BATTLE OF THE CLONES, PART II
Revenge Of The Clones
By Gary Costanza
If you are not a follower of International Trade Agreements and Copyright laws you may not be aware of the lawsuit that Honda filed some time back against others that well, let’s just say have made their products too similar to many of the wonderful products Honda has brought to us here in the United States. We ‘cloners’ like to stay neutral on these political indifference’s in commerce and can’t see why everybody just can’t get along. If you know a bargain when you see one, then you’re a cloner at heart or as my wife say’s “Sneak’s, you are cheap.” We ‘cloners’ have learned to accept whatever the industrial world decides and try to make that fit in our racing lives. So what does Honda winning an International copyright lawsuit mean to a cloner like me? I like to call it, “The Revenge of the Clones.”
Let me introduce you to a couple of newcomers that resulted from Honda winning that lawsuit. The new nightmare for tracks with cc rules is a 212cc black clone called “The Predator” from Harbor Freight. With a bore of 70mm and a stroke of 55mm you might say it’s a bored out GX200 mini stroker. With a 68mm bore and a 54mm stroke the Honda is giving up some displacement so “Who’s your Daddy” now? And then there is a new Yellow and black 196cc clone from Champion with a crazy new valve and rocker design. Yes sir, why that’s just plain cheap ‘eye candy’ for a cloner right there. Now if you just happen to be a “parts swapper” like myself don’t go gettin’ all excited just yet. Hardly any of the parts are interchangeable anymore. A cold, hard fact that us cloners have to accept because of all this legal stuff.
So how cool would it be to let Honda’s workhorse of OHV 4 cycle motors, “The legendary GX200” battle it out, not in a courtroom, but in a dyno room with only Judge Dr. Dyno “The Truth Giver” to hand down the final verdict. No lawyers, no jury, no big money, just how fast can you spin a 300 pound steel wheel against 2 of the clone world’s latest spawns that have emerged from out of the industrial ash caused by this very high court room decision somewhere far, far away from you, me and the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts.
The GX200, which you can see at just about any kart concession will now have to deal with these 2 reborn copies of itself and I’m afraid more are coming. But for now its time to get ready to face the dreaded Judge Dr. Dyno and for that they all need to get battle ready. This will consist of removing the governor, gas tank, exhaust system, low oil sensor, and air box. I will limit the maximum rpm’s because of the cast flywheels. Most steel cast flywheels are only rated to 3900 rpm. The Judge often needs to inflict pain and pressure above the 5500 rpm mark in order to seek out the truth. Timing will be set at 20 degrees and 87 octane (regular) gas will be used. The carburetors will need jet changes to provide a more suitable fuel mixture for the battle. The pilot jet will be increased to .020” or .50 mm and the main jet will be drilled to .035”or .89mm. To help our gladiators get enough air for the new jetting during the battle, a K&N style air filter will be used. The exhaust system is open to a chamber where the Air/Fuel ratio sensor is located. We will be monitoring the A/F ratio through out the battle. An aluminum top plate will be installed where the gas tank was located for back support and strength. This is all part of the battle armor and support package that most engine builders install to help keep things together.
As similar as they are each OHV motor has some very important differences. The grandfather and the original Honda GX200 has not changed in a long time. This one comes from NRracing out of Michigan and list price is about $300.00. It’s still the same old reliable equipment and replacement motor that we have all grown to trust in our power and sports industry. Quality is among the best and Honda has mastered the art of casting aluminum. And now, there seems to be more polishing going on than before. The GX200 has sidecovers that sparkle and the muffler/spark arresting system has a stamped steel support bar that attaches to the head. This is a great feature and I don’t know anybody who hasn’t broken a muffler off at the pipe neck from vibration. Now that’s something the clones forgot to copy. And whoever is doing the welding of these muffler pipes at Honda really know how to lay down a “row of nickels.” The carburetor is a Keihin which Honda has been used in many of their motorcycles and other vehicles. There is only a half turn of idle adjustment on the idle metering screw because you’re limited by the carburetor body. This is still better than the Champion or Predator which have no adjustment. They still come with the “old style” 4 bolt valve cover in the same shape it’s been from the beginning of time. The finish work is excellent and with a red sidecover, white gas tank, and black trim, the Honda color tradition seems to be in tact. In the past pressure venting from the gas cap has been a problem. Honda’s gas cap is massive on this model. It’s chrome and handles pressure venting very well. The metal and plastic clone gas caps are known to be problematic when used for racing.
Also coming in at 196cc out of Hamilton, New Jersey for under $200.00 from Adam’s Equipment Rental is the Champion Products, OHV, 6.5hp clone utility replacement motor. This motor comes with a valve train that is very different from Honda and all other clones. The Champion has cast steel rockers with the lash adjusters on the valve end of the rocker, unlike stamped steel assemblies which adjust from the center by raising or lowering the rocker pivot point. The rocker pivot point in the clone rockers can crack and fail when modifying these motors. The Champs rockers are shaft mounted which eliminates any sideplay or wobble that is associated with all stamped steel rocker systems. The valve cover is deeper than all the others to make clearance for the valve train assembly. I have heard some inventive weekend garage mechanics buy just the rocker system to replace the stamped steel rockers. This system will fit other clones, but you didn’t hear that from me. The overall appearance of the yellow and black is striking. The gas shutoff is located under the tank and not on the carburetor like all the others. The engine shutoff is a nice automotive style toggle switch that is located with the gas shutoff and housed in a dashboard style setting.
This replaces that old turn style on/off switch found on most clones that is always trouble after some run time and vibration. The carburetor is stamped CPE and is a new design. Although similar in appearance and function there is no gas shut off. As stated earlier, that’s under the gas tank. The air filter system is a long narrow paper element style that has duel intakes. This Champion has got some very nice features not found anywhere else. Let’s see if it has got the guts too.
And last, out of Albany, New York donated by my driver the almost famous “Johnny UPS” and selling for about $160.00 comes Harbor Freight’s new replacement for the Greyhound called the Predator. This bad boy has the biggest gun at 212cc. Its appearance is very similar to the Honda’s from the outside and it’s all black, sleek, and mean looking just like a Predator should be. It comes with a Huayi carburetor that has no idle adjustment, but sports a sleek looking airbox about the same size as the Honda. The aluminum castings are better than the Champion, but not quite as good as the Honda. The engine and gas shutoff are the same as the Honda but the muffler/spark arrestor is like the Champion and doesn’t have any extra support. Other than a little extra stroke and bore the Predator looks almost like a black Honda so beware of what you can’t see.
So now that we have met our 3 gladiators, it’s time to get ready for the battle. The first part of the dyno prep is getting rid of all that utility hardware like the gas tank, airbox, governor, low oil sensor, and muffler. Then our trio is fitted with matching top plates, throttle assemblies, airfilter adaptors, K&N style filters and 500ml of fresh oil. It’s not a bad idea to check all the bolts you can reach for tightness and recheck them after each run. Things can get loose in a hurry at near twice the manufacturers suggested rpm range. “Let the games begin.”
The first of our contenders to face Judge Dr. Dyno will be Harbor Freight’s “The Predator.” On the market for just a couple of years, the Predator has made quite a lot of trouble for local tracks and sanctioned events that have rules about 196cc maximum displacements. Because of its 212cc advantage, what racer would not want to investigate this “new kid on the block” a bit further? For uses that don’t have rules, like minibikes, and power equipment, the added displacement is a welcome addition with the promise of even more torque than these motors are noted for.
After a 30min break in with the new jetting, improved breathing, and exhaust scavenging, the big bad Predator settled in at a reasonable idle. This could be improved with an idle adjustment screw, but sorry, somebody glued that in place. I’m guessing it was a secret EPA agent. Off idle acceleration is very crisp with no hesitation. It was obvious, that this clone was here for some serious playtime. It’s always fun to hear that 4 cycle motor clatter without all that exhaust noise. You can hear all those parts doing their own thing in harmony. The Predator’s noise level and clatter was normal for a clone.
Warmed up to a head temperature of 275 degrees I dropped the hammer and Judge Dr. Dyno took over. The Predator shocked the Doctor until the Premier Titan clutch hit stall speed and locked up around 2500r’s. The Predator struggled a bit from lock up until 3300 rpm when things smoothed out and the big “P” man laid down the torque to a maximum of 9.83 horsepower at 4700 rpm to start this battle off. ) The power band started at 3300 rpm and ended fast at 5000 rpm. Maximum torque during that period was 13.5 foot pounds. The air/fuel ratio leaned out slightly at 3000 rpm but hovered just about 12 until 4100 rpm. As the cam ran out and the springs started to float the valves, the carburetor leaned out then rebounded back to rich when the Predator had absolutely nothing left to give but the flywheel inertia. Everything powered down and the pull went without issues. The Predator maintained idle and acted like it was just another day on the cement mixer.
The CPE carburetor ran leaner than the Huayi of the Predator. The CPE remained in the 14 range and like the Predator, the Champ also leaned out hitting stall speed, but recovered nicely at 3600 rpm. The Champ calls home from 3600 rpm to 5000 rpm and pulls very strong here. Everything comes together at 4600 rpm for a whopping 10.50 horsepower. After powering down the Champ settled in to a nice idle ready to perform whatever comes next on the job site. This sends the big bore stroker, the Predator, packing and looking for a future in farm equipment or minibikes. The new, for now,” king of this hill” is “The Champion.”
Next up and shipped out of Hamilton, New Jersey by Adams Equipment Rental is a little known yellow and black clone from Champion Products Equipment that has the same bore and stroke as the Honda. This clone decided to change the entire valve system and carburetor so when you start up the Champ the first thing you will notice is how quiet it is. The idle was velvet smooth but stumbled off idle and lumbered to 4500 rpm like it would rather have been running a pressure washer. After a 30 minute break in, “The Champ,” with the same new jetting as the Predator showed some signs of life. That off idle bog was completely gone and throttle response was razor sharp and clean. The Champ was ready.
And waiting in the wings all this time and dressed to kill comes my personal hero. Honda and I go way back to my first real motorcycle and the saying. “You meet the nicest people on a Honda.” I always hated that saying. I had a tricked out 1966 305cc Super Hawk SS that got me to high school and back, but that’s another story. Our GX200 started on the first pull and ran great through 30 minutes of break in. No hesitation or stumbling at idle or off idle, just good old Honda reliability. Strapped to Judge Dr. Dyno the GX200 reached 275 degree head temperature and went to full throttle. The Keihin carburetor was just about perfect with an air/fuel ratio around 13 and only leaning out slightly at stall speed. The new jetting worked very well with the Honda’s better breathing and power came on smooth and steady from 2500 rpm to 5200 rpm before gradually giving up at 5500 rpm. The Honda made a maximum 9.29 horsepower at 4300 rpm and seemed to produce its torque early. After powering down the Honda slipped into a steady idle waiting to be called upon for the next task. Although failing to make the most horsepower you can bet this Honda will make 9.29 horsepower for a very long time.
The clone world is full of underdogs and long shots but every once in a while one comes along like “The Champion” and takes our clone world by surprise. All 3 motors performed flawlessly and didn’t appear to bare any scars from their encounter with the dreaded Judge Dr. Dyno. Not every clone that has faced the dyno has left in one piece, but those that do are headed for a more glamorous life than construction and farming. These 3 have now proven to be good enough to be the race gladiators of the near future in someone’s dream.
In the next battle I have the forgotten OHV LCT208, against a new 208cc simply know as the “Z”, and a new comer from Lifan.