At the beginning of last week, bike maker Harley-Davidson announced it is holding a special online event dedicated to all those bike builders who were robbed by the health crisis of the chance of showing their creations in live motorcycle shows.
Called The No Show, the Harley event brought together on Youtube and Instagram around 60 bike builders across the U.S., each showing and advertising their bikes the best they could. Of the 60, Harley chose three to be named winners in various categories – Media Choice Award, H-D Styling & Design Award, and Harley-Davidson Museum Award.
As far as Styling & Design, the bike was selected and the crown was handed by Brad Richards, the man in charge of design at Harley, to a build called 2-Cam Banjo Board Track Racer.
The bike is the work of a man from Wisconsin named Michael Lange. Describing himself as a bike builder for 50 years and a self-employed man for the past 30, Lange decided to bring to The No Show a motorcycle he built way back in 1996, one he was supposed to show at this year’s Mama Tried.
The man’s confidence in the bike paid off, given his build won one of the three awards, but perhaps for him that’s just a small achievement.
Running on massive wheels and packing a host of custom-made parts, from the engine itself to the fuel tank and the frame, the Banjo is of course an odd sight on the roads today, but it is a common one at various racing events still paying tribute to the racing bikes of old.
Lange says he originally built the bike to race it as a privateer, and race it he did for the past 24 years without many major issues. You can watch he has to say about the motorcycle in the short video attached below this text.
Size doesn’t matter, if you’re to believe some people. For inventor Tom Wiberg, size is everything, because he is the man who created the world’s tallest motorcycle and its counterpart, the smallest motorcycle in the world.
June is autoevolution’s Two-Wheeler Month and we couldn’t celebrate it properly without talking about some of the two-wheelers that have written history. Enter the world’s tallest and the world’s smallest motorcycle, as certified by the Guinness Book of World Records: Bigtoe and Smalltoe.
Both “toes” are builds from Swedish inventor Tom Wiberg, a man whose skillfulness is only surpassed by his creativity. Like most Guinness winners, Tom set out to create a new world record and spared no expense and effort to secure it.
Take Bigtoe, for example. It was built in 1998 and certified by Guinness in 1999 as the tallest motorcycle in the world, measuring 2.3 meters (7.5 feet) in height. It was 5 meters (16.4 feet) long and weighed an impressive 1,645 kg (3,626 pounds), which means it was eight times the size of a sportbike and four times the size of a Honda Gold Wing. Because of its size and weight, it required training wheels in order to keep upright. It’s still a motorcycle, but one that uses training wheels.
Bigtoe was pimped out, which is surprising given that it was constructed to set a record for height. It came with a 500W 4-way speaker sound system with CD player and even had a custom stainless muffler system for riders to enjoy the ride without excessive noise.
Powered by a 1975 Vintage Type E Jaguar 300 hp 5.3-liter engine, Bigtoe was able to reach top speeds of 100 kph (62 mph) but – and this goes without saying – it was not made for cruising, let alone for speeding. Upon its certification, Tom said Bigtoe handled best on short runs, at speeds that didn’t exceed 50 kph (90 mph).
He also estimated the total cost of the bike at over $80,000. It took him six years to design and build Bigtoe, since he made most of the parts by hand himself. He had help from sponsors, which is a big deal: once you’re not worried about money, you can focus on the work alone. About 3,000 man-hours were put in to complete the build.
Bigtoe was king of the motorcycle world until Greg Dunham’s Dream Big dethroned it. Dream Big wasn’t just taller but faster and more powerful, but Tom would not let this setback take him out of the Guinness Book altogether.
And this is how Smalltoe came to be. Since Tom probably understood that people would build bigger and bigger bikes, he began looking into how he could make the smallest one in the world. The result is something that is hardly a motorcycle at all: a box-shaped rolling tiny… thing that doesn’t even have room for a human rider, but can easily fit in the palm of a grown man’s hand.
Smalltoe is 65 mm (2.55 inches) tall, and has a front wheel diameter of 16 mm (0.62 inches) and a rear wheel diameter of 22 mm (0.86 inches), with an 80 mm (3.14-inch) wheelbase. It weighs just 1.1 kg (2.4 pounds) and has been the smallest motorcycle in the world since 2003.
It looks like a toy, but Tom actually rode it so Guinness could certify it as a motorcycle. Powered by a single-geared, 0.3 horsepower, ethanol-fueled RC engine motor with forward transmission (the kind used in model airplanes), it has to be force jump-started with an external motor. The rider wears special made shoes with pegs that go into the body of the bike, in what is perhaps the most uncomfortable and silliest riding position ever.
The good news is that it won’t go far: to set the record, Tom rode it at a top speed of 2 kph (1.24 mph) for 10 meters (3.28 feet), a joke by regular bike standards but an amazing feat for something this small, carrying a full-sized human. Smalltoe doesn’t have brakes or suspension, because lol, look at how tiny it is. Nor can it be steered, with Tom saying at the time that he could have probably ridden it for a longer stretch had it not come across an obstacle in its path.
Here are Tom’s famous two-wheel creations in action. Because size clearly does matter.
Being the point of origin for some of the most impressive cars and motorcycles in the world, Italy has its share of famous race tracks. The Mugello Circuit (officially called Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello) is one of them.
It is there where races from the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) were once held, and it is there where each year the greats in motorbike racing gather for the usual MotoGP leg. Owned by Ferrari, the circuit is also the main testing facility for the Scuderia’s Formula 1 cars.
As far as we know, what the Mugello circuit has not seen is a Harley-Davidson motorcycle doing a run there. And it probably never will, even if builds such as the one in the gallery above would look great under the clear skies of Tuscany.
We opened with a bit of info about the Mugello track because this is the name German custom shop Thunderbike bestowed one of their Harley-Davidson Breakout creations. Named so in honor of the Italian circuit, it is part of a larger collection of bikes that also includes the Laguna Seca and Silverstone.
Just like the other two, it was of course not bred for racing, but as some type of two-wheeled billboard meant to advertise the custom parts Thunderbike usually has in its inventory for Harley owners. And just like the other two, there’s plenty of parts going into this bike as well.
From the derby cover to the exhaust system and large wheels (21 and 23 inches), a total of 25 custom parts were fitted on it, and all wrapped in a special paint scheme wearing the signature of Ingo Kruse, Thunderbike’s favorite partner in this field.
The bike is not for sale, and it will probably never be raced on a track, any track, but it would still look great, maybe accompanied by some other Harleys, in such a surrounding.
QUOTABLE QUOTE: “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
~ Sun Tzu (544-496 BC), Chinese Military Strategist, authored “The Art of War”
ABOUT AIM / NCOM: The National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM) is a nationwide motorcyclists rights organization serving over 2,000 NCOM Member Groups throughout the United States, with all services fully-funded through Aid to Injured Motorcyclist (AIM) Attorneys available in each state who donate a portion of their legal fees from motorcycle accidents back into the NCOM Network of Biker Services (www.ON-A-BIKE.com / 800-ON-A-BIKE).
On June 1, as the perfect way to celebrate Children’s Day, LEGO launched the plastic brick Ducati Panigale V4 R. It is the first-ever Ducati to be used by the toymaker for one of its Technic products, and it currently sells for $69,99.
But that small-sized Panigale is not the only LEGO tribute to one of the most potent motorcycles in the Ducati arsenal. Another one, this time a life-sized replica of the original motorcycle, was to be seen on Friday (June 19) on location in Modena.
The build is the work of a LEGO addict by the name Riccardo Zangelmi. The guy has been manhandling LEGO for ages, and his most recent products include buildings, animals, logos, and even a G-Class (this one not life-size).
The Ducati build is described by the artist as being the most challenging he ever worked on. He says the motorcycle has been build and disassembled eight times before he got it right, and keep in mind he’s done so with enough bricks to fill a swimming pool.
Once he sorted out what went wrong all those times, Zangelmi finished his work. The end product weighs according to Ducati 150 kg (331 pounds), it required 400 hours of work, and was completed without the use of CAD software. Also, nothing but the natural attraction between the Danish bricks is holding the thing together, as no glue was used in the process.
“Taking part in this LEGO Italia and Ducati project was the most exciting professional challenge I have ever faced,” Zangelmi said in a statement.
“I went beyond all limits and I won by crossing the finish line in a team. I approached the project as an official driver of the Casa di Borgo Panigale would have done, pushing hard on the track, looking for and overcoming new limits. I first look at the two bikes today, side by side, and I’m happy to have caught the DNA that characterizes both LEGO Technic and Ducati, recreating the bike symbol of Italian excellence in bricks .”
Over the course of its history, Harley-Davidson had a bunch of noteworthy motorcycle families rolling out the assembly lines in Milwaukee. The Softail bunch is one of them, and it presently comprises about a dozen models. But the Night Train is no longer one of them.
Also known as the FXSTB, the Softail with this name first saw daylight in 1998, and was officially considered to be one of the finest examples of Harley’s low and raked machines. Customers didn’t love it so much though, and the model was discontinued about a decade later, in 2009.
Despite having all it takes to be a good candidate, this particular Softail model doesn’t appear to be a favorite of the custom industry either, so we don’t have too many examples of it in tuned form. But as part of our Two-Wheeler Month coverage, we managed to dig up this here Night Train.
We found it in Germany, because this is where its maker, a custom shop by the name Thunderbike, resides. And by all intents and purposes, despite the rather not so extensive changes, it looks completely different that a stock Night Train.
Thunderbike is in the market of customizing more recent Harleys now, but they have been at it for the past 20 years, so seeing an older model in their lineup is not a surprise.
Featuring several custom parts, like the massive rear fender and new fuel tank, the bike has been renamed Fun Ride 58, and is all about color play: two of them, black and red (and minor touches of white here and there), have been carefully mixed to create one of the cleanest and appealing looks of any motorcycle in the Thunderbike arsenal.
The wheels, which are generally much more complex when it comes to Thunderbike builds, have been kept simple this time, and sprayed red to offset the blackness featured everywhere else.
Because of the global health crisis, the world is missing out on all those extraordinary events it came to take for granted over the past decades. Since there is no end in sight to the scourge, we’ll probably not be back together at auto or moto shows until the end of 2020.
As chance would have it, the crisis came at a time when luckily we have alternatives. The Internet proved to be humanity’s best friend in these times, and has also become the place to go for concerts, movies, and more recently motorcycle shows.
Harley-Davidson, the supplier of so many motorcycles for custom builds that they’re impossible to count, is currently holding an online motorcycle show as a replacement for all those canceled live events.
Called The No Show, the event displays for a week, ending on June 21, the work of 60 American custom bike builders that were supposed to be featured in the flesh across America. As part of our Two-Wheeler Month coverage, we’ve already talked about a bunch of such builds.
None so far seems to be as extreme as the one here. Built for a 2019 custom show by a guy named Hawke Lawshe from Montana-based Vintage Technologies, the bike is a wonder to behold.
The first thing that catches the eye is the extremely long front fork that ends with a 17-inch wheel, the same size as the one in the back.
Then, the frame, custom-made by Lawshe from scratch, holding a 1981, fully exposed Shovelhead engine that has been stripped of the cooling and oiling components. The engine starts by means of an exposed kicker mechanism, is controlled by an EMF auto clutch, and breathes through an inverted fishtail exhaust.
Lawshe would have taken the bike to an auto show this year as well, but now he’s left with showing his masterpiece online (see the video below). We reckon his has a lot of chances at one of the three awards Harley will announce next week for the bikes in The No Show.
Mario from MB Leathers in San Pedro.
By Buster and Bandit with photos from MB Leathers
Buster is a social media master, who works full time for Saddlemen seats. He’s also helping around the Bikernet/5-Ball nerve center and he’s a major motorcycle enthusiast. He’s going to bring some of his connections to the Bikernet family. The first is Mario from MB leathers in San Pedro.
Buster interviewed the leather master about his history and leather learning experience.
After talking for quite some time about the builds coming out a German shop by the name of Thunderbike, one can confidently say that once you’ve seen one their builds, you’ve seen them all. Based largely on the same Milwaukee machines, they are generally moving displays of German custom parts, a sort of two-wheeled billboard if you like.
Yet these guys somehow manage to make each of these billboards look unique, and from time to time stunning. Like it’s the case with the heavily modified Breakout displayed here.
The bike is called Silverstone, and is one in a longer series meant to celebrate various racetracks around the world. Thunderbike calls this series GP, and we’ve already talked about two other builds belonging to it, the Laguna Seca and Grand Prix 2.
The series comprises both motorcycles based on custom Thunderbike frames, like the Grand Prix and Grand Prix 2, and ones based on Harley frames, like this here Silverstone. As said, this one is at its core a Breakout, one of the Germans’ favorite models.
Designed largely like most of the bikes in its series, the Silverstone is a wealth of parts combined and make to work together. From small to big (read from license plate lighting to fuel tank), they all make the build look uniquely incredible.
The perfectly matched parts are even more impressive thanks to the bright yellow color chosen for them, a color that fits it just as well as it fitted the Camaro-based Bumblebee from Transformers. In fact, with all the metal twisted together to form the bike, and the black and yellow sprayed all over, it wouldn’t be too far fetched to imagine this is how the Autobot might look like if it were a two-wheeler.
As most other Thunderbike builds, this one too is just for show and not a production bike. But if you will it, the Germans can probably build one for you.
Ever since Softails have come onto the motorcycle scene, garages across the world flocked to use them as a base for whatever project they had in mind. That means most of what’s out there now is based on newer motorcycles that, despite being generally cool, lack the old school appeal of older Harleys.
Take the 1964 FL Panhead in the gallery above. The FL is one of Harley’s historic lines, having started out in the early 1940s, and is generally seen as one of the best representative of the classic Harley look.
Whereas custom bikes based on more recent Harleys are favorites of the present-day online media, older ones such as this one here are stars of motorcycles shows big and small. But for the first time since ever, a global health crisis ended pretty much all such events planned for the year.
To fill the gap, Harley-Davidson announced on Tuesday (June 16) a week-long online event dedicated to some 60 not-so-famous bike builders that would have been the talk of show-goers at the now-canceled or postponed events.
The custom 1964 FL Panhead in the video below is a build made by one of those 60 builders. Its creator’s name is Eric Stein, and he is by no means a full-time motorcycle tuner, but an “operation’s manager” at some North Carolina company.
Since 2014, Stein used most of his spare time to customize motorcycles. This particular one, the most recent of the batch, is his 11th, and a good looking one at that.
Keeping things simple, the Panhead keeps true to the “older style bikes that are appreciated more” while at the same time adding a custom flavor through fine touches like the rear fender or the unique fuel tank – watch the video below for all the info Stein is willing to share about his bike.