Drysdale V8 1000: A Closer Look

Jeff Ware
by Jeff Ware

Crazy Aussie builds his own V-8 motorcycle engine and a sportbike to go with it!

I was in awe as Ian Drysdale blipped the throttle of the V-8 in his Melbourne workshop. The sound reminded me of a howling F1 car. Very few bikes make the hair stand up on the back of my neck when they are free revved – some MotoGP bikes, any Pro Stock drag racer, any two-stroke racer, and definitely this amazing home-built machine.

As the engine-temperature rises, Ian carefully watching the MoTeC display, he takes the revs a little higher and higher until finally the howling V-8 was filling the workshop with a glorious note that no other bike gets close to – no bike sounds this good. I’d buy one just for the sound!

“I was only revving it to 7000 rpm then. You should hear it when it is on full song at 17,000 rpm!”

The Drysdale V8 is a rare machine with just six likely to be produced all up.

Walking around the bike for a close encounter, the workmanship is stunning. Gorgeous sand-cast crankcases and cylinder block, smooth curvaceous bodywork, and that amazing exhaust system – the eight-into-two-into-one-into-two!

“I haven’t started the bike for months,” smiles Ian as the bike settles into a nice idle and stabilizes at 88ºC. Ian says the bike’s cooling system is very efficient, happily idling for long periods of time without overheating.

With that Ian gives the bike another few big revs and, as luck would have it, I was able to capture this on video and you can hear it in all of it’s glory here.

This 750 was Ian’s personal bike. Unfortunately there was no 1000 available when I visited separately to the photographer, however, the 750 note was more than enough to give me an idea of the 1000cc engine and the memory of that sound still has me grinning. The flat-plane 180º crank V-8 sounds just like a Ferrari on steroids!

The first 750 V8 built by Ian way back in 1997 set the world talking about the amazing machine. Ian would later build a 1000cc naked version called the Bruiser, thus going on to build the 1000cc V8 sports version as pictured, four of which have so far arrived at customer’s homes for about $80,000 a pop, around half the cost of the other insane Aussie V-8 bike, the PGM.

Ian hopes to build two more customer bikes, leaving enough spares to service the six bikes for good. Talk about exclusive motorcycling…

The stunning one-piece bodywork is fibreglass and fabricated by Duncan Harrington.

Sadly, not long after this photoshoot, this very bike was stolen in what was a definite pro job. The bike was taken despite heavy security measures, dogs, cameras, the lot. Ian believes it is most likely overseas, possibly in China.

As a mechanical and engineering nerd myself, wandering around Ian’s workshop for the brief period I was there was like nirvana. I love helicopters – and there was one sitting on pallet racking, ready to get twin turbocharged Honda Blackbird engines fitted. Another motor configuration I love, the radial engine, was also represented – the stuff dreams are made of – an original Pratt & Whitney R-4360 28-cylinder 3500-hp radial engine. I asked Ian why he had it. His reply? “If you have to ask, you don’t understand.”

That sums up this man who has a love of engineering, particularly engines, and anything different and powerful.

The first and doubtless the most important fact about the Drysdale is that Ian Drysdale, the creator and engineer, is a motorcycle enthusiast through and through. He has not built this machine for commercial purposes or for notoriety or any other reason other than the challenge and to have a V-8 bike. Originally commissioned to build a few trick sidecar engines back in the day, the V8 concept morphed from there to where it is now.

Over the years Ian has owned a wide range of motorcycles, from the trusty CX500 to modern adventure bikes like his KTM 950 Adventure. Throw in plenty of classics like XRs, TTs, BSAs and even the trusty CT90, and you have a bloke that loves bikes. When that bloke is an extremely talented engineer, fabricator, machinist, mechanic and tuner – you’re going to see something special roll out of the workshop door.

Ian started riding when he was just 10-years old, and aside from his love of flying helicopters, which really are the motorcycles of the sky, the 57-year-old Melbournian spends most working hours doing one thing or another that is motorcycle related.

The V8 1000 is a combination of amazing original Drysdale components and OEM Yamaha parts.

The sand-cast crankcases are the work of Ian and the late Neil Kilner of Accurate Patterns.

Let’s start with the glorious engine and its crankcases. These sand-cast beauties were the creation of Ian, and with the help of the late Neil Kilner of Accurate Patterns, were cast-up and become the bones of this incredible engine. The cases have the cylinder blocks cast into the upper case, with 62.0mm bores inserted in.

Modified YZR600 pistons and rings swing off custom Crower conrods on the Drysdale-designed-and-machined billet 180º crankshaft, itself turning on modified Yamaha plain main bearings. Compression ratio is a moderate 10.5:1, as being a V-8, it is all about rpm and the bonus of reduced piston speeds. The four camshafts are made in-house by Ian and team then ground to specification by Clive Cams in Australia. Both sets of cams remain chain driven. The cylinder heads are FZR600 items that have been heavily ported and flowed using a flow bench. The OEM inlet valves are retained, however, Ian redesigned and manufactured his own exhaust valves.

Cams for the V-8s are made in house by Ian, with Clive Cams grinding them to spec.

The lower case houses the highly modified Yamaha FZR1000 wet clutch, reworked Yamaha YZF750 gearbox cluster, redesigned to accommodate a cassette-style gearbox set-up, and there is a large wet sump. Overall gearing is 16/48 and the shift pattern is road shift. Clutch actuation is hydraulic.

Custom Drysdale headers are a eight-into-two-into-one-into-two system.

An engine of this complexity needs good management, so Ian opted for a MoTeC M800 ECU. With the MoTeC system, Ian has been able to tune the V-8 to run silky smooth with a whopping eight 39mm Keihin throttle-bodies delivering fuel via an electric high pressure fuel pump and Drysdale fuel rail. The airbox is Drysdale design and the air cleaner is a Mazda car item. The exhaust system is a Drysdale unit that is a complete work of art, and the muffler is a Black Mamba.

Housing the engine was always going to be a challenge, particularly while striving to maintain a short 1415mm wheelbase. Ian opted for a trellis-style ERW mild steel frame, painted rather than powder-coated, as Ian discovered the powder-coating process can alter frame alignment.

The frame runs plenty of Yamaha parts, in keeping with the engine origins. The triple-clamps, ’bars, brakes, wheels, levers, master-cylinders and front guard are all donated by the YZF-R1. The fork internals, however, are Drysdale, and at the rear things are very trick. The swingarm is a very highly modified ZZR1100 item with Drysdale underslung linkages. The shock, custom made by Öhlins to deal with the incredible V-8 engine, is also underslung. The geometry of the bike promotes nimble handling but maintains stability, so a steering damper is not required.

The Ohlins rear shock is custom built for the underslung linkage.

To set it all off, gorgeous one-piece fiberglass bodywork, designed and fabricated by Duncan Harrington, is painted in glorious Ferrari Yellow. The fuel tank, located under the bodywork, is fabricated from aluminum, while the cool dual headlights are from a CBR250RR.

A trellis-style frame of ERW mild steel was chosen but is painted, not powdercoated, to avoid alignment issues after powdercoating.

This bike has consumed an amazing 3000 hours of Ian Drysdale’s life. Sadly, Ian’s Drysdale Engineering business partner, professor Michael McKenzine, was killed while racing in the SV650 Cup in the UK in April 2015, so we will not get to see the Drysdale V8 reach its full potential.

If you are interested in a Drysdale motorcycle, learn more at http://www.drysdale-v8.com.au/

Drysdale V8 Specifications

EngineDrysdale 1000, 32-valve quad OHC, 90º four-stroke liquid-cooled V-8, sand-cast crankcases, billet flat-plane crankshaft
Bore/stroke62.0mm x 41.3mm bore x stroke Compression ratio: 10.5:1
InductionKeihin 39mm throttle-bodies x 8, Drysdale airbox, Drysdale inlet manifolds
ChassisDrysdale V8 1000 frame, ERW mild steel material, YZF-R1 triple-clamps, modified Kawasaki ZZR1100 swingarm with underslung linkage system
Front suspension43mm KYB 43mm fork with Drysdale internals
Rear suspensionOhlins underslung shock (custom built)
WheelsYamaha YZF-R1
BrakesNissin calipers, 320mm rotors (f), 220mm rotor (r)
BodyworkFibreglass Duncan Harrington Design
Jeff Ware
Jeff Ware

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  • TheMarvelous1310 TheMarvelous1310 on May 16, 2016

    They STOLE it? Motherf*@#%&s! That's why quads should be street legal, it's waaaaay harder to steal a vehicle a two-man team can't easily lift.

  • E-Nonymouse E-Nonymouse on Jul 01, 2016

    it does sound like i'm standing next to a ferrari, very impressive. :)