Legendary motorcycle engineer Steve Harris has died

After iconic motorcycle engineer Steve Harris sold Harris Performance to Royal Enfield in 2015, the Royal Enfield Twins American Flat Track entry has remained the company’s highest-profile project. However, prior to the acquisition, the Hertford, England-based company specialized in road racing around the world.

Self-taught Harris first made a name for himself making racing chassis for privateer and factory outfits. The Brit has even built unique frames for the likes of two-time 500cc Grand Prix champion Barry Sheene. In addition to specializing in frame building, Harris assembled complete bicycles as well as designing and selling performance accessories.

“Steve was the instigator and, in many ways, the driving force. He was gregarious, always looked at the big picture and felt that anything was possible,” Harris’ brother Lester revealed. , motorcycle technology was quite basic. There were a lot of good engines, but the chassis design wasn’t so good.

Founded in 1972, Harris Performance quickly became synonymous with Magnum frame kits throughout the 80s and 90s, but the brand has always pushed performance boundaries in the Superbike World Championship (WSBK) and Grand Prix series. In 1991, Yamaha authorized the company to purchase YZR500 engines to be installed in Harris designed and built frames for the 500cc Grand Prix World Championship class.

From 1992 to 1996, the famed engineer ran the Shell-sponsored Harris 500 GP team with Sean Emmett in the saddle. Harris also frequently juggled multiple projects, with Suzuki bringing him in to develop the GSX-R750 WSBK race machine and distributing factory-style race kit components to Suzuki customers around the world.

In 1999 Harris supported the Kawasaki Motors UK Superbike team and formed the Harris Honda Britain Superbike team in 2000. In the following years, however, Harris took a step back from the racing paddock and refocused his attention on chassis development. It began relationships with Royal Enfield in 2008 and eventually sold Harris Performance to Eicher Motors Ltd in 2015.

After living with Parkinson’s disease for years, Harris passed away on June 15, 2022. Despite his passing, Harris’ contributions to motorcycle racing will continue through Royal Enfield’s competitive flat track project.

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