The Triumph Rocket III packed the largest displacement production motorcycle engine in the world. Checking in at nearly 2,300 cc, the stock Rocket III generates a brutal 163 lb-ft of torque and 146 bhp.
When you stop to consider that a brand-new Ford Fusion makes 175 lb-ft of torque and 175 bhp – and weighs some 3,400 pounds – you might get some idea of what the stock Rocket III can do at just 800 pounds total weight.
That's why Brian Klock, the founder and President of KlockWerks Kustom Cycles, chose the Rocket III as his base material for a run at a World Land Speed Record on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Wendover, Utah.
The Bonneville Salt Flats, a steel-hard salt pan in Tooele County, is an otherworldly remnant of the Pleistocene era Lake Bonneville. The salt flats are the host to five major land speed events; Bonneville Speed Week, World of Speed, the World Finals, the Bub Motorcycle Speed Trials and the Mike Cook ShootOut. The idea is pretty simple. Spend a year tuning your machine, then climb on board and goose it until it won't go any faster in search of a record in one of the various competition classes.
Making that happen can come down to some pretty subtle details.
Tire pressure, suspension set-up, steering geometry, power to weight ratio and aerodynamics all play a part in the final outcome. Mistakes in design can lead to instability, and that's a mighty scary problem at the speeds riders travel across the salt.
Klock, well known for his innovative vehicle parts and motorcycle designs, created a unique three-wheeler based on the Rocket III Touring bike. He added a Carpenter Racing motor kit and a Motor Trike conversion setup and got the job done by reaching 136 mph through the traps at the recent speed trials.
It was hardly the first time Klock indulged his need for speed. Since 2006, his KlockWerks racing team has set more than 20 land speed records.
To build his three-wheeled monster, Klock looked to 3D printing technology to squeeze every last drop of speed and aerodynamic stability out of his whopping trike.
"Direct digital manufacturing with the Stratsys Fortus 400mc gave us a major edge in the competition," said Jesse Hanssen, once a mechanical engineer at KlockWerks (and now a Product Line Manager at Stratasys). "The Fortus FDM system enabled us to build anything we could imagine."
The engineers at KlockWerks used AM to make a gauge pod, fork tube covers, a streamlined headlight bezel, floorboard mounts, floorboard streamlining covers, and a wheel spacer cover. The parts were 3D printed in just five days from tough polycarbonate plastic.
Another real advantage of 3D printing the critical parts came at the cash register. Hanssen said that using AM to make the parts checked in at less than a quarter of what it would have cost to injection mold or cast them.
"And it proves the durability of polycarbonate parts in a pretty extreme test," Klock said. "The Triumph Rocket III is the ultimate trike motor as it sits, then Carpenter Racing turned it into a 250-horsepower, full blown hot rod."