Friday, 25 March 2011

Air or water?

I STILL haven't decided on what to build next, and it drives me crazy. All I know is that I want something that can travel a little further than my Husky tracker. Don't get me wrong: I love the way the Husky came out, but it's not very, erm, comfortable.

I came very close to buying a mint KTM 990 motor this week. The price was right and it had only 2400 clicks on the meter – barely run in. It's a cracking engine, powerful, light for a twin and thoroughly modern, which I like. It would be the perfect engine for a kick-ass street tracker. There is however, the issue of the cooling. The Katoom engine is liquid cooled and since it puts out a lot of power, it needs big coolers. And therein lies the rub: it's very difficult to build a naked bike with all those coolers, hoses and little plastic tanks. I haven't seen one that looks good. And believe me: I've looked through the entire Internet looking for good looking KTM-based bikes. Yes, the entire thing.

I figure I need about 80-90 bhp in order to build a fun bike, if It's a torquey engine and if I can keep the weight of the bike under 180-190 kg. Which got me thinking about that Buell engine again... Now, there's no denying that an air cooled engine looks a LOT nicer than water cooled ones. Just have a look at the sketch from Bottpower above. How cool is that! They are aiming at a weight of 170 kg, which I think may be a little optimistic without spending a fortune on components like the wheels, but 180 should be attainable without braking the bank. But the best thing of all is the fact that their sketch does away with the aluminium perimeter frame, instead opting for a central tube. Which makes it possible to use a proper gas tank (incidentally the same tank as on my Husky. It wouldn't be too difficult to build either. All you need is a big, bent steel tube (preferably cro-mo) from the swing arm pivot up to the steering head, some brackets to fix the engine in place, and presto: good looking, minimal frame. At least that's what I'm thinking at the moment – I'm not sure about where the mounting points are on a Buell. Tomorrow I'm going to the local Harley dealer to take some spy shots!


  1. Hi, nice bike the husky. I saw it at sideburn, simple, clean and sweet. From the XR-1, the most complicated part is to keep the engine tight to the frame as the engine is holding from two rubber mounts and the swingarm directly to the engine instead of the frame... The 170 weight is true, just compare headlamp, gauges, subframe and tail. Ok, may be 175 :) Have you ever thought abount installing an ntv/bross 650 on your frame? Regards.

  2. Hi Ramon.

    I agree with your comments. Keeping the rubber mounts is probably a good idea if you want to keep the vibrations down.

    I know someone who has a Harley-based flattracker that weighs 155 kg. So 175 sounds possible with at battery and lights:-)

    No plans for a BROS engine in the foreseeable future...

  3. What about a Ducati 1100 aircooled twin spark? Grunty and fairly simple to work on... Contrary to the common wisdom the air cooled Duc motors are very reliable.

  4. sooooo?
    mr krook, have u decided?
    where’s the new bike?