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...
“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