A Lighter Frame for a Stronger Bike

Buell's new casting technique produces a stronger, lighter motorcycle

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Buell did not break the mold when it made the 1125CR racing bike. Instead, it washed the mold away—to create a sturdier body.

The frames of other motorcycles are formed by pouring molten metal into a mold of sand and clay. Buell engineers instead developed a water-soluble bonding agent to use in place of clay. The new formulation allows them to start rinsing the mold away right after the aluminum is poured, rather than waiting for the cast to solidify and then breaking the mold. Water cools the alloy faster and in a controlled manner, preventing cavities from forming, which can weaken the structure. Buell used the method to produce a stronger rear frame that requires one less pound of metal.

It's even possible to cast the entire frame that way, using water cooling to fine-tune the metal's strength and rigidity for different components.