Brian Crighton’s rotary-powered race bikes of the 1980s were incredible machines. So fast, so light and so reliable. It was no wonder they won British Superbike races and championships – or that Brian was able to make the bike competitive enough to even think of running it in Grands Prix. I was always fascinated by how such an under-rated man could do such amazing things with what started out as a stodgy police bike – and wondered why he wasn’t snapped up by factory GP teams as a development engineer.
But then Crighton often ignored convention. If building a rotary racer in the first place wasn’t mad enough, he insisted on a twin-shock chassis when everyone else had long been committed to single-shock rear ends.
I was covering road racing at the time when the rotary-engined bikes were in their heyday and Brian used to openly discuss ideas we take for granted now: using electronics to control power delivery, and even suspension – ideas only stymied by lack of budget to put them into action.
It was a pleasure to read John Westlake’s interview with Brian and not only relive those rich nuggets of racing history when a home-bred British bike ruled the roost, but also understand that while he might not be so involved with bikes as he once was, this great mind is still continuously exploring new concepts.
Enjoy the mag.
Gary Pinchin, Editor