Steve Roberts

Steve is well known throughout the motorcycle fraternity, not onl…

Steve Roberts Steve is well known throughout the motorcycle fraternity, not onl…


Steve Roberts

Steve is well known throughout the motorcycle fraternity, not only New Zealand but world-wide, for his skill building motorcycle petrol & oil tanks, frames, exhaust systems & chambers, etc. Steve is one of the most modest retiring persons you could meet. But his quietness tends to bubble when he starts talking & reflecting on his creations built over the years, they are all a work of art, if the project wasn’t a work of art, it wouldn’t leave his work shop.

Many New Zealand riders & teams have reaped the benefit from this 77 year old who is rarely seen in public but whose products have taken on the world. Not a centre fold person, but he did make it once!

Teaming up with the then notable motorcycle personalities Dick Lawton and Rod Coleman to build specialist New Zealand made TR Suzuki race motorcycles to rocket names such as Keith Turner, Geoff Perry, Dale Wyllie , and other notable riders in the seventies.

Dave Hiscock (amongst other things, 3rd in F1 Motorcycle World Championship 1982, 1st Australian Swann Series 1982, 3rd in British Road Race Champs, NZ Road Race Championship 1983/4) Robert Holden (NZ Road Race Champion 1984/5, Isle of Man TT, but a legend where ever he went).

At the Boxing Day Cemetery Circuit event 1982, they all had a chat about how to make it all better. Kevlar was coming on stream so all agreed this was the future product for strength & weight reduction. As a result the Plastic Fantastic was born. #1 was the Prototype, #2 went to Dave Hiscock, while #3 went to another New Zealander, Norris Farrow from Kumeu, who later became Team Manager for the Rumi Honda Team.

To recognise Steve’s ability he was awarded first equal TV’s UDC Finance Inventors Award in 1983 for the Kevlar Motorcycle with Tension Suspension- the Plastic Fantastic, now stored by Spider Staples & proudly displayed at the Centenary of Motorcycling New Zealand function at Te Papa.

Rod Coleman built countless Velocette KTT & Norton Manx models using Steve’s expertise for petrol & oil tanks, mudguards, etc. Another Kiwi, Ken McIntosh specialist road race classic builder, uses Steve Roberts made petrol and oil tanks.

A Canadian restorer asked Steve if he could buy his stamp templates for tanks, etc. The answer was astounding there isn’t one, they are all made individually by hand!

Some other outstanding projects from the Brunswick workshop included a revolutionary sidecar for Andy Kippen. It was an alloy monocoque chassis, fully streamlined fibre glass body with the engine at the rear, hub centre steering, with a non-fibre glass passenger, well known race commentator Spider Staples. Ironically Kippen’s main opposition was Dick Leppard who used a sidecar body made by Steve Roberts!

Other Kiwis benefitting from Steve’s skill were Dallas Rankine & Luke Taylor’s Fast & Fragile Ducati based racer. Fuel in frame, Ducati V-Twin bottom end engine, with Godden barrels, 4 valve heads & 1000cc of rip snort.

A customised Yamaha for Wayne Marshall, converting the road bike to a TZR500 similar to that of 2016 Hall of Fame Inductee Paul Treacy factory bike, & so the list goes on.

Moving forward through many projects & restorations, many of which included rare cars that only an odd photo exists, building an exotic from just an old black & white photo is a rare skill.

One of his several current projects on the stands now is a 1924 one off Jappic Cyclecar, powered by a 350cc J.A.P. engine, of which only one was made specifically to break a record at the English Brooklands race track & it was destroyed by fire in 1932, so only a very few photographs remain. Ironically the rules required a mechanic, so it was designed so the mechanic lay flat on his stomach alongside the driver with head towards the rear!

So where did all this skill come from? On leaving school Steve took a sheet-metal & coppersmith apprenticeship with De Havilland in his homeland of UK. Moving to London Jaguar dealer Henley’s where his first job there was to repair the door on the Queen Mother’s maroon Jaguar Mark 7!

Then to Aston Martin for a period until a new horizon beckoned for Steve & wife Pam.

Five weeks later they arrived in Wellington on a ship, but let’s stress that they were NOT 10 pound Poms they paid their way here & arrived here with 7 shillings & 6 pence (75 cents) in their pockets.

Employment at Wellington Polytechnic as a tutor from 1963 to 1975 saw him train many of our NZ apprentices, but motorcycle scrambles were also in his blood so he built his first Spartan (as he found the price of buying motorcycles in NZ was exorbitant), followed by many others for many other Spartan worshippers.

Steve is a very worthy 2017 nomination for Design & Engineering in Motorcycling New Zealand Hall of Fame.


Steve Roberts

Steve is well known throughout the motorcycle fraternity, not only New Zealand but world-wide, for his skill building motorcycle petrol & oil tanks, frames, exhaust systems & chambers, etc. Steve is one of the most modest retiring persons you could meet. But his quietness tends to bubble when he starts talking & reflecting on his creations built over the years, they are all a work of art, if the project wasn’t a work of art, it wouldn’t leave his work shop.

Many New Zealand riders & teams have reaped the benefit from this 77 year old who is rarely seen in public but whose products have taken on the world. Not a centre fold person, but he did make it once!

Teaming up with the then notable motorcycle personalities Dick Lawton and Rod Coleman to build specialist New Zealand made TR Suzuki race motorcycles to rocket names such as Keith Turner, Geoff Perry, Dale Wyllie , and other notable riders in the seventies.

Dave Hiscock (amongst other things, 3rd in F1 Motorcycle World Championship 1982, 1st Australian Swann Series 1982, 3rd in British Road Race Champs, NZ Road Race Championship 1983/4) Robert Holden (NZ Road Race Champion 1984/5, Isle of Man TT, but a legend where ever he went).

At the Boxing Day Cemetery Circuit event 1982, they all had a chat about how to make it all better. Kevlar was coming on stream so all agreed this was the future product for strength & weight reduction. As a result the Plastic Fantastic was born. #1 was the Prototype, #2 went to Dave Hiscock, while #3 went to another New Zealander, Norris Farrow from Kumeu, who later became Team Manager for the Rumi Honda Team.

To recognise Steve’s ability he was awarded first equal TV’s UDC Finance Inventors Award in 1983 for the Kevlar Motorcycle with Tension Suspension- the Plastic Fantastic, now stored by Spider Staples & proudly displayed at the Centenary of Motorcycling New Zealand function at Te Papa.

Rod Coleman built countless Velocette KTT & Norton Manx models using Steve’s expertise for petrol & oil tanks, mudguards, etc. Another Kiwi, Ken McIntosh specialist road race classic builder, uses Steve Roberts made petrol and oil tanks.

A Canadian restorer asked Steve if he could buy his stamp templates for tanks, etc. The answer was astounding there isn’t one, they are all made individually by hand!

Some other outstanding projects from the Brunswick workshop included a revolutionary sidecar for Andy Kippen. It was an alloy monocoque chassis, fully streamlined fibre glass body with the engine at the rear, hub centre steering, with a non-fibre glass passenger, well known race commentator Spider Staples. Ironically Kippen’s main opposition was Dick Leppard who used a sidecar body made by Steve Roberts!

Other Kiwis benefitting from Steve’s skill were Dallas Rankine & Luke Taylor’s Fast & Fragile Ducati based racer. Fuel in frame, Ducati V-Twin bottom end engine, with Godden barrels, 4 valve heads & 1000cc of rip snort.

A customised Yamaha for Wayne Marshall, converting the road bike to a TZR500 similar to that of 2016 Hall of Fame Inductee Paul Treacy factory bike, & so the list goes on.

Moving forward through many projects & restorations, many of which included rare cars that only an odd photo exists, building an exotic from just an old black & white photo is a rare skill.

One of his several current projects on the stands now is a 1924 one off Jappic Cyclecar, powered by a 350cc J.A.P. engine, of which only one was made specifically to break a record at the English Brooklands race track & it was destroyed by fire in 1932, so only a very few photographs remain. Ironically the rules required a mechanic, so it was designed so the mechanic lay flat on his stomach alongside the driver with head towards the rear!

So where did all this skill come from? On leaving school Steve took a sheet-metal & coppersmith apprenticeship with De Havilland in his homeland of UK. Moving to London Jaguar dealer Henley’s where his first job there was to repair the door on the Queen Mother’s maroon Jaguar Mark 7!

Then to Aston Martin for a period until a new horizon beckoned for Steve & wife Pam.

Five weeks later they arrived in Wellington on a ship, but let’s stress that they were NOT 10 pound Poms they paid their way here & arrived here with 7 shillings & 6 pence (75 cents) in their pockets.

Employment at Wellington Polytechnic as a tutor from 1963 to 1975 saw him train many of our NZ apprentices, but motorcycle scrambles were also in his blood so he built his first Spartan (as he found the price of buying motorcycles in NZ was exorbitant), followed by many others for many other Spartan worshippers.

Steve is a very worthy 2017 nomination for Design & Engineering in Motorcycling New Zealand Hall of Fame.


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