The Gentleman’s Racer by VanderHeide Motorcycles
A carbon-fiber avant-garde machine with a patent-pending suspension setupby Sagar, on
Carbon fiber has been considered the most exotic material ever since McLaren first made use of it to build a monocoque chassis for its Formula One car, 35 years ago. And so has Rolf van der Heide, a Dutch engineer who had worked for Spyker and Carver (makers of three-wheeled road machines) in the past. He saw endless possibilities of carbon fiber composites and went on to create the motorcycle of his dreams with it.
With his brother Sjors handling the business end and industrial designer Michiel, the ‘Gentleman’s Racer’ was born. With a 100% carbon fiber monocoque chassis, a 100% carbon fiber swingarm, a 100% carbon fiber front end and a patent-pending revolutionary designed suspension system, we see this creation as a genesis of a new breed of humankind. One who is not scared witless to venture into the realm reserved only for the upper-crust.
When Rolf contacted Brink, he had already been appraised for designing the Spyker D8 Peking SUV concept car and the Vandenbrink 599 GTO, a custom spinoff of the legendary Ferrari that won him the “GOOD DESIGN AWARD” by The Chicago Athenaeum Museum. With such stalwarts sharing their oeuvre hand and imagination for half a decade, nothing less than a ‘magnum-opus’ was in order. The ‘Gentleman’s Racer’ was born.
They started with only three objectives in mind – to use the Aprilia RSV4 1000cc engine, have a carbon fiber monocoque frame and a yet to be engineered suspension setup. The designers wanted to highlight the suspension unit and make it as a visual exhibition of sorts. With the engine set already decided, they got onto working on an ingenious suspension unit known as the Hossack suspension system for the front.
Invented by a Frenchman, Claude Fior, and then copied by Norman Hossack, a former McLaren engineer, it consists of 2 forward facing wishbones, two uprights and steering linkage that is similar to the double wishbone system used in cars. Apparently, telescopic suspension units and carbon frame doesn’t go hand in hand and have failed in the past.
They attempted something ballsy, something that has never been done before, by positioning the front spring/damper element in line with the rear spring. What this did was, it canceled out opposing forces between the front and the rear shock, thereby allowing the makers to save weight in terms of having a monocoque design.
Such a setup then decided the design of the frame and bodywork where an open tunnel design across the tank made the springs visible, and this very act gave the motorcycle its character. A full-sized foam-clay model was instated, and a 3D model was rendered after which handmade carbon fiber components that use dry fibers were made in-house. Similar kinds that are on the Pagani Huarya.
At the front, you get a bulbous fairing that houses a single round projector. The fairing then engulfs the tank in one seamless curve that looks very pleasing to the eye and your brain. With the clean lines working together to scribe a linear narrative, you just feel at bliss only by looking at it. An ageless olde worlde.
The motorcycle features 100% hand built full-grain leather seats and matching handlebar grips. The handlebars also get Kellermann BL2000 Blinkers integrated into them. Hidden behind the fairing is a MoTeC C125 full-colour TFT LCD anti-reflective display giving you a vast amount of worldly information.
The tank is not normal in any way. It has been designed into the carbon fiber chassis itself and can hold up to 24 liters of power source. The rear has something called the ‘het kontje’, that is a triangular battery cover that finishes off the tapering design angle all the way to the tail light. A nice rear with hot yoga pants.
Looking out for a performer having 200 horses, they zeroed it down to the Aprilia’s RSV4 mechanical powerhouse. The RSV4 comes underpinned with a four stroke, liquid cooled, 65 degree, V-4, 999.6cc engine, which develops 201 hp of maximum power and 86 lb-ft of maximum torque. If this much power still does not quench your thirst, they will pump up it up with a racing configuration that gives you a massive 230+ hp monster and drops the weight from 385 lbs to 363 lbs to take your track records to new dimensions, but in a retro-styled way.
This four-cylinder mill comes mated to a 6-speed gearbox, which gets the assistance of Aprilia Quick Shift Electronic System (AQS) and a slipper clutch mechanism, thus making the gearshifts much more precise and faultless. The ultra-thin HP Corse Pro Series Hydroformed exhaust unit is the only shiny metal you can find on the Gentleman’s Racer.
RIDE AND HANDLING
The carbon fiber chassis gave the designer freedom to work his magic as he did not have to work in the lines of tubular steel or aluminum box frame. He had to only deal with engine attachments and suspension to work around. Don’t make this fool you into thinking that it made his job any easy.
At the rear, the Vander Heide gets an in-house developed rear-facing radiator that is efficient in cooling and for aerodynamics. The swingarm and both 17” five spoke BlackStone Tek (BST) Black Star wheels are also bespoke carbon-fiber components. Pirelli Diablo Super Corsa SC tires are made to run on these with the front getting 120s’ and the rear with 190’s and an optional 200.
To suit taller riders, they took the KTM RC8’s seating position as a benchmark and positioned the footpegs and the handlebars accordingly. Since the telescopic units give a miss at the front, one will not feel a natural ‘dive’ in the front when braked. But the company can fondle with the mechanics and even provide you ‘anti-dive’, meaning the bike will rise when you brake. This is possible because the braking and suspension units are not matched together, and this will give in to a whole other riding experience.
We believe this powerhouse also comes equipped with an electronic package like the much famed Aprilia Performance Ride Control (APRC) system, which includes a host of electronic aids, such as Aprilia Traction Control (ATC) with 8 levels, Aprilia Wheelie Control (AWC) and Aprilia Launch Control (ALC) with three different ride settings.
The Vander Heide gets Brembo dual 320mm disc brakes at the front and a single 220mm disc brake at the rear taken over from Aprilia. The brakes are coupled with Bosch’s 9MP ABS as well as Rear Wheel Lift-up Mitigation (RLM) system, also from Aprilia.
A major chunk of the design aspects was around the suspension units and its setup. At the front Double Wishbone linked by a pushrod and a rocker with Öhlins TTX damper line 36 at the rear make the scene of the lifetime. The first ever kind of setup in the history of the motorcycling world, usually seen on formula one circuits.
‘Gentleman’s Racer’ is built in a completely unconventional way, making it the free-spirited avant-garde. The brand is touted to be an entirely new and distinct premium motorcycle to re-shape the rule books or rather obliterated and flicked it out of the window entirely.
Having a world-renowned power mill under the belly, patent-pending suspension setup and exquisite materials being made use of, what you get is a lustful masterpiece that seems like it was created by some divine being taking all the time to perfect every atom of the hankering machine. When this is around, you just become oblivious to everything else.
Of course, it is a limited edition product of only 25 of them seeing the daylights ever and is priced at € 150.000 ($ 185,000). They will even customize the bike for you in terms of suitable riding positions based on your body length and weight, color schemes and they will also allow you to mount the engine onto the chassis yourself. slow clap
The company is also open to partner with newer manufacturers, especially ones with an electric powerhouse. Getting this work of art out to the open world has been a challenge, but by the looks of it, there is no reason for me to believe that it cannot be done. The build speaks for itself.