If you have happened upon old articles or pictures of a stretched out drag bike with the rider seated in the back, you might be viewing different generations of the Drag-Waye MK drag bikes. These were built in Britain by Clive Waye from the mid-1960’s to mid-1970’s. As would be expected over such a period of time, and definitely expected with drag bikes, there were many changes. The Drag-Waye’s can be broken down into four versions, with two riding positions and innumerable changes in the specs, so I will briefly touch on some of those.
First, some background information — In the 1960’s, drag racing was becoming popular in Britain. Waye was a British missile engineer interested in figuring out different ways to win in the motorcycle class. Of importance, for the reason noted below, to be included in “motorcycle” class, there was a maximum of 1000 cc/61 cu in. of displacement.
Waye recognized that drag races were often won or lost in the first hundred yards. Subsequently, he came up with his unique design to give the bike better traction by having the rider seated in the rear.
Next, the actual builds — In 1964, Waye built a prototype for the future models that were designated as the Drag-Waye MK-I to MK-III. The prototype, in large part, was built to test out the chassis’ design. A Norton motorcycle was chopped and stretched with a lot of plumbing pipe. The prototype was tested to about 50 mph before moving on to the first formal Drag-Waye build.
The MK-I utilized a supercharged 1200 cc Volkswagen engine, but because of the noted displacement limitation, the pistons were changed out that so the engine only had 980 cc of displacement. At times, to compete in other classes, larger pistons were swapped out all the way to make the engine have a displacement of 1450 cc (at least one of the 1450 cc engines blew up).
The prototype, MK-I and MK-II had various different modifications, but one thing they shared in common was the design with the rider seated behind the rear tire. The rider for these versions of the drag bikes was Howard German.
In the late 1960’s, Dave Lecoq replaced German as the rider of the Drag-Waye bikes. He requested that the riding position be modified, so the rider would be leaning over the back tire. Waye accommodated that request and built the MK-III. In 1971, the bike ran a 9.58 at 150mph.
Finally, for the question many people asked, “How did a thirteen-foot bike with a nine-foot wheelbase handle?” Although at first, it might look difficult to handle at all, it was noted that once the Drag-Waye’s were rolling, it changed general direction surprisingly well with just some basic leaning.
However, turning the Drag-Waye around was a totally different story – it probably took half a football field to turn around. Even more interesting, because there was more weight on the right side because of the engine and supercharger, it made it really difficult to make significant turns except to the left.
Here is a video with the MK-III in it