The great Eyvind Boyesen passed away last night, succumbing to illness. He was to be inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame tomorrow evening in Las Vegas. He will be greatly missed by his friends and family, as well as his extended family in the motorcycle world. He blazed the trail for many advances in technology, both within the moto industry and beyond. Below is the last interview we conducted with Eyvind during a trip to southern California where he spent the day testing with us. His attention to detail and his continued love for moto was unrivaled. Godspeed Eyvind.
CATCHING UP WITH…EYVIND BOYESEN
How did your love of motorcycles develop?
I was born in Norway during the second World War. Growing up, I did not see very many cars; there were lots of motorcycles, bicycles, and mopeds. My family lived in an apartment and there was a guy in our building who raced motorcycles. When he brought his bike to the building the first time, my mind did flips when I laid eyes on it. It was an enduro bike with knobby tires. I loved mechanics and I loved sports, and this was the two things I loved most in one package. I became his assistant and helped him for a couple years before I moved to the states when I turned seventeen.
Didn’t you work for NASA?
After I got out of school, I worked for a company that did stuff for NASA, and I developed a couple of things that had not been developed before that NASA was able to use. But motorcycles were always in my mind. I started riding but I didn’t like how the bikes worked back then, which was a piston-ported design. If you gave it too much gas, the bike would load up and die.
What was your first engineering venture into motorsports?
I had developed some flow instruments for NASA, so I understood flow. And I knew that a reed valve was an aerodynamic valve that was also self-intelligent. It wasn’t pre-programmed like a rotary valve or a piston port. I investigated, and I learned that there were reeds in go-karts and in out-board motors, so it made sense to me. I put one in a bike and it worked; but not exactly how I wanted. So I made a few tweaks and did some porting and it worked really well. I put it on few people’s engines just to make sure it wasn’t me, and they were equally as thrilled as I was. From there I went to a magazine called Cycle Illustrated and they, too, were impressed and wrote a great article showing power curves that most of the factories didn’t believe were possible. I was contacted by Husqvarna and I did a bike for them, and at the time, their big engine was making twenty-seven and a half horsepower. After I got my hands on it, the first test yielded 34.1 horsepower, with a nice broad powerband. The other manufacturers soon jumped on board.
So from the reed, Boyesen aftermarket was born?
The OEMs didn’t really want to pay for the reed, but they were willing to pay for the porting. So I agreed to license the porting and sell the reeds myself. So the reed became the aftermarket piece, and the porting became a standard.
How did you tackle the four-stroke bog?
Well, I close friend that I work with studied and dissected carburetors quite extensively and he understood that the accelerator pump trapped air and he moved the holes up to get rid of the air – it was an instant success. The QuickShot was born.
Other than motocross, what other fields have you explored?
We are exploring the Harley market, although it is not too far from the market of motocross. But we are also looking into autos. We have some things we are working on that could be very good for the auto industry. As we settle some of the things we have recently explored, we will focus more on the car.
How often do you get to ride your dirt bike?
This year I hope to do more riding. A few years ago, I was bitten by a Brown Recluse and with the bite came Lyme. Last year I planned to ride the Vet Nationals at Glen Helen, but I could only ride a lap. I got really sick and now I have a lot of pain in my knees and I can’t run like I used to. Gradually, I have gotten better. So I hope to ride more this year.
What drives you to continue researching and developing performance in motorcycles?
I love motocross and I love motorcycles. You know, people ask me how long I plan to ride, and I tell them, “I am going to ride until I’m eighty-five.” If it wasn’t for my desire to ride, I know I would probably focus on other areas. I have over forty patents and have developed a lot of things that could be more lucrative in markets other than motocross, but I don’t have the same passion for those other things. Motocross is what I enjoy.