KIWI RIDER MAGAZINE Kiwi Rider June 2017 - Page 22

HOME-GROWN Engineering Words: Todd Sutherland & Ben Wilkins / Photos: Todd Sutherland except where noted Pitting everything from over-bored two-strokes to 600cc multis with a redundant cylinder against each other, the Superlite class is the most innovative class in NZ racing. Todd Sutherland digs under the fairings of the trickest bikes in the paddock. M otorcycle racing is normally a pretty formulaic affair. For any given class you fit a race exhaust, tune the engine, strip off any excess weight and fit fibreglass fairings. For a given amount of talent, it’s the rider with the most money to spend on suspension and performance parts who’s going to have the fastest and most competitive machine. Thankfully, not all classes are regulated in the same way, and the Superlite class (formerly F3) has the most open rules in New Zealand road racing. Within certain capacity limits the imagination of a bike builder is free to roam and take flights of fancy. So we took a look at the diverse range of bikes making up the top spots in the top Superlite championships – machines which truly showcase the ingenuity of Kiwi bike builders and racers. The Superlite class has historically had a strong 400 Supersport-based core with the machines such as the ZXR400, FZR400, GSX-R400 and RVF400 battling to take the laurels. These machines were allowed to be bored out and run as 450s in the early 2000s, a few years after 650cc V-twins were introduced into the class. The 450 machines proved competitive once again with riders like Southland’s Andy Bolwell and Scott Findlay competing up until quite recently on what are 25-year-old machines. Getting a racing formula right must be an almost impossible task, so hats off to Motorcycling New Zealand (MNZ) and the road race commissioner Greg Percival, who seem to have managed it. This last season has been a golden year in the variety of competitive men and machine combinations for the Superlite class. Kiwi Rider encourages all you engineering types to check out the Superlite class when you are next at a meeting. All these guys are accommodating and I’m sure would like to see a few more creations out there. Just remember to ask, “When’s a good time to talk about your bike?”. Those racer types can be a lot like engineers when focused on a mission.