Harley-Davidson – Silodrome https://silodrome.com Gasoline Culture Wed, 17 Oct 2018 13:45:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 18077751 Harley-Davidson Sportster Flat Tracker – A Swedish-American Tracker With Soul https://silodrome.com/harley-davidson-sportster-1200-flat-tracker/ Fri, 14 Sep 2018 08:01:51 +0000 https://silodrome.com/?p=83785 Harley-Davidson Sportster Flat Tracker – A Swedish-American Tracker With Soul

This post was written by Anton Knutsson, the founder of Swedish custom motorcycle garage Injustice Customs. When possible we like to bring you the story of a custom in the words of the people who built it to give you insight into their process and methods, and to cut out the middle man. Meet Anton...

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Harley-Davidson Sportster Flat Tracker – A Swedish-American Tracker With Soul

This post was written by Anton Knutsson, the founder of Swedish custom motorcycle garage Injustice Customs. When possible we like to bring you the story of a custom in the words of the people who built it to give you insight into their process and methods, and to cut out the middle man.

Meet Anton and Injustice Customs

The passion for motorcycles started when I was two years old and got my first bike for Christmas, a brand new white and pink Yamaha PW50. Since my father was a professional motocross rider during the 70-80s and I spent most of my youth in camper vans around Europe racing 85cc and 125cc motocross bikes, that’s where I got my mechanical knowledge and the feeling for tuning in a perfect bike.

I also started professionally and being a bit of an adrenaline junkie I tried to make one BIG jump out of two double jumps during the qualifications to the Swedish championship. I landed 2 meters short which resulted in a broken hip and two broken arms. That was the end of my motocross career.

But I just couldn’t stop riding, I bought a street bike instead and started do some small modifications to it. I sold the bike with good profit and put the money in to the next project, and that’s how the story continues for about 5-6 years until I took it to the next step and started Injustice Customs in 2016. It’s been a fantastic trip and I love every day of it.

Despite my mechanical skills from all the years on the race tracks, I’ve always been really creative when it comes to design, colors and shapes. I try to pick up inspiration from everything around me, the local sneaker store is the best hack when it comes to finding cool color schemes.

Harley-Davidson Flat Street Tracker Main

The Harley-Davidson XL1200CX Flat Tracker Build

To exhibit on of my build at the Bike Shed Show has been a dream and goal for a long time. When I got the invitation, March 2018, I decided to challenge myself. I’d never put my hands on a Harley-Davidson before, and Flat Track doesn’t exist in Sweden so I didn’t have so much inspiration to start with. Thats why I called the project BORN WITHOUT RULES.

I decided to mix the American flat track with the European MotoGP in one bike. Right now one of my biggest inspiration is factory road racing and motocross bikes from the 80-90s when everything was super handmade and one-off. Back then they used a lot of magnesium so I used a burnt brass coating on brake calipers and other details to bring back a bit of that feeling. The rainbow titanium nitride coating on the front fork stanchions also has a smell of the 80s!

One of the coolest parts on a MotoGP bike is the exhaust system, the way they turn and twist it around the engine to get the perfect length is just wicked, and the colorful titanium welds!

I’d never seen a flat track bike with titanium exhaust before so I decided to give it a shot. Italian exhaust manufacture SC-Project hooked me up with two awesome carbon fiber mufflers straight out of their racing department that we modified and I started to build headers…56 joints later and we had come up with a beautiful pie-cut titanium exhaust which hardly weighed anything.Titanium gives Harleys a fantastic sound, a bit sharper
than when you use stainless!

Harley-Davidson Flat Street Tracker Left Side

I know that brakes are not a priority on a real flat tracker, but this one is for the streets and to again mix flat track and road racing I went for cast iron Beringer disks, squeaks awful but what a grip when you need it! I decided to create two different sides on this bike. One is mostly black which is inspired from the American flat trackers, and the other one is black, white and neon yellow which is representing European racing.

As with all our bikes, it comes with a big lightning flash on the gas tank, I like the shape of lightning and since the beginning I’ve always put a lightning flash somewhere on my bikes. Dan Gold even tattooed one on my arm at The Bike Shed.

I bought this bike vandalized!

As it’s a promo build, I needed to find a good base to start from and didn’t wanted a bike that was too old. I managed to find this almost new bike for a good price via an insurance company, it had been stolen, hijacked and covered with black spray paint. So lot of hours has been put in to cleaning, blasting, re-coating on this project.
It feels nice to build a high spec project for the Bike Shed Show on such a low mileage bike. I also brought it to Wheels & Waves in France and then rode it back home. A 4000 km trip from Biarritz through the Pyrenees, the French Riviera and the headed north back to Sweden via the Alps, Probably the longest flat track race in the history!

Me and my girlfriend Susanna Gray were the odd couple when we met big groups of BMW adventure bikes and we had one flat tracker and her little single cylinder Yamaha SR400 Scrambler, riding around in Vans and just a small backpack.

Harley-Davidson Flat Street Tracker Back

The fact that I decided to build my masterpiece on a bike brand that I never worked on and a style that I haven’t done before might not have been my smartest choice. I have built a lot of Triumphs before and could do lot of the customizations on them without thinking. But I’m not the kind of person that likes to go the easy way, and when The Bike Shed gave me this opportunity I wanted to surprise people with my build.

Another scary moment was the exhaust! All Sportsters built after 2004 have rubber mounted engines, this means that when you’re building a longer exhaust you need to mount your rear supports somewhere on the frame. So the engine that is rubber mounted can shake a lot and the exhaust frame mount will be stiff. The most important thing when welding titanium is to get it 100% clean which means that if you get a crack in it on your first ride, it’s really hard to clean it from soot and stuff on the inside which puts you in big trouble fixing it.

I remember the first test ride, my eyes were more on the headers than on the road.

I’m proud of how the whole bike tured out, I think the lines are great, it looks like a flat tracker but it’s also aggressive and fast. I use it as my daily ride and a fun thing with this bike is that wherever I park it, people come up and ask questions and take photos. When I tell them it’s a Harley-Davidson people get very fascinated, I even had a bunch of Ducati superbike riders that loved the bike until they realized it was a Harley :)

The most important thing I learned from this project is to rely on your ability and stay true to your personal style. There are so many great builders around the world and just logging on to Instagram could make you feel unsure about your style and ideas some times. I think too many builders out there look at the big guys and dare not fully follow their own ideas.

Injustice Customs Logo

With all the great feedback I got on this project, I’m confident in my style and will continue build bald bikes with big lightning flashes on!

Original Bike: Harley-Davidson XL1200CX Sportster

Build Time: 4 months

Engine: 1200cc Harley Davidson 45 ́ evolution engine. Modified fule injection. Exhaust: custom built headers in titanium (56 joints, 44h of non stop welding..) customized SC-Project carbon mufflers, same as used in MotoGP

Air Cleaner: RSD Slant Carbon air cleaner

Frame: shortend OEM Harley frame

Forks: Harley OEM forks, Polished, re anodized and titanium nitrid coated for the right factory colour. Stiffer springs.

Shocks: Öhlins STX36P Black-Line 13,3” (Swedish quality!))

Wheels: Custom made 19” wheels both front and rear, 3,5” rear and 3,0” front with Maxis DT-R1 tires

Fuel Tank: OEM Sportster big model

Handlebars: 1” Flat Track style

Grips: RSD

Brakes: Beringer disks in cast iron with racing pads. re coated calipers with laser engraved logos (my logos on the calipers are actually engraved on grinder down 20 cent dimes)

Headlight: Small and really bad for night riding.. :)

Taillight: Rizoma integrated tail light and indicators, custom mounts

Seat: Biltwell Speedway

Paint: Håkan Lindberg, This dude has painted choppers longer than I lived! Amazing guy that was part of inventing ”the Swedish chopper style”

You can click here to visit Injustice Customs

Follow Injustice Customs on InstagramFacebook

Photographer: Mihail Jershov

Susanna Gray (black jacket)

Nicole Gray (blue jump suit)

Additional information via Iron & AirFacebookInstagramTwitter

Harley-Davidson Flat Street Tracker

Harley-Davidson Flat Street Tracker Seat

Harley-Davidson Flat Street Tracker Parts

Harley-Davidson Flat Street Tracker 10

Harley-Davidson Flat Street Tracker 9

Harley-Davidson Flat Street Tracker 7

Harley-Davidson Flat Street Tracker 5

Harley-Davidson Flat Street Tracker 4

Harley-Davidson Flat Street Tracker 3

Harley-Davidson Flat Street Tracker 2

Harley-Davidson Flat Street Tracker 1

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A Custom Harley-Davidson Servi-Car x Model T Ford https://silodrome.com/harley-davidson-servi-car-x-model-t-ford/ Sat, 25 Aug 2018 07:01:44 +0000 https://silodrome.com/?p=82268 A Custom Harley-Davidson Servi-Car x Model T Ford

This trike is a combination of two of America’s great early workhorses – the Harley-Davidson Servi-Car and the Model T Ford. It was built by Sanders Antique Auto Restoration in Rockford, Illinois using an original 1947 Harley-Davidson Servi-Car and a Model T Ford pick bed which was shortened and sectioned to fit the chassis. The Harley-Davidson Servi-Car The Harley-Davidson Servi-Car...

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A Custom Harley-Davidson Servi-Car x Model T Ford

This trike is a combination of two of America’s great early workhorses – the Harley-Davidson Servi-Car and the Model T Ford.

It was built by Sanders Antique Auto Restoration in Rockford, Illinois using an original 1947 Harley-Davidson Servi-Car and a Model T Ford pick bed which was shortened and sectioned to fit the chassis.

The Harley-Davidson Servi-Car

The Harley-Davidson Servi-Car was rushed through the design and engineering phase and into production in 1932 as a result of the Great Depression – the management at Harley realized they needed to build a vehicle that could operate as a commercial workhorse.

It’s unlikely that they knew just how popular and versatile the Servi-Car would prove to be, or that it would be one of their longest running production motorcycles, with a run lasting from 1932 till 1973.

Harley-Davidson Servi-Car

The general public as well as police departments and private companies quickly found a litany of uses for the Servi-Car. Car dealerships would send delivery men out to deliver new cars with a Servi-Car attached to the tow hitch so they could ride back to the showroom, and police departments would send out revenue generating officers to issue parking infringement notices and speeding tickets.

The full list of jobs performed by the Servi-Car is too long to list here, in fact I’m not even sure anyone has ever compiled one. It’s a list that would doubtless extend into the hundreds, possibly even the thousands.

The inexpensive nature of the trike coupled with its low running costs made it ideal for countless small businesses, from mobile mechanics to beach-side ice cream sales, and everything in-between.

The design of the Servi-Car was kept as simple as it was possible for Harley-Davidson to make them, the first version had no rear suspension at all (apart from the tire sidewalls of course) with the solid axle bolted directly to the frame. The front end uses traditional springer forks and it’s powered by the simple-but-effective 45 cubic inch flathead V-twin running through a 3-speed gearbox to a car-like differential.

Today there’s a large nationwide network of collectors and enthusiasts keeping the Servi-Car alive, and offering spare parts, restorations, and customizations.

Harley-Davidson Servi-Car Tray

The 1947 Harley-Davidson Servi-Car x Model T Ford

The Servi-Car you see here is one of a kind, it combines two of the most iconic American vehicles of the early 20th century.

The engine and transmission were comprehensively rebuilt by Mikey of Knucklehead Motorworks New Berlin, Wisconsin specifically for this build. The forks were rebuilt during the restoration as well as the differential and electrical system – resulting in a Servi-Car that’s almost certainly in better condition now than it was brand new.

Since its completion the Servi-Car has been featured (in 2017) at the Classics and Chrome Invitational Rockford, Illinois and it’s been garage-kept by a careful owner. Mecum Auctions will be offering it for sale in late August with an estimated hammer price of $20,000 to $30,000, which isn’t bad for a motorcycle that’s guaranteed to gather a crowd wherever it’s parked.

If you’d like to read more about the trike or register to bid you can click here to view the listing.

Harley-Davidson Servi-Car Side

Harley-Davidson Servi-Car Tail Light

Harley-Davidson Servi-Car Speedo

Harley-Davidson Servi-Car Seat

Harley-Davidson Servi-Car Right Side

Harley-Davidson Servi-Car Rear Right

Harley-Davidson Servi-Car Headlight

Harley-Davidson Servi-Car Flathead V-twin

Harley-Davidson Servi-Car Engine

Harley-Davidson Badge

Images: Jason Brant, courtesy of Mecum Auctions.

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The British Harley-Davidson Beach Racer by Hoxton Moto https://silodrome.com/harley-davidson-beach-racer/ Wed, 25 Jul 2018 11:01:43 +0000 https://silodrome.com/?p=81423 The British Harley-Davidson Beach Racer by Hoxton Moto

For years I have drooled over the styling of Harleys and Indians from the 1940’s. I also inspired by the images of TROG in the USA. Finding and affording an original Harley or Indian of this era was beyond my means so this created an opportunity to build a replica with a twist.

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The British Harley-Davidson Beach Racer by Hoxton Moto

This article was written by Hoxton Moto Founder Shaun Fenton. When possible we like to bring you the story of a custom motorcycle in the words of the people who built it, to cut out the middle man and give you an insight into their thought process.

The Hoxton Moto Harley-Davidson Beach Racer

For years I have drooled over the styling of Harleys and Indians from the 1940’s. I was also inspired by the images of TROG in the USA. Finding and affording an original Harley or Indian of this era was beyond my means so this created an opportunity to build a replica with a twist.

So, with this in mind, I set out to find a cheap Harley as a donor bike. I decided on a 1970’s Ironhead. After a lengthy search, I finally found the ideal donor bike. The bike had been imported into the UK as a restoration project but aside from occasional tinkering it had languished in a garage for over 10-years. Without revealing our intentions, a deal was struck with the previous owner and I was then committed to the transformation.

Harley-Davidson Beach Racer

I stripped the donor bike completely, retaining just the engine and frame. Jake Robbins Engineering (renowned Bike Builder and Girder Fork Specialist) fitted a set of his hand-built girder forks and to create a rigid rear end. After a short one-way discussion and bamboozled by his vision, Jake persuaded me to let him loose on the rear suspension to create a friction damped, twin spring, live canter lever, spring frame. This was Jake’s homage to a Bentley & Draper Spring Frame. Like a man possessed the angle grinder came out, the welder spluttered and snorted and he smashed out the conversion.

Retaining the original rear wheel and brake, I sourced a 16’’ front rim and a drum brake from an Enfield Bullet. After producing the rolling chassis, I moved onto the styling.

Three important features of the styling were handlebars, fuel tank and the seat. Jake had some old bars collecting dust in his workshop which he donated and I set about fabricating the seat and tank.

The seat was relatively quick to fabricate once I had decided on the shape and dimensions. However, I deliberated over the fuel tank design. I didn’t want to build a classic shaped Harley tank, I wanted something unusual. After much carving, rasping and choking on foam particles, a shape emerged. Once the design was agreed I started to cut, bend and shape the sections of the tank, mount lugs, fittings and then snotted (welded) it all together.

Harley-Davidson Beach Racer

After completing the overall design, I had to find a way of mounting the essential oil tank and battery box. I built the oil tank from scratch; designed to be rubber mounted in the small space between the engine and frame. The battery box was yet another hand built feature and then mounted on the swinging arm.

A predominant feature of the Ironhead is the air intake housing. I looked at all the after-market designs, of which there are many, but decided that I had come this far and would fabricate my own. With the left-over alloy from tank build and a few hand tools the air intake shape evolved into its unique design.

The rear mudguard and lights were found at auto-jumbles. The seat was covered be Glenn Moger. The control cables and wiring were all done in-house. To finish off the beach racer look I fabricated and mounted the race plates.

Finally, the bike was sprayed and painted by hand, with a sign writer brushing in the numbers and tank design.

I now just hope the previous owner doesn’t see what I’ve done!

Follow Hoxton Moto on YouTubeFacebookTwitterInstagram

Harley-Davidson Beach Racer

Hoxton Moto Backstory

Hoxton Moto Founder, Shaun Fenton, started building bikes six years ago. He was a successful Television Producer, running his own company and producing a bundle of Network TV series. After years of chasing commissions and the relentless pressure of making commercial television, it became apparent that there was something missing and lacking in his life – a workshop. 

“I’d spent my entire adult life living in London, where space is at a premium and I was living just to work. Something felt wrong and out of balance”. 

Shaun made some difficult decisions; he downsized the business; set up his YouTube channel, Hoxton Moto; moved out of London to the coast; and bought a property with a workshop. 

The workshop was quickly equipped with rudimentary hand tools, essential bench devices and the first donor bike build was wheeled in. Flash forward, four custom builds are completed and various classic restorations have rolled out of the workshop – and, crucially, a life balance has been found.

“Building bikes not only satisfies a desire to design, create and work out engineering conundrums it also opens you up to a community, a sub-culture and life style. For me, having the workshop allows me to build stuff, experiment with ideas, make mistakes, learn new skills and it’s also a place of absorbing distraction… I have to admit; custom bike building is an expression of myself – which can be disturbing”.

Hoxton Moto’s eclectic builds include a 1960’s Honda Race Replica, Honda CB550 Brat Bike, Moto Morini Café Racer and Harley Beach Racer. All the builds have been exhibited at The Bike Shed show, one of the largest custom bikes events in Europe.

Harley-Davidson Beach Racer

Harley-Davidson Beach Racer

Harley-Davidson Beach Racer

Harley-Davidson Beach Racer

Harley-Davidson Beach Racer

Harley-Davidson Beach Racer

Harley-Davidson Beach Racer

Harley-Davidson Beach Racer

Harley-Davidson Beach Racer

Harley-Davidson Beach Racer

Harley-Davidson Fuel Tank

Harley-Davidson Beach Racer 1

Harley-Davidson Beach Racer

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XTR Pepo Harley-Davidson Sportster Street Tracker https://silodrome.com/harley-davidson-sportster-street-tracker/ Wed, 16 May 2018 07:01:16 +0000 https://silodrome.com/?p=77259 XTR Pepo Harley-Davidson Sportster Street Tracker

The Harley-Davidson Sportster Street Tracker The Harley-Davidson Sportster Street Tracker is by far the best American motorcycle that isn’t actually in production. Custom motorcycle garages like XTR Pepo make light work of turning a stock Sportster into a handsome, nimble, and fast street tracker – but the Harley-Davidson factory in Milwaukee has been very slow...

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XTR Pepo Harley-Davidson Sportster Street Tracker

The Harley-Davidson Sportster Street Tracker

The Harley-Davidson Sportster Street Tracker is by far the best American motorcycle that isn’t actually in production.

Custom motorcycle garages like XTR Pepo make light work of turning a stock Sportster into a handsome, nimble, and fast street tracker – but the Harley-Davidson factory in Milwaukee has been very slow to actually release a factory version despite huge public interest.

Strong rumors abound that the designers at Harley have been working feverishly on a new street tracker based on the liquid-cooled 500/750cc line, and many in the motorcycling world are waiting with baited-breath to see if it actually happens, as there’s a strong chance it could help reverse the declining fortunes of the storied American motorcycle manufacturer.

XTR Pepo

XTR Pepo is a Madrid-based garage run by Pepo Rosell, funnily enough Pepo didn’t start out as a bike builder, he’s a trained biologist who previously worked on fish farms before turning his two-wheeled hobby into a full-time business.

The XTR Pepo Harley-Davidson Sportster Street Tracker

This build started with a brand-new 2018 Harley-Davidson Sportster 883, once the bike had been rolled into Pepo’s workshop the teardown began.

The engine was the first order of business, it was stripped and rebuilt to 1200cc, with ported heads, high-compression pistons, a high-performance camshaft, and a new Mikuni race carburetor. Ignition is now handled by a Screaming Eagle unit, and the engine breathes in through a high-flow wire mesh air cleaner, and out through a two-into-one Supermario exhaust.

Once the engine was ready, attention turned to the frame. The original twin shock rear end was removed and Pepo fabricated a bespoke monoshock set up, using a custom-built Hagon shock absorber. The front received similar treatment, the factory-stock forks were removed and replaced with a set of Suzuki GSXR 750 upside down forks and their calipers, matched with new NG brake rotors.

The original fuel tank and seat were removed to make way for a modified Yamaha SR500 fuel tank, and a handmade seat that was fabricated in-house by Pepo, with a seat upholstered in tan suede. Custom cropped fenders were installed front and back, with a bespoke tail light tidy.

The stock oil tank was kept in place, and painted in the same grey hue as the fuel tank. A new headlight was installed and fitted with a mesh stone guard, and a set of Rizoma handlebars, capped off with Motogadget gauges.

Last but not least, Pepo removed the belt drive and swapped it out for a chain drive, with a new lightened rear sprocket, and a lightened sprocket cover up front.

The completed bike is a testament to what a factory Sportster Tracker could be, and it’s hard to imagine any Harley dealership in the world managing to keep them on the showroom floor for more than five minutes before selling out entirely.

If you’d like to see more from XTR Pepo you can click here to visit the official website, or click here to see all the other bikes from the Spanish garage that we’re previously featured on Silodrome.

Images: Cesar Godoy

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Big Bear Desert Racer: 1928 Harley-Davidson JDH Twin-Cam https://silodrome.com/big-bear-desert-racer-1928-harley-davidson-jdh-twin-cam/ Tue, 08 May 2018 09:01:20 +0000 https://silodrome.com/?p=76926 Big Bear Desert Racer: 1928 Harley-Davidson JDH Twin-Cam

The Harley-Davidson JDH Twin-Cam The Harley-Davidson JDH Twin-Cam is one of the most celebrated motorcycles ever built by the Milwaukee-based manufacturer. The 74 cubic inch V-twin featured twin cams with two lobes on each, rather than the older set-up that used a single cam with 4 lobes. This reduced the reciprocating weight and reduced the length of...

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Big Bear Desert Racer: 1928 Harley-Davidson JDH Twin-Cam

The Harley-Davidson JDH Twin-Cam

The Harley-Davidson JDH Twin-Cam is one of the most celebrated motorcycles ever built by the Milwaukee-based manufacturer. The 74 cubic inch V-twin featured twin cams with two lobes on each, rather than the older set-up that used a single cam with 4 lobes. This reduced the reciprocating weight and reduced the length of the cam followers – allowing higher-RPM operation.

This made the Twin-Cam ideal for racing applications, and it was put to work almost immediately on the race tracks of the USA in 1919. Initially the engines were only available to factory racers, it wasn’t until 1928 that Harley began offering their Twin-Cam engine in road bikes available to anyone would could afford the MSRP of $335 – a not insignificant sum of money at a time when $385 would buy you an entry-level Model A Ford.

Offering 29 hp at 4,000 rpm, and a top speed of up to 100 mph (if you knew how to modify the engine to factory racer specification), the 1207cc Harley-Davidson JDH Twin-Cam became one of the most desirable models ever made by the company.

Privateer racers would often buy road-going JDH Twin-Cams and strip them back to reduce weight, rework the engine, and use them in competition – oftentimes with significant success.

Harley-Davidson JDH Twin-Cam

The Big Bear Run

The Big Bear Run was rumored to have started in 1920 or 1921 depending on who you ask, when two friends in a bar in LA on New Year’s Eve made a bet to see who could make the 100 mile ride to Big Bear Lake first.

One of the men took the back route through the countryside, and the other took the road route. Due to the time of year the road was blocked due to snowfall, and the man who set out across the wilderness won the race handily.

Each year thereafter the Big Bear Run grew more and more popular, in the 1950s it was one of the biggest races of the year, attracting some of the top riders in the world including Bud Ekins. Almost 1,000 riders turned up for it in 1960, and as a result the California Highway Patrol shut the event down from 1961 onwards.

Harley-Davidson JDH Twin-Cam

The Big Bear Desert Racer: 1928 Harley-Davidson JDH Twin-Cam

The motorcycle you see here is from the first year of “public consumption” Harley-Davidson JDH Twin-Cams – 1928.

The bike was modified sometime after it was bought (the year is unknown) into a California desert racer to take part in period events like the Big Bear Run. It was nicknamed “Old Coot” and ridden by Bob Ross (the motorcycle racer not the television artist).

Remarkably, the bike has been preserved in exact period condition as a part of the Jim Lattin Collection, it still features its racing number “47”, its unusual red-and-black checker painted fuel tank, and its high handlebars.

If you’d like to buy the Old Coot you can click here to visit the listing on Mecum, it’s due to be auctioned in Las Vegas at the beginning of June, and it’s listed as being a very strong runner.

Harley-Davidson JDH Twin-Cam

Harley-Davidson JDH Twin-Cam

Harley-Davidson JDH Twin-Cam

Harley-Davidson JDH Twin-Cam

Harley-Davidson JDH Twin-Cam

Harley-Davidson JDH Twin-Cam Engine

Harley-Davidson JDH Twin-Cam Engine

Harley-Davidson JDH Twin-Cam

Harley-Davidson JDH Twin-Cam

Images courtesy of Mecum

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Cohn Racers Custom Harley-Davidson XR1200X https://silodrome.com/custom-harley-davidson-xr1200x/ Tue, 27 Mar 2018 07:00:25 +0000 https://silodrome.com/?p=75566 Cohn Racers Custom Harley-Davidson XR1200X

The Harley-Davidson XR1200X The Harley-Davidson XR1200X was the high-end version of the short-lived XR1200 series by the Milwaukee-based motorcycle manufacturer. That “X” suffixed to the name denoted Showa Big Piston Forks and twin full-floating Nissin front brake rotors up front with Showa shocks (with piggyback nitrogen-charged reservoirs) in the rear – the most modern suspension...

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Cohn Racers Custom Harley-Davidson XR1200X

The Harley-Davidson XR1200X

The Harley-Davidson XR1200X was the high-end version of the short-lived XR1200 series by the Milwaukee-based motorcycle manufacturer. That “X” suffixed to the name denoted Showa Big Piston Forks and twin full-floating Nissin front brake rotors up front with Showa shocks (with piggyback nitrogen-charged reservoirs) in the rear – the most modern suspension and brakes ever fitted to a production Harley-Davidson road bike.

When it was released the XR1200X seemingly surprised many motorcycle journalists with its handling and braking ability compared with other Harleys, and many of the media bikes came back with worn down footpegs and near-empty gas tanks.

The general motorcycling population has been clamoring for a proper modern Harley street tracker for years, the XR1200X met this demand and showed that the Sportster could be sporty. The XR1200 series was only built between 2010 and 2012 before being discontinued in favor of other models, but the bike has built up a cult following around the world, and good examples are still fetching solid money.

The Cohn Racers Custom Harley-Davidson XR1200X

The motorcycle you see here is a comprehensively rebuilt Harley XR1200X by the talented team at Cohn Racers – a custom motorcycle garage based in Coral Gables, Florida.

Cohn Racers is run by Juan P-Ilzarbe, a former Apple employee who left the tech company to found his own motorcycle garage to build limited edition series of custom motorcycles. The custom XR1200X is bike #2 of the 10 motorcycle series called “Muscle R”, it was built for John Kunkel founder of 50 Eggs, and a diehard motorcyclist with a penchant for fast Harleys.

Custom Harley-Davidson XR1200X

The project began with a nation-wide search for a low mileage XR1200X, once one was located and bought the  build began with a teardown and inspection.

The plan for the build was to reduce weight, improve handling, and improve braking. The stock Harley XR1200X already produces a mighty 74 ft lbs of torque, but its wet weight of 573 lbs is a limiting factor. Reducing the weight improves acceleration dramatically, but it also improves braking and cornering performance – all three of these elements are important for any sports-oriented motorcycle.

The rear subframe was removed with a new unit welded into place, and the original forks and brakes were replaced with upside down Öhlins Racing forks, with radial Brembo brakes featuring hefty 320mm rotors. Rear suspension was swapped out for a pair of Öhlins piggyback shocks.

The onboard DME was re-tuned for better engine response and smoothness throughout the rev-range, but it was decided to keep the V-twin reliable rather than try to dial it up to 11 and risk issues down the line.

A new seat pan and seat was fabricated, the team at Relicate Leather supplied the leather for both the new seat and the matching leather tank strap. The original wheels were swapped out for lightweight spoked units front and back, shod with Continental Conti Twinduro TKC80 Dual Sport tires.

The completed bike would fit into both the street scrambler and street tracker genres, and it’s an excellent example of what can be achieved using a stock XR1200X as a foundation. If you’d like to read more about Cohn Racers or order your own custom you can click here to visit the website.

Custom Harley-Davidson XR1200X

Custom Harley-Davidson XR1200X

Custom Harley-Davidson XR1200X

Custom Harley-Davidson XR1200X

Custom Harley-Davidson XR1200X

Custom Harley-Davidson XR1200X

Custom Harley-Davidson XR1200X

Custom Harley-Davidson XR1200X

Custom Harley-Davidson XR1200X

Custom Harley-Davidson XR1200X

Custom Harley-Davidson XR1200X 1

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Harley-Davidson Big Twins – The Shovelhead https://silodrome.com/harley-davidson-big-twins-shovelhead/ Sat, 13 Jan 2018 07:54:37 +0000 https://silodrome.com/?p=75545 Harley-Davidson Big Twins – The Shovelhead

As Harley-Davidson entered the sixties so did the dominance of the bikes of the Rising Sun. Bob Dylan sang “The times they are a changin’…” but one of the changes he misses in his iconic song was the progressive decline in “Wrench Competency” amongst motorcycle owners and indeed amongst young people generally. Realizing that much...

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Harley-Davidson Big Twins – The Shovelhead

As Harley-Davidson entered the sixties so did the dominance of the bikes of the Rising Sun. Bob Dylan sang “The times they are a changin’…” but one of the changes he misses in his iconic song was the progressive decline in “Wrench Competency” amongst motorcycle owners and indeed amongst young people generally. Realizing that much of the market for motorcycles would be for young men who wanted to ride fast and hard to get thrills but who did not want to enjoy hours in the workshop fixing and tinkering with their bike the Japanese made bikes that were fast and easy to ride. But they made these bikes to be reliable so “wrench impaired” young guys would not be frustrated by breakdowns or maintenance. Harley-Davidson were still in the bubble of the old motorcycle culture that they had been a part of from the time before the First World War and, just like the British motorcycle industry, were not prepared for the invasion of the cheap, reliable, fast and easy to ride bikes that came like a veritable D-Day upon America’s shores, and into her stores. Harley-Davidson did not have the resources in 1960 to create a whole new competitive small motorcycle line so they purchased a half share in Aeronatica-Macchi, and created Aermacchi Harley-Davidson.

This alliance enabled Harley-Davidson to introduce a range of small motorcycles including the Topper motor scooter and the Sprint, all of which were made in Italy at the Aermacchi factory in Varese. This excursion into badge engineering was not successful and was not good for the Harley-Davidson public brand profile. Even whilst that experiment in testing the market was happening Harley-Davidson were at work on improving their classic V twin engine to make it both powerful and reliable. The power increase was becoming more urgently needed because Harley-Davidson motorcycles were becoming heavier and heavier. A fully optioned Electro Glide tipped the scales at a not at all dainty 800lb. The introduction of rear suspension and electric starters had added more weight than the Panhead engine could compensate for.

Harley-Davidson’s engineers worked for seven years to improve the Panhead engine to create something that could succeed in the second half of the twentieth century. The result of their labours was the Shovelhead. It was a nice solid engine and was a good improvement over the Panhead. It put out more power to bring power to weight ratios back up where they needed to be. But both the new Shovelhead and its daddy the Panhead were really just improved versions of their grand daddy the Knucklehead, which was still based on the engine designs that Bill Harley had created back when he was studying engineering at the University of Wisconsin. Thus it was that the new Harley-Davidson Shovelhead engine was more an effort to solve the unsolved problems of the Knucklehead than it was to start with a clean sheet of paper.

Harley-Davidson Shovelhead engine diagram

At its bottom end the Shovelhead engine design is the same as both the Knucklehead and Panhead that preceded it. Same V-twin layout, same single central camshaft working four push-rods to operate overhead valves. The real design differences in the engine were in the cylinders, cylinder heads and overhead valve mechanisms, in the pistons, and in continuing improvements in metallurgy. In fact the Panhead and Shovelhead are so similar that some Panhead owners upgraded their engines to turn them into Shovelheads simply by changing to Shovelhead cylinders, pistons and heads.

These hybrids are known as Panshovels. The name Shovelhead comes from the shovel shape of the rocker boxes that replaced the pan shaped covers of the Panhead. The Shovelhead was not designed solely as a motorcycle engine. In 1962 Harley-Davidson purchased a sixty percent share in the Tomahawk Boat Manufacturing Company partly because they wanted the access to fiberglass manufacturing expertise and capability but also because they intended to make a version of their V twin engine for marine applications. This was part of the design brief for the engineering team working on the Shovelhead. It turned out that the Shovelhead engine did not perform well in the humidity of marine environments so it was only developed as the next generation Harley-Davidson motorcycle engine. 1966 was the year of the Shovelhead’s introduction. The capacity of the new engine was 74 cu. in. (1208cc) and remained so up until half way though the 1978 model year when it was increased to 82 cu. in. (1340cc).

For the first year of production an alloy cylinder head was used but was then replaced by a steel one in subsequent years. The design straightened out the air flow into the combustion chamber and that contributed a 10% increase in power. The combustion chambers were made more shallow to better dissipate heat which necessitated a change in valve angles. Compression ratios were increased from 6.0:1 to 8.0:1 or more which caused more heat to be generated. The combination of the changes described above along with deep fins on the heads were all needed to enable the new engine to cope with the increased combustion heat.

Harley-Davidson Shovelhead engine diagram

As the Shovelhead became established and people came to appreciate the improvements in the engine so competition riders got into modifying the engine to find out just what was possible. One of these was a drag racing competitor named Joe Smith from West Covina in California who formed Joe Smith and Son Racing Team. Joe and his son built a drag bike with a somewhat modded Harley-Davidson Shovelhead engine and took it racing at Baker’s Field in 1971. Joe Smith and his son increased the capacity of their Shovelhead engine to 108 cu. in.

To enable the sort of high engine revs he needed he replaced the stock flywheels with S&S ones and Burkhardt barrels. The engine breathed its nitro mix through an S&S carburettor and the valve action was taken care of by a Leinweber camshaft. The modified Shovelhead engine was ensconced in a custom long wheelbase drag frame of Joe Smith’s own design. Joe even attached lead weights to the forks to keep the bike from wheel-standing. Wheel-standing might look impressive to spectators but it does not contribute to fast quarter mile times. Joe’s bike broke the 9 second barrier putting down a time of 8.97 seconds and a top speed of 167.28mph to etch his name, and that of the Harley-Davidson Shovelhead, into the record books.

As Harley-Davidson moved into the seventies however the times were a changing still and in ways that even Bob Dylan would not have imagined. Already in 1969 Harley-Davidson had voluntarily allowed themselves to be sold to sporting goods manufacturer American Machine and Foundry. AMF injected much needed capital into Harley-Davidson but they also demanded increased production and through a combination of pressure to turn out more bikes and some worker discontent with management the quality of Harley-Davidsons began to decline. The Shovelhead engine got a major improvement in 1970 with the switch from a generator to an alternator to provide really adequate electrical power. This meant that the old bottom end taken straight from the Panhead with its slab sided lower engine casing was replaced with a nose-cone shaped casing.

A new blow came in 1974 when the first phase of the fuel crisis resulted in a decline in fuel quality and with the lowering of the octane rating of the fuel the Shovelhead engines with their higher compression ratios became prone to engine knock which in turn lead to overheating. The overheating caused gasket problems and gasket failures with the attendant oil leakage, none of which was good for Harley-Davidson’s reputation. Meanwhile AMF kept demanding more production believing that they could just sell more bikes that would develop problems and fix them after sales not really considering that people won’t keep buying a product that develops a bad reputation. Worker morale was progressively degraded further and the whole situation became a vicious cycle.

Harley-Davidson Shovelhead motorcycle

In 1978 new emissions regulation meant that the high compression Shovelhead engine could no longer address the heat issue by running a bit rich to cool combustion. To counter this the piston to cylinder wall tolerances were reduced to assist cooling, and so to keep the piston size and shape within those tighter tolerances expansion reducing struts were cast into the pistons. At this stage Harley-Davidson found themselves in a bit of an arms race against government regulation.

The late seventies was a time when lead was being banned from gasoline, something that only made matters worse for the high compression Shovelhead engine. So with fuel quality becoming erratic, government legislating to remove lead from fuel and to regulate emissions, Harley-Davidson were faced with the need to design a new engine, and work began on what was to become the Evolution. The Shovelhead engine still needed to soldier on however. In 1981 a group of thirteen investors led by Vaughn Beals and Willie G. Davidson bought Harley-Davidson back from AMF for 80 million dollars and set about re-structuring and re-building their reputation for quality control. In 1983 President Ronald Reagan was in office and Harley-Davidson complained to the United States International Trade Commission that the Japanese motorcycle companies were importing so many motorcycles into the United States that it was placing the viability of the domestic makers in jeopardy.

This was found to be the case and the Reagan administration placed a 45% tariff on imported motorcycles 700cc and over that year. Now that Harley-Davidson were no longer under the control of corporate accountant thinking they were free to really concentrate on building what they were good at. Harley-Davidson did not just make mass production motorcycles, but created bikes for a whole cultural sub-set of Americans. Harley-Davidson deliberately went for the “retro” appeal of their motorcycles and created motorbikes around the retro-looking Shovelhead engine that looked and sounded like the Harleys of old. They also outsourced supply of some components not attempting to re-invent the wheel by building everything themselves. Quality control went up, style appeal went up and it was and is a style that the Japanese cannot emulate even though they tried their very best. They could make a V-twin that looked a bit like a Harley, but the Japanese bikes only managed to look like Harley copies. To get the real McCoy you needed to go to the Harley-Davidson dealer and shell out your shekels for the genuine article complete with its OHV external push-rods Shovelhead engine.

Harley-Davidson Shovelhead engine

1984 was the last year of production for the Shovelhead engine. But it remains popular today and is common in custom bikes where the builder wants that retro look, sound and feel. Although Harley-Davidson don’t make the engine any more there are a number of small custom shops that do, its a Harley engine that people just like and keep coming back for.

Its an engine that has been worked on and refined over decades and nowadays it is nicely de-bugged. For a custom retro-style motorcycle its one of the best engine choices one can make. But for those who wanted a retro-style bike with a new engine Harley-Davidson had that new engine for 1985, the Evolution.

Harley-Davidson Shovelhead Electra Glide motorcycle

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Mule Motorcycles – The Midnight Express Harley Tracker https://silodrome.com/mule-motorcycles-harley-tracker/ Tue, 14 Nov 2017 07:00:51 +0000 https://silodrome.com/?p=68080 Mule Motorcycles – The Midnight Express Harley Tracker

This is the exact motorcycle that Harley-Davidson should build. Perhaps with the addition of fenders for legal reasons. The world-famous American motorcycle company has seen stock prices plummet over 23% so far this year, with sales of its motorcycles sliding globally, and revenue down almost 10%. I’m sure the bean-counters in Milwaukee have a plan, but...

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Mule Motorcycles – The Midnight Express Harley Tracker

This is the exact motorcycle that Harley-Davidson should build. Perhaps with the addition of fenders for legal reasons. The world-famous American motorcycle company has seen stock prices plummet over 23% so far this year, with sales of its motorcycles sliding globally, and revenue down almost 10%.

I’m sure the bean-counters in Milwaukee have a plan, but it’s doubtless a dry Powerpoint presentation about the importance of emerging markets, and I doubt it includes anything even remotely as exciting as the street tracker you see here – which is actually what we all want to spend our hard-earned pesos on.

Mule Motorcycles

Mule Motorcycles is run by legendary custom bike builder Richard Pollock. Richard’s been doing this a long time, years before it became popular, and many of the newer generation of tracker/scrambler builders will point to him as a major source of inspiration.

This build was close to Richard’s heart as it was being built as a personal bike for Mel Cary, a former protégé and good friend. Before working at Mule Motorcycles, Mel worked as a machinist and engine builder, mostly in the fast-paced worlds of Top Fuel dragsters and drag boats.

The Midnight Express Harley Tracker

Before his time with Richard at Mule, Mel owned a series of Ducati superbikes, but it wasn’t long before he wanted a street tracker of his own. And not just any street tracker would do.

The project started with a barely-ridden Harley-Davdison Sportster, with just 240 miles on the odometer. Mel decided to bolt the forks of a Ducati 996 on using A&A dirt track clamps – as a hat tip to his previous bikes, a significant suspension upgrade over the stock Harley springs.

The new twin shocks on the rear are similarly superior to the stock units, they’re originally from a Formula open-wheeled racing car from Switzerland, Richard sourced them 10 years ago and was saving them for a special build.

The distinctive wheels are 19″ Morris HD units, they were widened by Kosman Specialties, then powder coated. The fuel tank and seat are signature designs from the team at Storz Performance, who make them specifically to fit Harley Sportsters, ensuring a perfect fit.

Due to the fact that a stock, low milage Sportster 1200 is a torque monster anyway, it was decided to leave the internals alone and just get it breathing easier. A Mikuni HSR42 carburetor was bolted on, with a custom stainless exhaust curling out underneath into twin mufflers exits under the oil tank.

Mule manufactures their own handlebars, which were used on this build, with Berringer controls and calipers, paired with Brembo rotors. The blinkers and mirrors are by Rizoma, the headlight bracket is from Joker Machine, and the stock gel battery was swapped out for an ultra light lithium ion unit that dropped weight significantly.

The completed bike keeps its stock Harley-Davidson Sporster frame, with its rubber mounted 1200cc V-twin. It’s a bike that Harley could build themselves with minimal effort, and if they ever did they’d be showered with so much money it’d look like a late-90s rap video. So long as they did it properly. Maybe they should hire Mel and Richard.

If you’d like to see more Mule Motorcycle creations you can click here to visit their website.

Additional information provided by Pipeburn

Photography by Olivier de Vaulx

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1941 Harley-Davidson WLD https://silodrome.com/harley-davidson-wld/ Thu, 09 Nov 2017 07:00:02 +0000 https://silodrome.com/?p=67708 1941 Harley-Davidson WLD

Steve McQueen famously owned a Harley-Davidson WLD, much like the example you see here, and he loved it so much he kept it right up until his untimely death in 1980. While we’ll never be as cool as McQueen, many of us do share his love for machines. And unlike many of his now-multi million...

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1941 Harley-Davidson WLD

Steve McQueen famously owned a Harley-Davidson WLD, much like the example you see here, and he loved it so much he kept it right up until his untimely death in 1980. While we’ll never be as cool as McQueen, many of us do share his love for machines. And unlike many of his now-multi million dollar sports cars like the Jaguar XKSS and the Ferrari 250 GT Lusso, the Harley-Davidson WLD is a vehicle we might actually be able to afford.

The Harley-Davidson WLD

Harley-Davidson launched the WLD in 1937 as a replacement for the outgoing “D” model. It was powered by the Flathead WL 45 V-twin – the engine that would be the backbone of the company’s lineup, and would also power the iconic Harley-Davidson WLA that was used extensively by the US Army during the Second World War. The extensible engine would also find use in the legendary Class C Flat Track AMA racing series, on dirt ovals right across the USA.

The WLD was the slightly more sporty model, a step up from the WL. It was commonly referred to as the Special Sport Solo, and featured a single seat, a higher compression ratio, and a slight power advantage over its entry-level sibling.

As with all Harleys of the era, the WLD was kept simple and serviceable. It features a single downtime frame, a 3-speed hand shift, a duplex chain primary, a dry multi-disc clutch, 6 volt electrics, a hardtail rear, a springer front end, a Linkert carburetor, a bore/stroke of 2.75″ x 3.81″, and a total capacity of 45 cubic inches (737 cc).

Up front there’s a single headlight, mounted above an electric horn, and both wheels are clad in classic swept Harley fenders.

The most famous of the WL series bikes was the aforementioned WLA. The “A” stood for “Army”, as it was a standard issue motorcycle for the US Army – the military would order well over 90,000 units over the course of the war, as well as spare parts for many more. The Harley-Davidson WLA was ridden by hundreds of thousands of GIs during the war in both Europe and Asia, and it would be largely credited with instilling a deep love of both Harley and the humble V-twin into the hearts of a generation of young American men.

After the war many of the WLAs were decommissioned and sold to civilians, many of whom were former GIs. This period is associated with an explosion of motorcycle culture across the USA, much of which happened in the saddle of motorcycles just like the WLD.

The 1941 Harley-Davidson WLD Shown Here

The motorcycle you see here is a comprehensively restored example, rebuild using genuine Harley-Davidson factory parts and now showing just 3 shakedown miles on the odometer since the restoration was completed.

It has its original high-compression engine fitted with lightweight alloy heads that do an excellent job of shedding heat. It’s finished off in an attractive red and black paint scheme, with beautiful sweeping red fenders and that iconic red fuel tank.

If you’d like to read more about the bike or register to bid you can click here to visit the listing on Mecum – it’s due to be auctioned between the 23rd and 27th of January and there’s currently no listed estimate.

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1988 Buell RR1200 Battletwin https://silodrome.com/buell-rr1200-battletwin/ Thu, 02 Nov 2017 07:00:26 +0000 https://silodrome.com/?p=67473 1988 Buell RR1200 Battletwin

Just 65 examples of the Buell RR1200 Battletwin were ever built, it's quite an important American motorcyle as it was the first street bike ever built by Erik Buell - the engineering whizz who would make a name for himself taking lumps of Harley-Davidson V-twin and making them go fast. He even made them go around corners.

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1988 Buell RR1200 Battletwin

Erik Buell and the RR1200

Just 65 examples of the Buell RR1200 Battletwin were ever built, it’s quite an important American motorcyle as it was one of the first street bikes ever built by Erik Buell – the engineering whizz who would make a name for himself taking lumps of Harley-Davidson V-twin and making them go fast. He even made them go around corners.

Erik Buell started working on machines as a kid in Pennsylvania, he got into motocross racing before shifting to the asphalt, and he worked as a motorcycle mechanic to put himself through an engineering degree at the University of Pittsburgh.

Upon graduating, Erik famously flew himself to Harley-Davidson’s headquarters in Milwaukee to “beat my way in the door” as he tells it. He was hired, and before long he was working on new prototypes as well as the more traditional highway high-milers.

Erik’s passion for racing never left him, in fact it still hasn’t, and neither has his attraction to unusual engineering solutions. He got back into racing while working at Harley using the little-known Barton square-four, two-stroke motorcycle.

Erik would engine up re-engineering much of the bike and eventually taking over the rights to the designs when Barton went bankrupt. A series of AMA rule changes left Erik with a bike but not suitable series to race it in, not to be defeated he set to work creating a new racing bike using the engine from the Harley-Davidson XR1000.

The Development of the Buell RR1200

This new motorcycle would be named the Buell RR1000, it had a bespoke frame that was stiff, lightweight and utilized the engine as a stressed member, it also had horizontally mounted rear suspension beneath the motor (for mass centralization), and an aerodynamic fairing so well designed that even many modern superbikes can’t match its drag coefficient in a wind tunnel.

Despite its relatively primitive V-twin, the Buell RR1000 was a quick bike – largely thanks to the clever engineering that went into the rest of it. 50 were built in 1987 and 1988 before the supply of XR1000 engines dried up, leaving Erik to find another suitable engine. He didn’t need to look far, the new Harley-Davidson Evolution V-twin was now available with a 1200cc capacity, so the RR100 was re-engineered to accommodate the new engine – creating the RR1200 Battletwin.

This new model would be road-legal, and it attracted a huge amount of attention as a result. The 65 unit production run sold out quickly and today, they’re very attractive to enthusiasts, collectors, and museums.

The example you see here was hand-built by Erik Buell and his team in 1988, and it has just 15 miles on the odometer – barely delivery mileage. It’s wearing the same original paintwork that was used on all RR1200s, and it appears to be almost factory-fresh – as do the wheels.

If you’d like to read more about this bike or register to bid you can click here to visit Mecum. It’s due to be sold at the Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction due to be held between the 23rd and 27th of January, and there’s currently no estimated value listed.

Images courtesy of Mecum

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