Herald bring it home with their production-ready Brute 500

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This street tracker style single is the latest from British/Chinese brand Herald and, at 500cc, is claimed to be not only their biggest and best-performing bike so far but also their most authentically British-built.

The Huntingdon company say the Brute 500 is their “first British designed, engineered and manufactured motorcycle” and it’s now gone on sale at £6950 (plus £250 on the road charges).

Formed in 2010 and a part of the larger Encocam engineering group, Herald have been known for their range of mostly 125 and 250cc Chinese-built air-cooled budget singles but with British-designed retro and scrambler styling.

Determined, they say, “to bring manufacturing back to the UK” the first major step in that direction came with the 2020 Brat 125 which, although still largely comprised of Chinese parts, was designed and partly assembled here.

The Brute 500 now moves the British-built dream nearer still. Although the liquid-cooled single and parts of the chassis are still Chinese (the motor’s Zongshen’s NC450 unit which is also used in Fantic’s similar Caballero 500) the design, tuning (via Herald’s own dyno), many of the cycle parts (such as the wheels and suspension from Encocam sister company Racetek) and assembly are all in-house.

The frame castings, aluminium swingarm, yokes and spindles are all machined in-house and give a quality feel; the front four-piston radial brake is by Devon-based HEL, while the seat, wiring loom and other plastic mouldings (except for the tank which is made in Italy) are also made in Britain.

“It’s definitely been a challenge,” a Herald spokesman said. “We’ve tried to design as much in-house as possible, to establish the Brute as a British designed and made bike, which it is. We machine a lot of the components of the bike here from billet.”

  • Sassy chassis Frame parts and  swingarm are made by Herald in Huntingdon with the latter CNC machined from billet. Further models including a Scrambler are planned on the same platform.
  • The ‘non- British’ bit Liquid-cooled single is by China’s Zongshen and is the same as the one used by Fantic. It produces 43bhp but requires servicing every 3000 miles.
  • Plastic fantastic Smart, street tracker-style single seat (835mm seat height) is British made, as are most of the plastic mouldings.
  • Homebuilt components Adjustable inverted and rear shock are by Racetek, as are the 17in wheels. Front radial brake and wavy disc is by HEL, although the rear is by J-Juan.
  • Other bits Spec also includes China-sourced LED lights, ‘scrolling’ indicators and an Acewell LCD dash.

Herald reveal Brute 500 concept at Motorcycle Live

First published on November 21, 2018 by Dan Sutherland

Cambridgeshire-based small bike company Herald have revealed a new Brute 500 concept at Motorcycle Live, which aims to be the firm’s first British-built motorcycle.

The machine has been designed, engineered and assembled in the UK and is powered by an A2 licence-friendly 449cc single-cylinder four-stroke engine – provided by their Asian partners – producing 42.9bhp. This is coupled with a six-speed manual gear box and contemporary street-tracker styling.

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Alongside this, the bike also features adjustable front and rear suspension, with the rear shock using a unique floating linkage system. The entire frame, exhaust, bodywork, seat and all of the machined components have been produced in the UK, too.

With the suspension and brakes also being designed and built to UK specification, there is  Italian Domino switchgear and a Koso Taiwanese dashboard – however Herald claim this is all subject to change at the mass-production phase.

Herald have been importing retro-styled small-capacity motorcycles from China for around a decade and are now able to make the move into producing motorcycles independently, due to being a division of long-standing engineering firm Encocam, who have the facilities to produce the parts at their Huntingdon base. 

The bike is still firmly in the testing phase and no word has been given on pricing. However, Herald believe the Brute will act as a viable rival to other affordable retros currently available, including the Italian-styled, Chinese-powered Fantic range.

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Phil West

By Phil West

MCN Contributor and bike tester.