TEST BY ALEX PENKLIS; PHOTOGRAPHY GAVEN DALL’OSTO + AMCN
Out with the old in with the new – that’s what the Motoinno TS3 is hoping to do.
There is no denying the fact that when you build a motorcycle you will almost inevitably build it with a traditional front-end, after all there aren’t many motorcycles out there that don’t utilities a telescopic fork. Yet ever since this design was developed every now and then a new layout is toyed with by large and boutique manufacturers alike.
The reason some engineers are not completely sold on the idea of a telescopic fork is that the steering, braking and suspension movements are all intertwined with one another and inevitably influence each other. Layouts such as centre-hub steering (CHS) attempt to reduce this problem by separating these three forces, but have failed to catch on mainstream.
The latest design takes us to Queensland where inventor Ray Van Steenwyk, who was a maestro in the world of cinema 3D animation, teamed up with business partner Colin Oddy in 2008 to form Motorcycle Innovation Pty Ltd. After countless man-hours on CAD and CNC machines the company rolled out its first fully functioning prototype in 2011 – the Motoinno TS3.
The TS3 is built around a 2002 Ducati 900SS engine that is housed in a truly exotic looking chassis. The front-end is pure CNC machining art and very reminiscent of a meccano set. Ray believes this unique triangulated steering and suspension system front-end has all the benefits of a CHS system, but none of its drawbacks such as lack of feeling and reduced ground clearance (Full TS3 review in AMCN Vol65No09). Styling wise there is no mistaking it as a concept as the fairings are a mismatch between a Ducati front and BMW S1000RR tail, but that doesn’t matter as your eyes rarely wander from the front-end.
The TS3 has shaved more than 30kg off what a normal Ducati 900SS weighs – bringing the weight down to a remarkable 161kg dry, the unique design has also increased the lock-to-lock steering to a massive 54° – this allows you to conduct feet up U-turns in a space not much bigger than its wheelbase.
Lakeside Raceway was the setting for the test and with its undulation, mix of corners, coupled with smooth and rough surfaces it was the perfect environment to see what the TS3 has to offer in many different surroundings.
Arriving at the first turn at Lakeside I initiated the turn at what I thought would be the appropriate tip-in point for a motorcycle – the TS3 responded so quickly that I almost cut the grass on the inside of the uphill right hander. The next time around I increased my speed and moved my turn-in point later, something that usually doesn’t go hand in hand – again it was too tight. It wasn’t until the second session that my brain fully comprehended how tight an arc the TS3 can hold.
Tip-in is fast and accurate, mid-corner front-end stability is solid and the line doesn’t widen as you twist the throttle on the 900cc V-twin – which is complemented by an explosive bark out of the two shorty mufflers.
In fact not even applying quite a handful of front brake while leaned over (yes I did run a little wide on one corner) – something I would never do on a conventional front-end didn’t unsettled the TS3 or widen its radius – If I had done that on my race bike I would have no doubt tucked the front.
High speed stability is exceptional and confidence inspiring, by the second session I was holding it flat out in fifth gear through the extremely fast left kink down the main straight – the inside bumps on the apex didn’t unsettle the TS3 at all, but the front shock is on the harsher side of things.
Through the dinky and rough bus stop on the back straight the TS3 snapped from side-to-side with energetic agility with only the slightest pressure required on the bars, while all the time remaining solid and planted – there were no signs of twitchiness that you sometimes get from extremely fast steering.
Out of the bus stop, hard on the throttle stop in second gear the front showed no hints of headshake as it skimmed over the less than ideal bitumen surface changes. The TS3 doesn’t sport a steering damper and inventor Ray told me there is no need for one – I can’t argue with him as it remained planted as more modern sportsbikes were getting their shake on in front of me as they transitioned back to the main track.
Under hard braking the TS3 remains stable, in-line and without the side-to-side wallow you get from the flexing of the typical telescopic fork. No matter the brake pressure you are holding the TS3’s turn-in remains the same, it was so confidence inspiring I don’t think I have held that much front-brake pressure till knee down on any other bike.
Speaking to Ray at the end of the day he told me the next step for the company is to swap out the tired 900cc V-twin for a modern 1200cc Ducati Monster engine with all the electronics. He also wants to build a Moto2 racer and take it onto the world stage, as he believes the controlled engine gives him the perfect setting to showcase his chassis design.
I wish Ray and Colin all the best, I was a little sceptical at first, but the two guys have shown me that you don’t need to be a powerhouse manufacturer to be onto something.