Harley-Davidson Pan America Hits 140 MPH on Autobahn

by Daniel Patrascu from The Pan America is not like any Harley-Davidson we know. At least, that’s the plan, as one of America’s iconic bike makers is venturing for the first time in a segment it felt uncomfortable in for a very long time. Unveiled back in February as Harley’s first true offering for the adventure bike customers, the Pan America is already being assembled in York, Pennsylvania. Earlier this month, it even got out in the world, being shown in Dallas, Texas, as part of the Pan America Motorcycle Demo Tour Harley is planning on running all year long (FYI, the tour ends in November at Howling At The Moon in Prescott, Arizona). These events do not really paint the right picture when it comes to the motorcycle, as one would probably need a hell of a lot more than a show-and-tell performance at the hands of someone on Harley’s payroll. For that, longer one-on-one time with the motorcycle would probably be needed. Sadly, such an experience is presently only available for Harley partners, including some outside of the U.S. Luckily, thanks to the miracle that is the internet, we can get a taste of what the Pan America is all about through someone else’s eyes. The most recent endurance test of the Pan America took place in Europe, in the Westerwald region of Germany. On deck for the test were two of German dealer Thunderbike’s people, Stefan Hutmacher and Thomas Emky, who posted a video online giving us a taste of how the three-hour run through the woods and elsewhere went. Before they got on location, though, these guys got to test ride the motorcycle on the road, and they did so using a stretch of the famous German Autobahn. That’s where we’re told the two-wheeler hit […]

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Vintage bike as authentic as possible in a discreet bobber look

by Daniel Patrascu from “A vintage bike as authentic as possible in a discreet bobber look.” These are the words used by German custom motorcycle shop Thunderbike to describe one of its more complex projects. Officially titled Bel-Air, it pairs some original and old Harley-Davidson parts with the benefits of more modern hardware in a unique, pure-European custom package. Thunderbike has been modifying Harley-Davidsons for close to three decades now, and its work has oftentimes been recognized by the American company itself. Most of the time, the shop goes about transforming production bikes to customer specification, but every now and then it sets out to create something a bit more special. That is the case with the build we have here, which started life as a Harley from 1954. It went through Thunderbike’s doors in 2016 and came out the other way looking like it does now. The bike’s frame was molded into supporting an S&S shovelhead engine 92ci (1.5L) in displacement and rocking a Super E carburetor and an air cleaner from the same make. The entire thing was then tied to a Paughco Shotgun exhaust system. Visually, the motorcycle sets itself apart first and foremost through the choice of colors used on the body parts. We’re dealing with a combination of red and white that was allegedly inspired by the Harley-Davidson Duo Glide and looks perfectly in sync with the Chevrolet Bel Air used as prop during the photoshoot and as inspiration for the name. A 3.5-gallon (13-liter) fuel tank, a shortened rear fender, a Fat Boy front end, and 16-inch wheels wrapped in Avon Gangster tires complete the look of this two-wheeled machine. Sadly, we are unable to determine how much the build cost to make. With the exception of the exhaust, endcaps and tires, which

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Custom Harley-Davidson Flying Shovel 1957 FL

by Daniel Patrascu from When talking about the exploits of that European Harley-Davidson custom shop by the name Thunderbike, we’re usually treated with reinterpreted modern motorcycles. Occasionally, we also get full custom builds, based on their own frames, and somewhat rarer, conversions of earlier Harleys. The Flying Shovel, as the one we have here is called, is part of that last category. Originally a 1957 Harley-Davidson FL, it was transformed into something the shop describes as a “true old-school Bobber with rigid frame, but reliable engine.” What you see before your eyes is the frame of the FL, wrapped around an S&S shovelhead engine. The powerplant is linked to 4-speed gearbox from RevTech and topped by an S7S Super E carburetor also from S&S. The powertrain spins 18-inch wheels of Thunderbike make. Other than the engine and frame, many of the other parts on this build have been custom-made for it exclusively. We’re talking about things like the exhaust, handlebars, grips, pegs, fuel tank, oil tank, rear fender, all of which have been designed specifically with the Flying Shovel in mind. Some of these parts, made in brass, were wrapped in nickel, or given an old-finish look to have the appearance the bike belongs to another age, and for the most part, the shop succeeded. In all, there were around 30 custom bits and pieces that made it into this two-wheeler, but because most were specifically designed for this project, very few of them are available commercially. That means it is extremely difficult to estimate how much it cost to put this thing together, and as usual Thunderbike makes no mention of the cost. The Flying Shovel was built for a customer, and sadly the world lost track of it since it was completed about three years ago.

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Lowered Harley-Davidson Greyhead

by Daniel Patrascu from Audi is famous for a lot of things: it is known for things like quattro, or the high-powered stations wagons it makes, but also for something that’s a lot more visible, a special shade of gray called nardo gray. The shade, or variants of it, is not exclusive to Audi, and was used over the years, including as an aftermarket choice, on a number of cars, but people generally associate it with the four-ringed brand. Just type in the Google search bar nardo gray, and see what suggestions are made. And yes, there are bikes wrapped in it as well. Take the Germans from Thunderbike, an unstoppable garage in the business of remaking Harleys. They used nardo gray on a number of their projects, and we must say, the color looks right at home on the limited real estate provided by a motorcycle’s body. Case in point, the Fat Boy Solid Dude they got out last summer. Or this here Greyhead, one of their even more recent releases. Once a Breakout, it got extensively changed, with the addition of some 30 custom parts and no-nonsense use of nardo gray on the headlamp fairing, fuel tank, rear fender, and elsewhere, combined with black on most of the other parts. The new visual impact achieved with the paint is boosted by the lower stance, made possible by the use of a Stage 2 lowering kit, which brings the two-wheeler down by 30 mm. As said, over 30 custom parts were used to make this, most of them of the German’s own design, including the headlamp, and covers where covers are due. The entire affair cost around 7,000 euros ($8,500) to put together, but that does not include the base bike, the exhaust system, man-hours that went into

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Harley-Davidson Mallet and Iron Is a Miner’s Tribute Ride

by Daniel Patrascu from The thing with motorcycles customized at the request of the customers is that they are truly unique. Unlike bikes made for show, they also have something more appealing to them, warmer, something closer to our hearts. Just a quick look at this former Harley-Davidson Softail, and you instantly feel that. The conversion of the Softail into a bike that is now called Mallet and Iron was performed by German custom shop Thunderbike at the request of one of its customers from the country’s Ruhr area. That’s one of the nation’s most important industrial zones, and a place where, among other things, a lot of mining is done. We mentioned all that because the Mallet and Iron is supposed to be a tribute to Ruhr hard-working people, especially miners. That is visible on the graphics the bike displays, with engravings meant to remind onlookers of that: ”hammer and iron as symbols for the miners’ work, St. Barbara as her patron saint and “Glück Auf!” as a miner’s greeting,” the shop says. But there’s more than that to the olive green, gloss-black-instead-of-chrome two-wheeler. As usual, Thunderbike modified the thing extensively by removing stock parts and putting in its own custom touches – the list of hardware additions made is over 20 items long, and includes everything from the turn signals to a Stage 2 lowering kit that brings the whole thing closer to the ground by 30 mm (1.1-inches). We are not being told how much the customer was asked to pay for the conversion of his bike, but we did the math on the parts Thunderbike said it used and we came up with around 3,000 euros, or $3,600. That is far less than some of the more recent builds handled by the Germans, but proof

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Harley-Davidson GP S Le Mans Is a $50K Stage IV Monster

by Daniel Patrascu from We have no idea how many Harley-Davidson shops are out there. However, we do know that no matter the number, very few have the capability of making so many builds to form entire families of custom bikes. The Germans from Thunderbike are part of those few. We’ve featured this shop extensively this past year because of two reasons: first, their projects are literally unique in the Harley world, and second, they keep on coming. This Christmas treat: the GP S Le Mans. The motorcycle is based on the Breakout and is part of a larger family of builds dedicated to race tracks. We’ve already seen the Silverstone, or the Laguna Seca, and it was about time one of the world’s most famous circuits, Le Mans, got its own Harley tribute. Described as the “new mega flagship from our exclusive GP series,” the Le Mans is simply breathtaking. Powered by a Stage IV 131-ci engine good for 123 hp and 178 Nm (131 lb-ft) of torque, the unlikely Breakout rides on massive 21- and 23-inch wheels behind which sit huge brake discs. The rear wheel is accompanied by a shock absorber that allows the ride to be lowered and raised, not unlike an air ride suspension. The fork also holds an adjustable system, this time in the form of a new damper system. In all, more than 20 different custom parts made their way into the build, ranging from license plate lighting to the Stage IV kit slapped on the engine and the custom exhaust, but all that pales when faced with the paint scheme chosen. The work of Thunderbike’s favorite partner in this field, Kruse Design, it is supposed to accentuate “the sporty format of the bike.“ And they kind of nailed that. As for

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Harley-Davidson El Divino

by Daniel Patrascu from “Lots of metal, lots of color, lots of everything!” These are the words used by German custom motorcycle shop Thunderbike to describe El Divino, a Softail Heritage 114-based project looking more like a bike worth admiring than riding. True to the Chicano style of motorcycle building (the likes of which we’ve seen before from Thunderbike, like say with the El Dorado), El Divino came into the world sporting the exaggerated front and rear fenders of the style, an extremely long exhaust system, and a paint scheme that either makes your eyes hurt, or shed tears in delight. The bike sports modifications all over. First, there’s a swingarm conversion especially designed by the shop for the Chicano style. Called Toxic, it was developed with the goal of being a fit for both the 18-inch wheel and another in-house-made piece of hardware, the pulley brake kit. Then come the modified triple trees for increased steering angle, allowing for the fitting of a massive 23-inch wheel. An air ride suspension is also on deck to make the motorcycle get low for artistic value whenever the need arises. From the minor parts like the license plate frame to more important ones such as the brake discs, almost everything has been tampered with in one way or another. In all, over 35 new pieces of hardware made their way onto the build, but none seem to be as in-your-face as the paint job. The golden-wooden appearance is the work of one of Thunderbike’s partners, Chiko’s Pinstriping. Chicano bikes have a lot of metal skin on them compared with other styles out there, and Chiko took full advantage of this to create a scheme you’ll either love or hate: much like with all Chicano bikes, there’s no middle ground here. As

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Harley-Davidson Fredbob Is the Perfect Mix of Custom and Stock

by Daniel Patrascu from Having been at the forefront of motorcycle building for decades, Harley-Davidson knows people don’t necessarily like its bikes as they come out of the factory doors. As such, the American company not only allows garages to do whatever they like with its two-wheelers, but also encourages them by providing a long list of custom or tuning parts itself. And that applies not only to North America, where the bulk of the world’s Harley custom garages is, but also to the rest of the world. In Germany, for instance, a shop by the name Thunderbike has been having its way with Harley bikes for close to three decades now, and it’s taking full advantage of what the Milwaukee company has to offer. The build we have here is an older one coming from Europe, and it is the perfect representative of how custom parts can be perfectly matched with factory-supplied ones. Based on a 2008 Fat Bob, the bike is called Fredbob and took about two months to put together. Moving along under the power of a 96ci fuel-injected engine controlled by means of a 6-speed transmission, the motorcycle packs hardware of both European and American make. Thunderbike has been in charge of the overall design of the remade motorcycle, but also fitted on the build a number of home-brewed parts, including an exhaust that allows the above-mentioned engine to breathe, the air cleaner, and the handlebar. Harley itself supplied the fuel tank, fenders, front end, swingarm, and the rims wrapped in Metzeler tires. Some of these elements, like the fenders or front end, have been further optimized by Thunderbike for the project. The whole reborn Fat Bob is wrapped in a paint scheme signed by the Germans’ favorite partner on this front, Kruse Design. Usually,

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Harley-Davidson Spoke Bob 21

by Daniel Patrascu from When they are not going for a full-blown shocker build like say the one Orange County Choppers used to make, custom motorcycle garages have very few options at their disposal to make their projects stand out. Finding the right wheels is one of the easiest ways to ensure a custom bike sends the right message across. Having remade literally hundreds of Harley-Davidson bikes over the past 25 or so years, the Germans at Thunderbike know this all too well. Sure, they do make their own custom frames, and when they do wheels are not that important anymore, but when going for a Harley conversion they are essential. So essential, in fact, that at times these guys even name their builds after the type of wheel used. We’ve already seen the Street Bob-based Big Spoke, and here’s another, the Spoke Bob 21. Also based on the Street Bob, the motorcycle rides – as its name says – on multi-spoked 21-inch wheels that are sure to catch the eye as they roll down the street. But they are not the only changes made to the two-wheeler. Thunderbike went in full custom mode for this one, providing their usual complement of modifications in four key areas: fender, saddle, tank, wheels. Aside from these, a forward control kit was fitted, but also a pulley brake kit to go with the build. In all, around 16 elements went into the making of the Spoke Bob, all of them of Thunderbike design, with the exception of the front and rear signals, supplied by Kellermann. We are not given any info on how much the motorcycle cost to put together in this form, but a quick math exercise (Thunderbike lists the parts used, and most of them are available in their shop)

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Harley-Davidson Street Devil

by Daniel Patrascu from For people living in most parts of the world, motorcycle riding is pretty much over this year. Winter is upon us, and two-wheelers are being tucked away until the hot days of the spring and summer reach us once more. But as we prepare to celebrate Christmas, we can’t stop from continuing to show you the incredible builds coming from Germany, out the doors of a garage called Thunderbike. For the past 25 years or so, these guys have rolled out literally hundreds of Harley-Davidson-based builds, and their work only seems to be accelerating. For today we’ll focus on a slightly older project of theirs. Called Street Devil, it too is based on the Street Bob (a 2006 model), one of the favorite canvases of the shop. As usual, the bike has been modified in key areas, namely by tampering with existing or adding new hardware – these new parts are either of Thunderbike or Harley make. The bike’s twin-cam engine has remained pretty much unchanged, but breathes through a new shotgun exhaust with tapered mufflers made by the Germans. They are also responsible for the engine cover, air cleaner, grips, forward control kit, and seat. The Americans supplied the fuel and oil tanks, rear fender, shortened front end (by 2 inches), and the lowered suspension (by 1 inch), among others. The bike rides on custom wheels wrapped in Avon tires and the front and Metzeler at the rear. Just like the rest of the build, and to be in tone with it, the wheels come in red and white – the graphics on the motorcycle is the work of Thunderbike’s favorite partner in this area, Kruse Design. The shop gives no indication as to how much the build of the Devil cost to make.

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