Wednesday, 27 July 2016

One-Off Wednesday

The last remaining Sideburn Dirt Quake shirt designed by ODFU has been cornered in the warehouse and is awaiting its fate.
Navy blue with pale grey screenprint

£15 post is free in the UK. £5 anywhere else in the world.

Get it at One-off Wednesday.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Why Anyone Waiting For A Factory Street Tracker Should Stop Waiting...

Someone left a comment on the post below - about the Indian FTR750, that echoes a thousand comments being made around the world, the gist is: If they made a street tracker version it would be great/I'd buy one/I'd give my left ball for it, etc.

Well, sorry to rain on your parade, but Indian never will, and no other OEM will either. A GNC Twin race bike is so goshdarn handsome and lean with an incomparable stance, because it does not look like a conventional showroom-fresh road bike. And vice versa, homologated DOT/EU approved showroom bikes cannot look like dirt track racers, however hard they try.

No factory has built a good looking 'factory' street tracker, since the Bonneville TT of the mid-60s (except the early Honda FTR250s with the duplex frame, though the later FTR223s are kind of cute). When it comes to twins, nobody has come close. VT500 Ascot? Meh. Too heavy above the waistline. The H-D XR1200 was compromised, a midling effort, but not good enough. The Scrambler FT Pro isn't right either. Storz kitted Sportsters can look right, but they're not factory. Plenty of people can build great looking custom street trackers, but manufacturers cannot. The Zaeta is the only thing that comes close, but they're made, and sold, in tiny quantities, and they're singles.

Big factories need to sell reasonable quantities. The man on the street, the kind who buys brand new bikes, thinks they want something that looks like a road legal GNC bike, and perhaps they would right up until they read the first road test or lived with it for a week.

A dirt track bike has a 6 or 7-litre tank. These tiny tanks are essential to the looks, but no one would buy a road bike with a 50-odd mile range. Put a bigger tank on it and the looks are gone (see VT500 and XR1200).

Modern bikes require airboxes for fuel injection and noise regulations, not big K&N filters. Where does the airbox go? Indian are hiding the FTR's airbox in the tank area, but their race bike only needs to run 26 miles (a fast 25 miles and, they hope, a slow victory lap, but only 26 miles all the same), so their airbox won't ruin the looks. Road bikes need indicators, mirrors, front brakes, front mudguards, license plate hangers that extend beyond the back of the rear wheels, lights, electric starter, alternator and a battery big enough to start the bike repeatedly in sub-zero temperatures. It also needs a chassis strong enough to deal with a 30-stone rider riding through potholes for 30,000 miles, unchecked. And road bikes need a big wiring loom to run everything I've described and that needs hiding somehow. Also, GNC bikes have short wheelbases and steep steering. They're as twitchy as the cast of Watership Down. Look at the VT500's rake!

It is not impossible for a clever factory to build a trick street tracker. Ducati are pushing the edge of the envelope of what the public will tolerate with the Panigale, truly a racebike for the road, but it still has a proper tank rnage and all the legalities.  Plus a lot can be hidden under a Panigale's fairing. A size zero GNC flat tracker is as naked as a jaybird. Look close enough and you can tell what it had for breakfast.
So if Indian do build something they say is related to the FTR, those who reckon they're waiting with credit cards locked and loaded will get a compromise. The compromise might look a lot like Roland Sands' Indian Superhooligans (see SB24). They have a brutal charm, and they're based on decent road bikes. I've ridden a Scout around Oregon, and can vouch for them as a good basis even if I didn't like the riding position of the road Scout. But Superhooligans are not GNC bikes. I do think the Superhooligan Scout would sell. I don't believe the buying public, those with $12,000/ £12,000 to spend, is ready for hardcore street tracker in the numbers that would make it worthwhile for a factory to build.

So stop waiting for the factory to release your dream street tracker and build your own. Or buy a Zaeta. G
FTR750 photo: Indian/Cycle World

Monday, 25 July 2016

Indian FTR750

Cycle World have published a very exhaustive two-piece online feature on the development of Indian's new dirt track race bike, the FTR750.

We told you Indian were coming to dirt track with a factory team in a story in Sideburn 24, in which we interviewed Indian President, Steve Menetto. Jared Mees has been signed to test ride the bike, with speculation that he is already testing a prototype. He's racing a private Harley this year, but isn't contracted to the factory so he's free to test other bikes and work for other manufacturers. No doubt if he is impressed he'll be one of a two-man factory team next year.

CW say the FTR750 is making 109bhp. The don't say if that is measured at the rear wheel or crank. If it is rear wheel it's way up on the what the best Harleys are producing, which is closer to mid-90s, but power isn't everything. The Lloyd Brothers actually detuned their Ducati for a better power delivery and less top-end power.

The chassis, above, looks like something from 1968, but the engine is a thoroughly modern, fuel-injected, liquid-cooled V-twin.

Anyway, go read the tech heavy piece at

Thanks to Anthony and Roger for the link. G

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Buy New Sideburn stuff & Get Free Stuff

Lord Raglan was blamed, by some, for the catastrophic Charge of the Light Brigade in 1854, but he also gave his name to the kind of sleeves used on our fancy new crewneck sweatshirt. This blue marle sweatshirt has the big race engine on the back and our name and mascot Dwayne on the front. Artwork by super Ryan Quickfall.
It's ages since we made some caps. Balding men all over the world have been turned the colour of baked beans during the wait. Man buns have ventured into the world uncovered. Helmet hair has ruled in an unruly fashion. These Sideburn camper hats, embroidered with the classic logo in silver thread. They're available in blue or black. 


The next 30 people to order either an Engine sweatshirt, new camper hat or our Dickies Engine coach jacket will get an Engine Tote bag and Dirt Quake V sticker pack, worth £9.50, for free.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Blueprint: Dimitri BSA B50

The latest bike to be immortalised in our blueprint series is the hardtail B50 of amateur racer, Dimitri Coste. Read how the Frenchman ended up owning the bike and why a 1970s machine has a hardtail anyway in Sideburn 25. Artwork, as always, by Mick Ofield.

If you want to read about the other bikes in the blueprint series, here is the list and the issues they feature in.

Sideburn 13 Wood Norton (sold out)
Sideburn 14 Bultaco Astro
Sideburn 15 Yamaha TZ700/TZ750 (sold out)
Sideburn 16 Harley XR750
Sideburn 17 Trackmaster BSA A70 (sold out)
Sideburn 18 Bonneville Performance 2014 (sold out)
Sideburn 20 1930 Norton DT
Sideburn 22 Wood Rotax
Sideburn 24 Honda RS750D

We have a bunch of different blueprints for sale. Go to the Sideburn Art Print department.

We also have limited numbers of the XR750 blueprint T-shirt for £18 plus post. G
Photo: Dimitri Coste

Friday, 22 July 2016

Dirt Quake V by H-D UK

Really nice film made by Dirt Quake V and DTRA partner Harley-Davidson UK. G

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Hot Dock XR750

A lot going on in this photo. Drink in the details. Hot Dock Harley. G
Photo: Keiji Kawakita

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Sultans of Sprint

Our old friend Sonic Seb, owner/builder/rider of the Sprintbeemer, has created a new European race series that is aiming to inject fun and style into sprint racing. The organisers say:

The Sultans of Sprint challenge is gathering motorcycle freaks from all over Europe to race their custom sprint bikes powered by air-cooled twin cylinder engines. Not focused only on speed, performance and power the Sultans of Sprint challenge will also reward the contenders for their style, creativity and craziness. The participating bikes are 100% custom built by the best custom workshops and enthusiasts. The bikes are powered by air- or oil-cooled, four-stroke engines up to 1400cc. 

The Sultans of Sprint is a class of its own … a race for turbocharged flying carpets built and raced by creative gearheads.

The next race is at Glemseck, the one after at the Intermot Show, Cologne. 

Find out more at

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

King's Lynn DTRA

I raced on Friday night at the DTRA round of Dirt Quake's Friday night. I had an absolute blast. Out of my six heats races I scored two firsts, two seconds, a third and a fifth. The finals are always harder because the quickest 12 from the 36 restricted and 24 Thunderbikes get through. I finished fifth in the restricted, then didn't even leave the track before going into another 8-lap final for the Thunderbikes. I beat some class acts, riders I don't normally beat, like Tom Clemens, and still came fourth! Bugger. I had great fun though.
Thanks to the DTRA and all their staff and helpers. Thanks to Icon for the Airframe Pro helmet. I really rate it.
Go to Dirt Track Riders Association to find out more about this great series.

The race was livestreamed, so you can watch a video of the whole race meeting here. G

Photo: Ian Roxburgh/DTRA

Monday, 18 July 2016

Foggy at Dirt Quake

When I was a draughtsman, drawing engineering components for a living, I used to watch Carl Fogarty's every WSB race on Sky TV. Now the magazine we make puts on events that he competes in on a cool Triumph Bonneville.

Dirt Quake V was special for a lot of reasons. Thanks to everyone who made it so good, especially the spectators who lap up our daft ideas.

This photo of a flying Foggy was taken by Gergo Toth. Click his name to see his gallery of DQV images. G