Arnold 1972

Arnold was one of two bikes run by SAE from some time in the late '50s/early '60s until the mid '70s. It was designed by Bill Faircloth. The bikes didn't freeroll worth a crap, but were MUCH lighter than the buggies of their era, and thus the push team could make up huge amounts of time lost in the roll. Best finish was a 2nd place with a time of about 2:25 in the late '60s. (1968?) Submitted by Douglas Harrigan SAE '79

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  • Elmo Zoneball on 2009-Sep-30 02:55:47 Elmo Zoneball said

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    Best recollection of the weight of the bikes was somewhere around 25 lbs, w/wheels & tires.

    The long wheel base -- much longer than a standard bicycle -- made the bikes very difficult to handle at slow speed. The steering response felt "odd" and unnatural at slow speeds, and often led to driver over-correction trying to keep the bike upright under combination of slow speed and pusher blasting the bike forward up the hill using the "bump & run" style. In fact, pusher technique was critical to getting a good clean push-off that didn't cause the driver to have fits trying to keep the bike going in a straight line.

    Curiously enough, the bike drivers reported that stability in free roll was never an issue. Apparently, the long wheel base -- a liability on the hills -- became an asset once the bike was over the top of Hill #2 and on its own. An additional desirable attribute of the bikes, as reported by drivers, was the visibility it afforded them high up off the pavement, and able to swivel their heads to look for overtaking buggies in the chute, which frequently happened due to the bikes' slower free roll speed.

    The slow speed instability was the Achilles Hell that killed off the bikes after Arnold crashed at the start of the race (1975?), the result of an overzealous but asymmetric application of brute pusher force on the initial push-off, dumping the bike and driver to the pavement at the starting line, as though the driver had been shot by the starter's gun. Two wheelers (w/o retractable "training wheels") were banned shortly thereafter.

    AFAIK, the bikes were the first vehicles in the Sweepstakes that were light enough to rely on the "bump & run" push technique, which has become ubiquitous for all buggies as vehicle weights declined over the years, and "lighter drivers" became common place.

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