THE RISE OF THE BRITISH-BUILT SUPERBIKE
BUT THEY AREN'T CHEAP!
In our recent article, Gone East, we wrote about the decline of western motorcycle manufacturing. This followed the news that the British company BSA had been bought by an Indian firm. Good news for India, but not so good for us Brits.
It's been heading this way for a while now. Motorcycles made by eastern manufacturers are dominating registration figures and thus our roads. At the same time, though, we've been seeing a bit of British-built motorcycle resurgence of late, from brands such as Norton and Triumph.
The latest Britsh-built craze: superbikes. Among what we have to offer are the Ariel Ace R, Norton's V4, and Spirit Motorcycles' GP Sport.
Ariel Ace R
We featured this bike last month on the news. It's a tuned version of Ariel's original Ace which was released in 2014.
Ariel only produced 50 Aces, and there'll be even fewer of the R – just 10 models. Making these bikes the pinnacle of Ariel exclusivity.
While the Ace was priced from £20,000+, the R will be going for £49,995+. But that's no surprise to anyone. Made in Ariel's Somerset factory, the bikes will adorn lightened aluminium pearl black frames. This will be complete with carbon fibre bodywork and hand-anodised finishes in gold.
Ariel has replaced the Ace's alloy wheels with beautiful five-spoke carbon-fibre wheels. Riders will benefit from Ohlins suspension.
But the price isn't down to looks alone. Ariel has taken the VFR1200 F engine it used in its 2014 Ace and bumped it up to 201bhp (from 170bhp). Peak torque is 105.5lb-ft (143Nm) up from 95lb-ft (98Nm) and top speed is 185mph (up from 165mph).
Watch the release video here.
Norton's V4 was, for many, the star at Motorcycle Live. And boy is it shiny!
Production will take place at Norton's new factory in Donington Hall. The V4 will be available as an RR base model for £28,000 and a limited-edition SS model which will sell for £44,000.
Carbon fibre is extensively used in the two models. Not just in the bodywork and wheels; they have carbon-fibre tanks as well, which are reinforced with kevlar. And they'll have Ohlins suspension and Brembo brakes.
Rear-facing cameras are to be used instead of mirrors, projecting what's behind you on to a full-colour HD screen on the dash. Pretty fancy, huh?
Their British-built engine offers a maximum horsepower of 200bhp and a peak torque of 95.9lb-ft (130Nm). The bikes will be available in either a Carbon or Chrome (TT replica) finish.
This is hand-built British manufacturing at its best. And with the success of its last TT racing season to add to its name, Norton is most definitely on a roll.
Watch Norton's V4 Short Film or find out more at www.nortonmotorcycles.com.
Spirit Motorcycles GP Sport
If you haven't heard about this one before, it's because Spirit Motorcycles is a new manufacturer. Derived from custom motorcycle company Spirit of the Seventies and engineering firm T3 Racing.
Revealed recently at London's The Bike Shed were its first production bikes: the GP Street, GP Street R, GP Sport, and GP Sport R.
The models will be made in the UK with Spirit Motorcycles producing 50 of each.
If you were hoping these machines would be a bit more accessible due to the company being lesser-known, then sorry to disappoint you. Because Spirit Motorcycles is selling the Sport for £44,999 and the Sport R for £68,999. And that's without all the optional extras that are available.
So what is it about these bikes that justify those price tags? First off, they come with GP-inspired, fully adjustable chassis which includes brazed steel trellis frames. They have handmade aluminium swingarms and carbon-monocoque bodyworks.
Then there are the liquid-cooled 750cc three-cylinder engines. The Sport offering a max horsepower of 160bhp and the Sport R, 180bhp. Considering that the bikes weigh just 140kg (base) and 145kg (R) dry, that's no mean feat.
But where they really shine is with their 'F1-style' electrics. The R is fitted with an array of sensors, including engine parameter sensors, tractions control, anti-wheelie, wheel speeds, electronic slipper clutch, throttle position, suspension travel and speed, brake pressure, fuel pressure...need we go on?
Then there's the 4G connection, which records your data - during a track session, for example - and sends it to Spirit. You can then call Spirit up and talk about your data with them. They'll recommend changes that they can push through to the bike via the 4G if you so wish.
As proof of the Sport’s capability, Spirit will be entering it in British Supersport in 2017.
It's a sad fact that the prices of these bikes put them out of reach for the majority of us. But they remain proof that Britain can, and still is, making powerful and beautiful machines. And long may that continue.
Tell us what you think about the bikes by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
13/12/16 - Nice
13/12/16 - The Aerial isn't a bike, it's a frame and body for a tuned Honda. They are beautiful but those prices are stupid. I'll stick to my Speed Triple.
14/12/16 - Arguably the chassis is what defines the bikes identity. A new bike with a Honda engine isn't necessarily a Honda
14/12/16 - waste of time. effort and money, all of them will probably be out performed by a BMW or Yamaha costing less than a quarter of their price, that kills off their claims to be superbikes, plus at those prices the chances of ever seeing one on the road is almost completely zero.
15/12/16 - The Norton did a 131 around the IOM TT this year! They have started as a niche manufacturer but will be more mainstream In time I'm sure. Rome wasn't built in a day!
15/12/16 - Exactly, can't beat the big guns straight away
15/12/16 - you can take them on if you have a good enough product and financial backing (see Triumph) something that all these projects lack in both instances.
16/12/16 - you will see 1 on the road that I know of.....
16/12/16 - That's why bikes are so good. If everyone had s1000rr or fireblades the world would be a very boring place.
16/12/16 - So outperformed and cheaper than a Japanese or German offering. So like an Aston Martin then? Yep. Definitely don't want to own one of them either.
16/12/16 - Nice to see some positivity
16/12/16 - have one word for all these limited run wannabes ....HESKETH
15/12/16 - RIP off Britain
15/12/16 - Honda's RC213V-S is nearly 4 times the cost of the Norton V4RR Racer
15/12/16 - Support British ...
15/12/16 - support British ? - lmao lets take the Norton with its Italian wheels and Brakes, Japanese Suspension and clocks, the only thing remotely British is the engine and Noah used that to power the ark ....
16/12/16 - Yep, looks very stylish, I'd like one please. ...... Santa x. Ax
16/12/16 - All of them will be far to expensive for the average motorcyclist.
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