early, making sure he had the press materials and the coolers with drinks and even remembering to stop at the Dunkin Donuts for hospitality supplies for the day. He has invited four journalists to Blackhawk Farms race track to pass judgment on the Roehr 1250sc, the physical culmination of fifteen years of work, and he wants everything to be perfect. The fact that the remnants of Hurricane Gustav had just barely cleared the area is not helping his nerves.

Gixxers in the Mist

GSX-R 600

Misano World Circuit
Santa Monica, Italy
February 24-25, 2008

The good news for GSX-R 600 racers is that the new bike offers scant advantages over the old model. A well tuned 2006 or 2007 model will be able to lap competitively with the 2008. If the engine in your current race bike has a few too many weekends on it and the prospect of replacing the 3-4 gear cluster and all of the titanium valves is a little to daunting then the better news is that all of your suspension parts will swap over to the new model.

There is one caveat to this dynamic.  The 2008 has a 32 bit CPU with 300% more memory than the 2007 model and a mode switch on the handlebar. In stock trim the mode switch just makes the bike run slower but, if the GSX-R 1000 experience is any indication, a Yoshimura ECU swap will convert that toggle switch to a simple traction control setting. Although 600s with modern 180 rear tires do not generally need much help keeping the tire from spinning the traction control could offer a significant safety margin for a racer on the edge, or a constrained tire budget.

Making History

Ducati Motor

Borgo Panagale, Italy
February 21, 2008

By Sam Quarelli Fleming

Making History, Part 1

There are a few things about Filippo Preziosi that are immediately apparent: the bright intelligence of his eyes burning beneath his mop of hair, the friendly boyish smile, the humility, and lastly, the wheelchair. Filippo (Preziosi is universally referred to as Filippo within Ducati and so your correspondent is going to use a familiarity grossly disproportionate to the relationship) is welcoming but a little tense. The tension is recognizable to anyone who has felt that pre-green flag anxiety rising up while simply changing out brake pads in the garage; the sense that any mistake at this crucial, yet banal, moment could make or break an upcoming race. The tension that arises from the knowledge that, in racing, everything matters and yet much cannot be controlled. Filippo is tense because he is always preparing for a race.

Filippo has a lot to smile about.