We love an old bike here at VD towers – bikes like Yamaha's first R1, the early Honda FireBlades, and Suzuki's 2001 GSX-R1000 still get us all moist and dreamy, like a Mr Kipling Angel Slice. Keeping one running is getting a little bit harder as the years go by though, and finding things like replacement exhausts is a pricey job nowadays.
Luckily, the aftermarket is taking up the slack. And even luckier, one of the great brands of the exhaust world is on its way back too. Harris is one of the properly legendary names in bike tuning – the two brothers Lester and Steve Harris actually built 500GP chassis for Yamaha V-4 two-stroke motors back in the 1990s, providing satellite bikes for several big-name riders. The firm's road bikes were incredible too – the Harris Magnum range bringing proper chassis tech to the giant dinosaur bikes of the time.
And its exhausts were awesome too – in the same way as Micron four-into-ones, Allspeed expansion chambers and D&D race systems really sum up the era. Back when bike firms could barely make a sporty exhaust system worthy of the name, Harris was making genuine high-performance systems for race and road.
The main Harris Performance firm has been bought up by Indian firm Royal Enfield, and is now a big part of Enfield's R&D division. But the Harris Works Collection exhaust brand has been taken over by UK-based company Norman Hyde, best known for its massive range of aftermarket Triumph accessories. The firm's owner and Kevin Schwantz stunt double, Arthur Macdonald, told us how it came about.
"Norman Hyde has owned the Harris Works Collection brand since Harris Performance changed direction a few years back. We were having exhausts made up on the original jigs by an old supplier, but the quality was declining, and the jigs were getting on a bit, so we stopped production until we could sort out a new contractor.
"We've done that now – with an E-marked approved manufacturer in Italy. So we now have a full range of more than 48 end can fitments (increasing all the time), in black ceramic and stainless steel, with the classic Harris logo. And we're currently having new production jigs manfactured, which will be faithful to the original Harris designs, for a brand new range of full systems."
Harris is focussing on the new slip-on end cans at the moment, with full systems to come later this year. The firm sent us some pics of its new 1998 R1 can, and it does look pretty smart – and a perfect fit for the 1990s look we all love. Prices are decent too – under £200 for the entry-level stainless end can – so you can get a great name on your bike, without shelling out a fortune.
More info: www.normanhyde.co.uk