Bizarre Bikes is a segment examining eccentric, unusual and unique motorbikes across the ages. We’re going to be taking a look at the history and legacy of the quirky Quasar, described as a semi-enclosed, feet-forward bike.
Built in England, the Quasar was developed by Malcolm Newell and Ken Leaman, and in December 1976 the very first bike was sold. They both originally met holidaying on a campsite in Scotland, and it was here that their combined efforts came up with the original design of the Quasar prototype.
Newell had previously ran a motorcycle shop named “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” where he had manufactured a trike, christened the “Revolution.” At the time money was not forthcoming with the banks and Newell was forced to close shop, being unable to expand his production.
After meeting Leaman though, they built the Quasar at Wilson Brothers in Bristol. Due to low funding they were only able to produce just six bikes between 1976 and 1979.
Production was taken up by Romarsh, in Calne, who manufactured a further handful of the bikes with the help of John Malfoy. Eventually Newell himself built several models at his own workshop, in Heddington.
A Unique Position
Designed as a cabin motorcycle with a roof, the cockpit changed the usual position of the rider from straddling on top to sitting down inside. Its intimate driver space offered some small protection from the weather, and still allowed room to carry a passenger. There was even a facility to blow hot air at the rider’s hands.
The Quasar allowed any maintenance to be carried out with the engine in the frame. It had two side stands and was designed to be easy to clean with sleek external panelling. There were no ridges to allow dirt to accumulate.
The bike was able to offer excellent aerodynamics with a full-roof fibreglass body and a 750cc four cylinder Reliant automobile engine. It could comfortably sustain 100 mph indefinitely and reach a max speed of 110 mph.
The Quasar is still viewed as a fascinating concept, a British idea of engineering that was new and revolutionary for its time, and helped shape the future of the industry. It may have lacked funding to continue production, and to this day there may only be twenty or so of the bikes in existence, but the bike’s legacy lives on to the credit of its designers.
The BBC’s Top Gear did a full feature on three Quasars in April 1988, and Quasar enthusiasts still continue to gather at bike meetings. Societies like the feet forward motorcycle community help to preserve and improve the heritage left by Newell and Malfoy.
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(Photo Courtesy of John Cooper)