A master of his craft

Tristan WheelerManjimup-Bridgetown Times
Brook Henry with one of the Hailwood Bikes he is producing out of his workshop in Nannup.
Camera IconBrook Henry with one of the Hailwood Bikes he is producing out of his workshop in Nannup. Credit: Manjimup-Bridgetown Times

One of Nannup’s best-kept secrets is Vee Two, a motorcycle manufacturing business spearheaded by Brook Henry.

Brook started working on motorcycles when he was 13, helping his brothers at their shop, before training as an engineer, all the while racing and tinkering with motorbikes.

While living in Perth in 1978, Brook was unable to afford a replacement part for his bevel engine motorcycle and decided to build his own part instead.

Word got around he was capable, leading him to start manufacturing parts and reconditioning bevel engines and forming Vee Two Australia.

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Vee Two moved into motorcycle racing in 1980, and achieved a milestone in 1995, winning the Daytona F1 750 with a Ducati bike built by Brook.

As well as creating racing bikes, Brook moved into the world of street bikes, building 100 road-licensed Alchemy bikes.

“The Alchemy is a bike that we made, and we sold 100 of them. We are the only company that’s made a run like that and got Australian compliance for it,” he said.

Brook’s custom motorcycles have been featured by US talk show host Jay Leno on his YouTube show Jay Leno’s Garage, gathering 341,000 views on his video.

Brook’s most ambitious project to date is a recreation of the NCR Ducati that motorcycling legend Mike Hailwood rode to victory in the 1978 Isle of Man Tourist Trophy, reputedly one of the most dangerous events in motorsport.

Brook spent two years researching the bike, including trips to Italy to meet with craftsmen who had worked on the original, as well as the factory worker responsible for shipping the bike to Hailwood before the race.

“I went to Italy and I was very fortunate to get onto a guy that worked on the bike in the NCR factory, he’s the guy that packed the bike and sent it to England to race at the Isle of Mann,” he said.

“He took me round to all the old tradesmen in Italy that were still alive that actually built it and made bits for it.

“I learnt so much about that bike in that time and it is so different to anything else.”

Chasing a legend proved difficult at times, with misinformation about the Hailwood bike common.

“There were some major components on the bike that I remade three times because of misinformation,” he said.

“I’ve been around a long time in this industry and there isn’t one bike in the world, not one bike in the world that even comes close to the lies and misconstrued stories, fables and misinformation about one bike, it is rife through the world, everyone’s an expert.”

Brook said his design philosophy is to combine an old-school look with new technology.

“I think I enjoy making things look old-school, but incorporating the latest and the greatest technology, the latest metal and the best processes,” he said.

“That’s another thing that I’m an advocate of; clean, simple, basic, common sense, minimalistic engineering, functional, easy to work, easy to ride, easy to maintain, easy to understand and no whizz-bang stuff that you need a mega amount of equipment and technology to play around with and service.”

His passion for his work is evident and Brook said every day at work was like a holiday for him.

“If someone said where do you want to go on holiday, we’re going to get rid of everyone out of the workshop, no one can come in here, then I’m just going to spend two weeks in here on my own, that’s my holiday,” he said.

“I’ll create and make stuff for me, that’s a holiday.”

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