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Bike Review - Posted 27th February 2015
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JAP V-twin 'Lyclone' Special

A tribute to the board-track racers of the vintage era, this JAP-powered special is up for sale at a classic motorcycle auction in April...

Among the hundreds of classic bikes and vintage motorcycles which will be going under the hammer at the Cheffins auction in April 2015, this 750 special is one of the most intriguing. Created by Roger Lye – the now retired proprietor of Lyco Engineering – it cunningly combines a 1934 sidevalve JAP engine with a 1947 rigid Norton frame. At a time when ‘vintage-inspired specials’ are ten-a-penny, and frequently exit the workshop looking like half-finished lash-ups, the ‘Lyclone’ stands out for the overall integrity of its design which has been executed to extremely high standards. It actually looks like a proper bike. It’s even got mudguards.

JAP V-twin 'Lyclone' Special

The project started when Roger Lye acquired the V-twin JAP engine in what appeared to be ‘ex-pond’ condition. Subsequent investigation revealed absolutely no internal wear whatsoever at all and it became clear that this was an unused engine complete with magneto and carburettor. The magneto inevitably needed renovation, and the carb soon found a home on another of Roger’s projects. Over time, the concept of a ‘board-track racer’ crystallised in Roger’s mind, and he set about building a replica which could be suitable for road use.

JAP V-twin 'Lyclone' Special

The Norton frame had to be sympathetically extended to accommodate the V-twin engine. The forks are Webb heavyweight girders which have been re-spindled, re-bushed and fitted with new damper stars of Roger’s own manufacture. The front wheel and brake plate are from a 1928 Raleigh and have been rebuilt with new bearings and new brake shoes. The rear wheel also came from a rigid Norton; most likely so did the hand-change, doll’s head gearbox – chosen for its suitably slim styling and positive stop mechanism. The primary drive sprocket is a spliced Westlake speedway type and sits under a carefully modified racing Sunbeam half cover.

JAP V-twin 'Lyclone' Special
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The combination fuel and oil tank was designed and built from scratch, and the original polystyrene pattern exists to prove it. Competition Fabrications manufactured the steel tank and the drop-style handlebars. Those ‘blackadised’ bars are equipped with period inverted levers, a decompression lever, advance / retard and a ‘special lever’. What’s a special lever? Glad you asked. The one-off stubby exhaust pipes are linked to a hidden silencer mounted between the engine plates via butterfly valves. The ‘special lever’ opens and shuts these valves to give ‘town, country and nutcase’ settings. So this is one motorcycle which genuinely comes with a loud button. Neat, huh?

JAP V-twin 'Lyclone' Special

The toolbox was taken from a Royal Enfield Flying Flea, and the entire ensemble is handsomely finished in an unusual dark red with the builder’s own inspired logo. Apparently, there’s something of a starting ritual which needs to be performed, and then the Lyclone will cough into life after a couple of kicks. Roger Lye advises that the bike has travelled less than 200 miles since the build was completed, and he’s more than happy to assist its new owner of this unique machine with information and advice.

JAP V-twin 'Lyclone' Special

The Lyclone comes with an expired MoT (and no longer needs one) and a V5C, and is expected to sell for between £10,000 and £14,000. Most custom build ‘classics’ from chop- and bobber shops tend to start at around £15,000, so it’ll be interesting to see how the auction crowd will value this carefully crafted special. Unlike many ‘vintage fakes’ its major components are actually old. We’ll be watching the sale with interest…


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