Hesketh unveils first new bike in over 30 years

Michael Mann - Web Editor, Bike Social
By Michael Mann
MannOnABike Web editor of Bike Social. Been riding bikes since he was four-years-old. Fast and smooth road rider, just about hangs on in a track day quick group.

Marking a return to motorcycle manufacturing, the Hesketh name has been re-born by Owner & Chief Engineer, Paul Sleeman and his (small) band of very merry men. Today, at their modest Surrey-based HQ, the '24' was unveiled.

After 30 years, meet the Hesketh 24

When we paid Sleeman & co. a visit last month for our feature on the past, present and future of the brand, he was deep into keyless ignition research and true enough, this technology now exists on the 24. A transponder sits in the pocket of the rider and if it remains no further away than 50cm from the aerial under the seat, the ignition will work. This is just one example of the attention to detail and care given to the 24.

This is the first bike to come out of the factory since Sleeman's purchase of Hesketh in 2010 and according to the flamboyant (aren't they all?) owner, the project has taken "110% of my time and 500% of my net worth". In fact, since purchase, Sleeman estimates ploughing c.�850k into Hesketh, not all of which was his own money. "I've dipped a few pockets along the way", he says.

The grand unveil by Paul Sleeman and glamorous assistant

The new bike is quite a machine. Standing alone in front of a room of applauding journalists with the Hesketh-motifed cover taking up station on the floor adjacent, silence fell as we inspected every one of the many nooks and crannies. The immediate and obvious site was the huge 1950cc S&S X-Wedge air-cooled V-Twin. As we scanned our eyes from front to back the Ohlins suspension stared back as did the Beringer brakes, engraved clutch cover, BST Blackstone carbon wheels, hand-stitched single-seat unit, 2-into-1 stainless steel and carbon under seat exhaust system. This is a hand-built bike using some of the very finest components and even though the price tag sits at a whopping �35,000 you can't help but appreciate the attention to detail of the Hesketh 24.

Attention to detail on the 24

The standard engine has been tuned by HPE (Harris Performance Engines) to provide a longer air intake thus increasing torque up to an enormous 196Nm (145 ft lbs) at 3,000 rpm. The logo adorning the fuel tank ws designed by none other than ex-BSB Champ Tommy Hill who will be riding the bike on its official debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed at the end of June. The colour scheme and 24 theme is a nod to the Hesketh Formula 1 history, during which James Hunt won its only race at Zandvoort in the Netherlands in 1975. The circuit is painted onto the side panel of the bike under the seat.

The price tag not only buys you a piece of British motorcycling history, the bike has been designed and produced to be ridden not just shrink-wrapped and put into storage only to appear at Bonhams in 25 years' time. Each of the 24 bikes produced will carry a unique, numbered 18 carat gold (should have been 24 carat! - Ed) plaque on the tank.

Stunningly yet butch Hesketh 24

Judging by his wry smile, Sleeman is proud of his and his teams' efforts. Quite rightly too although he played it down when stating, "I'm mega critical of everything but I think it's alright. It's possibly better than I expected. The emphasis has always been on quality, like it was back in the day".

Although perhaps most intriguingly he also said, "Noise might be a problem, it's not a quiet bike!". It's just a shame that a last-minute amend with the upper fuel tank meant the bike couldn't be started today.

Stack Instrument panel on the Hesketh 24

Each bike will take between 1-2 weeks to assemble with the first being started by mid-August. Hesketh say they've had 11 orders so far with five deposits taken so if you're in the market, be quick. The bike will come with a paddock stand and a two-year warranty.

We'll attempt to tame this torquey beast in the middle of July so check back then for our first ride.

Full technical spec:

Engine

Air-cooled, 1950cc, V-twin

Valve actuation

Push rod 2 valves per cylinder

Bore x Stroke

105mm x 110mm

Compression ratio

9.75:1

Fuel system

Closed loop electronic fuel injection

Ignition/ Start

Digital / Electric

Security

Keyless ignition & immobiliser

Exhaust

Two into one into two � stainless steel & carbon fibre

Frame

Chrome-moly tube cradle frame

Swing Arm

Steel box section with integral oil tank

Rake

25�

Trail

96mm

Front & Rear wheel

17� BST Blackstone carbon fibre

Front tyre

120/70/ZR17

Rear tyre

190/70/ZR17

Handlebars

Renthal tubular tapered steel Fatbars (UK made)

Fuel tank capacity

19 litres

Seat height

820mm

Wheelbase

1550mm

Gearbox

Baker 5-speed with overdrive

Clutch

Baker wet multi-plate KingKong clutch cable actuation

Front suspension

43mm �hlins USD forks, adjustable preload, compression & rebound damping, fully machined billet yokes

Rear suspension

�hlins reservoir-style twin shocks, adjustable ride height, preload, compression & rebound

Power

125PS @ 6000RPM

Torque

196Nm @ 3000RPM

Front brakes

Beringer 300mm floating discs, 4 piston Beringer Aerotech caliper, Stainless steel braided hoses

Rear brakes

Single Beringer 250mm disc, 4 piston Beringer Aerotech caliper, Stainless steel braided hoses

Instrumentation

Stack Race Instrumentation: ST200 Multi-function tachometer

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