British custom builder Pete Pearson has over 30 years experience in the design & engineering of race motorcycles. And it shows all over this unusual creation whose design, mechanical engineering, quality of materials and finish all deserve respect. And I am not only talking about the pro-judges who unanimously agreed to give Pete the most valuable trophies in all the bike shows where Speed Weevil was competing – Champion at Las Vegas Bike Fest “Artistry In Iron”, Best Of Show at Germany CustomBike , Champion at the Italy Motor Bike Expo in the CCE Bike Show – but also from a selection of his best fellow builders and fabricators from both sides of the Atlantic. And below you will find some good reasons for their enthusiasm.
Although Pete Pearson works mainly on Harley platforms, this project got started on an old Triumph motor because his opportunity to own it was too great. Pete explained to me that this 1935 engine is one of two factory ones built for the 1936 UK race season. Since 1936 this motor has been through several racing owners and owns 70+ years of racing pedigree. It has been a star at the UK Brooklands race circuit where it was raced again in 2008, and eventually entered history when featured in several Hard Cover Books. “It’s an absolute legend and we were extremely fortunate to come by it. However I’ve never actually seen any custom single cylinder bikes that I’ve liked…” says Pete. “I think it’s a difficult engine format to build around, especially with my concern to keep it in the racing spirit to shake it down in Bonneville, hopefully this coming September”
But being a custom builder Pete obsessed first on the aesthetics of this very small Triumph single cylinder motor. From top to bottom, a very delicate job of proper scaling and detailing. You would not know if I would not tell you, the supercharger comes from a Rolls Royce Merlin V12 engine as fitted to early Spitfires which carried two of these units on both sides of the front bell housing (the same way modern jet liners use superchargers to pressurize the passenger cabins.) The supercharger comes from a Spitfire plane shot down over the Mediterranean sea in 1942 during WWII. “We bought both units off that engine and after some major re-furbishing and re-manufacturing, we got a good one. 100% British and belonging to the same era than the engine. Frame was custom fabricated from T45 which is a British steel that was used in the manufacture of the Spitfire itself, so it all tied-in nicely. “How cool is that?” tells me Pete.
This frame is held together with 316 stainless steel slugs and by Iconel pins with a 0.01mm tolerance, making the bike foundation extremely strong. Creation of the one-off Girder front end was extremely challenging. It is built from streamline section 4130 aero tube (chrome moly) A pain in the ass, remembers Pete, due to the accuracy needed in relation to the suspension components (close-up photo look at the spring inside the frame neck). The swingarm was also extremely complicated because of the jackshaft, bearing housings and Pete’s desire to keep it on point with his overall design. Yes, it looks like a stealth grasshopper…The full tech sheet is at the bottom of this feature.
Upcoming appearances of Speed Weevil are in Dublin at the Irish International Bike Show, then in Abu Dhabi at the Custom Bike Emirates, then a return to Las Vegas for Pete to defend his Artistry in Iron Champion title. And while in the US Pete will possibly travel to Bonneville where his creation will race in the this 250cc air cooled, pushrod, vintage, blown, un-faired class. The current record is 68.894 mph. Rocket Bobs.
ENGINE: 1935 Triumph L2-1 which has raced in the UK for 70 years
FRAME: T45 with 316 stainless steel slugs and Inconel pins which hold it together
TRANS: 1965 Japanese grass track race box
FRONT FORK: Internally sprung 4130 aero tube girder with 316 stainless steel support arms
SWINGARM: T45 “grass hopper” arm with 436 jack shaft running 12 high speed bearings
SUPERCHARGER: 1942 Rolls Royce Merlin compressor retrieved from a Spitfire
TURBO CHARGER: Extensively re-worked snowmobile unit
FUEL TANK: Modifed 1977 Ironhead peanut with internal intercooler, plenum chambers and wastegate plus adjustable inlet tract
CARBURETOR: Yoshimura downdraft
IGNITION: SEM magneto
OIL TANKS: Also engine cradles, 316 stainless
REAR BRAKE: Fully custom with Hope caliper
WHEELS: Supermoto race with Dunlop full wets