Hand-built, mighty and rare – the 2018 Hesketh Valiant SC
Hesketh Motorcycles' third model is the high-end Valiant SC roadster, which owes its name to a legendary high-altitude bomber. It offers an extravagant 210 hp output from its supercharged 2.1 liter V-twin, and a hefty price tag that will appeal to a very eclectic customer base.
For Formula One fans, the name Hesketh should ring some bells; Lord Hesketh's team competed at the top level of car racing from 1972 until 1978 and helped launch the career of driver James Hunt, who brought the privateer team's first and only victory in 1975 driving a Hesketh 308 against Nicky Lauda's Ferrari.
Soon after Hesketh Racing retired from F1, its owner attempted to set up a motorcycle business in the early 1980s by introducing the English-built V1000. The Vampire touring version that followed soon after did very little to help alleviate reliability issues, and this endeavour would soon come to a financial dead end – much like the F1 racing team had a few years earlier.
After several years in idle, Hesketh's rights ended up in the hands of Paul Sleeman, who moved the production facility to Surrey, UK, and in 2014 announced a new limited-production model. The 24 was a direct tribute to James Hunt's Hesketh 308 F1 car and its production run was limited to just 24 motorcycles. This time Sleeman didn't attempt to replicate the V1000 recipe, but instead built the 24 around an S&S X-Wedge V-twin engine with high-end peripherals and as many English parts as possible.
Last year Hesketh Motorcycles introduced the Sonnet café racer, which is based on the 24 and is expected in the second half of 2017. The Valiant SC is the third model of the boutique brand, also elaborating on the same base with a wild roadster theme. Its name is apparently inspired by the Vickers-Armstrongs high-altitude bomber that was part of the Royal Air Force's nuclear force in the 1950s and '60s. Hesketh's plans include as well a basic Valiant model, which should probably be a similar motorcycle minus the supercharger.
The Valiant SC is powered by a 2,097 cc (128 ci) S&S X-Wedge motor, coupled with a Rotrex supercharger purposefully tuned by TTS Performance. The end result is quite impressive, measuring 210 hp (156.6 kW) at 5,500 rpm and 295 Nm (217.6 lb-ft) at just 3,000 rpm.
The motor sits in a chromium-molybdenum steel alloy cradle frame, designed and fabricated for Hesketh by GIA Engineering. The motorcycle is suspended by a set of K-Tech units, including two Razor shock absorbers in the back and a pair of black inverted forks that appear to be a K-Tech KTR-3 racing set with Öhlins internals. Braking is handled by a pair of six-pot billet calipers designed by Hesketh at the front, and a rear four-piston Brembo caliper.
Furnished with gear from a variety of leading brands like Rizoma, Magura, Domino, Motogadget and Smiths, the Valiant SC's dry weight measures no less than 239 kg (527 lb).
According to Hesketh Motorcycles, the first Valiant SC models are expected to start shipping in the summer (North Hemisphere) of 2018, at a retail price of £50,000 (about US$61,000).
Source: Hesketh Motorcycles
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