Ian Drysdale’s Spectacular Drysdale 1000 V8

Drysdale 1000 V8 by Ian Drysdale of Australia

Drysdale 1000 V8 by Ian Drysdale of Australia

Putting a V8 engine in a motorcycle is easy, just build a bike big enough, like a Boss Hoss, and you can wrap it around anything, though as one recent home build, the Simca V8 shows, with a bit more thought and finesse, the results are a lot more pleasing. On the other hand, Ian Drysdale, the Australian engineering wizard, takes the idea of a V8 motorcycle to an entirely different level, he designed and built the engine first before building the bike and the results are just about as pleasing as you could possibly want.

Drysdale V8 - 1000cc homebuilt V8 in a handcrafted motorcycle

Drysdale V8 - 1000cc homebuilt V8 in a handcrafted motorcycle

Ian, as many of you know, played a major part in developing the Carberry V-Twin, one of the three major Royal Enfield single derived twins, plus he built the Godzilla V-Twin of his own design, using tapered cam lobes like the Mercedes-Benz F1 engines and master and link connecting rods like radial aero engines and he's responsible for design and machine work on Russell Sutton's radial engine builds. Drysdale also designed the prototype of the Vento 3 cylinder engine used in the Vento ATV and he's the been designer/builder/fabricator in many, many more projects. Referring to Ian as a "builder" is either high praise for the word or a serious slight to Drysdale.

Inspired by the 500cc Moto Guzzi V8 GP engine, the 90 degree Drysdale 1000 V8 originally appeared 20 years ago as a 750. Using two FZR600 16-valve cylinder heads, the 4 cam, 32 valve engine also uses Yamaha pistons, though the connecting rods are of Ian's own design and join together on a milled billet crankshaft inside his own sandcast cases. The exhaust is a twin 4 into 1 arrangement exiting under the seat.

Efficient packaging of engine, suspension and exhaust on the Drysdale V8

A look at the efficient packaging of engine, suspension and exhaust on the Drysdale V8

The transmission is a six-speed cassette-type box with parts from a variety of manufacturers and slides out for service, delivering power through an FZR1000 clutch. The upside down fork, wheels and brakes come from an R1. The swing arm is Kawasaki ZZ-R1100 with an Öhlins shock mounted sideways.

Ian adds:

The latest 1000-V8 is an ongoing development of the 1996 model 750-V8, and although outwardly very similar, it has a lot of refinements that are not immediately obvious.

One that is obvious is the rear exhaust system, we had to add 600mm ( 2 feet ) of tailpipe in there to get the fueling right, which was a squeeze in an already crowded space!

The changes to the rear suspension are also visible I guess, I was chasing a more linear rate as the 750-V8 was too radical a rising rate.

The main advance is the fuel injection - I had to butcher up BMW K100 throttle bodies for the EFI on my 750-V8 in the 90's as there were no injected Japanese bikes then! I now use 2 sets of modified 39mm Kiehen TB's from a CBR600 - it's a shame to have to cover them over, the 8 trumpets sticking straight up look fantastic.

The bike is very compact, especially when considering the engine, though much of the engine, including the heads, can be removed in situ.

The engine develops 150 horsepower and will spin to 15,000 rpm.

The bike you see in these photos is already in the hands of its proud owner, that's the first of five.

I have plans to build one of the "street fighter" versions ( naked with twin shocks and low pipes ) for myself and another for my business partner, and I will consider building a couple more customer bikes. The price is the hurdle obviously, hand built specials are expensive animals and I currently need US$100,000 to make it worth while building one.

Pricey? Of course, but hand made excellence of this type is not found in factory showrooms and the skills and time of a builder like Ian are in demand for a great many other projects, but when the subject of V8 engines in motorcycles comes up, there are few that measure up to this level of craftsmanship.

Isn't it amazing what time, skill and the proper can-do attitude can accomplish? What an absolutely superb build.

Link: Drysdale V8

Photo credits: Greg Parish

Drysdale 1000 V8 from the rear looking very slim

Drysdale 1000 V8 from the rear looking very slim, who would ever guess the secret of that bike up ahead?


  1. Yeti2bikes says

    WOW! What a bit of work. The body work kind of reminds me of a yellow Britton. I can’t wait to see the naked version. I’m intrigued by the rear suspension.
    What is the weight of this bike?

  2. Jon Hutchison says

    Neat bike. a few years back, while at the San Bernardino Harley/Yamaha shop, a guy came in with a 8 cylinder street bike. He’d hooked up two four pipe Arial square fours in a chain gang to what looked like a standard brit tranny. It sounded exactly like a v-8. It was ridden regularly on long tours. At first glance it looked normal and wasn’t overly long either.

  3. Ramadancer says

    Stunning indeed.

    How about a quality audio file of this machine’s sound, it has to be an absolute treat. And ‘at full song’ might be just right.
    With a $100K US build cost, and with 750SS Ducati’s fetching that number, it seems a bargain.

  4. Oberon says

    Not only is this design beautifully packaged, but it shows that if someone wanted to do it, a V-12 wouldn’t be impossible.

    • Paul Crowe says

      Yep. Alan Cathcart had the pleasure of a little track time with the V8 checking lean angles and such. He seemed to liked it.

  5. Giolli Joker says

    Can’t wait to see the streetfighter!!!

    Ok, now I just need 100k$…

    • Janbros says

      the shock is compressed from both sides : the alu blocks are bolted to the bike at the bottom centre of it, where they can twist arround the bolt. the tie-bar from the swingarm pulls at the blocks, makig them go inwarts pushing towards each other.

  6. steve w. says

    Nice! I can still remember the scream of the 2000cc V8 Suzuki in the midget from Outhouse Engineering. Actually it was run 2 different ways. At one point as a screamer with all the RPM and then later as a torquer, moaning away.