1977 Silk 700S Sabre MK2
Engine: 653cc 2-stroke water-cooled parallel twin
Top speed: 110mph
Transmission: 4-speed, enclosed chain final drive
Weight (dry): 310lb (141kg)
Fuel capacity: 3.6gal (13.6ltr)
Price then/now: £2,482 ($5,262 at $2.12 per £1, 1979 avg. exchange rate)/$2,000-$7,000
As far as Brit George Silk was concerned, the fun of riding a motorcycle in the Seventies was being eroded as manufacturers chased power — and paid for it with handling problems. He believed that discerning riders would prefer a small, lightweight motorcycle with bags of torque, decent speed and race-bred handling — a modern version of his vintage Scott motorcycle. This philosophy led to development of the Silk 700S Sabre MK 2.
Rare and pricey
The Silk was a hand-built motorcycle and you certainly paid for it. There was no electric start and instrumentation was basic with just a speedometer and ammeter, but the 700S was one of the most expensive motorcycles money could buy — a whopping £1,388 in England, about $3,085.
In 1977 the 700S was updated to the Sabre Mk 2, with finned barrels instead of plain, a new seat, a tachometer, and a larger carburetor and bigger bore exhaust. Porting and timing revisions plus a higher compression boosted power to a more respectable 48hp, but by 1979 the price had risen to more than $5,000. Even at that price, Silk Engineering was losing more than $400 on every bike sold. Light weight and great handling was not enough in the Superbike age and production ground to a halt in December of 1979 with 138 motorcycles sold.
To read the rest of this story, including full-color photos and author Phillip Tooth's riding review of the Silk, order the November/December 2010 issue of Motorcycle Classics. Contact Customer Service at (800) 880-7567 or contact us by email.