Bri­tish ex­hausts

When did the sounds of Mar­shall, All­speed and Mi­cron get si­lenced?

Motorcycle News (UK) - - New Bikes -

Bri­tish ex­hausts? I thought the best pipes were all for­eign? You’re prob­a­bly think­ing of Akrapovic (from Slove­nia) and Ter­mignoni (from Italy). Or per­haps Yoshimura (Ja­pan) or Vance & Hines (USA). Ad­mit­tedly, these are all among the lead­ing ex­haust brands to­day – but that wasn’t al­ways so.

What? We used to have great Bri­tish ones in­stead? Not in­stead of, no – V&H and Yoshi, in par­tic­u­lar, have been around for eons (though Akrapovic was only founded in 1990) – but some of the great Bri­tish ex­haust brands de­fine 70s, 80s and 90s mo­tor­cy­cling just as pow­er­fully as, say, clas­sic hel­mets from the era such as the Grif­fin Club­man, Kan­gol Fal­con and TMX2000 by Centurion do…

Re­ally? Give me some ex­am­ples… Well, in the late 70s, when Ja­panese fours started to be ev­ery­where, one of the best ways to im­prove or ac­ces­sorise it was to switch the 4:2 pipe for a rorty Mar­shall or Piper 4:1. While in the 80s, no LC or pow­er­valve was com­plete with­out a set of All­speed or Mi­cron ‘span­nies’. Then there was the Mo­tad n-eta. I could go on…

Let me guess: you’re gonna say the 4:1 ex­haust was a Bri­tish in­ven­tion It sort of was. Dave De­gans (of Dresda fame) re­put­edly in­tro­duced 4:1s for Ja­panese fours as a by-prod­uct of help­ing de­velop the Ja­pauto (Honda France) en­durance racer in the early 70s. His ex­hausts in­creased not just per­for­mance but also ground clear­ance and the Dresda-framed Hon­das won back-to-back Bol d’ors in 1972/3. As is the norm, street rid­ers fol­lowed suit with brands like Piper and Mar­shall com­ing to the fore, although that’s ac­tu­ally one of the first myths…

Mar­shall? Didn’t they make gui­tar amps? Well, that Mar­shall does. This Mar­shall makes ex­hausts, specif­i­cally the fa­mous Deep­tone 4:1 so beloved on 70s su­per­bikes, although, de­spite the name, they’re not ac­tu­ally Bri­tish at all, be­ing part of the Jama/laser group in Hol­land. In fact, you can still buy them to­day (www.laser-ex­

And did they work? Some­times. Be­cause of the na­ture of the bikes many were ac­tu­ally univer­sal fit or mildly adapted so some worked, some didn’t, some needed a bit of jet­ting. Most of that’s miss­ing the point, though, be­cause they looked and sounded great and were the ob­vi­ous re­place­ment for the stock Ja­panese sys­tems which, back then rot­ted quicker than su­per­mar­ket straw­ber­ries…

So what about com­pa­nies like All­speed and Mi­cron? Well, they were Bri­tish, and also in the late 70s/early 80s were the ex­pan­sion cham­bers to have for your Yamaha RD, Suzuki RG or Kawasaki KH. Both were hugely pop­u­lar – and hugely po­lar­is­ing, too. You were ei­ther a Mi­cron (two­piece pressed steel con­struc­tion with welded seams made in Der­byshire) man, or an All­speed (mul­ti­p­iece cone con­struc­tion from Rom­ford) man . Per­son­ally, I pre­ferred All­speeds, and still do.

And Mo­tad? An­other spe­cial­ist Bri­tish mo­tor­cy­cle ex­haust man­u­fac­turer which started up in Lon­don in the 60s be­fore mov­ing to the West Mid­lands in the 80s. More re­place­ment than per­for­mance ex­hausts, although its un­pro­nounce­able n-eta 4:1 sys­tem in the late 80s were sim­ply ev­ery­where.

And now they’ve all gone? Not quite – although even those that sur­vive have a much lower pro­file than be­fore. All­speeds were pro­duced by Gib­son Ex­hausts as was founded in the 70s by racer Peter Gib­son. The All­speed brand was sold on and Pete re­tired in 2006 but un­der new own­ers Gib­son ex­hausts still pro­duce ‘All­speed-style’ span­nies to­day.

What about the oth­ers? Mi­cron, af­ter a long pe­riod of ex­pan­sion (they went on to make four-stroke pipes, pad­dock stands and more) and huge in­vest­ment in hy­dro­form­ing tech­nol­ogy, ceased trad­ing in July 2008. While Mo­tad, although hit hard by the loss of Tri­umph’s busi­ness when much of Hinck­ley’s pro­duc­tion was shifted to the Far East, lives on to this day, although less con­spic­u­ously, sup­ply­ing, amongst oth­ers, Nor­ton.

Any other sur­vivors? There are oth­ers still go­ing strong(ish). Quill, for ex­am­ple, in Warrington; or Blue Flame in Stafford­shire or even Scorpion in Der­byshire. So, yes, many of the old favourites of the Bri­tish af­ter­mar­ket ex­haust in­dus­try have gone, but oth­ers re­main. Maybe they’ll be great one day, too.

No Yamaha RD350 was com­plete with­out a set of af­ter­mar­ket span­nies from Mi­cron or All­speed

Just like to­day, man­u­fac­tur­ers like Dun­stall used rac­ing to sell sys­tems

In 2000 Mi­cron in­no­vated db re­duc­tion sys­tems like their Shock­wa­ver can

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