Hesketh Motorcycles

Inspired by Lord Hesketh; who, through his sponsorship of the Formula 1 (F1) racing team Hesketh Racing“, wanted to use the skills and facilities built during the F1 years to greater effect. He had a vision of producing a high quality motorcycle and, driven by this vision, the Hesketh motorcycle was developed on the Easton Neston estate, the home of Lord Hesketh. The prototype was up and running by the Spring of 1980 with, what was then, a “special” Weslake engine, commissioned specifically for the Hesketh machine. The engine adopted a V-twin configuration and exploited similar 4-valve cylinder heads to those pioneered during the Hesketh Racing F1 era.

After two years of intense development, the V1000 was announced to the press and partners were sought for the move from development to manufacturing. None were forthcoming, but “the City” was interested in investing in the venture. So; Hesketh Motorcycles PLC was formed. Over 1981-82 a modern, purpose-built, factory was set up to manufacture the bikes at Daventry (15 miles to the North of Easton Neston) but, unfortunately, due to lack of cash, start-up problems and a collapsing motorcycle market, the firm went into receivership and, after manufacturing about one hundred V1000 models for the home market, ceased trading.

This left the new owners without any kind of after-sales support or backup, and the employees without a job! So, the development team (which had always been based at Easton Neston, and had continued development of the machine under the support of Lord Hesketh) offered after-sales support (and modifications) to the owners of the bikes already sold. This support expanded to include the manufacture of more new machines between 1982-84, under the name of Hesleydon Ltd. It was Hesleydon Ltd. who obtained the necessary certification to sell overseas and went on to develop the Vampire, after repeated requests for a touring version of the V1000. But, when the general downturn in the motorcycle market started to seriously affect sales, and the high cost of the parts, together with the inability to increase volume to implement proper production assembly methods, the decision was made to cease general manufacture.

Between 1984 and 2010, Broom Development Engineering used the skills and knowledge, amassed through years of development work, to continue to support the owners of Hesketh motorcycles. Even retaining the capacity to assemble a limited number of new machines. This ability supported the ongoing development of various aspects of the machine, to improve both the old and the new. Upgrades to suspension, brakes and wheels are now (relatively) commonplace and engine improvements including digitally mapped ignition systems and improved cooling are embedded in both new and old bikes.

In 2010, the company was transferred to Paul Sleeman, who has worked tirelessly in setting up new premises for the Hesketh marque. The new company is based in Kingswood, Surrey and continues the both the support and development work for Hesketh motorcycles. So much so that the first Hesketh V1100 (no, NOT a typo) became a reality in early 2012.

Many thanks to Broom Engineering for contributing to the information on this page.

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