February 15, 2011 - Main page with latest update here.
Bonneville, part 1

In early 2010 I was asked by my mate OZ if I’d like to go to Bonneville in 2012 to watch him make a record attempt on his Honda CBR1000. I hesitated for a millisecond and said yes.

That night I sat and thought about it some more. I’m not really into spectating, so I rang him & asked if I could take a bike. He too replied “Yes”. However, the only bike I had was my Indian, and that was a rather tasty trike, so I pulled the engine out & sold the remains (for peanuts) on eBay. The next task was to get a copy of the regulations (thanks Lars) and start sourcing parts while I had some money. 

However, it was obvious nearly everything would have to be hand made. It had to have wire spoked wheels, and they’re a bit thin on the ground nowadays, especially chain drive ones, but I managed to find a rear wheel & front end off a Honda Shadow, so the build could begin.

First a jig needed constructing. As I spent 20 years as a professional frame & bike builder, this was easy. All a jig has to do is to line up three things, the rear wheel, front end & engine. I made mine with slots in it for the wheels to drop into, so I could build the whole thing at waist height. After a lot of measuring, I had to offset the engine to the right by 1½”, which is no big deal as I knew that Harley motors were offset 1¼” as standard.

With it all set up, & using a borrowed hydraulic bender, I soon had the frame built. Tubing is heavy wall ERW, there’s no need for fancy seamless on this bike, and it’s all MIG welded. I have a very good welding set, and can weld to a very high standard.

To finalise the length of the bike prior to welding on the headstock, I used a very technical method. I lay on the floor with the end of a tape measure between my feet, and measured to my hands. Using caution, I tacked the headstock on and put the rolling chassis on the floor. Sitting on a pillow, I tried it for size. Too long. So back it went on the jig.

One note when building a frame. Before putting the headstock on, finish-weld the whole frame & check for distortion. On this bike the front downtubes were fitted after the headstock was fully welded, as they really do distort badly. Finally the gussets were cut out using my trusty Chinese plasma cutter, an excellent bit of kit.

With the frame finished, I put the chain on, but where I’d estimated there would be tons of room with a standard sprocket, there was a chance of it fouling with the one I intended to race with...

...so the centre downtube was cut out & a new one bent up. 

As you can see, this isn’t a full cradle frame, the motor is a stressed member as per the original Indian one. 

Another detail worth mentioning is that the frame, whilst it looks simple, isn’t. A lot of time & consideration were put into making sure I could get the barrels off with the engine in, or remove the whole engine leaving the gearbox & primary undisturbed.

Well, that’s the rolling chassis done. Next time it’s bodywork, oil tank & petrol tank.

Chris Ireland. 

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This is the story of Chris Ireland's 741 Land Speed racer.

A race bike built on a shoe-string budget by sheer 
ingenuity and hard work in the shed. The first parts 
of the story will cover the construction of the rolling 
chassis. Next the engine rebuild (and there will 
definitely be some tips here for DIY Indian engine 
work) and, finally, testing and revisions in preparation
for the big trip. For the finale, well - let's see what 
happens on the salt!

For more information, or offers of help or sponsorship, contact Chris on desperate@britchopper.co.uk


Please support these good people!

Click to go to the Aerocoat website
Custom powder coating at Aerocoat, who did 
the chrome-like coating on the frame and red 
body parts - all paint on the bike is powder
coating with no filler underneath.

Click to go to the Billet Bike Bits website
CNC machined aluminum parts at Billet Bike Bits.
BBB made the fork yokes.

Click to go to Earl's website
High performance hydraulic hose and fittings,
and a bunch of other cool stuff at Earl's UK.
Earl's supplied all the hose and fittings.

New Parts for Old Indians. IPE supplied the 
CV manifold and carb top, electronic ignition, 
main bearing housings and other odds and ends.

Click for more Rock Oil info
Rock Oil is generously sponsoring the whole 
team with oil. Their large range covers almost 
any - street or race - engine you can think of. 
Click logo for more information.

Click to go to the Shawn Taylor Racing website
Shawn Taylor Racing sponsored the dyno 
testing. Optimum ignition timing and carb 
jetting were determined, as well as at what
rpm the power started to drop off. All very
useful for rejetting at Bonneville with its
"thinner" air and, not least, for gearing. 
Shawn really knows his stuff, and can help 
your bike realise its potential too.

Click to go to the Shawn Taylor Racing website
Richard Dunn from Tiny-Tach UK graciously 
supplied one of the small, neat, accurate and
affordable digital rev counters that are fast 
becoming the norm for racers everywhere.
He suggested the "Commercial" model was 
best for this bike (among other features, it
reords max rpm on the last run), but talk
to him about what will suit your bike best.



Chick to read the story on Virtual Indian
Chris has owned Bella, his 741, for a long time, 
and she has come in several shapes over the years.
Read the story on Virtual Indian.

Click to go to the Brit Chopper website

Chris is the editor of Brit Chopper Magazine, 
"the magazine for serious petrolheads", and 
was the owner of Desperate Dan's, one of the 
most original and influential UK custom bike 
shops of the 1980's and 90's.

Click to go to the Brit Chopper website



For more information, or offers of help or sponsorship, 
contact Chris on desperate@britchopper.co.uk