Dreams Of Speed

Sketch from a Morbidelli team member almost 40 years ago.

"In 1978, we were day-dreaming while eating lunch in Mr. Morbidelli's beautiful home with a splendid view of the Adriatic, and laid this egg:
This was a pretty advanced idea of placing the 500cc-4 engine behind the now laid-down driver, lowering the entire motorcycle with rider by a solid 3 feet! If any of you has any doubt that this could ever work, please have a look a TWO examples: the Gurney Alligator and the Honda "lay-down" scooter. Both are possibly the finest handling bikes I have ever driven, with the most secure cornering attitude I have ever experienced. Unfortunately the FIM would not hear of it and rejected the whole idea when they were contacted for inquiring about the legality of racing such a machine... There is also now a Swiss-built, BMW powered fully enclosed motorcycle following these lines and that has proven immensely successful, being at the same time very fast (aerodynamics) and handling beautifully and very safely."

From: http://npbka.com/morbidelli-project.htm

Dreams Of Speed

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This piece, and the accompanying drawings, show that progress has been made since 1978.

The FIM now allows FFs in E-racing, as do other (American) race organisers. Peraves continues and gathers pace (see preceeding blog entry). Anyone who praises the Alligator's comfort and handling would be truely astonished by almost any of the other FF's produced since 1978 (then there's safety..). And, apart from the understandably obsolete aerodynamics, the sketches above could have been among the concept sketches preceeding the Monoliner.

But they weren't, because no-one (except Gizmag) ever talks about all the English FF work. Most Italians seem to think that the Tessi boys invented centre hub steering, not Difazio, with a simpler, lighter, stiffer system twenty years earlier, subsequently developed and enhanced, again in England, by two sepearate design projects before the first Tessi rolled. (Castings for yet another Mk11 Voyager hub currently at the machinist)

"Good engineering is doing for five bob what any damm fool can do for a quid" So even for Morbidelli, looking at what the other damm fools were doing would have helped. But maybe, like Alligator and Tessi, they didn't want to look. It's a popular enough approach.

Some people just want to be first. Some people just want to move things forwards a bit. But in any case motorcylists just want things to stay exactly the same. And they've been calling the shots these last forty years.

FF's haven't taken off because the engineering's no good, even though some of it isn't, or because the innovators promoting them aren't charming enough, although some of us aren't. It's down to reactionary attitudes, wall to wall, treetop tall.

From Tesi to British-built Alto Vyrus, ridden by Reads!

I don't disagree with any of the above, but I'd like to add a nice little postscript, along with the correction that the Bimota Tesi has only one S; ('tesi' just means thesis in Italian – the design started as a student's thesis). The British firm Alto Performance developed a Ducati-powered Bimota Tesi into a machine called the Vyrus which was raced with considerable success by Phil Read Jnr, son of the multiple world champion. I got a nice shot of Phil Read Senior riding the said Vyrus at the Festival of a Thousand Bikes at Mallory Park in 2012 (to which I rode in a 1987 Ecomobile!). Phil senior was of course a big fan of the Quasar and rode one to Buckingham Palace to collect his MBE in 1979. See here:
It should also be mentioned that the Tesi has recently been revived, powered by a supercharged Kawasaki H2 motor, following the Japanese company's investment in Bimota in 2020. See here, for example: