THE HISTORY OF FRAMECRAFTERS AND THE RACING EXPERIENCE
After road racing Triumphs twins and triples for several years with the stock setup, Randy Illg designed and built his first competition frame with friend Jim Carlson in 1989. The frame was for Randy's Triumph Trident road racer and was a hybrid of a Seeley and a Rob North competition frames. The heavy stock frame was now replaced with a competition frame constructed from 4130 Chrome-Moly thinwall tubing. This new frame had a 3 degree reduction in rake (steering head angle) from stock and lost about 22 pounds. To transfer more of the motor's weight to the front end, the heavy triple was shifted significantly forward. In addition to moving the motor forward, Randy raised the motor to gain clearance for the cases while cornering. The shift in weight to the front end combined with a steeper rake made this bike handle like a purpose-built road racer. And to top it off, engine cases weren't sacrificed in the corners. Many races were won with this new setup, but more importantly the bike was actually enjoyable to race.
Five years after Randy built his first frame Framecrafters became an official business. Since 1994 Framecrafters has built replica frames of Bultaco, Champion, Cheney, HL, Honda, Knight, Seeley, Sonicweld, and Trackmaster along with hybrids and customs. As part of the frame business Framecrafters has repaired and modified many stock and aftermarket frames for Motocrossers, Road Racers, and Flat Trackers.
Back to the racing ...
By 1996 Randy, Justin, and later in 1998, Karsten, began vintage motocross racing with AHRMA and it wasn't too long before the modifications to the old motocrossers began. When they started Randy and Justin were racing Can-Am TNT 25O's and Penton 125 Six Day's - both makes seemed to need a little help. Karsten raced whatever was running and usually did very well if the bike could survive the beating he dealt. Eventually though, Karsten piloted a Framecrafters' Rickman-Zundap-Honda conversion. Framecrafters received the Rickman-Zundap as a rolling chassis. Randy modified the Rickman frame to carry a Honda SL 125 motor with a Poweroll kit in place of the absent Zundap motor. In addition to the motor swap Randy lengthened the swingarm. The wheelbase remained stock but the pivot point of the swingarm was moved forward, closer to the countershaft sprocket - improving effective power delivery to the rear wheel. It was on this setup that Karsten really proved to be a formidable opponent (when the motor held together), picking up several wins. The Can-Am received an additional 1.5" to the swingarm and new foot peg locations. Lengthening the wheel base and lowering the rider's center of gravity helped tremendously with the Can-Am's poor handling. As for the Penton, the handling was superb but the transmission was less agreeable. Following in the footsteps of the Rickman project, Randy modified the Penton frame and swapped the Sachs motor for a Honda SL 125.
The Framecrafters team was racing Classic, Sportsman, and Evolution motocross and Hare Scramble classes on many different makes and models. Over the years of racing motocross Framecrafters raced a Bultaco, Can-Am's, a CZ, Kawasakis, KTM's, Pentons, a Rickman-Honda, and the Penton-Honda. Some were raced with much success and others with not so much -but that's racing isn't it.
By 2003 the Framecrafters team felt they needed a break from motocross and focused on road racing once again. This time Randy and Karsten teamed up as mechanic and rider respectively. Karsten received his road racing license on an as-purchased 1974 Yamaha RD 350 half-baked road racer. After Karsten earned his license, Framecrafters dug in to convert the neglected RD to a true vintage road racer. In addition to the RD project, Framecrafters pursued a motocross to road racer conversion project for Karsten to race. A tired Can-Am TNT 250 was the candidate which was moderately successful. This project actually proved to Framecrafters what they always believed - the Can-Am would make a much better road racer than motocrosser. This was true to the point that it handled superbly on the asphalt but with most of their time and money spent on the RD the appropriate motor tuning was not achieved in 2004 and gaining wins were difficult. The RD project on the other hand was successful from the beginning. With the chassis setup handled by Framecrafters, motor tuning tips from flow bench expert John Ritter of Pro-Flo, and rider Karsten, this Team won….a lot. By the end of 2004s' racing season Framecrafters officially joined forces with Pro-Flo who supplied the ported top-end for Barber, the last race of the season. Rookie, Karsten Illg took 2nd nationally in AHRMA's Formula 500.
For 2005 Framecrafters plan on building a ground-up RD 400. The frame is almost complete. Look for it in future "Featured Projects" section of this site.