Tanshanomi's Snap Judgments

Hesketh V1000/1200

Thu, May 13th, 2010

1982–2010 Hesketh V1000 & V1200
The Westlake-developed V1000 was powerful enough, but nothing remarkable; nothing like the British world-beater it was supposed to be. Additionally, it made an unholy clatter when running and had terrible gearbox problems.
Nothing special in 1982, antiquated today. Broom Engineering has updated the chassis lately, but it's still cumbersome and top-heavy.
A mixture of crudeness and divine elegance: it looks like it was cobbled together in a old laundry shed...on the estate of an enormously wealthy man. This is because — not coincidentally — it actually was. (Lord Hesketh wasn't nearly so wealthy after attempting to build a production motorcycle from scratch.)
Heskeths fall somewhere on a sliding scale: 3.5 points for a new 1200cc model from Broome Engineering, 2 points for a well cared for used one that's been fairly well sorted-out, down to half a point for them as they were originally built at the Easton Neston Estate.
It's a horrifically expensive, hand-built roadster of which there are only a few hundred in the world (very likely no two identical), and it does nothing any better than any number of mass-produced bikes.
It has a remarkable backstory and intriguing looks, but in terms of functionally as a rider, it falls flat.
The fact that it's been in semi-production on and off for nearly three decades is a testament to its strengths. The fact that there have been financial troubles throughout and only a few hundred built is a testament to its many weaknesses.