Dutch motorcycle-builder Rolf van der Heide calls his machine a “gentleman’s racer” – we’re not sure what that means exactly, so we’ll just settle on calling it beautiful. The VanderHeide features a monocoque chassis, made completely from carbon fiber. The swingarm and front-end assembly are also made from the composite material, all of which was engineered and hand-built by Rolf van der Heide himself. At the core of the machine is an Aprilia RSV4 engine, which makes 201hp in its stock form. VanderHeide says it can provide a 230hp superbike option, if one’s wallet so desires. Other go-fast bits include 17″ BST carbon fiber wheels, a MoTeC dash, Brembo brakes, and a very unique setup for the bike’s Öhlins TTX36 shocks, but we haven’t touched the tip of the iceberg on what makes this motorcycle so unique.
Before Ducati’s monocoque chassis design was all the rage in superbike design, the folks at Honda were busy toying with the same idea.
Outlining a patent in 2006 for a motorcycle whose engine would be fully utilized as a part of the chassis, Honda’s design, which differs in minutiae, predates Ducati’s patent by almost a year and a half.
A noticeable departure from Honda’s MotoGP design, one can argue whether Honda’s monocoque chassis was destined for the next iteration of the CBR1000RR or the next generation VFR at the time of its conception.
David spent some lines of text yesterday talking about the lack of chassis innovation in the Moto2 Championship. As we know now, Moto2 has become a race of common denominators, with twin-spar aluminum frames ruling the day. Company’s like Vyrus have threatened to enter Moto2 with their very stylish Vyrus 986 M2 race bike, with its hub-center steering design; but as David pointed out, the work involved to train racers for the new inputs these machines provide is perhaps the bigger boulder to carry when compared to developing the motorcycles themselves. That doesn’t mean that innovation is lacking though, as we bring you another intriguing design, this time one built right here in sunny California: the Taylormade Carbon2.
Hopefully you have done the laundry since our absolutely raunchy post that showed the 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale without its clothes on, because we have got some more hardcore and explicit photos for you on this Friday afternoon. A reminder that everything new and exciting has probably been done before by someone else, we can see that Ducati could easily have had some inspiration with the Panigale’s design if they looked at the MotoCzysz C1 990, circa 2006 (and the Britten V1000, circa 1991, etc.). After all, it’s said that imitation is the highest form of flattery.
Housing a VR4 motor instead of the 1199’s Superquadro v-twin, Czysz & Co. employed a similar design that incorporates the frame, airbox, and headstock into a single component. While the MotoCzysz C1 uses a carbon fiber monocoque chassis design (as does the company’s electric superbike: the MotoCzysz E1pc), Ducati has of course made a more practical choice with its use of an aluminum frame (how long will it take for an aftermarket carbon fiber solution to hit the streets?).
The 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale represents a huge step in motorcycle design, mostly due to its frameless chassis or monocoque design. Using the engine as an integral component to the Panigale’s chassis, Ducati’s hallmark achievement was building an integrated headstock/airbox off the front cylinder. With the seat and subframe built off the rear cylinder, and the swingarm bolting directly to the motor, the Ducati 1199 Panigale was able to not only shed 22 lbs of its predecessor’s design, but also continues the Italian company’s new design trend of having components that take on multiple functional roles.