A Moto2 bike with headlights: Spirit's exquisite GP Sport R makes your sportsbike look like a pig

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Spirit GP R: 180 horsepower, 140-kg Moto2 bike for the road uses a stroked out 749cc Daytona 675 engine(Credit: Spirit Motorcycles)

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These numbers should make your arm hairs stand up: 180 horsepower, 140 kilograms (309 lbs) wet without fuel … in a street-legal sportsbike. Let that sink in. Newly formed British company Spirit Motorcycles has just unveiled an exquisite bike it believes is the closest thing possible to a Moto2 bike with headlights.

The Spirit GP Sport R is without doubt an extraordinary machine, and it comes out of a single idea: to get the UK back to the top of the MotoGP podium. "We wanted to build a motorcycle that would emulate a grand prix bike, one that we could take to national championships, and promote the idea of letting young talent experience GP bikes long before they ever got to grands prix," said Spirit's Managing Director Tony Scott at yesterday's launch. "What we've got emulates something you'd find in Moto2.

"We want to give the riders and the teams the experience and understanding of a MotoGP chassis long before they ever got to GP. We want to see a GP-style championship here in the UK, with our home grown talent."

The GP Sport R engine starts its life as a Triumph Daytona 675 donk. The Spirit team leaves the 76 mm bore the same, but increases its stroke from 49.5 to 55 mm, giving a total displacement of 749 cc and raising the compression ratio to 13.8:1, and blueprinting it in the process.

This stroked-out triple leaps from 128 horsepower all the way to 180 with the help of a raised redline.

The frame is chromoly steel tube, braze welded, with each tube's diameter and thickness set for optimum torsion and flex.

"The adjustment you have with the chassis starts with the headstock," says Scott. "It was a learning curve for me to learn what the effects of offset are, and it'll be a learning curve for every rider in the paddock. Change your offset by 6 millimeters, find out exactly what it does.

"It's an aero-style headstock. You can change rake, and you can change trail. And we've supplied you with a complete set of spacers which move in half degrees and in millimeters. You can take the wheelbase forward and back, and you can change the rake and trail of the bike. So if you make a change in one area, you can compensate in another. The whole purpose of a GP bike is as little as possible to be making sacrifices."

The GP Sport's hand-made lightweight aluminum swingarm has a quick-release mechanism, vertically adjustable pivot position, adjustable wheelbase and another adjustable linkage to change ride height and the rising rate of the suspension linkage.

While it doesn't have the adjustable engine mount points of Aprilia's RSV4 superbike, it's certainly got a ton of options for aspiring GP pilots to play with.

Suspension is by K-Tech - they're in the process of creating a series of Moto2-spec forks that will ship with the production Spirit GP bikes in March 2017. The shock is a 35DDS Pro model. Both ends are naturally fully adjustable.

Braking is a full set of race-spec gear from PFM, with twin 320 mm discs, 6 piston billet alloy calipers, and an adjustable ratio master cylinder. The rims are 5-spoke Dymag jobs made from carbon fiber and extruded aluminum, making them extremely lightweight. This thing should stop and turn like nothing else on the market.

The GP Sport's bodywork is entirely carbon fibre, including a self-supporting monocoque subframe and seat unit. That sort of thing goes a long way towards weight reduction, and the final wet, unfueled weight of 140 kg (309 lbs) is certainly a testament to that. A Moto2 bike weighs in at 135 kg, and it's got none of the road gear (headlights, starter motors, mirrors, etc.) that these Spirit bikes will run. So that weight figure is a truly monumental achievement.

And the cherry on this exorbitant sundae is one of the most extreme track-focused electronics packages we've ever seen on a road-going motorcycle.

The Motec M130 ECU is fully programmable, and not just through a cable connection. The GP Sport has a 4G internet connection that allows a mechanic to monitor and fine-tune the bike's performance from anywhere in the world, from engine mappings, traction control and anti-wheelie gear, to suspension performance and slipper clutch settings.

"Motec allows us to tap into every single sensor the bike has available, and we've combined that with 4G," says Scott. "We've got Vodafone SIM cards in the bike, and the bike is talking to the cloud all the time. You could be riding this bike on a track in Portugal, and you could call me and say 'I have a little problem with the fueling on the bike - after all, she was fueled in England in February in the cold and the wet and now she's in 36 degrees of heat.'

"I can remotely alter the fueling on your bike. I can see what your telemetry's doing. I can see what your tire pressures are. I can see what your tire temperatures are doing, across three spots, front and rear. I can tell you every single thing that's going on with that motorcycle via the electronics that are on it.

"And all that, not just on a racetrack, but on the road. It's truly as close, I think, as you'll ever get to a grand prix motorcycle."

Naturally, it's got full telemetry downloads including GPS lap time tracking. And the dash itself is a 5-inch full color ultra-bright LCD; a Motec C125 display that changes its display completely between road, race and service modes. There's 48 programmable alarms and 10 programmable LED shift lights.

Scott doesn't expect the GP Sport to be much of a sports tourer: "What we are going to build for you is a MotoGP bike with headlights, and it makes no excuses for being anything other than that. It is utterly raw and utterly focused at what it does."

This machine will be a short run of 50 bikes only, and it's priced to reflect its extreme specification level. The base GP Sport R will sell for £68,999 (US$85,738) and a full Track Pack (which includes fork upgrades, GPS, anti wheelie, sensors for front/rear wheel speed, airbox pressure, tire temperatures and a bunch of other goodies) adds up to more than £10,000 (US$12,426) on top of that.

Still less than a lot of sports cars, but if that's too rich for you, there's a UK£44,999 (US$55,914) non-R model available that ditches a bunch of the electronics and the carbon wheels, and gives you 160 horsepower at 145 kilograms (320 lbs) – still a very extreme machine in its own right.

There are also Street and Street R versions available with no fairings, flat bars and an awkward looking front headlight panel. But they conform to almost exactly the same specifications as the Sport and Sport R, and save you no money over their faired brothers even despite the reduction in carbon panels.

Spirit says it plans to run the GP Sport in the British Superbike series next year, perhaps with the Supersport class. But eventually it wants to start a GP-spec racing class in the British championship to hone the chassis tuning skills of Britain's finest young riders, with the ultimate goal being to push some English riders into the pointy end of the MotoGP championship and break Spain's recent domination of motorcycling's most prestigious race class.

It's a special machine, with extraordinary potential and a lofty long-term goal. We wish the Spirit team all the best, and look forward to seeing these things tearing up some tarmac.

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