A Brit hit The story be­hind Spirit

Spirit’s stun­ning all-bri­tish race­bikes have al­ready started de­liv­er­ing on track. The next step is road bike pro­duc­tion...

Motorcycle News (UK) - - News - By Matt Wildee SE­NIOR EDITOR

“There are two rea­sons that this bike ex­ists,” says Tony Scott, MD of Spirit Mo­tor­cy­cles. “One is as a plat­form to help find Bri­tain’s next cham­pi­ons, the other is as the start of a range of be­spoke, high-end road bikes.”

It’s been six months since Kent-based Spirit sur­prised the world by un­veil­ing their 750cc GP Sport and GP Street at Lon­don’s Bike Shed. That night there was talk of lim­ited pro­duc­tion and of a ma­chine that would rev­o­lu­tionise 600-class rac­ing.

But of course, there were doubters. Peo­ple shud­dered at the price: the cheap­est was £45,000, and we’d all seen the time it took for Nor­ton’s TT ma­chine to be­come com­pet­i­tive. Any­one in­volved in that project would tell you build­ing a func­tion­ing mo­tor­cy­cle from scratch is hard – but mak­ing one to com­pete with the best race­bikes is even harder.

But the doubters had to eat their words af­ter the first round of Bri­tish Su­pers­port at Don­ing­ton Park ear­lier this month. Not only had Spirit man­aged to wan­gle an en­try for their pro­to­type Moto2 bike in the pro­duc­tion-based se­ries, they came close to vic­tory.

With min­i­mal test­ing, pun­dits ex- pected the bike to strug­gle, even with the the­o­ret­i­cal ad­van­tages of the Moto2 Spirit com­pared to a Su­pers­port racer. Run­ning a near-stock Day­tona 675 en­gine, for­mer Su­pers­port champ Alas­tair See­ley qual­i­fied on pole and was in­volved in an epic bat­tle for the lead be­fore fin­ish­ing sec­ond.

“It was a bril­liant re­sult,” says Tony, “I haven’t slept much for the last few weeks get­ting this bike ready, but we’ve proven that the con­cept works – and there is more to come.”

Racer first, road bike next

Tony first came up with the idea af­ter meet­ing BSB boss Stu­art Higgs. He said: “I wanted to cre­ate a ma­chine to help the next gen­er­a­tion of riders. If we can train riders at na­tional level with a Moto2 chas­sis, they can walk into GPS with con­fi­dence.” The plan is that if the wild­card rides for the Spirit go well, the bike will form part of a Bri­tish Moto2 cham­pi­onship. “Things have been

‘We’re prov­ing that the con­cept works and there is much more to come’

de­signed so that they are af­ford­able. I was quoted huge num­bers to build a Moto2-style ally beam chas­sis but you can build our frame for much less.”

The frame is one of the Spirit’s unique sell­ing points. Penned by for­mer Mo­togp de­signer Mark Tay­lor, it is con­structed from chom-moly steel tube and braised rather than welded, partly in an ef­fort to in­tro­duce flex to com­bat the in­her­ent chatter you can get with steel frames, and partly as it makes re­pairs much eas­ier.

“This is for a bike with a proper racelevel chas­sis which has lay­ers of set-up that a pro­duc­tion bike just doesn’t. Bud­gets for the Su­pers­port se­ries in BSB are £50k-80k, but you’ll be able to lease a bike from us, in­clud­ing an en­gine re­build for less,” Scott says. “And this is for a proper race­bike, rather than a con­verted pro­duc­tion 600.”

Cus­tomers will also be able to buy track bikes for about £45k.

Fly­ing the flag

“The other thing that we wanted to do was dis­pel myths about Bri­tish en­gi­neer­ing. We’ve used bril­liant Bri­tish com­pa­nies – the K-tech sus­pen­sion is very, very good and the same goes for Dy­mag wheels and PFM brakes. Part of our job is to show how good Bri­tish en­gi­neer­ing can be. Any­one can just plump for Öh­lins and Brembo, but this stuff is at a very high level.

“De­vel­op­ing the ideas for the road bikes has been ex­cit­ing. These are go­ing to be race­bikes with head­lights. We’re not go­ing to di­lute the bikes – they will be ca­pa­ble of lap­ping a track as fast as the Moto2 bike. We’ll do enough to get them through Sin­gle Ve­hi­cle Ap­proval, but what you see rac­ing, you’ll see on the road. They’re pure.”

Pro­duc­tion of the road bikes is planned to start in June and de­vel­op­ment is on­go­ing.

“We’ve been quot­ing 180bhp at the crank but we can get 150-160bhp at the

rear wheel. I want to take 675 cases, build a new bil­let crank, rods, pis­tons and see how far we can stretch the rpm.

“The en­gine will be more re­li­able than stan­dard thanks to a ni­trided crank and re-dow­eled cases to make them stiffer. We’re go­ing to ap­ply the qual­ity con­trol that big man­u­fac­tur­ers can’t be­cause of cost.”

New lev­els of tech­nol­ogy

Spirit aim to in­tro­duce cloud-based en­gine-man­age­ment and cus­tomer sup­port. The firm will of­fer seven-year war­ranties and us­ing Motec elec­tron­ics with 4G con­nec­tion means per­for­mance can be con­stantly mon­i­tored.

“It’ll al­low us to solve prob­lems on bikes, make ad­just­ments to map­ping or even of­fer ad­vice to riders on set-up. We’ll have a re­la­tion­ship with all of our own­ers,” says Tony’s busi­ness part­ner and Spirit Chair­man Rod Mc­donaugh.

“The idea is to of­fer some­thing dif­fer­ent. The chal­lenge of be­com­ing a mo­tor­cy­cle man­u­fac­turer is im­mense. We looked at buy­ing a brand but it de­railed, so we looked at do­ing it the hard way – cre­at­ing a new Bri­tish brand.

“We’ve had to save up, get what we needed to make it work. We’re self­funded – the next stage is get­ting some­one in­volved for that, but we can do it by our­selves if needs be. When was the last time there was a Bri­tish man­u­fac­turer built from scratch?”

THE SPIRIT OF SUC­CESS Tony Scott (right) and Rob Mcdon­agh MD and Chair­man of Spirit Mo­tor­cy­cles

Alas­tair ‘Wee Wizard’ See­ley put the Spirt on pole for its de­but

See­ley and the Spirit si­lenced the doubters at Don­ing­ton

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.