Project Badger – Riding and Racing a Royal Enfield Ace Fireball

Project Badger - the road and race legal Royal Enfield Ace Fireball - first mockup

Project Badger - the road and race legal Royal Enfield Ace Fireball - first mockup

Do you remember the Ace Fireball 535, the high performance kit for your Royal Enfield Bullet from Chumma Gee and Tom Lyons? Chumma told me a few months ago about a couple of very interesting projects soon to get under way, and yesterday I had a long telephone conversation with Chumma who filled me in on the latest developments and wow, he's been a busy guy. Project Badger, the bike you see here, is a real test to see just how powerful, durable and reliable a Royal Enfield with the Fireball kit can be. Built to a strict budget, the bike will be ridden to the track, raced on the track and then ridden home. It's built to be both road legal and vintage race legal with its racing debut taking place during Vintage Motorcycle Days at Mid Ohio.

The "bulletproof badger," (fast as a bullet, mean as a badger) isn't built to be pretty, though Chumma can certainly build them that way, the Badger is built to be tough and fast. Chumma says the first Fireball engine already has something like 35,000 miles on it, so I guess it's well on its way to proving how reliable it is, but riding to and from the racetrack when you're actually going to race, that's a whole different level or durability. Can they do it? We'll find out in a couple of weeks. If it works, they'll run Mosport up in Canada and the Barber Vintage Festival in Alabama.

There's also a film crew planning what looks like a pretty cool documentary of the whole process collecting funding through Kickstarter. Neat.

Now what was that we've been saying about small displacement singles?

Link: Project Badger

Video trailer for Project Badger below:


    • Klaus says

      So do I but it looks like it needs more than that. Just watched the short clip following the above link to their site and read that the project won’t happen if not enough funds are pledged. As of now only 10% have been pledged and it’s only 10 days to the deadline…
      So tell all your friends who may be interested in this project and send some $$ so this story will continue!

      • Paul Crowe - "The Kneeslider" says

        Those pledges for funding only apply to the documentary film. The Badger will definitely be racing. Anyone interested and in the area should come out to Mid Ohio and watch. I’ll be there to see the action.

  1. B50 Jim says

    Shades of the 1950s! Ride to the track, race, win and ride home — after finding a place to bungee down your trophy! I love this concept, and if anyone can do it, Chumma and Tom can. It might not be the fastest bike on the track, but I’d bet money that it will be running strong at the checker while many of the others will be on the trailers with rods through their cases. R-E riders can chuckle to themselves as they ride past the broken bikes on their way home. Seriously, I love this concept. Classic good looks, contemporary power and reliability, and pushrods to boot! Spray some Rust-Oleum on the tank, and let’s go racing!

  2. Simon says

    I’ve got no interest in racing, but I love the idea of this single. If I can ever justify a second bike, I’m going to buy one of these (and the fact that a dealer in my town just started carrying them is making it seem even more tempting). I’ve always been a fan of simple, basic bikes (I ride a Sportster) and I’ve always loved old Brit bikes. When I was a kid, I dreamed of owning a Royal Enfield Interceptor or a BSA Lightning. This looks like as close as I will get, and I think it will be close enough. Now all I have to do is pay off my current ride!

  3. says

    From our point of view, we want to illustrate the flexibility of this Fireball engine that we’re providing to Bullet owners.

    In this particular case, we have a reliability and performance showcase that includes long 10-hour rides to-and-from the racetrack, and actual races which include sprint and endurance roadrace competitions. We get a chance to display that we can go fast, and that we can do it with a street bike that we ride to the events. We don’t know where we will place in the events, but we will do our best and we will be doing something that other competitors are not doing, which adds interest to our story.
    It’s a very interesting challenge that we thought would be fun and unique in this day and age, recalling the days gone by of “Clubman Racing” the way it used to be.

    This is just one aspect of the flexibility, and our Fireball owners/riders are using the same engine build for long distance touring, and for commuting and local pleasure riding, and even for off-road and dirt riding use.

    The very wide and strong torque curve of the Fireball makes it at home in all kinds of different circumstances and riding needs, and this very same engine build would be just as friendly in a vintage trials machine or off-road fire-trail riding as it would on twisty roadburning sport use, or touring on the interstate highways.
    Not to mention the 70-80mpg fuel economy that goes along with it.

    Since reliability and power have always been seen as the weak points of the Bullet, we are taking the extra mile to prove out our ability to solve those weak points and deliver a really fun and useful Bullet to those who always wanted one but were afraid of breaking down or being too slow.

    We have the goods, but it takes some good exposure and real-world proof to overcome the previous reputation of slow unreliability that the Bullet has gotten over the past decades.

    We really are having fun, and that’s what it is all about.
    If you get a chance to make it to the race tracks for the events, don’t miss it! There hasn’t been anyone doing this for nearly 50 years.

    • Ken says

      Does this kit work for the modern REs? My dad was looking at getting a new fuel injected one but was worried it wouldn’t do 65. He likes to take backroads, but where he lives, the locals all drive at least 65 and he doesn’t want to get ran off the road!

      • says

        No actually this kit only works for the vintage type engines which were available up to around 2008.
        The new fuel injected engines are entirely different, and these parts won’t work with them.

        The fuel injected bikes will do 65mph. They can cruise on highways to some extent.
        But they are nothing like the Fireball. The Fireball would run circles around the new bikes.

  4. Tom says

    Looking forward to it. I was looking up the ACE kit and Enfields just yesterday to check on the progress. So I’m really glad to see this post this evening. And this right here is what I want to see in racing. To jump sports for a moment, I always have to scoff when I hear the term “Stock Car Racing.” It just doesn’t exist anymore. The whole point is to take a stock car, that’d road legal, and show the consumer what it’s capable of. That’s what sold a lot of cars back in the day, and I think they’ve got the right idea here with the Badger. Show what your street legal bike can be capable of.

    Looking forward to having one as my next ride.

  5. Mark in Oz says

    Funnily enough, this ride-it-race-it-ride-it-home concept is nothing new. It used to be the way things were done (assuming you did total the bike in the racing, which happened all too often!). I did this on my RD350 back in the 70s.

    • Paul Crowe - "The Kneeslider" says

      Yes, that’s the way it used to be done and it would make for a lot of interesting racing if we saw more of it today. The purpose built racers are astounding feats of engineering but seeing a real street bike racing and surviving so it can still be ridden on the street after the finish would be even more amazing.

  6. says

    I always have a look at an Enfield, especially now I know they can be tuned..
    so look forward to the results of this venture.
    They used to be cheap(ish) here in England especially the war department models (that’s INDIAN war department not the English one!- the British Army ride Harleys these days and the SAS ride Husvarnas I believe)
    Shame you are on the wrong side of the pond but look forward to the results

    • Paul Crowe - "The Kneeslider" says

      “Shame you are on the wrong side of the pond”

      Have to admit it’s pretty cool that a formerly British bike is now only produced in India and some of the really nice engine mods (Fireball, Musket V-Twin) are being done in the USA plus the Carberry V-Twin down under in Oz. What a world. Maybe you Brits should get back in the Royal Enfield game and show everyone else what ideas you can come up with.

  7. Simon says

    When I heard that Harley was expanding operations into India in order to take advantage of opportunities in that market, I thought it would be a great move if they could buy out Royal Enfield, continue to produce them there (to keep them relatively affordable)and market them through their dealerships here, as they used to do with their Italian-made Sprints and Pacers. I still think that would be a cool move for them. It would be just as cool for someone like John Bloor (if I recall his name correctly, the man behind the new Triumph?) to start up a new British Royal Enfield and produce a twin cylinder Interceptor 750 that looks just like the original, but doesn’t break down. I’d start saving up for that one. It sounds like a pipe dream, however, but the Fireball-kitted Bullet does not. That one I just might start saving up for and use it as my “old man’s bike” in my dotage, which is fast approaching.

    • says

      Nah, the risk of them doing another Buelll to RE will always be there. Better keep H-D’s shareholders out of the equation.

    • Davidw says

      pacers were made in milwaukee ….derived from a german nsu design taken as a war reparation.

    • Marvin says

      I would never buy a HD Royal Enfeild as a British guy these bikes are made by people with the same surnames as my neighbours Bakshi Raj ext. I trust the Indians not to F up the brand, I trust HD a whole lot less. India and England have a not always harmonious relationship that goes back to before the US was founded. I would trust an Indian citizen over a US citizen/corporation/corporation masquerading as a citizen every time.

  8. says

    “…powerful, durable and reliable a Royal Enfield..”
    Well there is an odd combo or words in front of Royal.
    Ok, kidding…sort of (though I do love them)…but didn’t they hit a streak where it seemed all their metal came from a shut down Lancia Beta scrap yard though?

    • says

      This engine only started out life as a Royal Enfield.
      It’s been completely re-done inside, to high standards.
      It’s now an Ace Fireball 535.

  9. says

    Team Badger project a success!

    The Badger bike completed its interstate highway journey to from New Jersey to Mid-Ohio Racetrack without any parts breakages. There were some delays related to the heat-wave temperatures, which caused the bike and team to arrive a bit later than expected. However, it did arrive at Mid-Ohio with Leon in the saddle, and rode into the paddock area after a very long ride on the interstate highways.

    2 races were entered at the AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days event at Mid-Ohio, and the Team Badger bike finished both races without any failures. It ran well, posted respectable lap times, and finished both of the races under the checkered flag. The bike didn’t win the races, but it finished, and the lap times were quite decent and respectable.
    Considering that it was a street bike that rode there under its own power, I think it was a remarkable achievement!

    Team Badger is riding the bike home as I write this report.

    We had a great opportunity also to meet Paul from “The Kneeslider”(our favorite publication) at Mid-Ohio Racetrack, and that was a fantastic part of the event for me.
    And I enjoyed every minute of being there.