… Hello, is this Spondon Engineering?
- Yes, wait a minute …
At the other end of the wire they threw the phone down onto the table, after which it was not just a minute, but about five minutes that I had to listen to a very lively conversation of a number of people with the use of the "hard-to-translate pun" … Usually in movies obscene language is suppressed with a squeak. What sounded in the receiver in the cinema would consist of one continuous “FDI-III” - swearing like shoemakers!.. Finally they came to the phone: “What do I need?” When taken aback, I mumbled the standard, who am I and who I’m climbing into other people's affairs. After a couple of seconds of embarrassed silence, they answered me: “Well, once from Russia, then come …” Most likely, there was an end to the phrase, but it was cut off by the end lights.
This was the beginning of my acquaintance with Bob Stevenson, creator and permanent manager of the English company Spondon Engineering …
Bob made two discoveries in his youth: in himself - a penchant for technology and the fact that there are only two places in the district where these abilities can be applied. One is the railway, the other is the Rolls-Royce factory. I chose RR, here he took the full course of the academy of profanity. Then the third discovery: there are motorcycle races in the world! And they introduced Stuart Tiller - this type was completely revealed by fate: together they began to bend and sharpen parts for their motorcycles, and later - by orders of riders. In 1962 they built their first frame. Companions injected themselves at night and on weekends, were exhausted, in the end, both abandoned "hunchback at someone else's uncle" and in 1969 organized their own company.
“Now it’s hard to believe, but then the Japanese did not know how to make normal frames,” Bob interpreted, intensely “filtering” his speech for juicy words and from this constantly straining and blushing. - If someone drove a Yamaha TZ750 or Honda CBX, he will understand me.
I realized: both motorcycles are notorious for the imperfection of the chassis. A very powerful engine was already installed on the CBX at that time, but the frame was so “playful” that it was impossible to fully realize the potential of the motor: you - gas, moto - splintered … With the TZ750, the story is completely sad - sometimes its frame simply broke on the go. Here the company Spondon Engineering began to harbor “hodovka” for these losers, deprived of congenital dystrophy. But in the 80s, the Japanese, do not be fools, themselves learned how to make frames hard and light - and the business of partners rolled into tartarara. The partners got out: they expanded the range of products, and the shining tube frames made of aviation aluminum became so popular that the company gained worldwide fame.
Now the range of Spondon Engineering products is very wide: “frame-pendulum” kits for most modern sportbikes, “classics” and even “Harleys”, brake discs, traverses, clips, steps, pendulums for dragsters and racing gas tanks … But this is incredible: even In modern times, hard and ultra-light aluminum frames at Spondon Engineering know how to improve them.
The mystery of creating the most beautiful frames in the world takes place in a factory located in the building of the former bookmaker's office. On the ground floor there are workshops. There are four of them. One is tightly lined with machines - old, like museum exhibits, but all as one in excellent condition. Parts are made and processed here, from which frames, pendulums, etc. are assembled. When they introduced me here, I saw that a long pendulum for a drag racing device was fixed on one of the machines. Moreover, it is not simple: its internal cavities are sealed, so that the pendulum, in addition to the main one, will serve as a reservoir for compressed air.
The second workshop is welding. On the stocks are the skeletons of future straights, super- (well, wow!) - long dragster pendulums and other components of the motor-exclusive. Some are still not polished, and pipes at several points are seized by argon welding. On one of the slipways, the recognizable Ya-maha V-Max engine. These motorcycles are the company's regular “patients” … The joke says: “An experienced surgeon will help a bad dancer.” So the local healers are doing that and that "improve the breed" - transplant the engines into the frames of Spondon. The resection also threatens the “native” pendulum - it will also be replaced by a node of local production. Indications for cut-off - congenital malformations of V-Max. In a steel "crate", not very rigid, the Japanese sucked in an engine of enormous power even according to current ideas. And the pendulum of the “Wild Max” is like those parts of a bad dancer that drive the whole “dance” with chaotic movements, and the motorcycle, to put it mildly, does not shine with controllability. After the operation, the "patient" will get rid of the convulsions of "gibberish", lose weight and gain sharp controllability. In addition to these purely technical acquisitions, the new frame will miraculously change the appearance of the motorcycle - turn it from an irrepressibly decrepit veteran into a mature, battle-hardened Landsknecht …
In the third room, they work with the rest of the company's products: on racks there are a myriad of brake discs, clips, traverses and something else whose purpose at first glance cannot be understood … It seems that this lack of understanding affected my physiognomy. Bob noticed her and, picking up one of these knots, proceeded to lecture. It turned out that in the hands of a titan of a non-standard word was a non-standard device designed to facilitate the replacement of the rear wheel in race conditions.
Now, as soon as I describe it, all owners of motorcycles with a chain drive of the rear wheel will desire it with all the fibers of the soul. If you can still quickly remove the wheel, the installation causes so many difficulties that such verbal expressions are involuntarily formulated, from which even the baobab withers. After all, you need to get the brake disc into the gap between the pads, holding the wheel with one hand, and with the other at the same time frantically try to insert the rear axle into the whole structure. At the same time, you still need to manage not to lose the hubs that are held on the wheel just due to the stickiness of the grease, and also remember to put the chain on the rear sprocket. Mounting suffering ends with the dreary process of adjusting the position of the rear wheel, usually taking far more than one minute … And all these processes should be accurately and quickly performed in a pause of a racing pit stop, compressed in time! “We need to use a pendulum with a cantilever wheel mount,” someone will say. And he will be right, but only partially. Firstly, the “one-way” pendulum is inferior in stiffness to the usual one. And if it is possible to achieve the same rigidity as the classic pendulum, then you will have to pay for it with increased weight. Secondly, in many racing classes changing the standard pendulum is simply prohibited by the rules of the competition.
The solution was found in Spondon Engineering. The device consists of two parts. One is mounted directly on the wheel, the second - on the pendulum, while being a new place for mounting the sprocket. When removing the wheel, the sprocket remains on the pendulum, and you don’t even have to loosen the chain tension … But the device also has drawbacks: unsprung masses increase slightly, it becomes necessary to modify the wheel, and sometimes the pendulum itself. In addition to this, a high mechanical load on the product requires a complex manufacturing process and, as a result, leads to a “biting” price …
Bob measuredly gave me this lecture on a device for quickly replacing the rear wheel when the lights suddenly went out. Stevenson frowned deep into the gloom, barked relatively politely: they say, someone deal with this crap. There was no response. Nature prevailed - and Bob already in a more familiar language for himself burst into a luxurious tirade of deep philosophical content. It took effect: the darkness began to move, the blown bulb was replaced. Bob smiled shyly, but no longer restrained himself. The lecture ended with the use of colorful expressions, the lecturer's speech was already devoid of hesitation and past tension … And we headed to the next workshop.
He is in the next building, here they make racing and custom-made gas tanks, if the client wishes, then at least according to the scheme of the moonshine still. Tanks are welded from stamped aluminum parts, which makes them much easier than standard ones, protects against corrosion and saves customers from languishing in line. Actually, where does it come from, the queue, if the prices of some of these tanks can cause an attack of swearing even among well-educated gentlemen.
Who are they who buy Spondon Engineering products? The first group is lovers of exclusive street fighters. They buy Spondon frames to kill two birds with one stone: to improve the controllability of their device and make it truly unique. The second group is the owners of modern sportbikes. These take frames solely as decoration. And the third is racers (for the most part they are not susceptible to frames, but to the rest of the products manufactured specifically for them). Among the racers are more common athletes, racers and drag racers. I can not resist, not to mention: several frames sold to Russia.