The Hesketh 24 is officially unveiled
Paul Sleeman | Baker gearbox | Review | Specifications
It's 30 years since this marque was last in production, but now it's back with a brand new bike sporting a (nominally) 1,950cc S&S engine churning out 120bhp (plus) and 140ft/lbs of torque.
As we reported back in Sump November 2013, the company, now under the ownership of Paul Sleeman, was scheduled to launch new machines from February 2014. But that deadline came and went, and now it's June. But clearly something's happening, and the drawings and computer generated mock-ups are walking and talking.
Costing £35,000, just 24 examples of the motorcycle are due to be built, with, we understand, three deposits taken. Interest has also been expressed from "another eleven potential customers".
▲ The fabled Hesketh V1000 of 1982 A wonderful failure and a suitable case for treatment. With its 992cc
S&S made its name way back in the late 1950s and early 1960s by manufacturing pushrods for Harley-Davidsons, both standard bikes and those with modified engines. Later, the firm developed complete replacement Harley-Davidson engine clones, and more recently the company launched the X-Wedge; a 56-degree V-twin which will be used in the new Hesketh.
But why go to S&S? Wasn't Sleeman planning to use an engine of his own design? Well he certainly was, but the development and manufacturing costs coupled with expensive technical issues forced a rethink. And the S&S unit is, after all, a very worthy power unit. But is it suitable for a gentleman's tourer such as the Hesketh?
We're not so sure. With its twin exhaust cams and single inlet cam, the S&S motor revs to around 6500rpm and is full of the low-down muscle befitting, say, your average street dragster. But there's more to building a superbike than muscle and grunt.
Regardless, Sleeman has clearly moved the game on and is displaying the bike at this year's Goodwood Festival of Speed, and good luck to him.
The gearbox is a 5-speed Baker unit. Racing Innovations built the carbon fibre frame. Beringer supplied the brakes. Ohlins supplied the suspension. BST supplied the carbon fibre wheels. Paul Sleeman supplied the optimism and enthusiasm, that being the most important component.
Produced at Hesketh's Redhill, Surrey factory, we hear that somewhere shy of a million quid has been splash out on this venture. That's slightly more than the £840,000 of revenue that 24 bikes will earn. But there are new Hesketh products and accessories in the pipeline, and Sleeman is set on building a new range of bikes when the 24 bikes are done and dusted.
Think it'll happen. Let's see.
— Big End
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