Monkey Bikes

Kevin Ash

Pictures: Kevin Ash (click on images) This feature originally appeared in Motor Cycle News


Some of the UK`s finest Monkey bikes gathered in Warwick in the summer of 2010 simply to show off to a visiting Japanese magazine!

Around 30 bikes came from as far as Cornwall and Cumbria to the UK`s premier monkey bike centre, Monkey Bike UK, some with specifications more at home on a homologation special superbike. Andrew Mitchell`s machine, painted in CB1100R colours, includes Brembo brakes, Öhlins rear shock, single-sided swingarm, upside down forks and Japanese G-Craft billet frame.

Andrew Mitchell's CBR1100...Andrew Mitchell's CBR1100...The engine is Japanese-built by Monkey specialist Takegawa and includes a four-valve DOHC head, high compression 124cc cylinder and magnesium engine covers. Andrew reckons it`s good for 90mph. “These might be little machines but they have big bike build quality,” he says. “So they`re not bad at all at high speed, they handle it pretty well.”
Mitchell has built up his bike over a period of years, but reckons if you bought all the parts today it would cost around £20,000!

Monkey ChromeMonkey ChromeOne anonymous owner wouldn`t say how much his bike cost: “My wife has no idea how much I spend. Once when I bought a new swingarm I left it in a cupboard for six months so I could pretend I just found it knocking around among the spares.”

Andrew Mandale's  £10k MonkeyAndrew Mandale's £10k MonkeyAndrew Mandale organises club runs in Cumbria: “We ride the bikes as well as show them, and they`re good runs too, often more than 100 miles in a day around the Lakes.” He`s spent around £10,000 on his bike over three years, which features a billet frame, Aprilia Mille R Brembo calipers, Showa suspension, NSR wheels and a TJR 164 Superhead +R engine - the 164 is its capacity, not horsepower, it makes 22bhp. “You never really finish with these bikes,” he says. “New stuff comes out all the time so you sell off the old bits and fit the latest!”

Monkeyspunker Toby Howard-WillisMonkeyspunker Toby Howard-WillisToby Howard-Willis was with a group from the Monkeyspunkers - “...because we spunk our money on Monkey bikes” - and brought his 40th Anniversary Monkey. 1000 of these were made in 2007 by Honda and only 20 came to the UK. Three of them were at the Warwick meeting.

Garry Stone's Café RacerGarry Stone's Café RacerOther machines included a Monkey café racer with Triumph Thruxton-type paint job by Dream Machine belonging to Garry Stone, who appropriately lives in Hinckley. It also features a Quill pipe with Akrapovic can, dry clutch, Brembo brakes and Takegawa twin-cam engine.

Paul Garnett's '87 MonkeyPaul Garnett's '87 MonkeyMost of the bikes arrived in vans but Paul Garrett rode his rare 1987 Monkey R 110 miles from Guildford in Surrey. The twin spar frame and bodywork were stock but the Takegawa Superhead motor was 124cc. “It`s fine for this sort of trip, though I came up the A-roads rather than on the motorway.”

Mark Clarke's Monkey ChopMark Clarke's Monkey ChopWhy do people do this? Mark Clarke owns the radical `Orange County` Monkey chopper. “I used to do motocross and stopped that, but I`m a bit of a petrol head and like making them. I have about 15 and they`re all different, and when I build a new one I want it to be different to the others. That`s why I made the chopper.”

Norihiko Takahashi from the Japanese Monkey Cruising magazine was impressed with what he saw: “There`s a really big following for Monkey bikes in Japan so the standards are very high, but these British bikes are high quality, our readers will be very interested in seeing them!”

Monkey Bike UKMonkey Bike UKFor more info on Monkey bikes, contact Monkey Bike UK 01926 402600, Monkey Bike UK

Additional Images: 

Andrew Mitchell's CBR1100Andrew Mitchell's CBR1100Andrew Mitchell's CBR1100Andrew Mitchell's CBR1100Andrew Mitchell's CBR1100Andrew Mitchell's CBR1100Andrew Mitchell's CBR1100Andrew Mitchell's CBR1100Andrew Mandale's  £10k MonkeyAndrew Mandale's £10k MonkeyAndrew Mandale's  £10k MonkeyAndrew Mandale's £10k MonkeyAndrew Mandale's  £10k MonkeyAndrew Mandale's £10k MonkeyGarry Stone's Café RacerGarry Stone's Café RacerMark Clarke's Monkey ChopMark Clarke's Monkey ChopMonkey TractorMonkey TractorMonkey CrosserMonkey CrosserMark Clarke's Monkey ChopMark Clarke's Monkey Chop