Monday, December 23, 2013

Howerton’s Handy Work 
A proven piece  

Circa 1984 Indianapolis, the factory Honda dirt track team was based two buildings down from Jack Howerton, Rick’s father's fabrication business, who was the to go guy for fabricated parts on Indy cars, an absolute perfectionist who wouldn’t let anything leave the shop without being to the nth-degree. Naturally, team Honda was at the shop on a weekly basis getting parts built, and as a young kid, Rick bugged anybody who’d listen. Gene Romero, was the Honda Dirt Track team manager, Skip Eaken and Sparky Edmondson were the chief's on Bubba Shobert and Ricky Graham's RS750 Grand National motorbikes and  through his dad’s shop, Rick got to know them well.

“I was 14 at that time and Bubba and Ricky seemed like old men---funny how when you’re younger everyone seems old---however, they were only 8 or so years older than I was.  As time passed they let me golf and travel to the races with them in their motor-homes.”

Rick grew up then spent the a few years at engineering school, raced sprint cars, and eventually took over his father’s business. The business role changed from general fabrication shop to specialized exhaust manufacturer. Form midgets, Daytona prototypes, NHRA, Indy cars, NASCAR, to Formula One. The majority of which are built from inconel (hi nickel alloy) that was developed for jet airplane engine parts.
In 2010, Howerton saw a picture of Bryan Smith racing a Kawasaki tracker.
Cernicky testing a heavily modified Kawasaki 650 Ninja at
Yapavia Downs in AZ, in 2010.

He’d always liked the vertical-Twin engine configuration and wanted to use that for his "street tracker". Growing up around dirt track racing influences it had become a big passion in my life, and it never left, professed Rick Howerton; who would make sure to stay in contact with Sparky Anderson and Skip Eaken---who passed on in 2012---every couple of years, long after Honda’s dirt track program has been disbanded in 1988.
 When the eBay Ninja engine arrived, Howerton got Eaken to build him a race engine. Skip told Rick he felt that 650 Ninja had great potential, even at the Grand National level to power a race bike and wanted to put one together. Howerton hung up the phone thinking about how time consuming one bike would be to build. A few days contemplation in Rick, told his dad what he was up to and Sr. said “Build two and let Skip race one.”
Rick started thinking about the chassis---time consuming? Very!  A new motorcycle design, a modern day chassis made with the best materials possible, packaged small, light, and nimble. Perimeter frame hammered from heat treated sheet aluminum into box-tube swing-arm to actuate a double-pull-rod-rocker-rear suspension system with the right geometry with a hint of old-school look via pullback bars and the seat and side plates. The next few weeks Howerton computer modeled a motorcycle, calling Skip time-and-time again for dimensions; wheelbase, seat-height, head-tube angles, and offset. Eaken helped Howerton so much Rick started to warm up to the idea of making two bikes.

Fast forward to April 2011; 500 hours of co
mputer modeling, 1,200 hours of, machining, fixturing and fabricating, and the motorbikes were complete. Skip used 2011 to test riders, venues, learning what the bike needed in the throws of war, by cause and effect making changes experimented to both chassis and engines. Our combination was coming around at times, arguably the fastest bike on the track.
Push fast forwarding again; they came back with backing from Crosley Radio a seasoned machine and two-time GNC champion Bryan Smith. A 2nd at the final in Pomona LA Fairplex 2nd gave them a 2nd over all in the Expert Twins championship of 2013 behind Brad Baker.
Bryan Smith won Sacramento two years in succession Howerton Motorsports Kawasaki Got some Eaken aid and results came Bryan Smith; also won Indy and Springfield Miles that year
with the same engine
Now Rick Howerton gets his proven “street tracker” back that should make for a seriously fun ride around town. And his kids get more of their dad's time.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

WDW 2012, A visit to the Planet of Champions.

I see Red!  

By Mark Cernicky/ Photo’s; Ducati 

Fancy Red? WDW—World Ducati Week can fill your cup till it runneth over…on to wet bike washing bikini girls, umbrella totting Effenbert beer dancing girls, turbine forced crowd soaking water-sprayer, a perfect way to keep the scantly-clad “ladies” and shirtless dudes cool in the extremely hot weather experienced that June 21-24th, in Misano Italy. That’s not all the 65,000 total Ducatisti who traveled from USA, Australia, Brasil, China, Russia, India and Malaysia, Gabon, Iceland, Nepal…and those in who made the commute, in leather suites from the neighboring Euro zone to the Planet of Champions, there was a lot more.

Once at Champions at Misano World Circuit one needn’t go any further than the International village—just the other side of the parking lot— whose circus sized canopy corners where cordoned off by representatives from the corners of the world. Center, a stage for cutlery diverse inspired Rock-and-Roll born in the USA! And I was just happened to be in time for tea and an accompanying rendition of God Save the Queen by the Brits there in force; raised a celebratory salute to the Queen and a rest in the shade after some scorching-hot-laps of Misano World Circuit, with Dominique Cheraki, General Manager of Ducati North America, on a couple 848 EVO’s.                
Droves of belt-drive Desmo valve trains, thunder of flocking Duc’s with the occasional wail from a low fly D16 filled the air with a symphony of mechanic music,  while MX freestyler’s flew through it. And when at rest mini-motards raced round the base of the ramp to ramp jumps.
Misano Circuit circulation never ceased, from DRE —Ducati Riding Experience track school, Master Academy led by Troy Bayliss himself, Ducatisti could sign up for track test rides on Panigale, for lucky limited number, first come first serve session on their own bikes. UK 848EVO series I chatted with Neil Hogdson, ambassador of the all Ducati championship who was there for the “Lap of Champions”. Practicing qualifying for the 848 EVO's ran between the factory, Corsa team factory Superbike teams “demonstration laps”. You could even sign up for a ride in an Audi R8. Saturday tracktivities ended with stunt show before the Tudor Diavel elimination drag races on the front straight that saw Troy Bayliss vanquish Valentino Rossi in the final…Nicky Hayden 3rd, followed by Carlos Checa         
From morning till night, three days I saw red and still didn’t have enough time to take it all in…I tried. Would have liked to get a chance to go on a street ride on the Hypermoto Sp with group organizer who did so…for a small price; missed the Brit-back- roads gaunt due to interview scheduling… even missed a first hand account of the bikini bike wash and the speedway races, there was too much to do!
Home to the WDW, Misano World Circuit is short a short ride from the Adriatic coastline where there are plenty of hotels beach side resorts restraints a hive of night time activity streets blocked for pedestrianisation till wee hours of the night when eyes turn red. After some rest, I’m looking forward to the opportunity to return to the Plant of Champions in 2014.

WDW by numbers
65,000 visitors across four days
11,520 laps of Misano made by motorcycles and cars in four days
61 different activities performed on track in four days
8 Ducati race teams
66,000 photos taken by official photograhers
32 hours of WDW TV shown
40 tweets per minute
4 terabyte of video recorded during the event
17 concerts performed (15 paddock, 1 Cattolica, 1 Riccione)
52 nations represented
300 metres of BBQ at the Cattolica beach party

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Tail of Time


Time is a Joker with a three-pointed-poker.
Time is a cancer and a dancer on your grave.
Time does not behave, time we try to save when it’s us
time is trying to slay.
Break away, save maybe one day from time the great E-Racer.
Faster than time is himself, he who can leave
time on a shelf, is he chasing time or is time chasing him?
Where does he end and time begin.
Is the end of time the beginning of he who is so fast
Time he can out last, racing so far ahead he’s changing
his past.  
Tying time with its own tail time this time proven to have failed
Who is he who is so fast he keeps time at bay, you might have met him today.

He might have come your way, he must continue to No End, for he is Infinity your friend, who keeps the beginning from meeting the end.   

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Guide and Protect


Guide and Protect


MotoGP as past a mandate in regards to brake lever guards stating that motorcycles must be equipped with brake lever guard protection, intended to protect the front brake lever from accidentally activation by contact with another machine.
FIM ruling also states that a bikes fairing can be extending to cover the brake lever—as viewed from the front, covers the lever— can be acceptable protection from brake application caused by collision. As long as it’s strong enough to function effectively and its design doesn’t add further risk to the rider to be injured or trapped. This decision is left to the sole discretion of the FIM Technical Director.

Instead of the extra-wide aerodynamically challenged front faring, teams can opt for brake lever guard like this Rizoma ProGuard designed to suffice scrutineering of lever protection. Rizoma also said that their ProGuard design product also protects levers from aero-forces applying unwanted lever pressure that cause brake-drag and clutch-slippage once machines speeds exceeded 112mph; hence the holes seen machined in race levers.
Rizoma ProGuard is being used by many Moto2 and MotoGP teams including Factory Ducati. So we got a hold of Nicky Hayden and asked how he felt about the new rule and this brake guard device?
Hayden shared “Well it's a rule this year so everybody is using them. And for me, truthfully on the track I don't even notice they are there. There is theories that some people believe they gonna cause more problems then really help, so well just have to wait and see, time will tell.”
Rizoma ProGuard is made of aluminum of magnesium and manganese, an amalgam engineered to resist corrosion, ware and assure rigidity to guard and protect lever from impact. Rizoma patented protection system guards against unintentional brake activation on the race track is now available for your sportbike.

Rizoma ProGuard’s are available in silver, black and gold, for most bikes. If you do not see your bike on the list for specific fitment Rizoma make a universal mounting kick that should fit your bike.

Rizoma USA Inc,
 9230 W. Olympic Blvd. Beverly Hills, Los Angeles Ca 90212 
909/342/2307 /

$114 each side  

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Incidental protection

Dion Device Factory Racer
Incidental protection
by Cernicky 

Ever out wide, in deep and tag your front brake lever on the back of the bike you’re trying to out brake? Or swerve out of someone’s draft to make the pass, who swerves too, the same way as you; bump your brake lever on the back of his bike and momentarily smoke your front tire? Or been splitting lanes and fold a mirror back with your when you clip a mirror and get a little stoppie surprise? Before luck runs out the Dion Device came out with the Factory Racer brake guard.    

Dion Device was inspired by unfortunate circumstance. In 2005 Max Mercier son of Michel Mercier, crashes in Shannonville Motorsport Park and was killed. Stephane Dion, promised to stop that from ever happening again; by 07 devised the Dion Device called “Max Guard” designed and developed  Jeff Dion test in race condition—09, filed a patent for his brake lever guard.

In 2012, at Daytona International Speedway Dion Device teamed up with the RedBull/RoadRace Factory whose riders, Hayden Gillim, Jake Gagne, Tomas Pureta and JD Beach, ran the new brake guard on there Yamaha 600 as part of the official product launch and news spread fast in the paddock and about this new safety feature currently in use by the Danny Walker run team. 

This patented brake lever protector attaches to the handlebar from the inside of the grip, angles 90° handle bar in front of the lever—like a good enduro hand guard— protecting it from accidental activation. The Device will flip forward incase a hand get stuck behind it and will return—with spring-loaded-action—to its protective position.  Manufactured the US from 7075-T5 aluminum and carbon fiber, weighs only 6.35oz (180grams) and fits most sportbikes with little modifications or no modifications.  

Not compulsory in the AMA…yet. But when racing is close and push comes to shove improve your chances of survival with the Dion Device, $299 patented protection are now available.


Monday, September 16, 2013

Out of Gas and in charge

Electric Blue GSX-R, Out of Gas and in charge

By Mark Cernicky

Since moving to southern California from Pennsylvania in 2000, Seth Mader, a 34 year old from Spring Valley, CA. wanted an electric vehicle capable of getting him back and forth from work, fast enough to safely navigate southern California freeways.,
 “I have been using a motorcycle as my primary source of transportation and have become accustom to not waiting in traffic, getting the best parking spaces, and going straight to the head of the line at stop lights. So, making an electric motorcycle seemed to be my best option.”

Seth started online research and found hundreds of people who’d built their own electric motorcycles decided to his bike after an electric Yamaha R1, converted by Electric Motorsport ( in Oakland, CA. Initially thoughts where of converting 2004 Kawasaki Ninja 250 he previously owned because of its weighty another one cheap; but after committing to costs involved preferred to have a bike that looked nice and he’d be proud to ride. Not that he didn’t have a blast riding 250 Ninja; it was just that the 6’ 5” Seth felt like a circus bear on a bicycle.

After considering selling his 2006 GSX-R 600 and buying a bike with a blown engine to convert had a hard time finding with body all in decent shape. He decided to part out all the gasoline components of and converted it to electric power, since Seth already had all the plastic and got $600 bucks for his 600 motor. Yes, he built it himself with a little tech support from Google and Electric Motorsport. It took Seth about six-months to complete, four where spent on waiting for various electrical parts.
“I only wish I had found someone who built a 06 GSX-R 600, who could have helped me out with all the gory details.”

 Mr. Mader bought most of the parts from Electric Motorsport in Oakland. The electric motor and motor controller, as a set cost him right around $3000. They carry several different types of motors but the type our man “Darth Mader” settled for was custom made by two guys who live near Ontario, CA. They take a five-horse power golf cart motors and custom “wound” them into the 45 horse power 3 phase AC motor Seth purchased.

He currently has Electric Blue geared for a top speed of about 80 mph give or take five mile-an-hour depending on the street’s incline. Tallish gearing equates to a modest but completely acceptable acceleration. Some electric sport bikes are advertised as capable of doing 0-60 mph in 3 seconds and having a top speed of 100 mph. Hard to imagine possible without a transmission.
“I also have a 72 volt battery pack and a motor controller set to max out at around 300 amps. I could change out the battery pack to run the motor at a higher voltage (say 84 volts) also turn up the motor controller to run at 500 amps which would make the converted GSX-R go faster, but obviously not go as far.”

Mader commutes 20 miles—plugs in at work—each way but on weekends like to take it on a 34 mile ride route. Mader told, lithium ion batteries take about two hours to fully recharge.

So far Seth has ridden 40 miles on a charge, at – 65 mph– freeway speeds and the battery wasn’t completely dead. Riding at 30 to 40 mph– where the electric motor is more efficient– he was able to go 60 miles to a charge fairly easily. Seth is anxiously awaiting the use of super-capacitors for energy storage in electric vehicles as an eventual replacement for batteries. But for now, is satisfied with the cost and performance of lithium batteries.

Comparing gas cost to electricity Mader remains amazed more people aren't more interested in using electricity for there commuters to get to work. By his calculations gas powered 600cc motor gets 40mpg, gas is currently $2.30 a gallon. So, the same 20 mile ride that cost $1.15 petrol, it takes 0.31 kWh of electricity on Electric Blue. The Electric Company charges $0.25, during peak hours per kWh and $0.15 cents during off peak times per kWh. So during peak hours, 0.31 kWh costs $0.08 cents to get to work. Therefore, Seth could ride to work 14 times using electricity before incurring the same cost as driving with gas. 

“I’d guess it is about 75-100 lbs heavier. But I’m still able to lift it up off the road after someone inadvertently hit me in 5 o’clock traffic on the freeway.”

 There is no comparison… the gasoline engine is much faster, however, is due to several variables, specifics, mainly volts, amps, and gear ratio/transmission. Like Seth’s Electric Blue, as with many other electric vehicles do not have a transmission. So the only way to change gears now is by swapping sprockets to change final drive ratio.

“I could change the sprockets so it would have killer acceleration but then the top speed would only be around 40 mph.”

No plans to build another electric bike any time soon. He’s currently busy paying off the loan I took out to build Electric Blue. Seth hopes that if all goes well, the industry may catch on and start making more electric bikes, so he wouldn’t have to build his own.

In our closing conversation Seth started talking about finding a used, Hayabusa stretching it adapting two electric motors and super-capacitors to make himself a real lighting bolt.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Some like it Hot

First Choice

By Cernicky

Once again, I’m confused!? I love SPEEDS coverage of FIM World Superbike racing and set aside time to crack open an icy cold Red Bull and turn the TV up load! Announcer, Jonathan Green and co-caster former World Endurance Champion and WSBK competitor Steve Martin, get going on about the hotter weather and track temperature means most riders opted for the softer tire…What?
Pirelli Tire Testing Manager Salvatore Pennisi explains, “Please consider first that I’m not a chemical engineer, and this a very basic explanation. The grip on a standard type of asphalt is in an inverse proportion to the tires temperature.” In other words, the opposite side if the equation “Yes.”
“So, at low asphalt temperature there is more grip and aggressivity—mechanical type grip because of contrasting tempretures— while at high temperatures it’s the contrary. In addition to that the chemical integration of the affinity between the rubber polymer and the asphalt components is changing. This is the effect the migration of the oils inside the asphalt and of the dilatation of the profiles of the tires grains at a microscopic wavelength that is an important component of grip.”
Shouldn’t that be the other way around…track temperatures go up, so shouldn’t the tire durometer?  

Pennisi continues “At high temperatures you need a softer compound to counterbalance the lower asphalt grip while at lower asphalt’s temperature you need a harder compound to resist to the more aggressivity of the asphalt, counting on the more grip of the asphalt itself.”
During further discussion my I’ve become less confused by the fact that a soft tires works when it’s hot because a soft compound has a high elasticity—due to both the mixing process and the time and temperature it spends in vulcanization process. This elasticity allows the rubber compound to squirming movement on the tires carcass which creates heat the tires to warm-up quickly. This characteristically is what makes this softer Pirelli tire better right from the start of the race.
As practice comes to a close, teams develop their tire choice hypothesis for that meeting. Another fact that must be considered is, that when a softer tires level of elasticity is met with cold temperatures, the difference in the rigidity of rubber and of the contact patch can  become too great, and now that flexible foothold on the pavement surface causes cold tears the tire to shreds.
The other side of the flipping coin toss is the choice has to be decided before the start of the race—which compound to “stick” and manage for race distance. Fast start,  good grip gamble from the word go— that is…will it go the distance before tire degradation leaves rider searching for grip; praying he passes the checked flag, before a rider who choose to start on a harder Pirelli whistles past out of his draft.

A harder compounds lower elasticity means it needs heat for the carcass and compound to flex and adapt better to the road surface variables. And a derivative of lower elasticity— harder compound choice that may  last longer but the other side of that coin is possibility of rapid wear caused by wheel-spin?  
Then there’s race two! And what if it rains? That’s another story…
Of course, the use of tire warmers— on racing compounds—combined with proper suspension set up will provide the maximum durability and performance no matter what the tire choice.
Pirelli’s has been the soul supplier of tires to FIM WSBK since 2004. The experience gained in this kind of heated competition is turned into the latest compounds developed for each race venue. Temperatures ranges remain—SC0 from 47/ 77°F, SC1 68/114°F, SC2, 47/122°F, SC3 operate in the same temperature range as the SC2 47/122°F, are used on more aggressive surfaces. While—SC0 SC1, SC2…etc—stay the same the actual compound constantly changes to improve grip, and durability, for that particular weekends racing.
Why I can hardly wait for the next round of World Superbike. With all alternatives programming on TV, motorbike racing is still my first choice.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Clearly in question

Clearly in question
Peace officers!
By: Mark Cernicky/photo Chris Cantle  

While watching the World Supers, one evening on the DVR, I noticed how clean Jonny Rea’s #65 Hannspree Honda, CBR1000RR looked. From that point on knew I had to rid my Honda of its stock of it’s license plate bracket.   

Hotbodies ($219.95) 1/8 ABS undertail was an easy fix. The plastic piece comes pre-painted; peril yellow matched CBR-RR perfectly. Installation took a little snipping of the wiring harness and clipping of the stock tail-sections tabs to make it a tight fit.

Standing back, looking at it in place, it was an insurrection of direction. I couldn’t follow the next step of the instructions. “Drill holes desired location, bolt on the two metal “L” brackets to hang the states plate from painted plastic. But the tidy tucked tail just looked to good the way it was so…

Instead I took out the battery drilled a couple holes in the battery box, backed the bolts used to synched the plate on with, with wide washers. YUSA back in and online, installed the matching ($180) hugger guard/fender, to try and keep rear end free from flinging road reminisces.

After almost two-years, I happened to get pulled over by a motor-officer who wasn’t a fan of hack-slides or my licenses plates’ placement. He seamed to be having a bad day. After this altercation so did I. Due concerns of keeping my license valid, I paid a visited to a couple Cops I know very well.

They both where peaceable enough to show me vehicle code, CVC 5201, that reads; License plates shall at all times be securely fastened to the vehicle for which they are issued so as to prevent the plates from swinging, shall be mounted in a position so as to be clearly visible, and shall be maintained in a condition so as to be clearly legible. The rear license plate shall be mounted not less than 12 inches nor more than 60 inches from the ground, and the front license plate shall be mounted not more than 60 inches from the ground, except as follows: 

License Plate Lamp: CVC 24601.  Either the tail lamp or a separate lamp shall be so constructed and placed as to illuminate with a white light the rear license plate during darkness and render it clearly legible from a distance of 50 feet to the rear. When the rear license plate is illuminated by a lamp other than a required tail lamp, the two lamps shall be turned on or off only by the same control switch at all times.

That was more than just a second opinion my friends that’s code. I fought the law and law won; where our plate was bolted to the back of the battery box of CBR1000RR, looked really clean to me but to heed the advice of my peaceable officer friends. For the sake of argument —with a judge— visibility was clearly in question.

Friday, September 6, 2013