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Sad Good-Byes

From The Vincent HRD Owners Club Newsletter, triubte by Phil Mahood

Denis Curtis

Denis Curtis of Belleville will be sorely missed. Like Ross, Denis was known around the globe, in this case for his racing motorcycle frames. His fabrication skills in this niche began in the Vincent world. Originally from Lincolnshire, Denis was a club road racer and specials builder. You can read his full history at:

Of particular note was the Curtis Vincent. Denis solved the problem of what to do with a chopped Vincent twin engine. His frame married the transmission-less twin to a Norton/AMC gearbox. The bike became a successful racer for several years and created a demand for copies. One of those is in the Jay Leno collection. Jay is not normally attracted to customs or specials. However, Denis' design just looks right, like a real factory effort, so Jay made an exception. I had the pleasure of tuning the bike at the Big Dog Garage and test riding it around the Burbank. Nice, to say the least.

Many attendees of the 2015 SLR Reunion Rally in Belleville will remember Denis’ hospitality in giving a technical tour of his shop to all comers. There, visitors could see the range of his work. He had become the go-to guy for Vintage racers who are serious about winning. An example is his Yamaha TZ750 frame that tames all vicious handling out of that fearsome beast of a powerplant.

You will read on the website that Denis Curtis came to Canada in 1971. Among other places, he worked for Trevor Deeley, the Canadian Yamaha distributor based in Vancouver. On the side, he built special frames until that became a standalone business. He was known to be an especially tireless worker who put in endless hours in the shop. It was hard to get him to take a break to come out to our Vincent events even when we held them right next door! He is pictured above on one of those rare occasions. He is showing off a special Vincent upper frame commissioned by Bar Hodgson.

Denis Curtis Vincent
In the end, Denis lost a long battle with cancer. Many years ago, we both fell victim to prostate cancer. Denis was a bit before me and pioneered the way for me. He would encourage me as I followed him through that dreadful surgery. I could never thank him enough for helping keep me in good spirits with his positive attitude. He will be remembered by all who knew him as a true gentleman and classy guy.

Rest in peace, Denis.

Phil Mahood, Section Organizer, Eastern Canada
From The Vincent HRD Owners Club Newsletter

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