Bike of the Month March 2022

GIA framed GSXR 1216 special.

Many of us will be familiar with the term “chequebook build”. If you are not, it’s a term used to describe a bike that has been built with no expense spared and it also means the owner has commissioned all the work by others with virtually no work done by them. If your chequebook is big enough and you schedule everything effectively you could rattle out something very cool in a matter of months.

This month’s bike of the month is the polar opposite of a chequebook build. That’s not because it isn’t dripping in high-quality components or because it hasn’t been assembled with great care and attention to detail. This bike is at the other end of the spectrum for two important reasons. Firstly, the owner doesn’t have a massive chequebook and secondly the only way the owner has been able to afford to build a bike to this standard is by taking 10 years to build it. During that time, he has built several other bikes all of which he has sold along with hundreds of other parts that he has refurbished and re-sold.  All the money he has made from doing that has gone into buying the parts he wanted to build this bike.

When his money dried up, he got to work generating more funds through building another bike to sell and all the time he kept refurbishing or repairing parts and upselling them.  There was never any question of compromising on the quality of this build. In fact, the quality kept getting better as time went on.

This year the bike was finally complete enough for it to be rolled out onto our stand at the Scottish Bike Show earlier this month. Having watched this build grow from a frame tank and swinging arm 10 years ago, it was rewarding to finally see a decade’s journey finally nearing completion.  It was also good to see the bike being admired by so many at the show.

This bike started as frame number 0014 from the very talented Gav at GIA Engineering. Sadly, Gav passed away just last year but those that know their special frame history will know that if you bought a Spondon frame to fit an oil-cooled GSXR engine back in the day chances are it was built by Gav. The GIA frames were a progression of everything Gav had learned about frame building at Spondon, taken to the next evolutionary level.

The engine was painstakingly hand-built by Barry Armstrong the owner. It is based on a GSXR 1127 engine, but the crankcases have had 300 hours lavished on their insides removing seams and sharp edges and mirror polishing them to improve oil flow.

The Crank has been lightened and balanced and the Wiseco 1216 pistons sit on Carrillo rods inside a billet block by WSR. The head was ported by Roger Upperton with 1mmm oversized stainless valves with heavy-duty Ape springs and titanium retainers. The timing is custom with slotted sprockets on Yoshimura cams. The carburettors are Mikuni RS38 with 50mm bellmouths with foam filters. The exhaust is an Akrapovic system with a Yoshimura R77 carbon end can.

The Gearbox has been undercut and a heavy-duty clutch is fitted.  All exterior cases are billet one-offs commissioned by Barry and they include a one-off WSR billet rocker cover and sump with a removable panel on the sump for easy access to the strainer, a one-off windowed clutch cover, a one-off starter gear and pickup cover, one-off sprocket covers, and cam links all done by WSR.

The ignition is a Dyna 2000 and Dynatek mini coil combo and all wiring, clocks, indicators, switches are Motogadget with integrated keyless ignition.

The headlight is a billet red six LED unit. The front forks are Ohlin from an Aprilia Tuono factory with one-off billet yokes. The wheels are BST carbon fibre. The brakes are Brembo callipers front and rear using ISR brake and clutch master cylinders with ISR switchgear. The rear shock is a custom Nitron unit.

The subframe is Ducati 999 with a one-off carbon fibre seat unit. The GIA aluminium tank was skinned by hand in 3k twill carbon by Barry, with a matching carbon mudguard.

All nuts and bolts are black titanium.

No expense has been spared on this build and whenever possible Barry has done the work himself. Watching the crowds around this at the Scottish Bike Show was a testament to just how special the result is.

Barry, congratulations you have built our Bike of the Month for March 2022.

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