Speeding through Vance & Hines' motorcycle factory (photos)
Vance & Hines engineers some of the fastest motorcycles in the world out of its facilities just outside Indianapolis. A tour inside unveils the engineering that goes into world-record-setting bikes.
Vance & Hines/Screamin' Eagle race team Harley
INDIANAPOLIS--From the outside, the Vance & Hines facilities are nothing special--just a couple of large warehouses next to a cornfield. But some of the fastest motorcycles in the world come out of its drag-racing engine program.
This completed, 640-pound Vance & Hines/Screamin' Eagle drag-racing Harley-Davidson motorcycle can do more than 199 mph in a quarter mile. Breaking that 200 mph wall is the holy grail for Vance & Hines designers.
Vance & Hines engineers machine and fine-tune drag-racing engines in this workshop. Note the tarps covering some of the tables. While Vance & Hines and Harley-Davidson authorized this media tour, the engineers who work on these tables also perfect engines for racing teams from Suzuki and Buell. Since those companies want their engine secrets quiet, that work was literally kept under wraps.
The Vance & Hines engineering facilities include three engine testing stations, one each for Harley-Davidson, Suzuki, and Buell engines. Here, a Buell engine is hooked up for a test run. The control panel controls engine load capacity, fuel flow, liquid-cooling setting, oil flow, and other variables to push engines to their limits.
Though Vance & Hines tests and improves the capacities for Suzuki and Buell engines, it races Harley-Davidson engines itself. Here, a 2.6-liter Harley-Davidson engine waits for a load test in one of the engineers' three testing stations.
Vance & Hines racing engineers and mechanics can strip an elite drag-racing engine down to its essential components to refine its performance. Here, one workstation is covered in piston rods, cam heads, transmission gears, and so on from a Harley-Davidson/Screamin' Eagle engine.
Engine parts designed by Vance & Hines technicians start on paper and are carved out of metal. The engine shifter part seen here was precision-carved out of a block of aluminum similar to the one pictured. Note the ancient 3.5-inch floppy that holds much older design files on Vance & Hines engine parts.