|This is where we get to introduce everyone to the inordinately fun world of CycleKarts! We've built a lot of projects over the years, most of which people ride around in. We've become pretty good at reading people's expressions to gauge how much fun the machine really is as they take off in something for the first time. The CycleKarts rate right at the top; absolute whooping-out-loud fun.
CycleKarts are small, lightweight, nimble machines made by their drivers for the pursuit of motoring sport. They're not serious speed-machines or status-generating show cars. They're purely for the gritty fun and satisfaction of tearing around in a machine you've built yourself.
|Down by the barns...|
|As a class of driving machine, the CycleKart formula limits certain aspects of the machines (for reasons we elaborate on elsewhere) to maintain good sporting performance without jeopardising the light-hearted nature of these machines. CycleKarts and their builder/drivers don't like to take things too seriously, and certainly not themselves or each other, so overzealous competitiveness is frowned upon, and a win-at-any-cost attitude is not invited back. We do encourage good, sporting competitions for fun, to which end the cars are kept reasonably similar in performance.|
|First off: these cars are not for sale here or anywhere else! This is not a mercenary proposition; we do this for our pleasure, and we've found over the years that trying to make money from hobbies takes the fun out of things. Besides, as you'll read below, there are some very good reasons why mercantilism is kept out of this sport.
Drivers have to make their own cars, as we decided some time ago that no one should be able to just fork over money and buy a CycleKart. Proper appreciation for the sport and the machines requires one construct one's own car. We have had opportunities to test this theory several times, and it has borne out our initial impressions. In addition to the very extensive CycleKart Gallery of photos, we have a page of general CycleKart specifications, as well as a Questions page and a page of Thoughts On The Breed, which will help to serve as inspiration for those who want to forge ahead with their own machines! After all, part of the fun of the CycleKarts is figuring out how to squeeze everything in place, and we had nothing whatsoever to work from when we created these cars. People have been wondering if there are plans or kits for the CycleKarts: There are not. The builder must figure out much for themselves, but this is part of the evolutionary process, and part of the fun. Most importantly, each builder respects his or her car more this way, and fellow CycleKartistes know they share a bit of a rite-of-passage when they meet. Driving one's own car makes for more safe events, as non-builders tend to thrash the machines.
|Steve Kearney throwing some dust in the Delage.|
|Those of us who created the CycleKart, and who have founded the Association of MotoCycleKartistes, have posted these pages as a means of adding to the level of silliness in the motoring world and to try and stave off the overwhelming need for status-seeking and hyper-competitive aspects of the automobile world. Our mission, so-to-speak, is to help spread the word about CycleKarting in general, and to provide a place for disenfranchised, alienated, and enlightened eccentrics like ourselves to view the craziness. Bear in mind that this is not a commercial enterprise or a non-profit group: We're just CycleKart aficionados and gurus who want to see more micro-motorsports in the world! We're not CycleKart manufacturers or plans suppliers, and we present this information purely as an intellectual excersise and as an encouragement for other zany creators.|
|Membership in our local, founding chapter of the AMCK is by invitation only, which affords those of us who have built CycleKarts (and their larger cousins true Cyclecars) the most sport and privacy with which to throw some dirt and have some fun!|
|The A.M.C.K adheres to the loosest of regulatioins, as one might hope, and membership is largely in the minds of those affected by the CycleKarting bug. Nontheless, we do rather hold our selves aloof, preferring our own mad company. Happily, we don't really have to define ourselves, do we?
We are still looking for more zany eccentrics like ourselves who might have the space to host a passel of CycleKartistes and their machines in a pastoral setting in Central California, the British Isles, or Europe, but it's hard to find people who mesh with our particular eccentricities. We've had to turn away from groups who appeared so promising in order to maintain a less-serious approach. Recently, we've been extremely pleased to find a pack of fellow mad-motoring-enthusiasts in New South Wales who seem to get the drift. Perhaps a CycleKarts-In-The-Southern-Hemisphere trip needs to be arranged...
|The right crowd,|
|and no crowding!|
|Otherwise, we encourage builders to form their own local chapters to spread the CycleKarting phenomenon in ever-widening arcs. To this end, we will be very willing to consider pictures and notes, news and information of Cyclekart and micro-motoring from around the world for inclusion in our newsletter and website pages.|
Don't forget: almost everyone of the pictures on this and all the other pages are links to larger versions.
Road & Track has finally dropped the April-fool's article from their site. Entirely understandable, so I posted the pages on ours instead.
|The CycleKart takes its heritage proudly from a phenomenon that exploded onto the Automobile World and came into full force during the Roaring Twenties- The CYCLECAR.|
|The Cyclecar was a return to the visceral basics of the fun of driving a motorcar, just when mainstream production cars were becoming fat and luxurious. Cyclecaristes, as their drivers (or victims) were known, had to have a special kind of appetite for the spartan to enjoy Cyclecar Motoring.|
|Mr. Kearney again, heading into "The Gate Turn"|
|A patron-saint of CycleKarting in one of his racing GN cyclecars at Brooklands: Capt. Archie Frazer-Nash. The nonchalant passenger is Mr. Godfrey, the other half of the GN team.|
|According to motoring journalists of the day, they had to be on good terms with "their brother , the wind, and their sister, the rain," (not to mention being on a more than nodding acquaintance with their cousin, the pothole, and their aunt, the dust cloud.
Nevertheless, the Cyclecar (with its powerful and light motorcycle engine bolted into the flimsiest excuse for a chassis and even scantier bodywork) won its way into the hearts of thousands due largely to a very aggressive power-to-weight ratio that could leave far more expensive cars eating their dust.
|Completely ignoring the torturous, if exciting ride of these tiny machines, most Cyclecar races were extremely long-distance endurance events. The first 24-hour race in the world (the infamous "Bol d'Or" enduro) was open only to cyclecars, differing from the Le Mans 24-hr race in that the use of a co-driver meant disqualification.|
|Many of the pioneers of the Cyclecar Movement, it seemed, were ex-combat pilots left over from fighting Richthoven's Flying Circus in the Great War. They wanted action, but they tended to feel that if people weren't actually shooting bullets at you, the day's sport was simply a lark and not something to be taken too seriously; hence the Cyclecar. -For those who like to take their sport with an added grain of salt.|
|The Spider at speed!|
|Despite their draughty, rattling, smoke-choked ride, the liveliness of the Cyclecar made it just the car for that age of the chic and absurd, and it quickly became the pet of the smart-set. A magazine devoted to Cyclecars became the largest circulation publication in England and in the suburbs of Paris alone, there were no less than 350 different brands of cyclecars being manufactured in those golden days of the "moveable feast."|
|At our version of Captain Archie's Garage it was felt that a light-hearted machine that could deliver a lot of tactile-fun at a low speed was just the ticket for our age of racing that has been taking speeds too high (and taking itself too seriously) to be a lot of fun for many of us.|
|John Bolster in his lifelong companion Bloody Mary. A very effective and heart-pounding cyclecar.|
|CycleKarts are even smaller than their ancestors, with featherweight monococque frames, disc brakes, lightning-quick precise steering and a 200 cc. ohv, smog-approved engines coupled up to vari-drive automatic transmissions. The result? More power than you really need. By the time you've hit the second turn, you've learned how to use your hips and body-English to do most of the steering, -and the rest is pure four-wheeled mayhem. You quickly get to feel like you could drive the little monster any which way you like (except, perhaps, in a straight line). The concept of the CycleKart was created by Peter and Michael Stevenson, but construction of cars has begun to spread to other members of the AMCK.|
|Go-Kart running gear has become pretty sophisticated over the years, -perfect for joining to old-style small-patch, tall and skinny wheels that slide easily at low speeds, to produce a new kind of sport machine:
|We have a few different types of CycleKarts so far: A Bugatti-inspired Type 59, the 1925 Delage-inspired car (in blue on this page, and cream-colored more recently), and the M.G. inspired Mini-Magnette (green, obviously). David Mysona has built an Alfa P3 styled CycleKart, and is hinting that he may do an ERA next. A version of the Whitney Straight/Bira Maserati is being built by Van and Michael Stevenson. The next car by Peter Stevenson (who did the MG, most of the Delage, and the Type 59) will most likely be a Bentley. Bill Stevenson is working on an Amilcar (although he hasn't ruled out a Brescia Bug). Junta-member Steve Kearney hasn't declared his car choice yet, but I know we're going to see him running a machine before too long (he has to finish the Vari-Eze first.) The Benson contigent from RI is busy at work on a Miller which looks like good fun!|
|There are any number of other machines which would make great CycleKarts. AMCK member Dave Larkin is talking about a Miller-styled American Speedway Racer (in who knows what colours; maybe purple and yellow, but something flamboyant and dirt-track-approved!)(ed. Mr. Benson has built a beautiful Miller and it's been happily received at the home-track!) CycleKart enthusiast Mr. Baron has advanced his proposal for a Napier-Railton machine: A sublime contrast in sizes which might actually work aesthetically! Perhaps a Frazer-Nash or a Riley. How about a Bugatti "Tank"? (ed. This has been worked on a bit and it's kind of a bust, in our opinion. Not enough open-wheel-fun!) A Vauxhall or Bentley might be possible. An Alfonso Hisso would be a charmer. A Salmson could be fun, or a rakish B.N.C. The concept of the CycleKart allows for a wide range of cars up to 1934. Another 1927 machine has been suggested recently: the Fiat 806, a very worthy competitor to the '27 Delage!|
|We have put a strict upper limit of pre-WWII to keep the machines within the lighter-looking eras of racing. By the late 1930's the visual wheel weights of cars get too heavy to look appropriate, ending around 1934 in Europe, and a bit later in the US (as the US cars were a bit behind the curve and kept their lighter look a little longer). We feel that a lot of 1920's cars are almost too light and spindly looking to make good CycleKarts, but others are inspired by these cars, so we haven't put a lower limit on the range of possible machines.|
|Bill Stevenson trying out the Delage in early tests of the first CycleKart back in the Summer of 1997.|
|Mr. Kott leading Mr. Hong past the pits...|
|There are some socio-political aspects of racing, and the automobile industry at large, which lead us also to stick to these more sporting eras, but by far the most important element is the proper visual fit of the wheels to the project. To our mind, it all starts with the wheels. The character of Boris Lermontov might have bellowed "Nothing matters but the music" at his dancers, but at a design session around here it's the wheels!|
|We're looking forward to seeing more CycleKarts tearing up tracks around the world.
We've had some great shots and letters from people who've built cars. Please don't hesitate to send us pictures of your own machines, or notes you might like us to consider for inclusion in our newsletters or website. Who knows: you may even have your questions answered! We've included some of our new friends in our group too.
|Steve Kearney in the Mini-Magnette, with Fred Coleman following along in the Delage|
|Click Here to go to the CycleKart Gallery Page|
|Click Here to go to the CycleKart Questions & Answers Page|
|Click Here to go to read some thoughts on the concept.|
|Click Here to go to the CycleKart Specifications Page|
Amazingly, there are now VIDEO clips on YouTube of both Bloody Mary and Spider...Very cool.
We've had requests for books to learn about some of the real racecars which CycleKarts are based on.
While any good racing history covering the 1920's and 1930's should have information, we're going to plug our own books with shameless abandon!
Peter Stevenson wrote two good books on racing history. The first book, The Greatest Days Of Racing is out of print, but can be found frequently on ABE Books ( a good used book source online.)
Here's a link to a look at some authentic Cyclecars like these Salmsons!
Here's a project you can build tonight! Make one of our WrapOn toys for yourselfor even a kid.
|A slightly larger project:
An actual cyclecar this time.
|The Alfettina was the project we were working on when we decided to build the first CycleKarts. We started to realise that the Alfettina was going to be too fast to be taken lightly and would need a real track. We decided to try something smaller and more essential, thus the CycleKarts.|
|This is the last project we finished before we started on the Alfettina and the CycleKarts.|