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Harley-Davidson Flying Panhead

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

Almost two decades ago, Discovery Channel started airing a show called “American Chopper.” It was the story of Orange County Choppers, and how the two Teutuls managed to get incredible two-wheelers done while going at each other’s throats. It was fun, it was exciting, and it was sad. And then it ended.

The show was made possible thanks to the existence of a large number of custom motorcycle garages in the States, and the incredible builds they make. Other regions are less appealing for networks in this respect, because there’s not much going on there, and that’s why we don’t have, for instance, a British Chopper show.

But there could be a German one. For the past 20-something years, a group called Thunderbike has been breaking norms and turning heads there. The garage has created literally hundreds of projects either based on stock Harley-Davidson motorcycles, or on custom frames made in-house, powered by and fitted with Harley hardware.

Thunderbike’s portfolio is so vast we’ve been talking about it all year, and we are not even close to the finish line. That means that we’re not only covering the shop’s most recent builds, but also much older ones. Why? Because there’s no Discovery Channel show about them, and this is the only way to bring them into the spotlight they deserve.

Today’s menu is all about a 1951 Panhead. Dubbed Flying Pan by its makers, it was completed in 2010 as the last in the Thunderbike portfolio to have “once sailed across the pond,” and is part of the shop’s vintage family of motorcycles.

Sporting the ‘51 engine, the Flying Pan comes with tons of purpose built parts: the handlebar, grips, footrests, fuel tank, oil tank, rear fender (there’s none up front), all and more have been made specifically for this project. The motorcycle rides on equally-sized wheels (18-inch) wrapped in Firestone rubber.

As for the mechanical bits, the Panhead is aided in its mission by S&S hardware (carburetor and intake), and a custom Thunderbike exhaust.

Sadly, we have no info on how much this build cost to make, nor do we have any idea what happened to it after being completed a decade ago.

Harley-Davidson Wrinkled Bob Looks All Military and Mean

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

If you’re a bike owner, it’s very hard to decide on what customization path to go down on, especially when there’s nothing to inspire the build you want.

One way would be to leave the design and the build to the custom shop of choice, and trust that what comes out the garage’s doors at the end was worth the while and money spent.

The owner of the Harley-Davidson Fat Bob we have here seems to have done just that. He trusted German garage Thunderbike with the creation of a unique machine, and what resulted is the aptly called Wrinkle Bob.

The bike takes its name after the colors used all over the bodywork. Featuring powder-coated military green and Wrinkle-style paint, it looks extremely solid and matt, while at the same time presenting us with a very soldiery feel.

Unlike most of Thunderbike’s projects, the Wrinkled Bob was not subjected to an extreme makeover as far as mechanical modifications go, but there are changes to talk about, especially considering how expensive they are.

The biggest upgrades compared to the stock motorcycle are the fitting of a custom aluminum fuel tank, an air ride suspension system, and a new forward control kit. The two-wheeler also sports new fenders and a custom exhaust system the Germans call Dragonfly.

The Wrinkled Bob is one of Thunderbike’s older projects. As usual, we’re not told how much the project cost to make, but given the parts listed as being used by the garage, we estimate the worth of the changes at around 7,500 euros (roughly $8,700 at today’s exchange rates). That’s not including the paint job and of course the base motorcycle – the price makes the Wrinkled Bob one of the more expensive projects the Germans have made over the years.

Harley-Davidson Vader’s Fist Custom Build

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

There are Star Wars fans, and there are Harley-Davidson fans. Somehow, these two categories don’t seem to mix very well, and this is why we don’t get all that many custom builds inspired by the George Lucas’ imaginary universe.

That’s also why our minds light up whenever a Harley-Davidson custom build dedicated to Star Wars pops up. And one just did, courtesy of our favorite German specialized garage, Thunderbike.

One of the garage’s customers, owner of a Street Bob, asked for this special build to be made. Called Vader’s Fist, the finished project is both a nod to Star Wars, and a testimony of what the German shop can do given the liberty.

Riding on 21-inch and 18-inch wheels wearing Shinko whitewall tires, the bike is a visual candy. Wrapped in a matt hues, it blends white and silver, but also black, to create a very solid appearance.

The main element of the build is however the fuel tank. The 15-liter piece of stretched aluminum features up top the split helmet of a Stormtrooper, making the Street Bob distinctively unique in the world of Harley-Davidsons.

As usual, the visual appearance is not the only aspect of the motorcycle that has changed. There are mechanical upgrades as well, designed to fit in with the theme of the project.

There’s a whole new front end with modified fork, triple tree, and speedo, an air ride suspension kit, and Streetfighter mufflers from Dr. Jekill & Mr. Hyde for the black exhaust system with short manifolds, among others.

As usual, Thunderbike does not say how much the build cost to make, but we did the math on the parts they used and came up with at least 15,000 euros. That’s around $17,500, more than the price of the base bike, and not including the man hours, special graphics, and probably some other hardware we were not told about.


Top-grade Japanese engineering meets outstanding German craftmanship

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by Silvian Secara from https://www.autoevolution.com

Daniel Schuh’s Espiat deals with just about anything from logo design and woodwork, to meticulous motorcycle customization. In terms of bespoke two-wheeled goodness, this one-man enterprise stacked up on a plethora of remarkable creations that’ll soothe each and every last corner of your moto-loving gearhead soul.

As I was browsing Schuh’s portfolio, I came across a phenomenal street tracker-style creature based on Yamaha’s beloved XJR1200. This fascinating piece of machinery was completed back in 2017, and it just so happens to be my personal favorite out of the whole bunch! I’ll tell you what, let’s dive in for a closer analysis of this graceful masterpiece.

For starters, the project’s mastermind went about tweaking XJR’s subframe to accommodate a hand-crafted tail section and a pair of fresh side panels that keep things looking rad. Additionally, the rear end incorporates a custom LED lighting kit to complement the clutter-free aesthetic.

On the opposite end, we notice a one-off number plate front fairing, which hugs the bike’s forks and triple clamps. This module was painstakingly built in-house and it hosts an eccentric halogen headlight unit, as well as a new speedometer. You will also find a pair of aftermarket handlebars and rear-mounted foot pegs that round out the updated riding stance.

As to XJR1200’s performance, the inline-four powerplant was treated to a four-into-two exhaust system with megaphone mufflers. The craftsman even ventured as far as sculpting a set of inlets that’ll feed the engine with a constant flow of cool air. Furthermore, the suspension received a selection of top-shelf components, such as state-of-the-art progressive springs up front and nitrogen shock absorbers at the back.

Last but not least, the bodywork was enveloped in a timeless color scheme, consisting of an intricate blend between gold and metallic black, joined by a chrome finish on XJR’s forks, exhaust and rims. Sure enough, this paintwork will remind you of the iconic John Player Special F1 racing livery, which may have served as Schuh’s main source of inspiration.

In conclusion, I’ll have to admit this handsome entity had me lost for words! Oh, how I’d love to take it for a spin…

Harley-Davidson R-Odynamic Is Screamin’ Eagle Heart in the Right Custom Body

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

If we were to choose between a custom made motorcycle (that means built from the ground up, with different parts made to fit together in previously untried ways) and an extreme conversion of an existing series production model, we’d certainly go full custom.

Perhaps that’s owed to the countless hours spent in front of a TV screen in our childhood, seeing the likes of the Teutuls working their magic on metal while fighting each other like they were enemies. Thanks to them and others that go back decades, custom motorcycles are still very hot in America today.

Not the same can be said about Europe. There are far fewer shops there, and most of them are involved in bringing back to life old, locally-made models the likes of 1970s-1980s BMWs. Sure, there are shops specializing in reimagining Harleys, as we’ve seen in the recently concluded King of Kings competition, but almost none of them is in the business of mating Harley engines to custom frames, for instance.

We said almost because in Germany there’s a very active shop that goes by the name Thunderbike. The group has in its portfolio literally hundreds of Harley builds, most of them based on existing models, but also around 15 frames they have been playing around with for the past 25 years.

One of those frames is called Dragster R-Odynamic, and is used to underpin the bike in the gallery above. Specifically designed to work with 21-inch rear tires, it only includes the single-side swingarm, meaning everything else has to be carefully fitted to work with it.

First, the engine. The shop went in this case with a Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle 110. Tied to a Harley-Davidson 6-speed transmission and ignition, it breathes through a Vance & Hines exhaust system.

A combination of Harley and custom Thunderbike parts was used to put the whole thing together. Aside from the engine and transmission, Milwaukee also made the headlamp, electric system, and the primary, while the Germans are responsible for the suspension, grips and handlebar, rims (23-inch front and 21-inch rear), brakes, and pretty much everything else.

The bike was completed back in 2011, and was put through its paces down Germany’s roads, as you can see in the video attached below. We are not being told how much the entire assembly cost, but you should know the frame alone is worth over 12,000 euros (roughly $14,000).


Harley-Davidson El Fuego Brings German Heat to the Road

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

A custom, German-made frame, a proven, Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle 110ci engine sitting inside, and a paint job to die for – these are the three elements of the custom motorcycle known as El Fuego.

Shown in all its glory in the gallery above, the El Fuego is one of the hottest builds coming our way from Germany-based custom garage Thunderbike. Responsible for literally hundreds of custom motorcycles, all based or inspired by the Milwaukee-made two-wheelers, the crew behind this machine surely outdone themselves with this one.

First, the frame. Thunderbike has around 15 in its portfolio, meaning it could design bikes to suit all tastes. The one used here is called Dragster RS, and is more of a kit: it includes the frame itself, the fuel and oil tanks, CNC-milled aluminum swingarm with battery holder, rear section, rear wheel axle, motor bracket, and seat plate.

Ready for the road, it only needed an engine and some wheels to get it moving. In the case of the former, the shop went for the Screamin’ Eagle 110ci, adn tied it to a Thunderbike exhaust. For the latter, the elements of choice were monoblock wheels, milled from solid aluminum blocks and wrapped in Metzeler tires.

The flowing lines and curves of the build would have been nothing without a proper paint job. As usual, Thunderbike turned to Kruse Design for the visual tweaking, which in this case translated into a hot combination between the black on pretty much all parts of the motorcycle and the metallic orange on the tanks, fenders, and wheels.

Thunderbike does not say how much El Fuego cost to make, but you should know the Dragster RS frame kit alone is worth close to 12,000 euros. That’s about $14,000 at today’s exchange rates.

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

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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.

CCE Bagger Thunderbolt Is a Whole Lot of Name for a Custom Harley Street Glide

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

The Harley-Davidson Street Glide is one of those bikes you should not mess with. Described by its maker as a stripped down version of a hot-rod bagger, the no-nonsense bike has been made with long trips in mind.

But baggers have also been favorites of the custom industry. Either reshaped from stock motorcycles or made from scratch on a custom frame, custom baggers are a common sight on American roads.

We’re not sure how many of them are in Europe, but you can count at least one, this one here. The work of a German shop that goes by the name Thunderbike, it takes a stock Harley Street Glide to whole new levels of cool.

The build is based on 2017 Street Glide Special, still packing the original Milwaukee-Eight engine. But other than that everything about it is enhanced, including the name.

Using custom parts made all over the world, Thunderbike kept the overall appearance of the motorcycle, but increased the size and reach of most of the hardware on the bike, from the front fender to the saddlebags at the rear. The fairing at the front, the fuel tank behind it, and the wheels – including the barely visible one at the rear – are of course custom, and contribute to giving the bike a retro-style look.

Thunderbike, who has been in the business of engineering motorcycles for the past 25 years, is usually very good at naming its creations too. And even if the name of this one might seem a bit pompous, there’s a reason for that.

The CCE in the name stands for Custom Chrome Europe, a parts wholesale company founded in 1986, while Thunderbolt is the creative side of the project.

So, no matter how you call it – Thunderbike CCE Bagger Thunderbolt or Harley-Davidson CCE Bagger Thunderbolt – this one is a mouthful.

BMW Motorrad celebrates 40 years of BMW GS models

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from https://chennaivision.com

A concept that changed the motorcycle world.

A motorcycle concept that is as legendary as it is sophisticated will celebrate its anniversary in 2020: The BMW GS models are turning 40. In autumn 1980 BMW Motorrad presented the R 80 G/S, a motorcycle which combined two very special areas of riding for the first time: Off-road and on-road. Thanks to its unique combination of road, touring and off-road capability – without compromising on everyday use – the R 80 G/S became the conceptual forerunner of the new motorcycle category of touring enduros created by BMW Motorrad. And what is more: The BMW GS models became the perfect synonym for the perfect partner on two wheels to explore even the most remote corners of our planet. To date, BMW Motorrad has been able to hand over more than 1.2 million BMW GS models to customers.

Legendary BMW GS talents: Riding dynamics, off-road mastery, comfort and robustness.

But it wasn’t just motorcycle adventures that were ideally suited for the BMW GS right from the outset; the R 80 G/S and its descendants also quickly proved their qualities in racing. In 1981 Hubert Auriol rode to victory in the equally prestigious and challenging Paris – Dakar Rally. This is just one of the many motorsport successes that BMW Motorrad was able to celebrate with a GS. The outstanding talents of the boxer GS models – riding dynamics, off-road mastery, comfort and robustness – have been continuously maintained and developed by BMW Motorrad over the past 40 years and successfully transferred to other BMW Motorrad model series. In 1993, the F 650 “Funduro” was the first single-cylinder BMW enduro to come onto the market. While this bike drew its riding dynamics from its low weight and the thrust of the 47 hp single cylinder, the changing of the guard took place simultaneously on the BMW GS models with boxer engine.

The GS as an innovation driver: Four-valve technology and Telelever.

With the BMW R 1100 GS, BMW Motorrad not only presented the first GS with a 4-valve boxer and 80 bhp output, but also trod new paths with regard to suspension technology for large touring enduros. For the first time in an enduro, the engine and gearbox acted as load-bearing elements of the chassis, making a main frame superfluous. While the BMW Paralever rear wheel suspension system had already eliminated the drive reactions of the shaft drive in the models with the two-valve boxer years earlier, the BMW engineers had now created an innovative way of guiding the front wheels using the Telelever suspension. With the pitch compensation and highly sensitive response they set new standards in this area. In addition, the new R 1100 GS was the first enduro ever to be equipped with ABS – a safety plus that is now standard equipment on all BMW motorcycles.

The GS models of the F series: GS fascination for the middle range.

In addition to numerous new and further developments, including the F 650 GS (first single-cylinder with electronic fuel injection, catalytic converter and ABS), which was manufactured in Berlin from the year 2000 onwards, the F 650 GS and F 800 GS models launched in 2007 marked another outstanding milestone in BMW GS history. With their powerful, high-torque 2-cylinder in-line engine and torsionally stiff tubular frame, they interpreted the BMW GS theme in their own, yet very typical BMW way. With these new models, BMW Motorrad not only presented the successors to the extremely successful F 650 GS with its single-cylinder engine, but at the same time expanded the enduro offer in the medium range.

Advanced DOHC boxer with two overhead camshafts.

BMW Motorrad presented another highlight in autumn 2009 with the launch of the revised BMW R 1200 GS. Now equipped with the even more free-revving DOHC boxer with two overhead camshafts per cylinder, it offered 81 kW/110 hp and even more advanced riding dynamics. In the 2010 anniversary year, BMW Motorrad paid tribute to the 30th anniversary of the GS models and their successes in both production motorcycle manufacturing and motorsport alike with the “30 Years GS” special models of the BMW R 1200 GS, R 1200 GS Adventure, F 800 GS and F 650 GS painted in the BMW Motorrad Motorsport corporate colours.

BMW Motorrad continued the success story of the GS models in autumn 2010. With the BMW G 650 GS, BMW Motorrad added another attractive member to the BMW GS family. Thanks to its slender, wiry off-road stature, the new single-cylinder enduro looked bold, light and adventurous. At the same time it clearly stood out from its competitors in terms of quality, equipment and comfort. In combination with its comparatively low weight and the reduced seat height, it was the attractive entry bike into the world of motorcycling and into the fascinating BMW GS world of experience.

The power GS: Newly designed boxer featuring vertical flow.

The dynamic development of the BMW GS theme continued unabated in the fourth decade. When BMW Motorrad presented the new R 1200 GS at Intermot in autumn 2012, interest was particularly focused on the completely redesigned engine. The air/liquid-cooled flat twin engine introduced cylinder heads featuring vertical flow; they had an integrated gearbox and a shaft drive on the left side from then on, supplemented by state-of-the-art chassis technology and electronic control systems such as ABS, traction control or semi-active chassis. With an output of 92 kW (125 hp), the new R 1200 GS also provided superior riding performance. Barely one and a half years later, in March 2014, the 500,000th BMW motorcycle of the boxer-engine GS model series rolled off the assembly line at the plant in Berlin – this was an R 1200 GS Adventure.

The GS for the capacity segment below 500 cc: the G 310 GS.

In autumn 2016, BMW Motorrad presented yet another GS model. This time it was the G 310 GS. It transferred the core qualities of a BMW GS to the engine capacity segment below 500 cc and interpreted these in its own style. Extremely compact, yet fully grown and comfortable, it opened up a whole new world of experience in its segment and became unique in the entry-level segment, above all due to its versatility. With the new R 1200 GS, BMW Motorrad expanded the GS portfolio not only with further product optimisations but also by broadening the motorcycle’s range of properties. For the first time, customers were able to give a BMW GS a more marked touch of enduro or distinguished style to suit its preferred area of use by ordering the style packages Rallye and Exclusive.

In the same year a completely different interpretation of the GS theme came on the scene: the R nineT Urban G/S. The R nineT Urban G/S drew on the genes of the very first and legendary BMW R 80 G/S of the year 1980, transporting them into the modern era with contemporary technology in the form of a classic enduro-style BMW motorcycle with boxer engine. As with the other R nineT models, the powerful, air/oil-cooled boxer engine with 81 kW (110 hp) output in combination with a six-speed transmission was installed.

New engine, new chassis: The new GS models of the F series.

In 2017 BMW Motorrad continued to write GS history with the two completely redesigned F 750 GS and F 850 GS enduro models. BMW Motorrad consistently built on the typical GS strengths in the successor models to the successful 2-cylinder F 650 GS, F 700 GS and F 800 GS motorcycles with the aim of making good things even better. As before, the GS abbreviation again represented a perfect synthesis of touring and long-distance capability combined with racing dynamics and supreme offroad performance. In short: A BMW GS is the perfect companion when it comes to discovering remote corners of the world by motorcycle. At the heart of the new development was a newly designed, powerful 2-cylinder in-line engine with two balancer shafts and 270/450 degrees ignition distance for optimised running characteristics and emotional sound. It generated 57 kW (77 hp) for the F 750 GS and 70 kW (95 hp) for the F 850 GS from 853 cc, thus providing superior drive power for both GS models.

This meant even more power, torque and efficiency for the big boxer-engined GS.

In autumn 2018, BMW Motorrad once again introduced a radical upgrade for the boxer engine of the large GS models in order to further improve power and torque yield as well as reduce fuel consumption and emission values. For this purpose, BMW ShiftCam Technology was used for the first time in the serial production of BMW Motorrad engines: this allowed valve timings and valve stroke on the intake side to be varied. In addition, the intake camshafts were designed for asynchronous opening of the two intake valves, resulting in enhanced swirl of the fresh, incoming mixture and therefore more effective combustion. Other technical changes to the engine related to the camshaft drive – now taken care of by a toothed chain (previously a roller chain) – optimised oil supply, twin-jet injection valves and a new exhaust system.

Harley-Davidson Breakout CVO Gets an Extra Touch of German Custom

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

In the world of Harley-Davidson, CVO stands for Custom Vehicle Operations. Going further, that means motorcycles specifically created by the American bike builder with the custom industry in mind, for garages all across the world to tweak even further.

The program was born at Harley in 1999 and each year a small batch of bikes was chosen and gifted with limited edition runs that were all about customization: bigger engines, crazy paints, and a wealth of accessories one usually didn’t get with the road-going versions.

Among the motorcycles chosen by Harley to go down the CVO path in 2014 was the Breakout (it was offered alongside the Ultra Limited Electra Glide, Softail Deluxe, and Road King). And since this model is a favorite of a German custom shop that goes by the name Thunderbike, it of course didn’t escape some further upgrades.

Thunderbike’s interpretation of the CVO Breakout comes with a more radical look, achieved especially because of the deployment of bigger wheels, a new exhaust system, and a polished paint over the bike’s main parts.

The motorcycle rides on Harley Turbine wheels (sized 21 and 18 inches), but with the rear one wrapped in a Metzeler tire that is 20 mm wider than what came standard. Additionally, a pulley brake kit was deployed on the rear wheel to allow a clear view from one side at the design.

The engine, which was lest pretty much stock, breathes through an electronically adjustable exhaust system from Dr. Jekill & Mr. Hyde.

A wealth of other parts, smaller in size and impact, are also custom: the rocker boxes, oil tank, turn signals, mirrors, and even the license plate bracket and frame.

We are not being told how much it cost the Germans to put the entire build together, but you can learn more about it by hitting this link.