Controlling The Disease - Spondon Turbo
For the uneducated, it’s a natural enough assumption to presume that the majority of the customized motorcycles that you see on the e-pages of Worldwide Bomber are built purely for show. That they’re created for the owner’s particular penchant to own a glamorous jewel, a perfectly polished and presented showpiece that has a single raison d’etre of looking good while standing still. Riding the beast is secondary.
And, of course, that assumption would be entirely misdirected, particularly in the case of the Spondon Suzuki that you see here.
Rob Bean - for he is the owner of this turbocharged missile – is not one to pamper a motorcycle. He’s an ex-club racer, and he actually raced the Spondon when it was in a normally-aspirated guise, in one of the few race championships that isn’t filled with nothing but near-standard production bikes. However, Rob had seen the racing in the French Monsters Race series, in which just about anything is allowed, including turbo and supercharging, and he wanted a piece of that pie!
However, while there currently isn’t a road race series in Great Britain that allows turbochargers, Rob just went ahead and built it anyway, with the plan of using it as a road bike with perhaps the occasional sortie out for a trackday or two, perhaps taking in some top speed events, and maybe, just maybe, one day taking it to France…
The frame was one of the original Spondon big tube frames, built in the early Nineties, although while Rob was racing (and crashing, and barrel-rolling!) the Spondon he was picking up various cool, high spec, parts in order to upgrade the rolling gear from parts that were twenty years old. In the process, he gained himself a pair of Őhlins Road & track forks (which were treated to an upgrade in the form of a K-Tech cartridge kit), some PFM brake discs and radial monoblack calipers, an Őhlins TTX rear shock (again, resprung and re-damped to suit) some radial master cylinders and various other bits of trick aftermarket kit. With some careful tuning of the chassis, Rob had a bike that’d handle the twisties as well as just about any production bike, with the rather pleasing side effect that it made for a fantastic track day bike that seemed to upset a lot of purists. Which is nice. The only thing lacking was a bit of grunt from the oil-cooled Suzuki engine…
As he’d decided to give circuit racing a break, Rob realized that he could do something that wasn’t allowed in normal club racing – he could fit a turbo! A trip to see Dave Dunlop at Fast By Me resulted in an IHI VF23 turbocharger attached to bespoke stainless steel exhaust headers, half a Toyota Supra intercooler and a one-off aluminum plenum chamber. The engine was rebuilt with a flowed and ported cylinder head, GSX-R cams on adjustable sprockets, Hayabusa pistons and connecting rods and a Bandit 1200 diaphragm clutch with a lock-up conversion – which meant that the slipper clutch that Rob had been using that proved so good for track use couldn’t be used. Not that it would’ve been able to withstand the prodigious torque supplied by a turbo engine of course! Using Bandit 1200 carbs and an Ignitech programmable ignition unit, just 15psi of boost gives a healthy 278bhp at the back wheel. And, if that doesn’t impress you (and it should), how about the 200ft-lb of torque? And just bear in mind that that is well over double the torque figures produced by the finest, and most modern, litre capacity sports bikes!
While he wasn’t racing on circuits, he was still using the Spondon for track days, and for some alternative racing too, including top speed meetings on tarmac and even sand! Yes, the Spondon turbo saw action on the hallowed sands at Pendine in South Wales, a truly unique venue that, at one time, saw the fastest vehicles on the planet setting landspeed records! Consequently, Rob now holds three UK land speed records, and he still uses the bike on the road. It’s a stable, fine-handling machine, as roomy as any modern supersports bike, but with better low-down drive and a fierce top end rush that only a turbo bike can deliver. I know this, as I was lucky enough to be asked if I wanted a ride on the twisty roads near Rob’s abode…
As usual, it’s still not finished, and is unlikely to ever be. The next planned mods include a fuel injection conversion and of course, Rob still has some unfinished business with Monsters Race in France that he’d like to address at some point! But in the mean time, Mean Bean 49 is taking part in some classic endurance racing and, with any luck, some flat track action with yours truly on some inappropriate road bikes. Watch this space!
Bandit 1200 cases, GSX-R 1100 head ported and flowed by “BOB” oversize stainless valves, Bandit 1200 barrel bored to 1216cc with Hayabusa pistons, GSX-R 1100 cams on adjustable sprockets, Bandit 1200 carbs with billet FBM tops, open meshed bellmouth on turbo, FBM aluminum custom plenum, stock Bandit crank with Hayabusa rods, Bandit 1200 clutch with lock-up, 16/40 gearing, Ignitech fully programmable CDI with Dyna coils, 6” long stainless slash cut exhaust, IHI VF23 ball bearing turbo, half an intercooler intended for a Toyota Supra with electronic adjustable boost controller, 278bhp and 200ft-lb at 15psi, should be well over 300 on the road with good airflow over the intercooler and at the 17psi it does get run at. 16/40 gearing for a theoretical top speed of 225mph
Spondon Big Tube frame, one of the earlier ones (early ‘90s), handmade footrests in original style by father-in-law, kickstand fitted sometimes.
Őhlins Road & Track forks with K-tech cartridge upgrade kit, GSX-R 1000 bottom yoke with ABM billet top yoke, GSX-R1000 K1 wheel, PFM 320mm race discs, PVM radial monobloc calipers, Cobra Performance braided brake lines, GSX-R 1000 bars, IRC radial brake Master, Brembo radial clutch master, FZR 400 Start/Kill switch, Datatool rev light, and Drag racing Shift light, electronic boost control dial.
Spondon swingarm & torque arm, Őhlins TTX shock (originally R1) revalved & resprung to suit, GSX-R 1000 wheel, PFM discs, Harrison Mini Billet caliper with Honda motocross master cylinder, extra heavy duty DID chain with Talon rear sprocket.
Aftermarket carbon front fender, wind protection from main and head oil coolers, Spondon gas tank, modified to make mount stronger and with internal baffles, Honda RS125 tail unit.
Basic loom by owner.
silver painted seat unit, lots of flourescent stickers and lairy wheels, owner painted the seat and lacquered the ally tank, Image Works supplied stickers and a local friend painted the wheels.
Frame and swingarm polished by Spondon.
All of it, built by myself, frame made by Spondon, turbo kit by FBM.
“FBM; Sam Baker.”