RC 31 Honda Bros special

Welcome to the warped world of Mr. Paul Tothill. Only someone like him could come up with the concoction that is the Severe Bros.

The following text is actually taken from a recent article in "Street Fighter" magazine here in the UK. I'm only telling you this so that you have someone else to blame if the text isn't up to my usual standards. Read on.......

 "Well, at first glance Totty Tothill's Honda Revere might seem as standardised as a Libyan's moustache, but look again and strange anomalies start to appear; chain drive, twin discs, "Severe" paintwork... and an engine from an Africa Twin. All is very definitely not what it seems. When he's not fettling the RC31, or hooning round deserted Scottish back roads and race circuits on track days, Totty works as an avionics technician in the RAF. He has just finished a twenty week tour of duty in the Falklands, dodging penguins and preventing the Argies from converting a corner of a foreign field which is forever England into a bloody cattle ranch and sheep station called the Malvinas.

He bought the grey imported bike (for £2200) from B & M in Preston three years ago. While we got the lumbering shaft driven 650 Revere, Honda in their wisdom supplied the yanks with an alloy framed, chain driven, sharp handling sportsbike called the Bros (Hawk GT). Actually I've just realised why the Brits didn't get the Bros - at about the time it was launched our pop charts were being assailed by three bleached haired, leather jacketed poofs of the same name, whose brief flirtation with stardom lasted about as long as one of their records or until their tans started to fade,  so no manufacturer in their right minds would want to be associated with `em. THAT explains it. Anyway, Totty bought the Bros, whacked an American race pipe on it and went thrashing.

Apparently the alloy Bros frame (also coded RC31) is very similar to an NSR250 chassis, which means it turns faster than a cruise missile spotting its target and can carry enough corner speed to frighten Luca Cadalora. These traits were ace for track fun, but the whole plot was rather let down by the weak single front disc and an un-adjustable rear shock which was soggier than paper mache. The arse end was sorted by fitting a rebuilt, re-valved, re-sprung Fireblade unit, while the front was taken care of by fitting a complete CBR600FM front end. This bolted straight in - no machining, no one-off parts, no nothing. Just a ring spanner and a torque wrench and hey presto! instant brakes, wider tyres and better-damped forks. Top mod. Also, since the Severe ended up weighing just 160Kgs the twin discs gave instant-right-now-brick-wall-stick-through-the-spokes-stopping power. With the handling now even more sorted Totty started racking up some decent mileage, taking the bike from 6000Kms to 53 000Kms whenever he had the time off from fiddling with flaps. Oooerr.

The problem with dead sorted handling, of course, is that you can push it harder and harder and then wish you'd got another twenty horsepower to fling you at your favourite corners even faster. Totty had heard, through the Hawk GT/Bros Club that 750cc Africa Twin desert race replica cams and pistons can be persuaded into the Bros motor to give a bit of a boost to the wanky standard 45bhp. Being the sort of bloke who doesn't do things by halves, Totty realised he could save himself all the hassles of reboring and timing discs by just dropping the XRV (Africa Twin)  engine between the spars. The only problem was he couldn't find a suitable donor engine..

Its at this point that most of us would just say "Fuck It", sell the half finished project on to some optimistic fool then go down the pub and bore all our mates about what might have been. But after a working life spent with computers that are so smart they can fly a plane that has the aerodynamics of a one-winged bumble bee, a quick surf on the Internet holds no fear for Totty. So he logged-on and got busy with the mouse. Skirting some top porn web sites he finally alighted on a netted-up German breakers homepage and located an Africa Twin engine. A spot of virtual shopping later and he was the new owner of the complete engine, oil cooler and CDI unit which all came winging over from Munich for the princely sum of £800.

Although it was a bit of a tight fit the XRV lump went straight in, mostly because the engine mounting holes on both sets of crankcases are identical. With the swap completed, he'd achieved everything he set out to get - instant 60bhp (a 25% increase over stock) together with a corresponding hike in torque. A new wiring loom needed to be made up, but calling on his military boffin training he soon had one knitted and functioning. Everything fired up right away, but there was a bit of a problem. As in "front wheel straight over your head on a whiff of throttle but a top end of about 43mph". Thanks for nothing, trailly type gearing... B & C Sprockets of Potterhanworth, Lincolnshire, got the problem sorted with a set of their light alloy chain wheels, so at least Totty can now use the first two gears without fear of having the thing park on his head. Even though he went as large as he could on the gearbox output shaft, and fitted the smallest possible sprocket on the rear, the Severe will still rev into the red in top gear. He's gained an 18mph increase in top speed though......

The extra zip in acceleration, together with a better top speed, is ideal for Totty's favourite pastime of fucking-off much larger and more powerful bikes at track days. The conversion has left the Severe 70lbs lighter than a stock Revere, so it's even easier to stuff it under other bikes in the corners and get `em severely (groan) pissed off. Plus they think they have just been stuffed by a standard shaft driven Revere, which has got to be a top wind-up. The whole job stands Totty at a mere £3900, including the purchase price of the original bike, and in twenty years of motorcycling he reckons his special gives him the best money/grin factor return ever.

As usual, with most of the specials we feature, further mods are planned. He already has an MHP one off exhaust on its way, ready for fitting on return from the South Atlantic, and a set of 800cc high compression slugs are going to find their way into the barrels at some point. So he didn't avoid the reboring bother, after all. In fact, the more we quizzed Totty about the bike the more we realised how completely in love with it he is. Quite a lot of specials end up being advertised for sale as soon as they are finished so the owner can move onto the next project, but no sir, not this one. It ainít for sale and thrashing it all over the shop gives him a right old trouser tent."

Original text by Dave Campbell. Street fighters Magazine.

ORIGINAL MAKE AND MODEL: 1988 Honda 650 Bros (41bhp@ rear wheel)

ENGINE: 1993 Honda Africa Twin 750cc (XRV 750), currently stock cams and bore - soon to be increased by 1mm with Hi- comp pistons to 800cc. 36mm Keihin carburetors with modified slides/needles/jets, modified air box and Hi-Flow filter, anti-backlash gears removed from crank, heavy duty clutch springs, EBC plates, sound deadening gubbins junked from clutch unit, Dale Walker Holeshot Performance race pipe, 60bhp (25% increase)

FRAME: Stock Bros/RC31

FRONT END: Complete Honda CBR600FM front end in Bros yokes, re-valved forks, Earls braided brake lines, Ferrodo race pads.

REAR END: Stock single-side, re-valved and re-sprung Fireblade shocker, Earls braided brake line, Ducati 916 chain guard.

BODYWORK: Stock, but modified side panel to accept larger Africa Twin CDI, frenched in plumbing pipe in tail unit to allow clearance for wiring.

ELECTRIC'S: Stock Africa Twin CDI/rectifier unit grafted into loom, 100/80W headlight bulb.

PAINT: Gordon Alexander, Academy Street Body Shop, Forfar (01307 463591). Helmet paint by Andy Beazley at Splat! Design (0116 2341222)

POLISHING: By owner.

ENGINEERING: All by Jim Smith and owner, billet curly side-stand to clear exhaust routing in T75 alloy, adjustable ride height via shim stack, billet rear sets in T75 alloy, Africa Twin oil cooler on aero-alloy brackets.

THANKS TO: Shaun Witts and Lutz of Munich, Andrew Hart Honda - Dundee (01382 667281), Jim Smith's ABDR Motorcycles, Steve Beatty (Hawk GT/Bros Club), Andy Connolly and Paul Stephenson for many bruised knuckles, and long suffering wife Jackie - I'm Sorry, I really am!

Actually, there was a lot more in the pipeline for the Severe. At the time of writing, Dave Stephenson, a top Honda mechanic who has worked with such names as Kocsinski, McCallen and HRC, has squeezed another few Bhp from the engine. This has being achieved by using 1mm bigger valves, re-profiled cams for longer duration, skimmed head and full gas flowing, but the biggest area of power gain is in getting the Severe to breath properly, by replacing the lunchbox sized air box with some K & N filters. The carburetors currently sit between the two cylinders and the fuel is evaporating so this is another problem Dave has been concentrating on. MHP have also let Totty down, so Dave is fabricating a one-off pipe to match all the new changes. Preliminary dyno runs have shown that the engine will be more than capable of pulling around 75bhp all the way to the red line, with a torque curve that any tractor would be proud of. This is now one hell of a bike. Totty has also acquired an RVF400 Endurance style fairing for it, and this has been used to duct cold air into the carburetor space and to gain some aerodynamic abilities. Some more minor feet's of engineering prowess came to the fore during the fitting of the fairing, as just about nothing fitted where it was supposed to now. Clocks, mirrors, ignition switch to name but a few. 

As you can see from the pictures below, she has had a few face lifts over the years, and now that she is "almost" finished, I'm sure you'll agree that Totty has made a good job of the project, from start to finish.

This project has cost Totty a lot of time, effort and a little bit of money, so if you want the full low down, make him an offer he will send you the full documentation.

Use the icon below to get in touch.

Here are a few pictures of the Severe Bros, as it was before going to Dave's workshop for the second time.

Burn out for Street Fighter magazine

A still shot for Street Fighter magazine

Up and over the Mountain at Cadwell Park '97 Down through the Goosneck at Cadwell Park '97 Over the Mountain and down to Hall Bends, Cadwell '97 "Flyin" over the Mountain, well just... Cadwell '97

The XRV 750 lump, a neat fit Dave Stephenson rear sets

Here are a few pictures after Dave's workshop. Nothing noticeable, aside from the the triple clamp yolks.

The Hairpin at Cadwell Park '98 Entering Charlie's at Cadwell '98 Inside view of Mountain, Cadwell '98 AT the top of the Goosneck, Cadwell '98

And here she is again after the fairing fitment, and pretty much in its final guise.

RC31 in new livery

Metallic blue seat unit Head on view of RVF endurance racer fairing Close up on logo

Sparse cockpit, featuring halfords speedometer & billet triple clamp yolks Another head on view

Honest, that's it all finished now.............

For a bigger image size, just click the thumbnail you want.

Last updated June, 2004
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