After a 30-year hiatus, Swiss bike builder bounces back with Xjr1300-powered custom
Egli make great comeback
In a sleepy town in Switzerland, not too far from Zurich, is a rabbit-warren of workshops built inside an old farmhouse. From the outside, there’s nothing going on, but inside there’s over 100 years of frame building experience.
Fritz Egli made a name for himself in the 1960s when he stormed to victory in the Swiss National Championships aboard a Vincent 1000cc that sported a frame of his own design. Egli said it was not by his skill, but because his bike was so much better than the others. From this victory, Egli carved a 20-year career producing frames, including his speciality CB750S and turbo Kawasakis.
Eventually, the Japanese frames caught up with the engines and Fritz’s creations fell under tighter and tighter regulation, so he hung up his gloves in 1988 and just sold production bikes.
Eventually he sold the business to Alexander Frei, a Le Mans 24hr veteran, who wanted to see the Egli name return to frame building.
“When I had the chance to buy the company from Fritz, before I even looked into the finances, I said to myself if I buy this company the first thing we will do is make a new bike. I knew it would be small and we’d never do a big number of bikes, but I wanted to return to quality, handmade motorcyles.”
Last chance saloon
The Egli Fritz W.1300 started life as an XJR1300 but only the engine, exhaust and rear shocks remain. The frame is steel, with the signature Egli oil tank in the top tube and although the engine has been lifted by 3cm, the steering head angle and wheelbase remain virtually the same. Despite their expertise in tuning, the engine is untouched.
“Egli originally specialised in inlinefour air-cooled bikes and with Euro 4 on the horizon we knew this would be our last chance to do this kind of engine. Even though the engine is stock, we had to go through the whole homologation process, which was difficult and expensive.”
The frame was designed by Othmar Bacher, Head of Construction, and Juerg Lindenmann, Head Mechanic, who worked on the last Egli to roll off the production line in the late 80s. The front forks are now courtesy of Öhlins but they stuck with right-way-up units.
The headlight, clip-ons and foot controls are by LSL. A Motogadget M: unit takes care of the bulk of the wiring headaches. Motogadget also supply the switches, speedo and indicators. The bike used Kineo wheels and it has Beringer brakes – six-piston up front, twin at the rear.
Completing the look is the handmade aluminium tank, with ally seat and mudguard. All this means the bike is now just 208kg fully fuelled, so it’s lost 32kg compared to the stock Yamaha. Mind you it’s gained £32k as it costs a hefty £40,000.
“We’re only producing six for now,” says Frei. “But we’d like to produce something else next year. This time maybe 12 bikes or so, but with a more modern, twin-cylinder watercooled engine.”
‘I wanted Egli to return to quality, handmade bikes’
Buy an Egli and you’re paying for craft Egli is designed to handle far better than XJR donor bike A stunninglycrafted Egli under construction