IDP Moto - Ginetta CB500K
By James McCombe - 23 Mar 15
Bop-on back to '50s Britain, the era of the original café racer, and you'd have found the roads and racetracks teeming with British sports cars. Evocative names like Jensen, MG, Lotus, and Triumph produced iconic 2-seater steers, renowned for their lightweight simplicity and character. Sadly, as with so many of the original British bike builders of that period, the car manufacturers followed suit. Gradually disappearing from the showrooms, becoming nothing more than an unwanted letterhead, sold-off at auction. Back to the modern day and there are but a few fragments left. But showing how it's done, with ambition and gusto, is Ginetta. Not only the 3rd largest manufacturer of racing cars in the world, their G40R carries the flag onto the roads, blending classic curves with modern drive-train and suspension technology. Bought by businessman, racer and engineer Lawrence Tomlinson in 2005, he's successfully hauled Ginetta back from obscurity, adding relevance to the company once again. Their purpose made factory outside Leeds has no whiff of man-in-a-brown-coat-wit'-'ammer so associated with the days of old, and the race and road machines are assembled with clinical precision. But alongside the cars, Lawrence has always had a passion for bikes: vividly remembering the buzz his 10 year old self got twisting the throttle for the first time on a Suzuki trail bike. He progressed through myriad trials bikes, onto full fat sports machinery (inducing full throttle runs to Le Mans) before trying to slow himself down by way of some classic British iron. But when the 4-Leading-Shoe front brake on his Trition just sighed and gave up after a long ride, it was time to embrace modern technology once again, but without forgoing classic looks. It was at a race meet that Lawrence first happened upon a tasty Honda CB550 parked up in the paddock. Conspicuous by it's lack of gaudy paint and sponsor stickers, it's retro form stood out amongst the pure functionality of it's surroundings. That bike was Superbike supremo Johnny Rea's, freshly finished build, put together by experienced outfit IDP Moto. The Silverstone based workshop are making quite the name for themselves with the racing fraternity. Having already completed builds for Fogerty, Rea, Mcwilliams and Pata Honda, Lawrence knew he was in safe hands; and of course, it gave the opportunity for a progress check with the added benefit of track time. The idea of something a little more road focused and with old school charm rightly appealed, no need to chase tenths on the highways any longer. A quick meeting and the brief was locked down; IDP got to work sourcing a 1972 CB500K in decent condition. But decent isn't good enough, so the bike was stripped down to the bare frame, and the engine taken to pieces for inspection. With an eye firmly on quality, nothing went back on the bike until it had been completely refurbished or replaced. As with previous IDP bikes it's the details like fresh zinc plating on all the fasteners that set the build off. Suspension and brakes were completely overhauled, new seals, pads, lines and fluids ensure the rolling chassis is factory fresh. Of course, the telltale zig-zag of the Firestone rubber may raise an eyebrow among those who have ridden them in the wet, but the iconic style looks perfect around the rebuilt wheels. Plus, the rider knows a thing or two about rubber compounds... The rebuilt 4-cylinder middleweight ticks over with characteristic clockwork thanks to a thorough going over. A blend of silver paint and polished aluminium means it looks better than new and contrasts the black powder and paint on much of the bike. The CB retains it's distinctive headlight up front, but carries a Bates style unit above the mildy kicked up frame loop out back. Meanwhile the speedo has been swapped out for a simpler, smaller item to keep the top yoke free from clutter. Forgoing the 'hole in the middle' trend in lieu of a more traditional look, some beautiful spun aluminium velocity stacks now sit in place of the airbox. It all adds up to a bike that retains it's classic good looks, the nips and tucks enhancing what was there to begin with. The paint was an obvious choice really. Retina-searing Ginetta Orange ensures the CB stands out in the paddock but the black paneling and detail pin striping give the effect of an original factory colourway. Colour matched detailing on the fluted seat carries along the length of the bike and is stitch-perfect. Fueling is very crisp, IDP Moto having refurbished and rejetted the carbs to suit it's new breathing apparatus. Waiting for the winter salt to clear from the Yorkshire roads, Lawrence is happy to zip around the factory floor on the CB, the rasping 4-cylinder lump has a surprisingly throaty burble through the 4-into-2 stainless GP-style system. The British motorcycle industry has experienced something of a renaissance in recent years, we've seen Norton, Matchless, Ariel, Brough, Francis Barnett and of course Triumph come back from obscurity. With Ginetta having prospered under Lawrence's guidance, could we perhaps see another classic British motorcycle manufacture appear in the not-too-distant future? We can but dream... Follow IDP Moto on Facebook page for more info on their upcoming builds and keep an eye on the Dales for an orange flash in your rear view mirror.