Slick Slider: A Godden GR500 speedway restomod from Unikat

Godden GR500 speedway restomod by Unikat
Speedway bikes are the very definition of purpose-built. They’re brakeless, single-gear machines with bizarre proportions, designed to do one thing—go around a dirt track at angles that defy physics. But, like all racing motorcycles, they’ve evolved over the years.

Early speedway racers would simply modify existing ‘regular’ bikes to perform as best they could. It was only by the late 1950s that legends like Alf Hagon had start fabricating speedway-specific chassis. And today’s race bikes sure don’t look like they did back then.

Godden GR500 speedway restomod by Unikat
This particular example is a 1970s Godden GR500, immaculately restored and ever-so-slightly modded by Grzegorz Korczak, and his team at Unikat Motorworks in Poland. Back in 1969, Don Godden bagged the world long-track championship aboard a Hagon-framed bike with a JAP engine. By the 70s, he’d formed Godden Engineering—first building his own frames, then, eventually, engines and complete bikes.

The Godden GR500 was a complete package, featuring a 493.8 cc single cylinder mill, good for 64 horses. It was built in an era when the engines were mounted upright in the frame—unlike on today’s machines, where the engines are pitched forward. [There’s a great Godden GR500 history lesson here.]

Godden GR500 speedway restomod by Unikat
The idea for this restomod project was born on a tennis court, of all places. Grzegorz met the client, Zbyszek, at a tennis tournament, where the two immediately started talking about bikes (and got so excited that other players had to shush them).

Zbyszek actually manages a speedway race team—and his wife, Betty Rose, is so passionate about the sport, that she has a speedway tattoo on her forearm. “When it turned out that Betty Rose’s birthday was coming up, we shook hands on an unprecedented joint project,” says Grzegorz.

Godden GR500 speedway restomod by Unikat
After a little hunting Unikat found the GR500; “a cult classic,” as Grzegorz puts it. The idea was to restore it, but also add some unique details. Unikat’s motto is “one of one,” after all.

The GR500’s engine was healthy on the inside, but filthy on the outside. So the first job was to clean everything up. Unikat glass-blasted the engine and carb, and polished all the aluminum bits, including the engine’s mounting plates. The primary drive’s been exposed, and a handcrafted velocity stack sits under the seat.

Godden GR500 speedway restomod by Unikat
Next, Unikat had the frame, rear triangle and front forks treated to a fresh coat of powder. An impressive number of original parts are still in play, but they’ve been restored to better-than-new condition. Look closely, and you’ll spot the stamped Godden badge on the steering neck, and a Godden logo etched into the oil cap (the GR500 carries its oil in the top tube of its frame).

Unikat tore the wheels apart, polished the hubs and rims, then re-laced them with stainless steel spokes and nipples. The tires, inner tubes, chain and sprockets are all fresh. Speedway enthusiasts will also note that the rear wheel cover that race bikes of this era normally wear, is gone.

Godden GR500 speedway restomod by Unikat
The fuel tank and fenders are also original parts. Unikat stripped the paint off the fiberglass fenders, then painstakingly smoothed out any inconsistencies before repainting them.

The tank was a little beat up—but for Unikat, that just added to the bike’s charm. So they simply cleaned it up and clear coated it to keep its personal history intact. A milled gas cap with Unikat’s logo etched into it adds a neat touch.

Godden GR500 speedway restomod by Unikat
Up front, the handlebars are clamped by new risers, and wear a Magura clutch lever and handmade leather grips. Further back, Unikat recovered the seat in leather, and propped it up on new mounting plates. The exhaust is custom, fabricated from stainless steel.

This GR500 also wears new cables and hoses, and every last nut and bolt has been glass-blasted and freshly galvanized.

Godden GR500 speedway restomod by Unikat
Finished in white with red accents, and adorned with the owner’s name and date of birth, this GR500 restomod looks just as good parked as it would flying around a dirt track sideways. We can’t think of a better birthday present.

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Godden GR500 speedway restomod by Unikat

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