If race bikes are motorcycling in its purest kind, speedway machines should be akin to holy water. They don’t have any brakes, only one gear, and drink neat methanol.
They’re additionally fairly squashed-looking machines, with stubby hardtails and forks raked steeper than probably the most excessive sportbike. However this creation from England’s Wreckless Bikes is a factor of unusual magnificence.
The weird story begins with Wreckless founder Rick Geall, who has a ardour for oddball two-wheelers and might be the one man to ever customise an Aprilia Moto 6.5.
Within the 1970s, teenage Rick went to Denmark on vacation together with his household. “I bought hooked on speedway,” he reveals. “Riders like Ivan Mauger, Peter Collins and Denmark’s personal Ole Olesen had been dominating the game, profitable a number of world titles.”
Quick ahead forty years, and Rick finds himself in possession of a fairly fairly 450cc Ducati single—the wanted Desmo model.
“It was in of a jumble of classic Ducati elements from the early 1970s. I mentioned to Iain, my collaborator in Wreckless: ‘I need to construct a speedway bike’.”
Iain, regardless of questioning Rick’s sanity and realizing little about speedway, tracked down a classic race body and swingarm from the identical period because the Ducati engine.
“It’s a Jawa, we imagine,” says Rick. “It competed in some unspecified time in the future, however we don’t have the precise historical past of it.” Iain began altering the body to just accept the motor and create a rolling chassis.
Issues moved slowly as Wreckless centered on their core enterprise. However when Ivan Mauger died final yr, the construct shifted up the precedence checklist. “Ivan’s demise was a kick up the bottom to get the bike completed,” says Rick. “A few of his bikes got here up for public sale, and I used to be sorely tempted to go and purchase one—however by no means did.”
“So this bike is a celebration of Ivan. However I additionally wished to acknowledge a present hero of mine, F1 driver Lewis Hamilton.”
Rick and Iain ploughed their energies again into the construct. They discovered that the SOHC bevel engine had already been modified for traditional street racing, with a lot larger valves and a few headwork completed to it. They added a brand new Amal TT carb to provide the motor an additional fillip, and put in new sprockets: 14T up entrance (“Form of regular”) and 52T rear (“Ridiculous!”).
The header pipe is handmade, and mated to a tiny 900 gram Akrapovič slip-on muffler, initially designed for the Yamaha R3.
Suspension comes from model new Stuha adjustable race forks, made within the Czech Republic—one other nation with an extended and illustrious speedway historical past.
“They’ve been reduce and lengthened by about 4 inches, to provide us the clearance we wanted for the entrance wheel,” says Rick. “Mating the body with an uncommon motor can imply altering the body orientation, which impacts the headstock place after which the rake, and so forth.” The forks are hooked as much as Renthal bars lifted from a KTM SX85.
These bars are additionally residence to a Daytona Velona tach, and a Beringer ‘thumb’ clutch grasp cylinder package. The carb is managed by a Venhill twin charge throttle, and the grips are from Renthal.
The wheels are the true deal: a customized set constructed by SM Professional, a British race specialist that may hint its historical past again 120 years. They’re a typical speedway setup, 23” x 1.60” on the entrance and 19” x 2.15” on the again, shod with Mitas race tires. (A carbon fiber speedway fender controls the spray of filth.)
Within the pursuits of constructing their customized speedway machine a teeny bit extra rideable, Wreckless have additionally sneaked a brake onto the again wheel. It’s a Beringer Aerotec caliper activated by way of a thumb lever cleverly built-in with the clutch setup. The disc is a customized engraved EBC Vee-Rotor.
One other departure from the speedway norm is a pair of rear shocks. These are Marzocchi MOTO C2R items, initially designed for mountain bikes. They’re adjustable for rebound, have separate low- and high-speed compression controls, and are actually fitted with Cane Creek double barrel coil springs.
The seat and bodywork are hand-made. “The tank is a mixture of real speedway racing elements, and odd aluminum tanks for hiding the electrics, coil, and kill change,” Rick reveals.
When it got here to the paint Rick selected a Mercedes F1 scheme, in tribute to LH44, and has nicknamed the bike ‘the H4MM4.’
The silver on the body, swingarm and seat loop is a Ducati ST2 shade. There’s gloss black on the edges, a turquoise blue on the hubs and different scattered arduous elements, and discreet touches of a carbon impact coating. Plus the odd plagiarized decal right here and there.
The colours had been shot by Jason Fowler of JLF Designs, who’s labored for not solely Lewis Hamilton, but additionally the late Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon and IndyCar driver Max Chilton.
“The bike isn’t meant to be a ‘severe’ machine,” says Rick. “It’s a caricature: a celebration of the heroes who’ve left an imprint on my life.”
“I’m fortunate, as a result of I might construct it for the sheer hell of it. Ducati by no means made a speedway bike, but when they did, we hope it will look one thing like this.”
Wreckless Bikes | Fb | Instagram | Photos by Daniel Du Cros at Junction11 Studios