A few years ago, [Charles] picked up a sweet Suzuki motorcycle that checked all the boxen: it was in good shape, bore a few useful upgrades and a box of spare parts, plus the price was right. Though he assumed that he had pored over every picture on the classified site before buying, it wasn’t until later that [Charles] realized that something was indeed missing from the bike — a piece of chrome that does little more than to cover the tee in the brake line and bear the Suzuki brand. Once he saw the problem, he couldn’t un-see it, you know? And at that point, he just had to have that little piece, even if he had to make it himself.
That wasn’t the original plan, of course, but bike parts are expensive to begin with and only get worse as size, condition, and rarity increase. [Charles]’ quest to find this piece was halfway successful; he found a reasonable-but-rusty facsimile of the right part, although the emblem portion was long gone. Then he remembered the wife’s vinyl cutter.
Now, let’s stop right there. If you know anything at all about these vinyl cutters, you know that they are basically glorified 2D plotters with a knife attached where a pen would be. Send it any 2D file and you’re good? No, no; of course not. These things are locked down by the manufacturers.
Fortunately, [Charles] found inkscape-silhouette, which makes light work of sending SVGs to the machine. After much back and forth and maybe a bit of coin-flipping, [Charles] settled on the classy, stylized ‘S’ version rather than the full-on Suzuki badge. We think it looks great, and we’ll never tell anyone.
While this isn’t quite the type of badge we’d normally talk about, it’s a great project nonetheless, and it’s always nice to hear about projects that open up otherwise closed-source hardware.
When it comes to the development and testing of performance suspension, it’s helpful to have a test apparatus that lets you recreate certain conditions reliably. This LEGO suspension dyno does just that, and it’s clearly a big help for those doing R&D on minifig motorcycle suspension.
The build relies on four motors to overcome the resistance of turning a chunky conveyor belt, which acts as a rolling road. As the belt is built out of Technic beams, various LEGO blocks can be added to the conveyor to act as bumps or perturbations for testing suspension.
The video demonstrates the use of the dynamometer, showing how a simple LEGO motorbike design deals with bumps of various sizes. It’s easy to swap out forks and springs and change the geometry to tune the suspension, and the changes can be easily seen when running it through the same test conditions.
While we don’t imagine there are too many people working in this particular field, the lessons being taught here are valuable. This setup allows one to quickly visualize how changing vehicle parameters affects handling. It’s hard to imagine a better teaching tool for vehicle dynamics than something like this that lets you see directly what’s really going on!
A few weeks ago we posted a build of an avid motorcycle enthusiast named [fvfilippetti] who created a voltage regulator essentially from the ground up. While this was a popular build, the regulator only works for a small subset of motorcycles. This had a large number of readers clamoring for a more common three-phase regulator as well. Normally we wouldn’t expect someone to drop everything they’re doing and start working on a brand new project based on the comments here, but that’s exactly what he’s done.
It’s important to note that the solutions he has developed are currently only in the simulation phase, but they show promise in SPICE models. There are actually two schematics available for those who would like to continue his open-source project. Compared to shunt-type regulators, these have some advantages. Besides being open-source, they do not load the engine when the battery is fully charged, which improves efficiency. The only downside is that they have have added complexity as they can’t open this circuit except under specific situations, which requires a specific type of switch.
All in all, this is an excellent step on the way to a true prototype and eventual replacement of the often lackluster regulators found on motorcycles from Aprilia to Zero. We hope to see it further developed for all of the motorcycle riders out there who have been sidelined by this seemingly simple part. And if you missed it the first time around, here is the working regulator for his Bajaj NS200.
For how common motorcycles are, the designs and parts used in them tend to vary much more wildly than in cars and trucks. Sometimes this is to the rider’s advantage, like Honda experimenting with airbags or automatic transmissions. Sometimes it’s a little more questionable, like certain American brands holding on to pushrod engine designs from the ’40s. And sometimes it’s just annoying, like the use of cheap voltage regulators that fail often and perform poorly. [fvfilippetti] was tired of dealing with this on his motorcycle, so he built a custom voltage regulator using MOSFETs instead.
Unlike a modern car alternator, which can generate usable voltage even at idle, smaller or older motorcycle alternators often can’t. Instead they rely on a simpler but less reliable regulator that is typically no more than a series of diodes, but which can only deliver energy to the electrical system while the motor is running at higher speeds. Hoping to improve on this design, [fvfilippetti] designed a switched regulator from scratch out of MOSFETs with some interesting design considerations. It is capable of taking an input voltage between 20V and 250V, and improves the ability of the motorcycle to use modern, higher-power lights and to charge devices like phones as well.
In the video below, an LED was added in the circuit to give a visual indication that the regulator is operating properly. It’s certainly a welcome build for anyone who has ever dealt with rectifier- or diode-style regulators on older bikes before. Vehicle alternators are interesting beasts in their own right, too, and they can be used for much more than running your motorcycle’s electrical system.
We’re fans of unusual forms of transport here, so when we saw an article featuring a home-made motorcycle chariot we knew we had to share it with you. You’ll probably notice it comes from the keyboard of our colleague [Lewin Day] as he moonlights writing for The Drive, and he’s brought along a lot of context and history to the dual-Husqvarna chariot built by [Jack Field].
The machine itself is a chariot in the ancient Roman fashion, a two-wheeled platform on which the rider stands and holds the reins. Instead of a team of horses though there is the aforementioned pair of Husqvarna motorcycles, and a pair of rods to their handlebars with throttle and brake controls take the place of reins. It’s fair to say that this might not be the least hazardous of conveyances, but it appears both rideable and controllable, and will appear at motorcycle shows. truth be told we’d like to have a go ourselves, but since it’s in Australia we think there’s little chance. Unexpectedly the motorcycle chariot is not a new idea, with their being used for full-scale races back in the 1930s. There’s a trip into that world with some exciting but lethal-looking racing action to view, but it seems that these machines exist here in 2022 mostly for show.
Doing the rounds among motorcycle enthusiasts for the last week has been a slightly unusual machine variously portrayed as running on water or sea water. This sounds like the stuff of the so-called “Free energy” fringe and definitely not the normal Hackaday fare, but it comes alongside pictures of a smiling teenager and what looks enough like a real motorcycle to have something behind it. So what’s going on? The answer is that it’s the student project of an Argentinian teenager [Santiago Herrera], and while it’s stretching it a bit to say it runs on sea water he’s certainly made a conventional motorcycle run on the oxygen-hydrogen mix produced from the electrolysis of water. The TikTok videos are in Spanish, but even for non-speakers it should be pretty clear what’s going on.
It’s obvious that the bike is more of a student demonstrator than a road machine, as we’re not so sure a glass jar is the safest of receptacles. But the interesting part for us lies not in the electrolysis but in the engine. it appears to be a fairly standard looking motorcycle engine, a typical small horizontal single. It’s running on a stoichiometric mix of oxygen and hydrogen, something that packs plenty of punch over a similar mix using air rather than oxygen. It would be fascinating to know the effect of this mixture on an engine designed for regular gasoline, for example does it achieve complete combustion, does it burn hotter than normal fuel, and does it put more stress on the engine parts?
Motorcycle rally racing is a high-speed, exciting, off-road motorsport that involves zipping across all types of terrain on two wheels. While riding, it’s extremely important for riders to know what’s coming up next — turns, straightaways, stream crossings, the list goes on. Generally, this is handled by a roadbook — a paper scroll that has diagrams of each turn or course checkpoint, along with the distances between them and any other pertinent information. Of course, this needs to be paired with a readout that tells you how far you’ve traveled since the last waypoint so you’re not just guessing. This readout usually takes the form of a rally computer, a device that can display speed, distance traveled, and course heading (and some of the fancier ones have even more data available).
Frustrated with the lackluster interface and high cost associated with most rally computers on the market, [Matias Godoy] designed his own back in 2017, and was quick to realize he had a potential product. After several iterations he brought his idea to market with a small initial run, which sold out in a few hours!
[Matias]’s project, the Open Rally Computer (formerly the Baja Pro) packages neatly in a CNC-machined case and features a nice high-visibility LCD display, a built-in GPS receiver, and an ergonomic handlebar-mounted remote. The data is crunched by an ESP32 microcontroller, which also allows for WiFi-enabled OTA updates. The end result is a beautiful and useful device that was clearly designed with great care. Love the idea but not a rally racer? If street bikes are more your thing then fear not because there’s an open source digital dashboard out there for you too.