Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The BSL 500 MotoGP Effort

Readers of this Blog aside, only a minority of Moto GP fans know much about Italy's valiant Paton 500GP motorcycle GP effort (read here for some background). Fewer still will have heard of another privateer 500cc GP bike from the opposite side of the world: New Zealand's BSL 500.

In 1999, after 3-years of development, Aucklander Bill Buckley - businessman, motorcyclist and owner of engineering firm Buckley Systems Limited, realized his dream to compete with his own bike at the pinnacle of motorcycle racing, the 500cc Grand Prix.

Utilizing Buckley System's numerous CNC milling machines, lathes and other advanced industrial machinery, Buckley assembled a team including Kiwi engineers from Kenny Roberts' similar KR3 project and others from the Britten V1000 project.

A V-Three engine configuration was chosen to take advantage of the lower weight allowances. The minimum FIM weight limits for 500cc GP bikes in 1999 was: 101kg for singles and twins, 116kg for triples and 131kg for four or more cylinders. Unfortunately achieving the minimum weight proved difficult so that initially the BSL carried a power disadvantage without the benefit of a lower weight.

Reliability was also an early problem with piston seizing and overheating problems dogging the project. As New Zealand race tracks enforced a 95db noise limit, testing and exhaust development had to be done outside New Zealand. This made testing slower and more difficult than it should have been which could explain the team's inability to finally get on top of the reliability problems.

Never the less the BSL 500 was entered and competed in the 1999 and 2000 500cc world championship with Australian riders Mark Willis and John Allen and Kiwi rider Stephen Briggs. Unfortunately, the bike suffered from its reliability and lack of development.

Despite being entered for the 2001 season, development frustrations and the pending introduction of 1000cc 4-strokes to the MotoGP class caused the team to pull out of the world championship after the 2000 season. Lack of foresight and support from Motorcycling New Zealand did not help. After successfully competing in New Zealand's premier Formula 1 racing class in 2001 the BSL found itself banned from the 2002 season as Motorcycling New Zealand changed the rules to allow only mass production-based machines. This rule change would have also effectively excluded New Zealand's own Britten V1000 from the championship had it still been competing. Nice way to support innovation in your own country guys!

Motorcycle racing need spirited engineers like Bill Buckley and Giuseppe Pattoni. Despite all the setbacks and frustration Bill Buckley and his BSL team can be proud even to have competed at the highest level.


Engine type Two-stroke liquid cooled V3 (BSL)
Displacement (cc)498cc
Bore x stroke56x56
Max power162 hp (2003), 110 hp (1999)
TypeSix speed cassette gearbox (BSL)
Frame typeCNC-machined alloy twin spar (BSL)
Steering rake21.5 degrees, variable
SwingarmLinkged CNC-machined alloy (BSL)
Wheelbase1380-1410 mm
Weight (dry)116 kg
Front forksUSD 42mm Ohlins
Rear shockOhlins
Type17" PVM, 3.5" front, 5.25" rear
FrontBrembo 4-piston callipers
Front discsMitsubishi 320mm carbon discs

1 comment:

  1. Excellent blog you’ve got here.It’s difficult to find high-quality writing like yours nowadays. I really appreciate individuals like you! Take care!! Please check out my site.
    TLR Carbon wheels