Hesketh Motorcycles

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Hesketh Motorcycles
Former type Limited
Industry Motorcycle Manufacture
Fate Sold
Predecessor(s) Broom Engineering
Successor(s) Hesketh Motorcycles Limited
Founded 1982
Founder(s) Alexander Fermor-Hesketh, 3rd Baron Hesketh
Defunct 1984
Headquarters Redhill, United Kingdom
Area served Global
Key people Lord Hesketh, Mick Broom, Paul Sleeman
Products Hesketh V1000 and Hesketh 24
A Hesketh V1000 model

Hesketh Motorcycles is a British motorcycle manufacturer, initially based in Daventry and Easton Neston.

The company was formed by Alexander, 3rd Lord Hesketh, in 1980, then after his two ventures failed, from 1984 onwards the marque was maintained and improved by Broom Engineering based at Turweston Aerodrome.

The marque is currently operating from Kingswood in Surrey.

Background[edit]

The project was inspired by Lord Hesketh, who planned to revive the failing British motorcycle industry and at the time had a background of F1 racing being the last private team to win a Formula One Grand Prix, with James Hunt at the wheel. Lord Hesketh wanted to use the skills and facilities built up in that pursuit to greater effect and production of a quality motorcycle was born.

The Hesketh motorcycle was developed on the Easton Neston estate, with the prototype running in the spring of 1980 using a special Weslake engine. The V-twin V1000 (based loosely on the marketing panache of the Vincent Motorcycle but looking much-like a contemporary Ducati 860GT), offered all sorts of advances; for example, it was the first British bike with four valves per cylinder and twin overhead camshafts (although commonplace in Japanese machines).

One of the few Hesketh Vampire Super Tourers built

After two years of development, the project was announced to the press and partners were sought for the manufacturing. However, none were forthcoming and so Lord Hesketh formed Hesketh Motorcycles plc. In 1982 a modern purpose built factory was set up to manufacture the Hesketh V1000 motorcycles in Daventry.

However, there were numerous problems. The bikes were heavy, made worse by a high riding style; and unreliable,[1] with numerous manufacturing problems adding to an overheating rear cylinder due to lack of air flow. The resultant bad press combined with an underdeveloped bike, lack of cash and a collapsing market meant that after the production of 139 bikes, the company went into receivership.

The Triumph Motorcycles co-operative looked at buying the rights to the machine, as they lacked a new model beyond the aged Triumph Bonneville. A V1000 machine even appeared with a Triumph badge on its tank, but Triumph also lacked funding to buy and develop the machine.

In 1983, Lord Hesketh formed a new company called Hesleydon Ltd to manufacture a revamped V1000 with a full fairing, called the Vampire. However, although the company had produced a motorcycle with export potential in mind, the Vampire retained too many of the V1000's faults[1] and only 40 were produced before the company closed again in 1984.

Broom Development Engineering[edit]

Hesketh V 1000.jpg

Mick Broom was the development engineer/ test rider as part of the original development team of the Hesketh marque, and was based with the team in the old laundry at Easton Neston. When the original Hesketh Motorcycles plc company went into receivership, Broom was part of a team funded by Lord Hesketh which supported the owners of the original machines, offering maintenance and modifications to the bikes sold. This funded team eventually became Hesleydon Ltd, who obtained the necessary certification to sell overseas and went on to develop the Vampire after requests for a touring version of the V1000.

Combined with the general down turn in motorcycle market, the high cost of the parts and the inability to raise finance to implement volume production assembly methods, Hesleydon ceased trading and Broom continued to support and develop the bike alongside development work for other motorcycle factories and clients Broom Development Engineering.

Based in the same outbuildings where the development of the V1000 had begun, Broom and his team began improvement of the V1000 into a reliable "gentleman's" long distance tourer. This included the resolution of the overheating through increased oil flow to cool the rear cylinder. Broom produced up to 12 motorcycles per annum, additionally developing the Vulcan and Vortan machines.

Silverstone[edit]

In 2006, having been forced to leave Easton Neston after its sale by Lord Hesketh to Leon Max, and Max's intention to turn the stable block into a call centre for his Max Store clothing brand, Broom Engineering relocated to Turweston Aerodrome near Silverstone Circuit. However, just before the move, and at the point where most items were in packing crates, a robbery occurred with total value of £40,000 – including irreplaceable records, tools, and bikes. This slowed progress on the intended small scale production at the new location.

A New Chapter for Hesketh Motorcycles[edit]

Under new ownership and management since Mick Broom sold the marque in 2010, Hesketh Motorcycles Ltd plan to establish a British motorcycle company with a reputation for quality, luxurious, hand-built machines through the production of new models over the years.

In eary 2014 Hesketh Motorcycles announced the upcoming release of the Hesketh 24 that would be the first all-new Hesketh model to be produced in some thirty years, the exclusive Hesketh 24 celebrates the marque's impressive roots in Formula 1 with Hesketh Racing and their famous driver James Hunt. Taking inspiration from the Hesketh 308 F1 car that hunt drove to victory in the 1975 Dutch grand prix, the Hesketh 24 will once again prove passion for engineering excellence and quality can achive outstanding results.

Hesketh 24[edit]

Named after the number on James Hunt's 1975 F1 car, this new model will be limited edition with only 24 built and on sale internationally.

Developed and designed by Paul Sleeman, Hesketh Motorcycles owner and Chief Engineer, the 24 uses only top quality components and has been painstakingly built with attention to every detail. The vision behind the Hesketh 24 was to produce a modern interpretation of what a Hesketh should be in today's market. Retro styling coupled with modern technology, the Hesketh 24 balances the style, quality and luxury of the original bikes, but with the technical excellence and reliability that the marque deserves.

The heart of this new model is undoubtedly the substantial 1,950cc V-twin S&S X-wedge engine, offering an undeniably high amount of torque. Air-cooled and with a proven power-train, the meaty V-twin was chosen for its excellent reputation and reliability. In a unique twist the X-wedge is also the engine used for the quintessentially British Morgan three-wheelers - a British icon using a proven American motor goes to show the quality of X-wedge.

Modifying the engine especially to suit the Hesketh 24, the team turned to expert British tuners, Harris Performance Engines, putting to good use their forty years' experience in pushrod engines and drag racing to produce the exceptionally powerful 24 engine. Indeed Hesketh will be able to offer all limited edition Hesketh 24 customers at least three different power options on their bespoke model, with Harris providing stage engine tuning for various levels of preferred power.

The Hesketh 24 bodywork is in the unmistakeable colours of James Hunt's Hesketh F1 car with graphics designed and produced by none other that BSB Champion, Tommy Hill. In fact Tommy Hill was the first person to ride the Hesketh 24 in public at the 2014 Goodwood Festival of Speed as he takes the new model up the famous hill-climb.

Dripping in brand-name components from the likes of Ohlins, Beringer and Baker, the Hesketh 24 uses only the best of the best - offering unbeatable luxury and exclusivity. For example the seat is the work of F1 class leather upholsterers, d:class, who have already put their name to the seats of McLaren.

Each of the limited edition Hesketh 24 models will feature an 18 carat gold plaque on the top of the tank with the unique number of that particular model. Along with the knowledge that each bike has been hand-built by Hesketh technicians at their Surrey headquarters. Hesketh 24 owners will enjoy full-service back-up from the Hesketh team with a comprehensive two-year warranty as standard.

To own one of the exclusive Hesketh 24 models is to own a piece of modern history and a piece of the unique history of Hesketh.

Models[edit]

Name Year Size Number Made
V1000 1982 1000cc 150
Vampire 1983 1000cc 50
Vortan 1985 1100cc 1
Vulcan 1990 1200cc 1*
Kingswood V1000 2012 1000cc 5
Hesketh 24 2014 2000cc 24*
  • The Hesketh Vulcan built in 1990 was made as a prototype only.
  • The Hesketh 24 will be Limited Edition with only 24 being built.


  • Hesketh V1000 - V-twin gentleman's tourer. The original machine came with a nickel plated Reynolds 531 frame.
  • Vulcan - a V1000 EN10 with a series of modifications including a bored out 1200 cc engine.
  • Vampire - touring based version of the V1000, with fairing and optional panniers.
  • Vortan - bored out 1100 cc, sports version of the V1000 with highly modified chassis.
  • Hesketh 24 - Limited Edition 2000cc S&S Engine and named after James Hunt's 1975 F1 car.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Tragatsch, Erwin (2000). The New Illustrated Encyclopedia of Motorcycles. London: Quantum Publishing. p. 560. ISBN 1861603428. 

External links[edit]