Dennis Curtis achieved a good bit of notoriety in the 60's & 70's as a Vincent road racer and builder of frames for the Stevenage twins. In fact, Jay Leno has a Curtis Vincent in his collection and my friend Bar Hodgson has the makings of two.. Dennis moved away from frame building when he began his career with Honda, but about 8 years ago, reopened his shop (CMR) and achieved superb results with his TZ 750 frames. His workmanship is incredible and with a strong racing background, his stuff tends to work really well.
Over the past few years, Dennis has been banging around the idea of doing a Ducati frame and in the past couple of months that discussion (with me) has gotten pretty active. Last week - based on a couple of long discussions over the phone and a visit to my shop, he decided to take the plunge and build a copy of Palmer's amazing Yellow Bike F1 racer. For those of you who don't know why Palmer's Yellow Bikes are so special, here's the scoop: Over 10 years and close to as many championships in the CCS series, Palmer developed a very potent F1-based racer that could run with the modern middleweight superbikes. I rode an early version when we met at Grattan some 10 years ago and when he decided to sell the racer back in 2010, I jumped on the opportunity. I spent the winter making it look like a loudbike and taking some of the edge off of it - and when I rode it at Grattan in '11, I was blown away by how much faster it made me. Palmer made two very important changes to the geometry: Taking the steering angle in (a lot) and running a longer swing arm. This approach has the effect of moving rider and engine center forward about two inches - giving the Yellow Bike entirely modern, front-end biased handling and feedback. It's stable as hell, turns on a dime and gives you $0.09 change. The front end feel is well beyond what were used to with even the best of the vintage TT1, DB1 and Harris frames. Palmer made another copy, I sold mine to Bar (intending to build another one) and then I built #3 for a customer in Australia who jumped on it and immediately beat his best lap times (on a Bayliss) at Philip Island.
We knew the package was really potent, but when Cycle World contributor Yamaha Champions Riding School owner Nick Ienatsch rode YB#1 at Mosport this year, he came back to the pits and raved about it. On Sunday that weekend, the only person lapping Mosport faster than Nick on the Yellow Bike was mufti-time Canadian Superbike Champion Jordan Szoke on his works BMW. To quote Nick: "...a bike that can be described simply as: A weapon."
Dennis would like to do a run of five kits: which include the frame (dimensionally identical to Yellow Bike I), CroMo swing arm and rising rate linkages, axles, adjusters and engine mount bolts. $5,200.00 USD is the target price. The frame will be 2V Ducati engine agnostic - accommodating everything from the small-blocks to the Dual Spark big-blocks. There will be an alloy tank available for about $1,100 and glass bodywork at competitive prices as well. He'ls open to making the battery and breather boxes and tach/fairing bracket as well - and already makes a nice set of rearsets. One of the cool things about the package is that you can pretty much bolt anything to it in terms of accessories/wheels/suspension/brakes. As long as you maintain the prescribed triple clamp offset, axle center to steering head distance and swing arm angle, it'll work just as well as the other Yellow Bikes.
These things make killer vintage racers and outrageously competent track bikes. If you're getting ready to build for the new Australian twins class, Canadian Period 4 Vintage, or CCS / AHRMA in the US - then this would be the chassis of choice.
We have two people committed to buying a kit as of today and need three more to start production. If you're keen - or simply want to know more, just hit me at [email protected]
I have NO COMMERCIAL INTEREST in this venture - I'm just keen as hell to work with Dennis and agreed to give him a hand getting the project off the ground. ...and maybe build another Yellow Bike for me in the process...
Comments and feedback (and orders) welcome and appreciated!