Thrills and Cash for Motorcyclists

This article by Theodore Hodgdon appeared in the May 1932 issue of Modern Mechanix.  It tells the reader how to prepare their bike for "Class B" hill climb events where they can win cash prizes for winning the event.  I've included scans from the original magazine, but if you scroll past them I have the text typed out so it is easier to read.





THRILLS and CASH for Motorcyclists

by Theodore Hodgdon

The author of this article, one of the leading authorities on motorcycle hill-climbing and racing, tells here how to prepare your motorcycle for Class “B” hill climb events, where you can win cash awards for your riding skill.

ALL the thrills of an exciting sport plus substantial awards, await the amateur motorcycle competition rider in 1932. During the last year there were 60 Race Meets held in the U.S.A., 160 hill climb contests, and 150 motorcycle polo matches.

In these events, held on Sundays, holidays and Saturday afternoons, only the professional riders were allowed to accept cash prizes for their winnings. However, for 1932 the rules have been changed to make the lot of the amateur or Class “B” rider more profitable. Now, if you prepare your motorcycle carefully and go out to win a hill climb, you can take cash for your winnings.

At many hill climbs the list of prize money totals from $300 to $400, while at some of the larger sectional or national championship climbs the prize money runs as high as $1600, all of which is split up among the riders who win first, second, third, fourth and fifth places in the afternoon’s sport.

You Can Make Your Motorcycle Pay!

In other words, the motorcyclist who starts out to ride his way to victory in hill climbs this year, can make his spare Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, profitable and filled with the thrills of an exciting sport.

“But how,” says the motorcycle owner, “can I fix up my motor to compete in the hill climbs and win?”

Stock Motorcycles Can Be Made Over As a matter of fact, the rules of the American Motorcycle Association provide for 1932 that every promoter of a hill climb contest must schedule on the program an event for Class “B” riders mounted on 45 cubic inch motors of pocket valve design, like the Indian Scout “45″ or any other stock “45″ motorcycle which you can buy, and such as many riders now own.

In other words, if you already own, or if you purchase a Scout “45″ or other 45 cubic inch motorcycle, you are eligible to compete in these contests subject to the rulings of the big governing body which rules over such events. (These events are also open to 30.50 cubic inch motorcycles of overhead valve design, if catalogued by the manufacturer.) What To Do To prepare the stock “45″ for hill climbing there are five distinct steps to follow, listed below:
1. Motor should be completely overhauled and “souped up” to deliver more horse-power. (Compression raised, alloy pistons installed, etc.)
2. All needless friction must be positively eliminated. Wheels must roll easily, transmission, chain and sprockets must be perfectly lined up to “roll free.”

3. The whole motorcycle must be as light as possible for hill climbing. (All excess weight such as head lights, tool boxes, front mudguards and all unnecessary fittings removed.)
4. Saddle, handle bars and foot-boards must be located to bring the rider’s weight quite well forward. (This is necessary for balance while riding up the steep slant.)
5. The rear wheel should be fitted with a skid chain as shown in the illustration, and the motor should be geared down to pull in high gear at all times. This is done by a large sprocket on the rear wheel of about 70 teeth on a Scout “45,” as shown in the illustration.

If you attempt to ride a hill in low or second gear, the gear box will be using up a fraction of the horsepower which you need to win. Therefore, gear your 45-inch motor about 13 to 1 in high gear, whereas the ordinary road job is geared about 5 to 1 for road use. Some hills will require a higher gear than 13 to 1 and other hills will demand a lower gear.

This change in gearing is made by putting on a larger or smaller sprocket on engine or transmission, say a 13,14, or 15 tooth sprocket.

Hints on Riding the Hill Climber After the motorcycle is in top notch condition, according to the above rules, the rider had best make some practice rides and tests on a short but very steep hill which he may locate in a pasture or sand pit, but preferably on fairly smooth hard ground free from rocks.

Straight Start Is Essential One of the first essentials for a successful straight ride over the top of a hill is to start squarely facing the course.

Sit firmly in the saddle, make sure your engine is thoroughly warmed up and that it will take full throttle without spitting or skipping. Then make sure your front wheel and the whole machine faces exactly the course you intend to ride over the hill. Then wind open the throttle and let the clutch in smoothly but firmly.

Balance Fore and Aft When you find yourself started up the hill, if your front wheel tends to “rear up” —climb forward on the machine—feet firmly on the footboards—don’t ride with your feet dragging!

For the first few rides you may find it almost impossible to balance the machine over the bumps and rough places without using your feet, but remember—when you stick out your feet to balance or get back onto the course you were not “riding it” and to win you’ve got to ride!

There is little more to say except that hill climb riders—even the best of them—take spills when the hill is too steep or the ground is too rough but a spill is just a toss —no rougher than the scrimmage football played by ten year old boys.

Never in the records of the sport of hill climbing has anyone been seriously hurt. It is just one of those thrilling sports which puts on a spectacular appearance but where the danger element is not anywhere near as” large as in a game like football.

Remember—to win you must ride, just as in a baseball game you must make hits and runs—and the harder and better aimed the hits, the longer will your runs be!

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