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Harley-Davidson La Montana Is a Chromed Deluxe on the Soft Side of Custom Builds

By | General Posts

by Daniel Patrascu from https://www.autoevolution.com

We’re used to having our Harleys (be them stock rebuilds or ground-up creations) served in extreme forms. After all, there’s an entire industry dedicated to making Harleys unique, and what better way to do that than to go above and beyond?

At times however a more discrete job is preferable. An almost invisible lowering of the bike, the addition of chrome in strategic locations, and a medium-sized list of mechanical and visual upgrades are all it takes to make a bike stand out.

Over the past few months, we’ve talked at length about the projects, new and old, of a German garage by the name of Thunderbike. Just like the rest of world, the Germans too got hit by the health crisis, and for the better part of the year, Thunderbike has been up to much fewer stunts than we’re used to.

The Deluxe in the gallery above is one of the projects that finally made it to light in 2020. Commissioned last year by a Swedish customer, the bike was ready in no time, but had to spend about nine months away from its owner, given how borders closed and all.

Now the two are reunited, and it’s the perfect opportunity for us to take a closer look at how just a smaller number of carefully chosen modifications can rebirth a Harley.

Mechanical changes include the lowering of the fork and the shortening of the rear shock. New, bigger wheels were added front and back and shod in Dunlop tires, making the bike look a tad more compact. Some modifications were made to the brakes as well, as the discs have been replaced. We’re not being told if the engine was modified in any way.

As for the looks, the motorcycle is a chilling apparition. That’s due to the use of cold chrome in generous quantities all over the bike, and its blending with the impersonal touch of black on the fuel tank, seats, or fenders.

We’re not being told how much the customization of the motorcycle cost, but the parts listed as used for the build amount to a little over 4,000 euros ($4,700).

Build Train Race program Ladies Hit The Track

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Jillian Deschenes, Lana MacNaughton and Melissa Paris complete first training session

After a long hiatus, the female participants of Royal Enfield’s BUILD TRAIN RACE (BTR) program spent two days working closely with American Flat Track racer Johnny Lewis in Viola, WI earlier this month. Three out of the four builders/riders attended the training session to prepare for their American Flat Track debut in October. During this session each rider received one-on-one coaching from Lewis spinning laps on the FT411 training motorcycles based on the Royal Enfield Himalayan and their custom-built INT 650 flat trackers.

Jillian Deschenes, Lana MacNaughton and Melissa Paris were in attendance during the training session, which took place at S&S Cycle’s Speed Ranch track. The Speed Ranch is groomed and maintained oval dirt track which S&S Cycle uses for training, special events and product development purposes. Due to current travel restrictions between the U.S. and Canada, the fourth participant, Andrea Lothrop was unable to attend. However, Andrea will be performing a virtual training session with Lewis in the coming weeks.

“It was great to finally meet the ladies of the BUILD TRAIN RACE program and we had an awesome time in Viola,” said Lewis. “Seeing the dedication and attention to detail that they put into their INT 650 builds was impressive. What was more impressive was their willingness to learn and eagerness to go fast right from the get go. By the end of day two each rider was using the techniques we discussed and pushing themselves faster and faster, which is ultimately my goal as a teacher.”

Lewis provided both on-track and off-track instruction to the ladies, using many principles and concepts taught in the Royal Enfield Slide School by Moto Anatomy program. Lewis focused on body position, riding mechanics and vision with ladies for two days. With the FT411 motorcycles, the women were able to familiarize themselves with the track conditions and received vital feedback from Lewis on their riding technique. Eventually, they transitioned to the larger and more powerful INT 650 builds on day two. Lewis was also able to shakedown each individual’s motorcycle and provided input regarding setup adjustments to improve ride-ability and performance.

“It was great to spend time with the BTR ladies at the track and see their progression,” said Breeann Poland, marketing lead of the Americas. “Having a partner like Johnny to provide coaching and insight has been a great addition to the program. Seeing him work with each rider and develop their confidence and skills over the two day session is exciting. I’m looking forward to the next time we’re all on track together again.”

Using SENA communication devices on day two, also a component of Royal Enfield’s Slide School program, Lewis provided coaching to the riders while at speed, giving precise direction on braking, cornering and more as they completed laps. After the conclusion of the two day training, all three ladies were comfortable riding aggressively at speed on their INT 650s, setting the stage for close racing when they line up for the first time in October.

The first exhibition for the BUILD TRAIN RACE ladies will be on track is on October 2-3 at Dixie Speedway as part of the American Flat Track program. Following that event, they will then race at Daytona Beach Flat Track on October 15-16.

To learn more about the riders and the BTR program, visit https://www.royalenfieldna.com/build-train-race/.

Freestyle Harley-Davidson Blue Flames Is What’s Wrong with Series Custom Frames

By | General Posts

by Daniel Patrascu from https://www.autoevolution.com

Take a good long look at any custom motorcycle made in the U.S. No matter in what state they were made, or when, they tend to have that certain unique feel about them. And a big reason for that is the custom frame that underpin them.

You see, Americans love to make one-offd, and that is why the garages there usually don’t make a frame and then turn series production on it. This results in truly unique two-wheelers, each with its story to tell.

Not the same can be said about Europe though. First off, there are far fewer custom motorcycle garages there. Secondly, the ones that do exist have been forced to turn to mass production, including of custom frames, and that takes its toll on the originality of this build.

Take the bike in the gallery above. It comes from Europe, and is the work of a very busy garage there called Thunderbike. It looks very much like all the other custom-framed Thunderbikes we’ve discussed over the past few months, regardless of when they were made.

This one comes from 2008, and it is the result of pairing a custom Thunderbike frame by the name Freestyle with the usual Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle engine. It appears to be exactly what you would expect from a custom European bike, with nothing particularly exciting about it. And the blue color sprayed on it, the work of Thunderbike’s usual partner in this area, Kruse Design, does not seem to help either.

The fact the bike will probably not be remembered down the ages (we uncovered it while digging for machines worthy of our Custom Builds Month coverage) does not diminish the merits of the frame tough.

Made from large diameter cold-rolled ST52 steel tubing, it comes complete with struts, tank, oil tank, CNC machined aluminum swingarm, rear fender, rear wheel axle, bracket for engine, bracket for battery, and seat plate.

Harley-Davidson Radical Over 26 Is All About the Massive 26-Inch Front Wheel

By | General Posts

by Daniel Patrascu from https://www.autoevolution.com

As some of you might have noticed over the past few days, as part of our Custom Builds Months we started covering more the side of the motorcycle industry that has to do with custom frames, because this is how you get truly unique builds.

Generally, motorcycle garages come up with a frame design and stick with it, if it works, for the limited number of bikes made based on it. But there is one such organization in Germany that has not one, but 15 custom frames, and made not a few, but literally dozens of bikes using them.

The shop is called Thunderbike, and one of those dozen bikes they made over the years is the one in the gallery above. It’s called Radical Over 26, hinting to both the type of frame used, and the size of one of the wheels that support it.

First, the frame. Thunderbike has about six Radical frames in their portfolio, ranging from lowriders to the extremely curved one that formed the basis of this machine. This one allows for the integration of Twin Cam B engines, and is made of large-diameter cold rolled ST52 steel tubing.

To power it along the shop chose a Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle 103 good for 100 ps and gifted it with a Mikuni HSR 42 carburetor and a custom exhaust system.

As for the element that makes the bike stand out perhaps the most, the wheels are seriously imbalanced in terms of size, and that, coupled with the very low seating position and the raised handlebar really make the motorcycle worthy of the Radical name.

Up front, the shop went for a 26-inch wheel inspired by the one used on another of its custom builds, the Open Mind, and offset it with a significantly smaller 21-inch wheel at the rear. Alternatively, the bike can be equipped with 23-inch front and 21-inch rear wheels.

We are not being told how much it cost to make the motorcycle, but the frame alone is priced at over 11,000 euros (about $12,500).

Red Scorpion Is What Happens When Custom Frame Meets Harley-Davidson Hardware

By | General Posts

by Daniel Patrascu from https://www.autoevolution.com

There’s nothing better in the world of custom bike-making than coming up with your own frame. Sure, you could choose the easy way and start modifying existing motorcycles, but that doesn’t say that much about your skills as a custom builder.

We know of a huge number of shops in the U.S. making their own custom frames, that in turn end up becoming the base for incredible two-wheelers. But there are garages outside the States that do the same thing.

One of them – and a very lucrative one – is Germany-based Thunderbike. We talked about their work extensively over the past few months as part of our various special coverages, but given the large number of builds they make, there seems to be no end in sight.

Until recently, we covered at length Thunderbike’s skills when it comes to modified Harleys, but from this week on we decided to have a closer look at their custom frames, and we’ve already said a word or two about some other of their creations for this segment. And now it’s time for another.

In the gallery above sits a motorcycle the garage completed all the way back in 2007. It is called the Red Scorpion, and it is one of the finest examples of how you can pair your own custom frame with custom parts and available Harley-Davidson hardware.

The bike is part of the garage’s Freestyle collection of bikes, and it is built around one of the 15 or so frames available in its inventory.

Riding low thanks to the use of an air suspension, and with an appearance of having a broken back, the Red Scorpion is animated by a Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle 103ci engine. The powerplant draws its fuel through a Mikuni HSR 42 injection system, and is controlled through a Harley 5-speed transmission.

The motorcycle rides on equally-sized 18-inch wheels front and back, chromed of course, and offset by the red paint spread on the rest of the body by Thunderbike’s favorite partner in this area, Kruse Design.

We are not being told how much the bike cost to be put together, but to give you an idea, just the Thunderbike frames now available are somewhere in the 11,000 euros (around $12,500) ballpark.

1921 Harley-Davidson Banjo Board Track Racer Wins H-D Design Award

By | General Posts

by Daniel Patrascu from https://www.autoevolution.com

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.

 

1964 FL Panhead Is Today’s Dose of Old School Custom Harley-Davidson

By | General Posts

by Daniel Patrascu from https://www.autoevolution.com

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.

 

Harley-Davidson Country Cruiser Comes with Two Rear Wheels

By | General Posts

by Daniel Patrascu from https://www.autoevolution.com

The European custom motorcycle industry is not even close in terms of size and reach as that in the U.S. but that doesn’t mean there aren’t shops on the continent that strive to keep this segment populated with constant new builds. German Thunderbike is one such shop, and this here machine is its latest customized Harley.

Based on the bike maker’s Street Bob, the bike has been built to highlight what Thunderbike has to offer in terms of custom parts for Harley motorcycles. But it is also described as the perfect tool for riders to “clear your head and leave the stress of everyday life behind.”

The first things that stand out when it comes to this Street Bob are the wheels. The garage decided to fit the motorcycle with two rear wheels for symmetry and more balanced proportions: the front one is a 3-inch wide wheel that usually goes at the rear, while the rear one has been replaced with a 5.5-inch wide one. Both are wrapped in Dunlop rubber,

A long list of other custom parts made it onto the all-black build, most of them of Thunderbike-design. They range from the front and rear fenders to turn signals and exhaust – this last piece of hardware is from Dr.Jekill & Mr.Hyde.

“To give the Country Cruiser more visual highlights we have installed our covers “Drilled” on the primary, ignition and grip ends. The flat torque handlebar with our Base Rubber grips offer good grip and a relaxed seating position that is already in the bobber style,” Thunderbike says about the build.

As with most of the other project the garage is responsible for, the Country Cruiser as they call it uses the stock Harley engine. In this case, we’re talking about a 107ci Milwaukee Eight with no enhancements.

 

Pack of Custom Harley-Davidsons Out Hunting, Apex Predator Leads the Way

By | General Posts

by Daniel Patrascu from https://www.autoevolution.com/

In April 2020, Harley-Davidson concluded a custom build competition called King of Kings. Dedicated to its network of international dealers, the contest saw some incredible machines coming out the door of garages spread throughout the world.

King of Kings was the coronation of an older, similar Harley initiative called Battle of the Kings (BOTK). It brought together 15 shops that have won BOTK in the past, competing against each other to get the majority of the 50,000 public votes cast during the event.

Over the past month, we brought you each and every one of the 15 builds in detail, as a testimony of what a little imagination and some technical expertise can do to an otherwise stock Harley. We finished our run through the list on Saturday, and now it’s time to have a look at the entire pack of motorcycles that have wowed the crowds online.

As you already know by now, the winner and the holder of this year’s King of Kings title is the Mexican-made Apex Predator. Based on a Sportster XR1200 with the stock engine, it is supposed to be a “retro-futuristic XR-based track monster meets street fighter,” and managed to attract the majority of the 50,000 votes.

Built by a dealer in Mexico’s Queretaro, it features custom parts like front fork covers, dual air intakes, wave-style brake rotors, and a seat wrapped in Alcantara as a touch of class. The bike also received a TFT Bluetooth instrument panel, and a hand-built 2-1-2 exhaust system.

Runner-up was the Greek-made Gryps, a Sportster designed in such a way as to be a mix between a real-life two-wheeled machine and a creature from the ancient Greek mythology – it is shaped somewhat like the mythological griffin of millennia ago.

The Gryps is perhaps one of the most intricate builds of the competition. It sits a tad lower than the base model, the fuel tank is at a different angle on the frame, and it is wrapped in reworked, cold silver panels that are supposed to give the impression this is an actual living, breathing beast: the tank is the body, the front fairing the head, while the side fairings are both the wings and the legs of the monster.

The German Thunderbike Emperor was awarded a popularity award of sorts, and despite losing the popular vote competition to the Mexican build, it was hand-picked by Harley-Davidson’s styling team as the best looking of them all. And it is sure worth it, considering how extreme this makeover is compared to all the others.

Starting off from a 1995 Sporster, Thunderbike went the chopper way and gutted, replaced and improved pretty much all elements of the motorcycle to achieve this real custom look. Modifications can be seen all around: to the fork, handlebar, tank, oil tank, seat, fender, struts, exhaust and shifter.

Of the 15 bikes that have lined up at the start of the competition, though, we would have chosen the French’n Cheap. The work of a Harley dealer in La Rochelle, France, is one of the cleanest, sharpest-looking motorcycles we’ve seen in a while.

The smooth appearance has been achieved on this lowered 2019 Sportster XL 1200T through a smart choice of paint, sleek tires, and ingenious solutions like hiding all the cables inside the handlebars.

These four are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what this year’s King of Kings competition was all about. Each of the dealers that took part (aside from the bikes above, there were entries from South Australia, Brazil, UK, Spain, Benelux, and Japan – you can see all these bikes in the gallery above) did its best to come up with some incredible machines.

For the most part they succeeded, and managed to prove there is talent in customizing motorcycles outside the U.S. as well.

Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight Gets Low Stance and High Exhaust

By | General Posts

by Daniel Patrascu from https://www.autoevolution.com

Two weeks after we started, we came to the end of our Harley-Davidson King of King’s coverage. Of the 15 bikes that took part in the competition, only one is left, the one its builders call the Harley-Davidson XL 1200 FT.

The creation of Harley’s dealer in Bordeaux, France, the build started life as a regular Forty-Eight, and received a number of changes meant to alter its appearance and performance and make it suitable for the Harley-designed contest.

As usual, the shop had to respect the budget limit imposed by Harley for the bike to be admitted into the competition, so the changes that have been done to the stock machine are not necessarily extensive, but they are effective.

To give the bike – officially called XL 1200 FT – a meaner appearance, the rear has been shortened and the exhaust has been raised to a higher position. At the front, the fork has been paired to high performance shock absorbers that also help give the motorcycle a lower appearance, and there’s also a special housing for the headlights.

Engine wise, not many modifications have been made to the stock engine. The shop did add new camshafts and a high-flow air filter, but that’s about it.

“Our XL 1200 FT brings together modern and historic elements of the brand to make it a somewhat timeless motorcycle,” said the French dealer about the build.

As did all other bikes that have been entered in the competition, this too needed public votes to win. In the end, it failed to do so, and the title went to a Mexican build named Apex Predator.

King of Kings was a competition dedicated to Harley’s international dealers. 15 bikes were featured on the roster from all around the world, all built following the same rules: changes to be made within a €6,000 ($6,500) budget on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, at least half of the parts used for the tuning to be taken from the Harley inventory, and the finished product be road legal.