Welcome to Bikeweb
Bikeweb is all about Feet First Powered Two Wheelers - FFs for short - of one sort or another; from Quasars and Phasars to modified superscooters and even FF racing mopeds. From Kaneda’s animé fantasy bike in Akira, to real world, Reliant-engined Voyagers. There's all sorts of weird and wonderful stuff here, past, present and futuristic; one-offs, prototypes and things that actually made it into series production. And they come from all over the world: Swiss Ecomobiles and MonoTracers, American Alligators and Neracars, French Monotraces, German NSUs, Czech Dalniks, British Avros, Wilkinsons and Whitwoods and Japanese custom scooters. From fully enclosed and all-electric with outriggers, to roofed but open-sided, through aerodynamic but open-topped, to bodywork-free and stark naked. You name it; if it's FF, or related in some way, you'll probably find it here somewhere – or at least a link to where you can find it.
There's more information about how this website works and a potted history of FFs below if you click on 'Read More', but for a technical description read Royce Creasey's Introduction to FF two-wheelers entitled 'Read This First'. (It's the first item in the left hand column below 'Book navigation'). If you're looking for a particular machine or marque, the quickest way to find it is probably to do a search for it in the very top right hand corner of this home page; type the name or names into the white box next to 'Search this site:' and then click on 'search' just below the box.
Similarly, you can search for names of places where FF events and gatherings traditionally took place such as Beaulieu, BMF Rally, Hastings or Brno. Or indeed people such as Newell, Malfoy, Creasey, Crowson, Bruce, Gurney, Lynch, Wagner, Foale et al. If you just want to peruse pictures of a great variety of Feet First machinery, then start by clicking on 'Image Galleries' in the top left hand corner of this home page and work your way down the page which will then appear. But don't forget that some galleries have several levels, (especially the one devoted to 'One Offs' for example), and it's well worth 'drilling down' within each one. Click on any photo (or its title) for a bigger view and more information. Click on the folder name above any individual photo to see all the photos in the folder in which it resides. Some galleries have lots of folders!
PNB (Last updated September 2011)
Now here's a bit more about the history of FFs in general and the Best Feet Forward club in particular:
This club was started in 1995 by a group of enthusiasts for Feet First motorcycles and scooters. The simplest way to describe a Feet First or "FF" machine is as a "Two Wheeled Car" in the most positive sense of the phrase. In other words an FF is a Powered Two Wheeler that is safe, warm dry and comfortable, but which can still nip in and out of town traffic and scratch with the best of them on the open road. It will also use less fuel and go faster than a conventional motorcycle with the same engine, thanks to improved aerodynamics.
FFs have been around since the Wilkinson of 1909, the Neracar of the 1920s and the pioneering Avro Monocar of 1926. Gustav Baumm's record breaking NSU Flying Hammocks of the 1950s were the first "ultimate" FFs, proving that a recumbent riding position was the most efficient aerodynamically (almost 200mph with only 40bhp). Almost all record breakers since, from the original 1956 Triumph Bonneville to the present, have been FF.
The first modern FF was the all-British Quasar designed by Malcolm Newell and Ken Leaman in the mid-70s. Royce Creasey's Voyager, launched at the 1989 NEC bike show, represented a logical progression from the Quasar and almost made it into production. All six prototypes are still running and are owned by BFF members.
The first mass-produced FF was the Honda CN250 launched at the 1985 Tokyo Show as the Fusion and better known as the Helix or Spazio. It was still being built, almost unchanged, twenty years later. (A Chinese replica, of good quality, the Jialing JL250 is also now available for half the price!). When the BFF club was founded the CN 250 was the most popular machine amongst members simply because it was the most cheaply available FF, second hand. However, it remains more "FF" than all the super-scooters that have followed in its wake. First after the Helix was Piaggio's Hexagon, but it was Yamaha's Majesty 250 which really started the superscooter boom, outselling every other powered two wheeler over 125cc in the huge Italian market. Next up were Honda's identical-looking Pantheon 125 and Foresight 250 and then Suzuki's Burgman 250. Piaggio also put the Honda Helix engine in their Hexagon GT 250 and the Foresight engine in the first version of their X9 250.
The Burgman 400, launched in 1999, was the first mass-produced FF to provide enough performance to keep up with conventional motorcycles on the open road, although its seat was still about six inches higher than that of a "true" FF and it only had a claimed 32bhp. BMW's roofed scooter, the seat-belted C1, also represented a milestone in mass-produced PTW rider protection, even though its seat and centre of gravity were too high and its wheelbase too short to be a "proper" FF. Arnold Wagner's awesome Swiss-built and fully-enclosed 160mph Peraves Ecomobiles have been providing PTW riders with far greater safety in helmet-less comfort since 1985 and in 2006 Peraves launched the re-shaped and improved MonoTracer at a lower price than the last of their 90 Ecomobiles. Electric MonoTracers are scheduled to go into production in 2012.
Superscooter development passed another milestone in 2000 when Yamaha launched the XP500 TMAX - a twin-cylinder machine with the engine in a conventional motorcycle location, rather than swinging up and down with the rear wheel in the manner of most traditional scoots. With a claimed 40bhp it was also nearly 10mph faster than the Burgman 400, with acceleration to match, and the first superscoot capable of touching a genuine (as opposed to an indicated) 100mph - just.
Honda 'upped the ante' later the same year when they launched their Silver Wing 600 twin with nearly 50bhp. This gave it superior acceleration and top speed to the TMAX but unfortunately the handling was not in the same league as the Yamaha's, suffering from a rearward weight bias, single fork yoke and above all, rubber mounting for the rear-mounted engine from whose crankcases the swinging arm pivots in a unique change from the norm. This makes the handling scary if you try to make full use of the Silver Wing's performance on twisty roads, especially if you have the temerity to combine cornering with braking.
In 2001 Piaggio launched their X9 500 with a conventional swinging-engine chassis and immediately had to withdraw it due to high speed stability problems. They subsequently revised it twice before putting it back on sale. With such a heavy, powerful engine swinging up and down, the X9 was always going to be difficult to 'tame' – it's as fast as a Tmax in a straight line and quicker off the mark. Even the latest Evolution version is no match for a TMAX on twisty going, but with the sportier and near-identically powered Gilera Nexus, which has a stiffer (but still swinging) engine mounting, Piaggio's engineers seem to have achieved the impossible. Unfortunately it's been done at the expense of comfort and the Nexus is more like a Gilera Runner on steroids than a cruiser scooter, or any kind of FF.
In 2002 Suzuki raised the mega-scoot stakes still further with the launch of the Burgman 650. At 239kg dry (claimed) this made even the Silver Wing look light and nimble. However it proved to be much more stable at high speed than the Silver Wing, and provided even more weather protection and storage, thanks to wider bodywork and a cavernous under-seat compartment.
The Burgman 650 combined a TMAX-style forward engine location with an innovative CVT transmission which could be operated in any one of three different modes; standard automatic, power automatic or 'push-button' gear-change. In practice, the latter is a complete waste of time, while the other two modes are both extremely useful. The Executive version boasts ABS and genuinely useful power operated mirrors and screen, not to mention a heated seat! The Burger King's main drawback is its avoirdupois – well over a quarter of a ton 'wet' at 280kgs!
Suzuki also showed an unashamedly 'FF' prototype, the 'G-strider' at the 2003 Tokyo show, while back in 2001 Honda had shown their flat four 750cc 'Elysium' prototype which was like a cross between their roofed Honda Cabina 50 and the Quasar, but with a disappointingly high seat and no rider seat back. Their DNO1, launched in 2008, is more like a cross between an FF and a cruiser, with minimal wind protection and no storage whatsoever.
In 2006 Piaggio moved the goalposts with their narrow and tilting 3-wheeler, the MP3, some 15 years after Malcolm Newell started work on a vehicle of the same layout. The MP3 however is a long way from being an FF, while Roy Gardiner's Piaggio-powered nArrow TTW will definitely be feet first and warm, dry and comfortable to boot whenever he gets it finished. Piaggio have raised the performance stakes even higher with their Gilera-badged GP800 V-twin superscooter boasting an unprecedented 75bhp and 120mph top speed but with disappointingly heffalump-ish handling. Meanwhile the US company Vectrix produced an extremely impressive all-electric maxiscooter and planned to do an electric MP3 as well but sadly went bust in 2009. Fortunately the marque was bought by a Chinese battery company and the Vectrix was revived in 2011, complete with Lithium batteries as an option, thereby increasing its range considerably.
At the other end of the scale there are many one-off Feet First machines designed and built from scratch by FF enthusiasts all over the world, from New Zealand to California. There has also been the impressive arrival of Dan Gurney's Alligator FF which has attracted a whole new audience to FF machines and a lot more respect to the concept from sports bike riders, especially in the USA. It's a shame it's got so little bodywork but the new V-twin S&S engines should make the new "GnarlyGator" a lot faster than the single cylinder originals (and they certainly weren't slow!). In stark contrast, Roger Riedener appeared at the 2008 Brno meeting with his old Ecomobile sporting a brand new all-electric powertrain and blew all the normally aspirated Ecos into the weeds. A sign of things to come? In 2009 the first Electric MonoTracer was launched at Brno and in 2010 two differently powered Peraves E-Tracers took part in the $10million Auto X-prize and won their tandem two seater class by a country mile, along with a cheque for $2.5million. Meanwhile Tobi Wuelser and Frank Loacker's similar but subtly different DesignWerk ZeroTracer won the all-electric challenge to go around the world in 80 days, finishing in February 2011.
The club aims to provide a forum for enthusiasts of all the above machines. We feel that with the wide variety of mass-produced FF super scooters now available, the feet forward, comfortable machine with protective bodywork and built-in luggage capacity is now established as a distinct class of Powered Two Wheeler.
Indeed, a couple of megascoots have already been seriously 'FF-ed'.
In 2002 Royce Creasey created the ˜ComforTmax' for Andrew Gibbens by fitting a Volvo car seat to a TMAX, moving the fuel tank into the 'boot' and extending the footboards. Several FFers tested it and pronounced it extremely promising. Andrew finished it off in his spare time, and it made its first public appearance at Beaulieu 2005, looking very good. He then sold it to Monty Billington who raved about how great it was as he taxed sports bikes with relish before changing his allegiance to a Carver tilting 3-wheeler. In 2010 Royce created a second ComforTmax, based on a Mk3 Yamaha Tmax, for his brother.
In 2003, Ian Pegram created his Genesis, by combining a bog standard Suzuki Burgman 650 chassis and power train with the C1 concept of a roof, roll-cage and belted seat. It went through three incarnations in four years, the final bodywork on the third version being made of strong but lightweight carbon fibre. It is safe, warm, dry and comfortable if somewhat heavier than a standard 'Burger King'. Journalist and FF enthusiast Paul Blezard sold his Quasar to buy Genesis in early 2010 and covered 3,000 miles in it in three months, from Belgium to the Isle of Man and it has since been to Goodwood three times, Brands Hatch, Mallory Park, Silverstone, Zolder, Geneva and Paris.
We also feel an affinity for fans of recumbent pedal powered two wheelers, for the design and ergonomic considerations are exactly the same whether the two-wheeler has an engine or not and both FF bicycles and motorcycles have been banned from racing for decades! Cedric Lynch's electric streamliner, with its full enclosure, light weight mountain bike tyres and impressive range and performance, proves just how little power you need to achieve impressive journey times with an FF layout, even on the open road. Cedric proved his engineering expertise to world-wide acclaim by building the winning Agni X01 in the inaugural 2009 Zero Emission TTXGP, ridden by Rob Barber. We all hope that he will now build the electric FF racer which, at the time of writing, the regulations allow, in contrast to the outdated FIM regs which banned proper streamlining in 1957. At the 2010 ZeroTT Rob Barber's 2nd-placed Agni machine sported a dustbin fairing - the first time one had been raced on the island since Bob McIntyre did the first 100mph lap with such a fairing over half a century earlier.
Some of us simply ride our production machines and enjoy social contact and swapping tips, others are deeply concerned with the design and technology of PTWs, most of us a bit of both. We welcome anyone who rides a bike of this type, or would like to, whether it's a "full-blown" FF or a mass-produced super-scooter.
We lobby the trade and the motorcycling press to take these machines seriously and used to produce a quarterly magazine with all the latest news about FF developments and our own machines. However this has not actually appeared since 2000 and has effectively been replaced by a lively internet discussion forum with several hundred members, plus this Bikeweb website. We had a club stand at the annual Beaulieu 'Motorcycle World' show in the New Forest (in Hampshire, UK) for many years until the last event in 2008. Most years we did riding demos at Beaulieu on at least one of the two days which were good fun and good entertainment for the spectators. In 2006 we managed to get out both days and shoot some on board video on the Saturday for good measure. See here:
In 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 the FF fraternity relocated to the Vintage Club's Festival of 1,000 bikes at Mallory Park, where we were warmly received - see the photos in the Events & Meetings section.
We also occasionally have rides out in different parts of the country where we both socialise and show our machines to the world at large in a striking 'posse' of weird and wonderful FFs. The annual Quasar gathering in Hastings in September is just one example, more recently we've gathered in South Wales and Yorkshire. While the club is largely UK based, we are in touch with big-scooter clubs and FF enthusiasts all over the world, from California to Kuala Lumpur and Melbourne to Mississippi.
We aim to be a communication centre for the whole FF movement in whatever manifestation. We are incredibly diverse - in age, other bikes owned, biking experience, skills, occupations and other interests - but united in our enthusiasm for Feet Forward PTWs.
(Last updated by PNB September 2012)
The FF discussion mailing list is here: