Levis are poised to make a return to motorcycle manufacturing with a five-bike range that will be spearheaded by this bold and revolutionary V6 Café Racer.
The brainchild of two pioneering automotive engineers, their dream to revive the defunct British brand has now moved to the next level, with this prototype build following hot on the heels of their first engine castings. And it looks sensational.
Phoenix from the ashes
Levis motorcycles date back to 1911 when their two-strokes ruled the road and track. They even took a win at the Isle of Man TT in 1920, but the business never recovered after the war, closing for good in 1946. The brand lay dormant for 70 years until automotive designer Phil Bevan purchased the name and, together with his Head of Design Steve Kirk, penned a bike around an evolution of one of their existing car engines.
“I realised we had a two-litre V10 engine that’s only 13in across the cylinder head,” said Bevan back in January. “So I said ‘f*** it, let’s make a motorbike’.”
Seven months on and they’ve made real progress, including producing this prototype of the first model: the Café Racer. The heart of the bike is the narrowangle 1200cc V6, which is mounted longitudinally in the frame like a Moto Guzzi. However, the V-angle is only 22 degrees, which combined with a highly unusual 1-2-3-4-5-6 firing order makes for an incredibly smooth engine that doesn’t need a balancer shaft.
“With such a tight V-angle and our firing order, it will sound a bit like three Harleys all firing together,” said Bevan. “The engine development is going well and we’re on target for a peak power figure of around 120bhp.”
Ready, set, go
As well as engine development, Levis have also been working on their stainless steel frame.
“After manufacturing trials, our first frames are currently going into production,” added Bevan. “They’re very close to the first artist’s impressions but they’ve been modified so they can be easily tailored to the owner’s personal preferences and requirements.”
Making the most of this frame flexibility, Levis are planning five models using the V6 engine, with an Urban Roadster and Flat Tracker to follow the Café Racer and two further sports models planned after that. The first pre-production model of the V6 Café Racer will be at Salon Prive at Blenheim Palace on August 30–September 1, followed by the Goodwood Revival on September 7-9.
Levis are aiming to have the bike in full production by March 2019. Prices of the V6 Café Racer are dependent on exact specification but start at £102k with the Urban Roadster following on at £78k.
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