Hesketh Motorcycles

Today in Motorcycle History

Hesketh Motorcycles


  • Hesketh History

  • Jan 2013

    There are some images in the gallery which are from http://www.hound-motorcycle.com/

    Feb 13th 2010
    Gowanloch Engineering of Sydney, Australia sold Heskeths in the mid-1980s.

    Sat Jun 10 2006
    clare.lund at at ntlworld dot com
    Hesketh motorcycles

    Hi I am interested in finding as much information about hesketh motorcycles as I can my granddad worked at the oldham factory from when it opened and was on the tv when look north west did an artical about my granddad past away some years ago before I was born so I never saw him his name was dave lund I would be most greatful if you could help me in this quest 
    many thanks 
    james lund

    Sat Nov 26 2005
    until-now-5 at at hotmail dot com
    Hesketh Vampire
    Hi I'm looking for a picture of the Hesketh vampire that was on display at the NEC in Birmingham between 1980-1986.

    It was deep red and was an easy rider type machine with Vampire written on the petrol tank.

    I have been looking for the picture of this beautiful machine to show my children but can't seem to fine one anywhere could you please help me.


    Thu May 12 2005
    micheal.atkinson at at btopenworld dot com
    hesketh 1000 motor cycle
    do tou know any one who would like to own one we have one for sale hardly used and in perfect condition

    Hesketh Book on Ebay
    Vendor's Description:
    Hesketh Motorcycle Book V1000 Vampire V2 Vortan FXRT 

    Hesketh Limited Edition Extra 

    The Hesketh V1000 was unveiled in April 1980. The press criticzsed its noisy engine, bad gearboxes and slow performance. Production was halted to rectify the problems and it was not until February 1982 that the first bike was delivered. There were still problems with production being hampered by warranty work and so in June 1982 the company collapsed, having made little more than 100 machines. In December 1982 Lord Hesketh resumed production privately with the Vampire which resolved earlier problems, but it came too late and the company was dissolved with only 37 bikes built.

    This is a book of contemporary road and comparison tests, specification and technical data, new model introductions, travel, long-term reports, buying second hand and history. Models covered include V1000, V2 Vortan and Vampire.
    Softbound, 8 1/4 x 10 5/8 inches, 136 pages. Profusely illustrated with black & white photographs .

    July 28, 2001
    I have a copy of a 'Motorcycle Sport Annual' which I believe was published by "Cycle" mag. every yr. I think mine is from 1972 & it had a blurb on the Van Veen OCR in the 'road bike buyers' guide' section. I recall being interested in the bike because of its unusual drivetrain. Never did see one in the flesh tho I have seen the Hercules, Suzuki, & Norton rotaries at various times.

    An acquaintance of mine, a criminal attorney from Miami, acquired a Hesketh Venom Vampire ( the full-boat faired model) from one of his clients in lieu of $$ payment for services rendered. I think he sold it to a Daytona-area motorcycle museum after it was a no-sale at the Daytona bike auction a few Bike Weeks ago.

    I just liked the looks of it (1000cc DOHC air-cooled v-twin) with beautiful castings covered up by some v. extensive bodywork in an unusual copper color. -- NBachers at aol dot com

    January 16, 2001
    My name is David Fail ( david.fail at virgin.net ) and I have owned a Hesketh from new since 1983. In the first 3 years I did over 24,000 trouble free miles, most of it long distance traveling and never a sore seat! In 1992 I had it converted to a Vampire model ( full fairing ) and I have since done many more miles quickly, comfortably and with many admiring glances.

    Truly a magnificent machine to ride, with most of the alleged faults being myths.

    I am now the Spares and Technical Secretary for the Hesketh Owners Club and will willingly answer any questions.

    Most of the original problems reported by the press have been fully corrected by a series of modifications commonly called the EN10 Mods. All bikes produced by Hesleydon have these as standard. Further development has continued and a series of further refinements are available, such as a computer mapped ignition system and refined oil cooling for the rear cylinder.

    More information is available at Mick Broom's website, he was one of the original development engineers and continues to develop and build Heskeths. His address is http://www.btinternet.com/~broom.engineering/brochure.htm [404]

    Best Regards
    Dave Fail -- david.fail at virgin.net

    November 11, 2000
    We did talk over one year ago about Hesketh motorcycles. I was in Albania then, I've been in Macedonia for over one year and have had a lot of extra work done on the bike since we last conversed.

    Here is a photograph of my daughter on the latest incarnation. [Image misplaced - Ed] This is an older Hesketh (1982) with newer forks and wheels. I haven't had a lot of time to play with it, it feels a lot better since there is a lot of difference between 18 year old Marzocchi forks and Koyaba. also the spoked wheels let me use radials which have to be an improvement over the old tubed crossplys. It has 6-pot billet brakes at the front and 4-pot billets at the rear. Not because I go fast, or need extra stopping, but because Ken Harrison is a mate of mine.

    The address for the owners web site is now (geocities) [404] [404] I know one of the pages has corrupted but I can't do anything about it from here since all the info is in UK.

    I have always used the bike whenever able, long periods away from the UK have stopped me from using it as much as I would like, but the modifications I have made have improved it no end.

    It now has an oil-cooled rear cylinder, computerized ignition, all bearing carriers were machined out, sleeved and re-machine for exact fitting, revised oilways, etc. it has no piston slap, doesn't rattle and you can hold a conversation whilst stood next to it without shouting. A lot different from the original engine.

    It appears that the prototype Heskeths were shaft driven, this was dropped after BMW sued Yamaha for infringement of patent over the XS750/XS110. When Hesketh first thought of making a motorcycle they obtained the best-selling large tourers of the day and copied what they considered to be the best characteristics including the shaft drive. The primary sprocket is tiny, about 15 tooth but cannot be made larger due to the shape of the engine. All the evidence points to it being a shaft and the sprocket was simply stuck onto the final drive of a gearbox designed for a shaft. Probably this is why the sprocket is in line with the swinging arm pivot, it would have to be if it was a shaft.

    A lot has been said about that gearbox, but mine has never been that bad. It did have a lot of snatch though, a modification to the back wheel by Mick Broom inserted a dowel through the sprocket into the rear hub since the sprockets could and did shear off the bolts. It happened to me in Cardiff.

    There was also a modification to the rear wheel cush to absorb some of the shock, and it did.

    Un-modified Heskeths have five gears. With an original rear sprocket that gave 70mph at 3,500 in fifth, but any attempt to change into fifth at less than 55mph was met with engine snatch. Further, it could not drop below about 2,750 revs without snatching so there was always a lot of gear changing.

    The modified engine revs much lower and can get into higher gears at lower speeds, mine gets into 5th at about 35-40mph. It also uses unleaded and is doing more miles to the gallon.

    I shouldn't think I'll be using it again this year, my next leave isn't until late December and I probably won't have time.

    I'm back again in March 2001 though and usually take in the Chocolate Starfish rally in Bournemouth, I'll give her a little run out and see the difference between old forks/wheels and the new.

    Finally I agree with Birger, the seat looks a lot better than it feels.
    Robin Morgan -- MorganR at cas2.areur.army.mil

    March 3, 2000
    I stumbled over your site on the web and some mails about Hesketh.
    Well...here is my story:
    In the early 80s I had a small bike shop with a friend. We imported Morinis to Sweden and made a living servicing the normal Japanese armada of bikes. Just out of interest and love of strange bikes we contacted Hesketh and got the chance to sell Hesketh in Sweden. In 1983 we sold four bikes, actually 10% of that years production! That year I was in England learning some of the do's and don'ts of the bike. I actually made the delivery check on the bike I own now ( I managed to buy it back some years ago).

    There are many people out there who claim they know everything, well almost, about Heskeths and how they really are. Very few have actually ridden one. The first generation (actually prototypes) weren't too oil-tight with head lubrication through tunnels in the cam chain block and had all sorts of minor troubles. The later ones (produced by Hesleydon) were actually rather good from a 70s and 80s standard. The guru Mick Brooms had made wonders and is still in business.

    So what is it like to ride? It feels very much like a Ducati 860 GTS or an early Ducati Dharma, heavy and stable. Choose a line and it will stay there. Engine is very smooth and it revs to the red line (7K) without any holes in the power band. Gearbox is strange compared to a good Japanese box, but anyone familiar with older Guzzis and BMWs will feel at home.

    In short, I love my Hesketh. It has it's faults but one has to remember that they actually never stopped being prototypes. I ride it a lot, went to Isle of Man last year, and my biggest problem is the pain making seat!

    Mick Brooms was at: btinternet.com/~broom.engineering/index.htm (404)

    Birger Borsiin -- birger.borsiin at klippan.se
    owner of weird bikes :-))

    From Sheldon: Great information Birger! Thanks for sharing it, and don't be afraid to send anything else that you think might help owners, or potential owners.

    October 14, 1999
    Yes Hesketh's are still made to order in very small numbers by one of the old companys development engineers. The best history on the whole story can be found in a book called British motorcycles 3 by Steve Wilson. Other interesting later articles are Classic Bike Guide (CBG) issues 26 June 93 and issue 80 Dec 97. You can also visit the Hesketh owners club site, I think (geocities) (404) or the builders, Broom Development Engineering. I can't remember his site # but you can link to it through the club site. Just plug in Hesketh and the owners site is there. If you want more info, let me know.
    If you are into your interesting twins, a locally made bike here in Christchurch, New Zealand is worth a look at. You may allready know all about them but if not, look at www.britten.co.nz Order the video for sale. It's really good. Another site is www.probritten.nl [404] A bike sold to Holland . Several reside in the States as well. -- Regards, Craig Roberts. -- Casbolts Honda casbolts at xtra.co.nz

    October 13, 1999
    I read your request for further info on Hesketh m/c's. You may have allready have had many enquirys with info. If not, advise me and I can elaborate a lot further as I am an owner and have had quite a bit of involvement in the past few years. They are a very misunderstood marque and produce these days a solid durable reliable hand crafted touring bike. -- regards, Craig Roberts. -- Casbolts Honda casbolts at xtra.co.nz

    The Hesketh motorcycles company existed in the early 1980s, created by a rich englishman, Lord Hesketh. Weslake (the speedway people) designed the engine, a 90 degree v-twin with two overhead cams/4 valves per cylinder. The bike had a frame made of nickel plated tubing, a mini-fairing, Marzocchi brakes and suspension, and "the gearbox from hell." These things leaked oil, jumped out of gear, and made every clank and whine there was. They also had a 33 inch seat height which no one liked.

    By 1982 Hesketh motorcycles (symbol: a rooster, on the fuel tank badge) was out of business. They were really powerful, nice bikes and they had detachable hard bags, but the gearbox could not be corrected before they went out of business. Then Lord Hesketh restarted the company briefly and tried selling them by disguising them with full fairings and windscreens as tourers. The company went out again.

    Ultimately, about 250 Heskeths were ever made. Consider them the Edsel of motorcycles. -- Matawhero at aol dot com

    December 11, 1998
    I found a web page once about this motorcycle and can not find it again. Please send me info about the Hesketh company or their web address.
    BBurnsTkg at aol dot com

    If you have a query about Hesketh motorcycles or have information about these classic machines, please contact us