Racing motorcycle design is under my skin big time and I’ve spent far too many hours staring at my bikes in the garage and reading design books. It’s unfortunate that I don’t think an actual scratch build is in my near future given all the other things I’m trying to do in my life but seeing bikes like Robin Wittebrood’s RW50R special really taunts my imagination. I saw a few photos of his chassis floating around the internet not long ago so it was so cool to see it in the flesh because it really caught my attention.
Simple, is anything but. Being able to design and build something ‘simple’ whether its an engine, a bike, a website or a house almost requires 10X the effort and design intent. It requires rock solid ideas and perspectives on how something should be. Robin’s bike caught my attention because it pulls off ‘simple’ so well.
A few things I like: 1) It’s narrow, and low. Robin narrowed some RS125 fairings and custom made the narrow tank. The front aero profile is small with enough tuck room for the helmet. The bars are narrow like a classic. I think there could still be some improvements in the lower half of the fairing but it’s far better than a standard 125 fairing for a 50. 2) It’s well packaged. The rear engine ‘cradle’ and cross brace is a piece of sheetmetal art. And the suspension is very low so there’s enough room for a ‘reversed cylinder’ with the a new exhaust to exit under the seat 3) It’s triangulated to hell and really ‘simple’. Look at all those triangles! It felt rigid to sit on that’s for sure. Robin spent a load of time with plastic pipes testing different shapes to find the best flex patterns for what he was trying to achieve. 4) He’s not afraid to try the unusual. Yes, that engine has 2 carbs and 2 reed valves. Why not? It’s an interesting experiment and he’ll learn from it. Ultimately Rob said he will run a carb out the front and a rear facing exhaust but it goes pretty good so far! 5) It’s not simply a Honda RS125 chassis. Yeah I have them myself and it’s the most straight forward way to get going but they’re expensive, you end up pulling apart a genuine Grand Prix bike. Robin said to me “you don’t need to spend a fortune on a RS125 chassis if you’re willing to do the work”, and I can’t agree more. Solid work Robin.
Seeing this bike and talking to Robin really kicked my mind into gear. Back in the pits and back to the team workshop I found myself spending a lot more time staring at the bikes, plotting ways to make them faster. Maybe one day... Thanks Robin for showing me your beautiful machine. I hope to see you at the next 2 rounds!