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Monocoque

Colin Seeley is a bit of a hero of mine and I’m blessed to have known him a little, latterly because we were both Bonhams consultants. Swipe left for images he sold through them, and another Bonhams photo of his innovative Monocoque, developed with Barry Sheene’s help. By the late 1960s, stressed skin – monocoque - chassis had become the norm for Formula 1 cars, so it was hardly surprising that some tried it with motorcycles. By 1972 Colin Seeley was also involved in production of Brabham's Formula 2 and 3 cars. Brabham understood monocoque technology, though they had been late to embrace it, while no-one knew more about racing motorcycles than Colin: the result was the machine seen here, built over the winter of 1972/73. Designed by ex-AMC man Bob Cakebread, assisted by Les Apps, the Seeley monocoque chassis was made by Brabham's top F1 fabricator, Nick Goozée. Steel fabrications were used for the head stock and swinging-arm pivot, while the panels were aluminium-alloy, riveted together. The forks and swinging arm were off-the-shelf Seeley components, but the alloy wheels and plasma-sprayed aluminium brake discs were specially developed for the monocoque. Power was a Suzuki TR500 motor. Following its debut at the Motorcycle Mechanics Racing Show in January, the completed Seeley-Suzuki Monocoque was tested at Brands Hatch in February prior to the start of the 1973 season. Ridden by Barry Sheene and Pat Mahoney, it completed 37 trouble-free laps and received nothing but praise from both riders. Mahoney was Seeley's only official rider for 1973, campaigning the Monocoque in the 500 class and a conventional Seeley-Kawasaki triple in the 750 category. In a UK domestic season dominated by Barry Sheene on his tubular-framed Seeley-Suzukis, the best Mahoney could manage on the Monocoque was a brace of second places, both at Brands Hatch: the Easter meeting and Hutchinson 100. Sheene raced the Monocoque only once, at Mallory Park on 4th March, but dropped out when the engine failed




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