Five minutes with….Hanks Engineering

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Experience. It is what makes all the difference in a bike workshop. Experience is what ensures your bike will have a quality finish when it rolls out of the workshop, and experience is what will ensure your bike still has that quality finish 1000 kilometres down the track. Tucked away in far north Queensland, Hank’s Engineering has been doing quality work on bikes for over 40 years now, and Hank Koebrugge has been kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions for The Manifold.

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Every great mechanic, or in your case, engineer has to start somewhere, so how did you get into fixing bikes?

When I was a teenager I started working on my own bikes, as well as my mates’ bikes. From there it grew, and Hanks Engineering was established twenty years ago. Although it’s a primarily an engineering business, we seem to have a bit of a bike problem. Although we have three bike benches in the shop, they always seem to be occupied.

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So tell us about your latest build?

We just finished work on a 1974 Bultaco Pursang 360, the bike has been part of a two year ground up restoration. With the owner wanting it restored to original condition we have been lucky in that it has been easy to source most of the parts we needed for the build. It’s a nice bike to ride for it’s vintage, although it’ll never go head to head with a CFR450 because the chassis isn’t up to it, but the power from it is amazing.

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Got any other interesting bikes in the shop at the moment?

Sitting here at my desk, let me run through the bikes we currently have in our tiny little showroom:
• Aprilia RS250 packing a Yamaha XT500 powerplant.
• BMW GS1000 replica.
• Yamaha HL500 replica
• Suzuki RGV Supermono equipped with an XT500 engine
• 1974 Jawa Speedway bike.
• Moto Guzzi Monza, currently a 500 but we have just acquired a 650 Lario engine to wedge into it.
• Suzuki SV650, Hank’s everyday rider. Yes it sounds boring, but it has had a full front end replacement so it’s now sporting Brembo Gold four spot brakes, and the factory exhaust has been swapped out for full Yoshimura system. Next on the board is fitment of a ZX10 front end, mainly because we can.

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The SV650 sounds interesting, that Hank’s only bike?

Not by a long shot. Hank still has the Ducati M900 he used to ride in the BEARS motorcycle racing club, but has been put back to road trim. It’s main use now is scaring the bejesus out of inline 600’s on the tight mountain roads behind Cairns. If you have never been to Cairns for a ride, you should really consider it, the Great Ocean road has nothing on the Captain Cook Highway. As well as the 900cc Duc, Hank also wields a Duc 748SP for carving up the mountain curves as well. For straight line speed, a first gen CBR1100X sits in the garage, good for a 10 second quarter and this year will be treated to a full overhaul. Last but not least, the runt of the bunch, a Sachs Madass. Yup, a Sachs Madass. But this one features a 140cc hi comp engine, Mikuni flat slide and a dry shot nitrous system. Super fun little bike for getting around town, will even beat the Blackbird…across a set of traffic lights.

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With many thanks to the boys from Hanks Engineering for taking the time to answer our questions. Check out their website at http://www.hertmotorcycles.com/ and check out some of their other builds they have going on.

You have to do what while you are riding?

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This is an oil pump. Yes I know it’s not in the engine, but I want to point out something take for granted how easy it is to jump on a bike and just ride. This early 1920s BSA featured what is known as a total loss oil system (as well as featuring no headlight as it was only an option!). Without an automatic pump system mounted in the crankcase, it was up to the rider to watch the oil contained in the sight glass, and pump as required. A more vigorous pace called for more vigorous pumping, quite a task on the Australian roads of the first half of the last century. Next time you take your modern machine out, enjoy the ability to just twist the throttle and go, without worrying that you are responsible for whether your engine seizes up or not.

Much better than EBay

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On a fresh sunny morning, on tarps and in stalls as far as the eye can see, the phenomenon that is the parts swap meet is underway. Buyers shuffle along, picking up pieces that most would consider fit for the scrap heap, ascertaining as to whether it might be worth purchasing. Bikes of all shapes and sizes, makes and vintage, litter the stalls and give punters a chance to pick up a possible bargain.

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The entire grounds are filled with knowledge of a thousand years of experience in working on two wheeled machines. You can find out how to tune a GP Amal, rebuild a Villiers or how to replace the swingarm on a Triumph Tiger, and the only payment these elders of the motorcycle world is that you pass on any useful information that you may possess.

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While wading through a crate of lightweight British motorcycle parts, an older gentleman wanders up to me and ask what I am looking for. I tell him about my BSA engine and he tells me has a complete rolling chassis, including a transmission, to suit my engine. We chat about it for a minute, I get his contact details and continue perusing the oily relics that you must have a keen eye to recognise what is worth something.

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Yes this project bike may look terrible, or these inlet manifold gaskets are actually cut up cardboard, but think of the potential. Think of what is possible when I have access to so many parts, surely there are enough parts here to build numerous bikes.Or just one amazing one.

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A beautiful and rare occasion

In life there are a few occasions that really stand out. Special moments that you know will stick with you forever. In my experience, one of these is the moment when I was discussing clubman bars on a Vincent motorcycle, with one of the true gentleman collectors of the vintage bike world. That moment, one moment, that stands out in relation to my motorcycle based journalism. image