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The Lochead Quasar Motorcycle

A Futuristic Motorcycle Design From The 1970's

The concept of the Quasar was first mapped out in 1968 by Malcom Newell and Ken Leaman when they met up in Scotland on holiday. The design is unlike any standard motorcycle design as the rider sits low inside the machine rather than astride it, and this concept quickly gained the technical term Feet Forward, based on the riding position.

The Quasar was years ahead of its time, and its delightful lines means it's still a head turner, and crowds will often gather to check it out when it's parked up.  Photo: © Historical Aviation Film Unit

Prototype work lasted through the early 1970s and it was not until 1976 that the first production Quasar was sold. Production was sporadic at best, with Wilson Brothers producing an initial batch of six bikes, followed by Romarsh. John Malfoy of Romarsh oversaw the production of a further ten vehicles while Malcolm Newell, arguably the father of the design, struck off on his own and produced a small number of Quasars from his cottage. While production numbers are hazy at best and it's probable that the figure did not exceed 30.

This Quasar is a replica and was designed and built by Dave Lochead in New Zealand. Dave explains:

"As a schoolboy, a few of my friends would buy Superbike magazine and lust after the latest Italian, English, and occasionally Japanese motorcycles featured."

"But I was blown away with the articles on Malcolm Newell and his Quasar and Phasar designs and vowed that one day I would own one. Sadly production was so limited, and Quasars changed hands so rarely, I wasn't able to buy an original so I decided I'd build one."

"I didnt have acess to any factory drawings until late in the construction, so I designed the frame myself based on the few photographs I could find on the internet and in books. Naturally this ended up being a little hit and miss as I made several modifications to the frame and forks to improve strength, decrease frame flex and improve handling"

"I designed the bodywork directy onto plywood sheet using photographs as a reference, and glued it all toghether, and gave the bodywork two layers of fibreglass and resin. The more complex shapes were carved from foam and glassed."

"The end result is a very distinctive and effective motorcycle, and one that I am very pleased with. The riding technique takes a lot of getting used to as the Quasar doesn't take rider lean and steering inputs like a normal motorcycle, and effectively the rider has to learn a whole new set of techniques to ride it. That being said, once it is mastered, the Quasars speed and handling comes as a large shock to standard motorcycle riders when they encounter it."

While the Quasar represents a motorcycle evolutionary dead end, it remains the most widely recognised feet forward design decades after the last example was built.

Since Dave is the latest person to construct and ride a Quasar, we leave the final comment to him:

"It is a shame the Quasar never took off as many motorcycle riders, if they ignore their prejudices, would find a Quasar a very effective, fun way of experiencing two wheels -- distinctive, very comfortable, fast and practical -- and I love it....."

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