The Kay MV Agusta engine - Great Engines in Bits

The Kay MV500 triple


MV 1967 replica - Black Eagle Racing


“I get off the boat and go and talk to the fairies,” he says.  “Preparation is one thing, but the luck of the Isle of Man is another.  We don’t go for lightweight frames or alloy parts.  We use good quality steel.  It doesn’t matter if the bike weighs a bit more.  We build them strong, not fragile, not like when we first started.

A Classic TT 500 contender


The Senior Classic TT breaks bikes.  The builders of Black Eagle Racing Team’s MV 500 triple explain how they try to get them to the finish line.


Based on an article first published in MCN SPORT

Words by Mike Nicks.   Photos by Dave Collister


Many replicas of exotic works bikes are so delicate they’re only meant to be parade or track day bikes.  But the remarkable Kay family take the opposite approach.  They’re so confident of the engineering in the MV triples and fours run by their Black Eagle Racing team that they tell TT superheroes like 27-year old Dean Harrison to redline it all the way.
“We’d rather blow up halfway than come tenth,” says David Kay, the grandfather patriarch of a family trio completed by his son Mark, and Mark’s son Mitchell, aged 24.

But these words, so easily trundled out, are backed by results.  Harrison won l2015’s 500 cc Classic TT , to add to the 350cc win they achieved with Lee Johnston  in 2014.  Harrison’s bike is a near-copy of the twin cam, 12 valve triple that Giacomo Agostini reached to five consecutive Senior TT wins from 1968-72.  but team director Mark is aware of the whimsies of the Mountain Circuit.

Kay MV triple specs


The Kay's hand-built MV Agusta 500 triple is a contender for the title at the IOM Senior Classic TT


“We were striving to get weight off, making a washer ten thou thick rather than 15.  I’ve been building engines for 20 years, but it’s only in the last three years that I’ve learned to build them properly for the Isle of Man.  Now everything is measured and weighed, every component is matched to others.  We never rush, and the build quality is second to none.  If it used to take us an hour, now it takes four hours.  Everything is clinically clean.  It’s like the factories build them. “We can’t afford to have more than one engine for each bike.  MV would have come with five engines and use them all.  It’s no good having 110 horsepower to do half a lap; it’s better to have 60 and do four.  When we have an optimum setup we knock a thousand revs off.  You’re still producing good torque.”
The Kays produce their replicas from workshops at their home in the West Midlands, where they produce road and racing MVs.




The Kay MV 500 triple


The Kay's MV Agusta 500 triple is a contender for the title at the 2016 Senior Classic TT



Dave Kay in his workshop




“We build the bikes with the same kind of equipment that MV would have used in 1954,” David says, “We don’t don’t use CNC, and our Bridgeport milling machine is 60 years old.  All our parts are interchangeable with the factory bikes 
“We’ve got a set of drawings for every road bike ever made by MV up to 1980, and we convert the Italian material specifications into EN numbers so the material is the same.”
“The pressure on the team owners, responsible for putting a safe bike under their riders, is immense.  I’m terrified,” he says, “On race day, I won’t go into the pits.  I’m a bag of nerves.  I can see every roller in the bearings going around, every piston going up and down.  I go for a walk and i don’t listen to the race commentary.  My job is done when they set off.”
Harrison was second in this year’s Senior Classic.  “We’ve just had the head off and it’s perfect,” said Mark after the race.  “Dean’s bike has done eight laps this week and it could have done that again.”  


This MV Agusta 500 triple was raced to victory at the 2015 IOM Senior Classic TT

Mark Kay talks to the fairies on the Isle of Man

Looking at he Kay MV Agusta 500 three


The Kay MV 500 triplegif


The Kay's hand-built MV Agusta 500 triple is a contender for the title at the IOM Senior Classic TT



This bike will be raced at the 2017 Classic TT by Michael Dunlop

The Kay's hand-built MV Agusta 500 triple is a contender for the title at the IOM Senior Classic TT

Here we look at Kay MV Agusta engines - Great Engines in Bits