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8th August 2003


Hesketh: Limited Edition Extra - Brooklands BooksHesketh: Limited Edition Extra

For services to nit-picking, detail-devouring, anorak-wearing motorcyclists Brooklands Books probably deserve some sort of national honour. It seems like such a small thing -- a collection of road tests and magazine articles -- but the effort expended and the reader's reward are both of impressive stature. It would take a short lifetime to track down and read all the features in a Brooklands' compilation if you tried to find them in original form -- and even if you did locate them all then they'd still be scattered about in disparate disarray. A Brooklands volume on any subject is an indispensable guide: read the book about your own bike, even if you've ridden it for years, and you'll make more than one new discovery. Promise!

OK; eulogy over. These books ain't perfect. I firmly disagree with the publishing principle that Brooklands have followed with the latest string to their bow -- the low production-value series of 'Limited Edition Extra' road test books to which the Hesketh volume belongs. You can't knock Brooklands for enthusiasm -- they've broached a subject which is in a niche smaller than the fuel tank on my Hurricane, and so the commercial reward for this title won't be huge. I don't doubt that the publisher had to take a few very deep breath before giving the go-ahead for a book about a bike which could appeal to so few buyers. I mean, they only made about 250 Hesketh bikes so it's gonna be hard to make this book a best-seller! Hesketh: Limited Edition Extra - Brooklands Books

So for limited-appeal bikes, Brooklands have opted to produce 'cheaper' books. I doubt that they are actually much cheaper to produce, but they are printed in smaller runs and they lack any of the gloss and colour which we have so welcomed in the Portfolio series in recent years. Even the covers are mono -- and these bikes were so colourful, so striking. Where's all the gold and red gone? The Hesketh adventure was also recent enough that surely many of the magazine features will have been in full colour, and that extra dimension is missed. Instead of counting the coppers I'd rather have paid an extra fiver or so for the book and had one which matched the other series' and looked good. So much of the motorcycling experience is aesthetic...

Grumble over. What you can't possibly criticise this volume for is a lack of information. There are over 135 tightly-packed pages containing 28 features on the V1000, Vampire and Mick Broom's Vortan offshoot. And these are features written by decent writers, too; you can be swept along with them as the anticipation and expectation turns to disappointment and disillusion, until finally the Hesketh is reviewed from a modern perspective and the valiant V-twin is finally given the fair credit it was due. Your guides along the journey are folk like Tim Holmes, Peter Watson, Mark Williams, Roland Brown, Dave Minton and Steve Wilson. These people know about wot they write.

One of those fine fellows commented that; 'the excitement it offers is not so much in its performance, but rather in the unquantifiable satisfaction of owning something built with a degree of excellence.' You'll just have to read the book if you want to know who it was who said that -- but we all know exactly what he meant. Don't we?

Rowena Hoseason

Hesketh: Limited Edition Extra
Published by Brooklands Books, ISBN 1-855-20592-0.
Buy a copy direct from Brooklands for 12.95 Quote RC20 for a discount.


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