Allow me to list some of the things I love: Motorcycles, turbos, diesel, and bacon. Through the wonders of Marketing, all of these things have coalesced into a diesel cafe racer that's making a cross-country trip powered by bacon grease. And yes, it smells like breakfast rolling down the road.
Hormel Foods was looking for a way to promote its Black Label® bacon, so it tapped the marketeers at BBDO Minneapolis to create a campaign. This is what they came up with: A custom bike that runs on fat-derived biofuel that just left Hormel's headquarters in Austin, MN bound for San Diego just in time for the 2nd Annual International Bacon Film Festival – which is actually a thing.
Yes, it all smacks of faux authenticity masquerading as hipster DIYism with a side of corporatized "artisanal" pork belly, but against all odds, that doesn't make it any less awesome.
To pull off this pork-flavored feat, BBDO enlisted the help of Charlie Smithson, a mechanical engineer and bike nut who runs CS Engineering out of his garage in Minnesota. Before moving into his home workshop, he apparently did work for F1 teams, including BMW, Williams, Red Bull, and Ferrari, and handles everything in house, from machining to composites to welding.
The donor bike is the little known and even more rare Track T800CDI, built by Dutch company E.V.A. Products BV and never imported to the U.S. It packs a liquid-cooled, 799cc turbocharged three-cylinder diesel good for around 45 horsepower and 74 lb-ft of torque. If those specs sound familiar, you're a nerd. They're the same as a ForTwo diesel, which is where the engine was sourced. E.V.A. only sold a few handfuls before disappearing off the face of the Earth in 2010, although based on reviews, there's a good reason for that.
After getting the Track imported into the states from the Netherlands with a brief stop in British Columbia (best not to ask) it landed in Smithson's shop and he began tearing it apart. Over the course of a month (and seven all-nighters) the dual-sport stance was ditched for a low-slung cafe racer aesthetic, with a completely new suspension dropping the bike around 3 inches, a modified frame, a custom carbon fiber and kevlar tank, and a pigskin saddle, natch.
With the bike build done, the team had to figure out the biofuel situation, and tapped Dan Kaderabek, founder of Bio-Blend Fuels. Kaderabek who took 250 pounds of bacon grease and turned it into 200 gallons of B100 biodiesel, and then had the ECU tuned for the new juice. The bike should get between 75 to 100 mpg and they're estimating the fuel costs at around $3.50 a gallon, which is about in line with my bacon intake caculations.
Over the next two weeks, the rider – an unnamed bearded actor – will be followed by a dozen crew members for the "Driven By Bacon" tour, with updates posted along the way and the whole trip being documented and entered into the aforementioned film festival on August 29.