Practical Sportsbikes (UK)
IN TRIBUTE: PETER WILLIAMS
Brit racer who pioneered the ‘modern’ motorcycle chassis dies
P eter Williams, motorcycle racer and innovator has died at the age of 81. Williams came from an earlier generation to most of us who ride Practical Sportsbikes era motorcycles, but we owe him a huge debt of gratitude.
He pioneered many features we now take for granted: cast wheels, disc brakes, perimeter frames, and the importance of mass centralisation were popularised by his vision and tenacity.
Williams excelled as a racer in the 1960s and ‘70s – the era of Giacomo Agostini, Mike Hailwood and Phil Read, all of whom he beat at some point, invariably riding machinery which on paper was inferior to that of his works-backed rivals. Although he never had a factory ride in the top-flight of Grands Prix – Williams famously talked himself out of a Grand Prix contract with Yamaha – he had an abundance of talent.
Williams combined his riding skill with engineering genius, most famously with Norton-villiers where he evolved the primitive Commando way beyond its apparent potential, culminating in the monocoque chassis version on which he took perhaps his most celebrated win in the 1973 Formula 750 TT.
Peter Williams 1939-2020: racer, engineer and gentleman.