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Silk 700


In the mid 1970s the Silk gained a reputation for being one of the best handling machines of the day - although its reliability and outright speed never attracted quite the same eulogies. It might have been unfair to expect any more, for the Silk, built by a small specialist engineering company based in Derbyshire, was a direct descendant of the venerable Scott two-stroke.

Company founder George Silk, a precision engineer who rode and tuned vintage Scotts in the 1960s. At the end of the decade, he set up Silk Engineering and offered a repair and parts service for Scotts including modifications and improvements. The chief of which was a frame offering a modern concept much closer to Alfred Scott's original ideas than anything in the previous 30 years. The frame, a product of nearby Spondon Engineering, was light and stiff with modern suspension at both ends.

Spondon made their own forks and brakes too - and the whole package could easily be adapted to the engine that Silk was building. The radiator was either a Scott-type or borrowed from an LE Velocette, and the final piece in this most British of jigsaws was the gearbox - based on the late Velocette four-speed design, modified to allow it to be a built in unit with the engine. The 20 Scott-based Silk Specials constructed by 1975 were just that; specials built as a blend of many disparate components.

With assistance from some of Britain's foremost engineering specialists the Scott-based engine was substantially redesigned, with a patented scavenging system backed up by specially developed silencers, resulting in a smooth, powerful engine with good fuel economy. Other modern features, such as state-of-the-art electronic ignition, were designed in from the start.

The result of all this was the Silk 700S - a proper production machine with parts manufactured by Silk or its suppliers. In a time when superbikes were becoming heavier, the most attractive feature of the 700S was its very absence of weight. With the Spondon frame, the handling was superb with good acceleration. Producing such a machine in small numbers was difficult and Silk found the going hard at a time when most of the British motorcycle industry was collapsing. There was no way in which Silk could have attracted a mass market or financed volume production . Fewer than 150 were built.