From Land’s End to John O’Groats on a motor bike you plug in and go

Fred Spaven on the bike. Picture: Finn Varney/Charging Bullet
Fred Spaven on the bike. Picture: Finn Varney/Charging Bullet
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WITH its original single-cylinder engine, it could easily squeeze 60 miles from a gallon, and travel the length of Yorkshire without stopping to refuel.

By the time Fred Spaven has finished with it, it will need to be plugged in every couple of hours.

The 1961 Royal Enfield ‘Bullet’ in his workshop dates from a golden age of British motorcycling, but after a lifetime of military service out in India its working life was over.

So, taking a cue from the new generation of electric bikes in the shops, he fitted the sub-frame with a battery motor, and now plans to trial it on a three-week expedition from Land’s End to John O’Groats.

The journey will be recorded for a documentary by the Malton-based filmmaker Finn Varney, who had met Mr Spaven at their local pub some years ago.

“There is an element of it that might be seen as foolhardy,” Mr Varney said. “It’s an untried and unique vehicle, and we will be travelling an incredibly long way.”

The bike needs to be charged every 50 to 75 miles, putting its rider at the mercy of garages that service electric cars.

“For normal commuting use, it can be slow-charged from a 13amp socket, but our journey we will need it to be faster,” said Mr Varney, whose film is being crowd-funded by donations. It will be seen at film festivals next year and eventually on TV or online.

Mr Spaven, originally from West Heslerton, near Malton, and now working in Hereford, has made a career out of restoring vintage racing cars, but said the bike was a more specialised challenge. He had to salvage 12 batteries from an electric Nissan Leaf car that would fit in the bike’s frame, and six more for its pannier bags.

Its 48-volt motor is driven by a traditional twist-grip motorbike throttle, and the machine is said to have a maximum cruising speed of 60mph – about half that of the bike’s original petrol engine.

Details of the funding campaign for the film can be found at twitter.com/chargingbullet.