Takushi Chikakane is a 57-year-old Japanese film director from Kobe who’s always had an obsession with racing and motoring innovation. The Suzuka 8 Hours and FIM Australian Safari Rally veteran is set on a new goal: challenging land speed records on the vast, white plain of the Bonneville Salt Flats in the US. He doesn’t want to strap himself to just any rocket or big, powerful engine. He wants to do it with particular sources of Japanese pride: small-displacement Honda Super Cub engines. The engines his team is dealing with are so highly modified, they're practically original creations. “I want to break the world fastest record with Japanese high precision machining technology,” proclaimed Chikakane.
Mainly sponsored by NS TOOL, the Japanese manufacturer of machining equipment, Chikakane has been leading the Super Minimum Challenge (SMC) project along with various tuners, engineers, and manufacturing companies to enter crazy patriotic machines into the Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials (BMST). In 2018, SMC fielded the “NSX-01” #612 — built around a 124 cc Takegawa Super Head engine in a Honda RS125 racing frame, wrapped in a partially streamlined body. It achieved a maximum of 165.3 km/h, and the recorded one-mile average speed was 153.73 km/h. While Chikakane did not reach his goal, he was happy, telling FIM, “It’s the fastest Super Cub in the world. That makes it a 'Super Super Cub!'” The NSX-01 was indeed certified as the fastest Super Cub in the century-old history of Bonneville.
This year, Super Minimum Challenge is cooperating with several sponsors and partners, including around 30 small and medium-sized companies involved in the Japanese manufacturing and precision technology industries. The SMC team’s crowdfunding campaign on Makuake also brought in an additional ¥1.877 million. For 2019, SMC will enter two forced-induction machines in the BMST: the turbocharged 125 cc NSX-02 and the supercharged 50 cc NSX-51. The team will apply lessons learned from the previous year regarding the harsh environment of the Bonneville Salt Flats, sudden changes in temperature, engineering demands, suitable protective gear, and improved vehicle aerodynamics.
One of the aims of the NSX-51 is to surpass the fastest Japanese 50 cc motorcycle in history, the 1966 Honda Works RC116 GP racer powered by a four-stroke twin capable of making 14 PS at 21,500 rpm and reaching a maximum speed of over 175 km/h. To beat the world record of 233.3 km/h (144.89 mi/h) set in 2008, the NSX-51 has to outrun the record-holding Buddfab Streamliner which was powered by a turbocharged 2002 Motori Minarelli AM6 two-stroke 50 cc single-cylinder engine (seen in the Aprilia RS50) running on methanol. The Buddfab Streamliner replaced the 1956 record of 195.86 km/h (121.7 mi/h) set by the NSU supercharged, fuel-consuming, two-stroke Wankel rotary. This would be a very difficult task for anyone with the ambition, but the SMC team has no shortage of passion. If things don’t work out this year or if the event is cancelled due to weather, the Japanese contingent will push forward with the BMST attempt in 2020.
The Super Cub mills were specifically chosen by SMC to “fight with a four-stroke engine” as Honda did with the RC116's high-revving twin and sheer technical capability back in the ‘60s. According to Chikakane, the Super Cub is “the most sold and loved motorcycle in the world. Fighting based on the engine that is the symbol of this ‘durable and long-lasting’ made-in-Japan product will carry more people’s dreams and thoughts… It will show the world the fineness of precision technology in Japanese manufacturing. Currently, Aprilia and KTM hold the world’s fastest records of BMST 50 cc and 125 cc classes. I want to get back to Japan the world record of the moped class and the minimum class, which should have been [the] Japanese home art.”