Company History

Company history
Nova Racing Transmissions Ltd has been providing specialist design and manufacturing services to the motorcycle industry for more than 25 years.

Established 1989
The company was set up in 1989 by Graham Dyson to provide gears for the motorcycle racing fraternity. Prior to this, Graham was Director at Barton Motors where he was responsible for the manufacture of all engine and transmission components. He worked closely with the design team to create the famous Sparton and Phoenix two stroke engines which had an enviable reputation in the 1970’s and 80’s.  Due in part to their track successes, Barton Motors was purchased by Armstrong Industries who wanted to move into volume motorcycle production – this was not in Graham’s interests and he left to set up Nova Racing Transmissions Ltd.

A reputation for first class products
The initial race gears developed by Nova Racing Transmissions Ltd were produced in a small industrial unit near Peterborough and Graham soon had enough orders to take on two additional machinists.  Graham rapidly established a reputation for making a ‘first class’ product and for performing manufacturing ‘miracles’.  It was clear that there was a niche market for this type of work, and Graham decided to improve the design and manufacturing capabilities of the company.

New director appointed
In 1996, Graham joined forces with consultant Martin Ford-Dunn who was carrying out a similar type of work on motorcycle cylinder heads. Martin had worked at the internationally renowned Ricardo Consulting Engineers Plc for 29 years where he became responsible for work on ‘small engines’, including motorcycles.  As a qualified mechanical engineer, he worked with major manufacturers across the globe and was exposed to the latest techniques in manufacturing and computer aided design. He utilized this insight in his work for Ricardo clients, managing technically challenging projects such as the 3 cylinder 350cc Ducati racing engine and the Harley Davidson modular engine project.  When his children’s education was complete, Martin had left Ricardo to establish his consultancy for motorcycle projects.

Enthusiasm for motorcycle racing
With the two men working together, Nova Racing Transmissions was transformed.  Investments were made in CNC machinery and design and analytical software and the ability to create top class products became a reality.  Four extra staff were employed, including two engineering graduates, and with a larger premises the company consolidated its activities.

This was not the first time Graham and Martin’s work had come together. By chance, much of the enthusiasm that the pair had for motorcycle racing was illustrated on the front cover of the October 1980 edition of Motorcycle weekly, which shows the Silver Dream racer engine, largely made by Graham, and one of the sidecar outfits designed and built by Martin.

Cost effective design and manufacturing expertise
Nova Racing Transmissions Ltd undertook a wide range of projects, covering all motorcycle related activities as well as installing motorcycle engines in cars.  Much initial work was focused on increasing the number of gears in the boxes of ‘classics’ without changing the external appearance of the casing so that the unit was eligible for racing.  This presented the team with many challenges, but the BSA Gold Star 5

Speed, the Royal Enfield Bullet 5 Speed, the Bultaco 350 6 speed and the Triumph 5T 6 speed are typical of the work that the company has carried out.  The reversing box, necessary when fitting a motorcycle engine into a car or trike, was developed early on and has been used in many applications ranging from the ‘Legend’ race car series and turbo-charged circuit race cars.  It also was used to record the world speed record in reverse, posted at 108mph!  Other interesting projects included supercharged conversions for the Hayabusa engines, steering racks for Jedi race cars, drive shafts for BMW sidecar outfits, and four valve cylinder heads for a major Taiwanese manufacturer.  This work laid down the foundations for cost effective design and manufacturing expertise.

Relocation and expansion in the South of England
Tragically, Graham died in March 2012 which inevitably resulted in a period of uncertainty.  Martin took over ownership of the company, and by the end of 2012 the decision had been taken to relocate the factory to the south of England where further expansion would be possible.  A new Director was appointed, Jeff Claridge. Jeff brings marketing and management expertise to the company. He also has a passion and understanding of the racing environment – he started riding motocross at the age of 7, progressing through 125GP road racing to 24hr endurance racing.

Meeting demands of wider customer base
The relocation enabled the company to install new, up-to-date production machinery, able to meet the demands of a wider customer base.  The design and CAM facilities were expanded, and have been complemented with a CNC coordinate measuring machine to allow rapid inspection and reverse engineering capabilities.

The work force has been further increased and Nova Racing Transmissions Ltd currently employs 14 full-time professionals.

Nova gears in racing successes
The company’s continued investment in plant and personnel ensures Nova has a wide range of classic and modern racing gear kits in regular production.  Nova gears are used worldwide in countless national and club series. Many victories and championships titles are reported each year, including the British Superbike and Supersport series for which the company continues to supply a large proportion of competitors with gears.  Throughout the company’s history, many IOM TT’s in all classes have been won and in recent years this has included several clean sweeps of the podium in the senior TT.   Nova have supplied most of the major manufacturers with prototype race gears and continue to be well represented in the WSBK series where a number of manufacturers use Nova gears.