IT’S NOT OFTEN that a bike grabs as much attention as this extraordinary custom-made Suzuki Hayabusa. We first saw it at this year’s Japanese Bike Show at Burswood (Perth) in March when its sensational one-sided tubular swingarm, prominent Nitrous Oxide tank and huge back wheel made it impossible to miss. It was no surprise that the bike won ‘Best Custom’ at Burswood.
A month or so later, the bike turned heads and dropped jaws at the York Motorcycle Festival. Once again it was a star of the show, picking up the ‘Best Modern’ and ‘Best In Show’ awards.
And when owner/creator Doug Vickery fired up the beast to ride it outside at the end of the day, it just about brought down the York Town Hall.
There have been a few changes to the bike since its trophy-winning performance at York. It’s changed colour, has a new face, the NOS kit has gone (although not far), and the bike is wearing registration plates — that’s right, this hyper-radical 1300cc Hayabusa is now street legal.
And it’s for sale.
The bike’s story is a fascinating mix of Australian, British and Japanese ingenuity and design and, despite being as modern as modern can be, has roots that stretch back to 1969 when Britons Bob Stevenson and Stuart Tiller started building race bike frames to tame two-stroke Yamaha engines.
The company Stuart and Bob created was Spondon Engineering and it rapidly built a reputation as one of the world’s great frame makers.
“When I was a lad, I used to dream of owning a Spondon-framed bike,” Doug Vickery told us.
“Spondon has folded and the factory has gone, but the lads are now working at a company called GIA (rhymes with beer) — and they are knocking out the greatest custom-designed streetfighter frames the world has ever seen.
“When I decided to use my 2006 Hayabusa as a donor bike for a custom streetfighter, I wanted GIA Engineering to be involved.”
Of course, this created something of a logistical complication — Doug was born and raised in England but these days lives in Western Australia. And GIA Engineering is in Nottingham: half an hour from Spondon (population 12,000 or so), three hours from London, and a very, very long way from Perth.
But Doug didn’t care. He knew what he wanted, and he knew who he wanted to turn his Hayabusa streetfighter idea into reality.
“The distance did create some challenges,” he says.
“I wanted the tail to be based on an R6 Yamaha, so I found an R6 here in Perth, packed up the necessary bits and shipped them to the UK for the guys to work from.
“And I wanted to use an R1-spec Ohlins rear shock, but the only place I could source one was in the USA. So I bought it online, had it shipped from the U.S. to the U.K. (so they could use it during frame design), then had it shipped to Perth for final assembly. I had to pay import duties from America into the UK and then again from the UK into Australia. Crazy.”
“You can’t easily bring in a rolling chassis,” Doug said, “but it’s okay to bring in a frame and then bring in a tank, and then bring in a set of wheels because then you are just importing parts.”
And so it was that, when the time came to start moving major components from Nottingham to Perth, Doug needed to make sure the parts arrived separately.
“It wasn’t enough to have the parts physically separate from one another,” he said. “If they all arrived on one boat, or even if they arrived on separate boats but ended up together in Customs, there was a risk they would be deemed as a rolling chassis. So we would wait until one shipment had physically left England before we organised the next shipment.”
The engineering expertise was not all back in England. That massive rear end necessitated an out-of-frame chain-to-wheel alignment which, in turn, required the clutch, drive sprocket and alternator components to all be extended. And that’s not as easy as it sounds, especially when you think of the forces being generated by the Hayabusa motor to that back tyre.
“I heard about a guy in Wangara by the name of Gavin Forbes who works with frames on big-horsepower drag bikes. I met him, saw his work, and thought he was brilliant. An engineering master. He took on the task and did a fantastic job.”
There’s no denying the quality of craftsmanship. Every weld is a work of art.
“The welding was done by Gav Goddard, the owner of GIA Engineering,” Doug said. “Gav was with Spondon for 15 years, and his TIG work is world-class.
“The frame, tank, swinging arm and rear subframe are all custom-designed and made from a lightweight aircraft grade 7020 series alloy that can not be bought off the shelf.
“Gav was also central to designing the bike. Gav, me and Wales-based wheel builder Steve Taylor basically designed the bike. Steve is the owner of Taylormade wheels and he’s a pommy bike-building legend. He designed the wheels, forks, triple trees and brake calipers.”
With multiple people providing creative input from multiple locations, it would have been easy for the final product to lack cohesion. But it doesn’t.
Doug Vickery’s bike is officially registered as an ‘Individually Constructed Vehicle, 2016’. But if you ever get to see it in the flesh, you’ll forget that kind of detail. It’s just a stunning machine.
And what’s it like to ride?
“The wide tyres mean it’s not in a hurry to change direction,” Doug says.
“You get used to it, but you really have to lean it to turn corners.
“And once you do get used to it, it goes like shit off a stick.”
GIA Engineering – England
- 2016 Custom 7020 series alloy streetfighter frame
- 2016 Custom 7020 series single sided swinging arm with Ducati 916 hubs.
- 2016 Custom 7020 series alloy rear subframe designed for the arse end of a 2008 Yamaha R6
- 2016 Custom alloy petrol tank
Taylormade Wheels – England
- Custom 330mm & 160mm Dragster wheels.
- Custom 6 pot front brake calipers
- Custom CNC’d 4 & 2-inch triple trees
- Custom Fat Yamaha R1 forks, extended 50mm
Forbes and Mills Engineering – Perth, WA (Gavin Forbes) – a motorcycle engineering master! Drag bike builder/ engineer.
Custom designed 67mm engine sprocket extension incorporating a bearing support with an extended clutch slave cylinder setup, extended alternator and an extended gear shifter, all on the one plate with a custom speedo sensor behind the engine sprocket.
- Nitrous Express 6lb dry nitrous kit giving a 40hp boost
- The bikes chassis length has a 2″ extension from the stock Hayabusa.
- Aftermarket Yamaha R1 Ohlin’s rear shocker
- Oil cooler bypass kit
The bike was painted at Motorcycle Panel and Paint, Perth.
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