Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Dyno

A recent addition to the shop has been a dynamometer, a.k.a. the Dyno. Ian came across it via some techs at the downtown Harley shop, who didn't want to run it in their neighborhood.

A dyno is a like a treadmill for motorcycles, with a 350-pound steel drum on which the bike's wheel spins. A computer records and analyzes the bike's performance.

"It looks kind of rusty," I said.

"The rust is part of the uh . . . charm . . . yeah," Ian said. "One of these things brand new is like fifteen grand. For our tiny little vintage shop to get hold of a performance dyno is huge. It just doesn't happen."

To make room for the Dyno, Ian cleared out his "pile of crap," including "rat bikes" and parts bikes, and stuck it outside to rot in the rain.

"What's a rat bike?" I asked, picturing something out of Ed Roth. (I never pass up a good tangent.)

"It's any rusted-out bike that has sat around forever in a garage or a backyard," Ian said. "Some people build rat-style bikes, but basically rat bikes are roaches. There's no way to get rid of them except for the junk man or a shop like mine. We only use them for parts, so they're pretty much dead souls. If somebody stole one, I wouldn't really care too much. I'd just find another one for fifty bucks."

Poor things.

But back to the Dyno.

Ian's finishing up the platform, which still needs a ramp. The computer brain, which diagnoses all the information, is being serviced at Dynojet. The computer also needs a monitor--as well as a printer for printing out the runs.

"We're going to post the kings of certain classes up here," Ian said, "so that everybody knows who's the biggest dog in town to beat."

Ian had to steal from the Twinline Motorcycles race fund to cover the Dyno. He's planning a "dyno party" to top the fund back up.

"We'll do a keg and some live music and run motorcycles on the Dyno," Ian said. "This'll help us raise some money, so that we can go out and be competitive and have a good time at the raceway."

Ian plans to throw the party at the shop on a Saturday night in April.

"Hopefully it'll hit some nice weather," he said. "I think we're probably going to get forty or fifty bikes through that night, which is insane. It'll be eighteen bucks for a single run on it, and it'll be fifty bucks for three."

The party aside, Ian intends to use the Dyno primarily for vintage customers and for rebuilding motors for Twinline cafe bikes.

"We could line sport bikes out the door all day long," Ian said, "but that's not really what we want to do with it. We'll rent it out sometimes, but we're putting it in so we can build motors and build horsepower for our customers. This will also help with our vintage racing, because we'll be able to build horsepower for race bikes."

Ian wants to cater to vintage racers, so when somebody says, for example, "I need 45 horsepower," Ian can back up the completed work with a dyno report.

"The Dyno was just too awesome for me to pass by," Ian said.