Today we’re happy to present another build by Dave Solomon, the ingenious Englishman behind the Bandit-powered CB750 and Z1000 we previously featured. In certain circles in the US, the name “Spondon” is whispered with great veneration. Based in Derby, UK, Spondon Engineering built custom frames that have achieved near mythic status, particularly in streetfighter circles.
We’ll let Dave explain the rest.
Spondon 1: GSX-R1100
Let me take you back, way back, to winter of 1991 and the National Motorcycle show in Birmingham, England. This was normally a dull affair for me. I’d drive there, look at new motorcycle offerings that I just plain couldn’t afford and come home with great intentions of building bikes that were never gonna happen.
The Streetfighter scene had been going for a few years and I was the proud owner of a 1985 GPZ1100 Unitrack. She had a 1262cc motor with wild cams, stock chassis that wanted to kill me, and I was content with all this drudgery until I turned one corner at this certain bike show: there on a stand was a chassis to beat everything. My heart raced and I just couldn’t leave its side. In fact there were about two hundred like-minded souls (mainly males!) who just couldn’t walk away. The chassis in question was the new Spondon aluminum-tubed frame that had been created for Steve Burns. He had been using a steel-tubed Spondon frame for his ‘GSX1100’ which of course was actually 1500cc and turbocharged.
Naturally I was hooked. The next few years saw me buying GSXR1100’s, tuning them, polishing them and getting fancy paint just to see if I was a worthy contender for such a build. After one fantastic such build I decided to sell the latest project to fund my first Spondon frame.
A call to Bob Stephenson who was co owner of the factory, and I was on my way to Spondon in Derbyshire. A large wad of cash was handed over and a date was made to collect my frame seven months later. Whilst waiting a donor GSXR1100 was purchased, broken down, and the parts needed were polished to within an inch of their life. The frame was collected on the agreed date, and within a week she was running. Within two, she was painted and on the road. House of Kolors Candy cobalt blue was chosen as the Spondon engineering sign has a blue back drop. All went well; handling on GSXR forks/wheels was sublime to say the least, and we had a very good four years together, then she got sold!
To this day I don’t know why. Whilst owning the Spondon a child had come into my life, priorities had changed–bigger house, bigger commitments I don’t know–I do know from the point it was sold, I felt lost!
I bought and sold countless bikes and all were fabulous but they didn’t have the Spondon edge; it was like living in motorcycle limbo.
Spondon 2: The ‘Busa
We jump quite a few years and the intervention of social media: out of the blue comes a message of a Spondon Busa for sale. With the help of some friends the bike is tracked down to a house in London, a phone call secures the deal and a week later I again am the proud owner of a Spondon-framed special. The bike’s history is a little checkered, but she has names on her that adorn some of the best bikes in the world: Ohlins, Brembo, Dymag, AP Lockheed to name a few. A visit to the local dyno reveals a power issue of only 129bhp on a bike that should be putting out 150 stock. Motor out time, and I lift the head to find nine bent valves (and still pumping 129 ponies!). Whilst the motor was out, I asked the same painter who painted my first Spondon–John Tooze of Re-Born to be Wild–to work his magic, which he did amazingly well….he’s so good it hurts!
Tim Dudley, who I always use for making my seats, took the front Honda SP1 pad, recovered it, and also stitched the Hayabusa ‘Kanji’ logo into it. Again, another perfectionist. The bike is now spot on, handles like it’s on rails and pulls like a freight train (best not to mention wheelies!)/
I suppose selling my first was the biggest mistake, and the Hayabusa came along at the right time to console me a tad Problem I have thouhg is the power delivery. Hayabusa power comes in at high revs and once your up around 150mph hanging on is a task in itself. Always really wanted an “oldskool” GSXR1100 Spondon frame, but they are so rare However, last month another was sourced in a sorry state and that too resides in my shed…there really is a god!
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hi dave, nice read and great pics of lovely bikes, I to wanted a spondon yet I only managed a swingarm for my zzr1100 c, still after a spondon or martec as I live in spondon and went to see bob and the lads a lot.
keep up the good work.
Thanks for the kind remarks, love building em and hope to continue for many years to come
Spondon engineering built frames for ‘specials’, nothing to do with the streetfighter movement. The Streetfighter movement began in the mid 80’s when chopper builders started making a new style of chopper using running gear and engines (usually tuned) from the most powerful bike they could get their hands on.
Seems like neither bikebound or the builder of this bike know any history.
Haha, to think that someone would say that Dave Solomon doesn’t know any history about Spondon or the streetfighter scene… Also, what you said doesn’t refute what we wrote in the article.
“Based in Derby, UK, Spondon Engineering builds custom frames that have achieved near mythic status, particularly in streetfighter circles”
1. They packed in many years ago.
2. They have nothing to do with “Streetfighter circles” See such groups as UK specials and Street specials MCC for more information on what a ‘special’ is.