Matt sam­ples his hero’s res­ur­rected race­bike. We wiped it clean af­ter the pics...

Performance Bikes (UK) - - Racer Test -

power­band as such, just a good 5000rpm spread of zingy grunt.

Head down, throt­tle open and start toe­ing through an amaz­ingly slick gear­box, aug­mented by a de­cid­edly non-pe­riod quick­shifter. The revs hardly drop be­tween changes, and there’s lit­tle change in mo­men­tum. You chase the van­ish­ing point and peer through the bub­ble screen. Baaap, baap, baaarp. It’s pulling over 12,000rpm in top and it feels like about 160mph. I’d imag­ined my­self in this po­si­tion many times be­fore. It’s one hell of ex­pe­ri­ence, even if these days even a 500GP bike doesn’t of­fer the motive shove of a modern stock litre bike.

Time to brake – the AP master cylin­der and monoblock calipers orig­i­nally grasped car­bon discs, but now they grip 320mm steel full-floaters. There’s power there, but the master cylin­der gives lit­tle in the way of feel and you need at least two fin­gers to gen­er­ate any power. But it still sheds speed with amaz­ing alacrity. I brake at the same marker that I did on PB’s GSX-S1000 ear­lier in the day and need to ac­cel­er­ate again long be­fore I make the cor­ner. That’ll learn me.

The chas­sis sim­ply as­tounds. K-Tech had the dif­fi­culty of mak­ing forks that were lit­tle more than a pair of out­ers into func­tion­ing units, but work they do, and there’s loads of feel flood­ing up the fork legs. As the laps go by I’m able to carry more brake into the cor­ners and I’m never near the bike’s lim­its. It isn’t sur­pris­ing – I sus­pect the fork ac­tion and grip from the modern slicks far out­weigh what Kev & Co. had to deal with in the ’80s. The rid­ers of this era are my he­roes, but I left my Schwantz-rep Arai at home: only one per­son is wor­thy of wear­ing it on this bike...

When a ma­chine is worth as much as your mort­gage, it’s hard to ride it like you would a £2k track­bike, but over the next laps I get hints of how life as a GP racer from that time would be. The first ex­am­ple comes as a sur­prise. I’m be­hind a track Fire­blade that’s faster in a straight line but slower in the cor­ners. So, to get by, I out­brake him into Luffield, car­ry­ing loads of brake, with my knee al­ready grind­ing. I then ask the bike to turn a lit­tle more and I’m met with gen­tle chat­ter. “Ah, that’s what it must be like.”

Later, as I get re­ally good drive out of the fi­nal part of Beck­etts on to the back straight, the front lifts off a bump, then lands slightly side­ways. The bars dance in my hands as it sorts it­self out. “Ah, that’s what it’s like.” Fi­nally, as the laps go on I get braver through Wood­cote un­til I’m ex­it­ing at the top end of fourth gear, the rear mov­ing a tad and the revs slightly ris­ing as it pumps over the bumps. Again, it’s a snap­shot into a world peo­ple of my tal­ent can’t nor­mally visit. But I’m con­scious this is where proper rac­ers start go­ing to work and where I give up.

These bikes are mon­u­ments to a very spe­cial time in mo­tor­cy­cling and de­spite this be­ing a 27-year-old chas­sis, hous­ing an 18-year-old mo­tor, the per­for­mance is still im­pres­sive in a modern con­text.

Bikes like this need to been seen, heard and smelt, and, if you’re a flukey git, rid­den. And thanks to the likes of Nathan and Steve they’ll be do­ing that for a long time to come.

‘Toe­ing the slick gear­box the revs hardly change be­tween gears’

Not for the first time, Matt gives Chris a good face­ful

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