Friday, September 30, 2016
Tuesday, August 30, 2016
Back in 1977 Harley Davidson unveiled their American cafe racer, the XLCR Sportster. On paper and in the flesh the bike was certainly appealing. It was draped in black, had a unique siamese exhaust system, was powered by a torquey 997cc v-twin and wore bodywork unlike any other Harley. Unfortunately the press slammed the bikes performance and poor sales resulted in it becoming a rather famous flop for the Milwaukee manufacturer. Despite all of these factors the XLCR has become an iconic model in HD history and today they fetch high prices at auction. Not having ever ventured in to cafe racer territory before James Roper-Caldbeck of 'Jamesville Motorcycles' in Copenhagen used the XLCR as his inspiration, but paid careful attention to not repeat Harleys mistakes.
"Last year I received a rather sheepish email asking if there was any way I would ever build a café racer" recalls James. James' portfolio is almost entirely made up of Harley Davidson builds with Chopper and Bobber styling being his usual forte. For an outsider it might seem that he is set in his ways, but when the opportunity presented itself, he was more than willing to take it on.
"It can sometimes become a little monotonous always building bobbers and choppers so I gladly said yes. I have always loved the XLCR 1000 and that bike became my inspiration, right down to how we photographed it."
Rather than heading down the same route as the XLCR and using a Sportster as the starting point James opted to use a 1974 Harley Davidson FX Shovelhead. "I found a fairly stock FX that had an S&S 80 cubic inch motor and a 5 speed transmission, which is very nice."
With a powerful donor selected James started penning down some ideas. "To be honest I had no idea what I was doing when it came to building a Café Racer, but I knew I wanted it black with a fairing and for it to look F#CKING mean!"
The build began with the bikes new bodywork. Influenced by the design of Super GP bikes James fabricated an entirely new seat pan and tail from scratch, integrating a Triumph tail light at the rear and mounting it as high as possible on the frame. Surprisingly his front fairing was an aftermarket unit sourced on Ebay. James purchased the unit unsure if it was going to fit his headlight, but much to his surprise it was the perfect fit. For the fuel tank he decided the stock unit looked right for the build and so he stuck with it. "Everyone always asks what it's from and are shocked when I tell them!" jokes James.
To get the bike sitting right James designed a Progressive shock and spring package that lowers the front end and raises the rear, creating a more aggressive riding position. Taking cues from his favourite Ducati exhaust set up he handbuilt a 2-into-1 system that runs high before exiting beside the tail. Two well placed heat shields sufficiently protect the rider from burns (tried and tested by the man himself) and the hotdog muffler lets everyone know to make plenty of room as the Shovelhead approaches.
With loads of power on tap and a great suspension set up James knew he'd need to upgrade the bikes woeful stock brakes for it to be worthy of its cafe racer status. Using a configuration similar to the XLCR that inspired the build he mounted a set of twin drilled discs up front and a drilled disc with custom mounted, daisy chained twin calipers at the rear. Due to the Harley's dimensions it still runs mid controls, but they are custom made units that keep the rider's feet up high for improved cornering clearance.
Taking a measly 5 weeks to complete James finished the bike using a paint scheme inspired by 80s and 90s GP Super Bikes. Touches of XLCR can also be seen on the engine where black has been liberally applied to those distinct Shovel shaped heads, the lower barrels, oil bag and various covers. Then to liven up the monotone theme touches of red were added to the seat and front fairing.
Knowing full well that Harley's aren't often the first choice for cafe racer conversions, James has done his best to create a bike with the right look and performance to be worthy of the title. "I'm not sure how the Café racer guys will like this" says James. "But I can tell you it's awesome to RIDE!"
Photography by Mark Dexter of THE LAB Copenhagen
First published by returnofthecaferacers
Monday, August 29, 2016
Icon 1000 have just unveiled their newest range of riding gear and with it comes a new website and more importantly a new custom build! The latest motorcycle to join the Icon 1000 ranks has been baptised the "Three Martini Lunch". Less post apocalyptic in its design than the previous Icon 1000 bikes, I'm happy to say that the 3ML leans more towards the cafe racer aesthetic we love so much; and what better base could they select for such a build than a British born and bred Triumph Thruxton.
There's no hiding the fact that I've been a big fan of the Icon 1000 bikes since they first started appearing a few years back. While their styling may not be everyone else's cup of tea, for me they are a breath of fresh air. Taking a side step away from normality, each of their bikes appears somewhat rough and ready, but there's nothing slapdash about them. Make no mistake these are bikes designed to be ridden, and ridden hard (If you've seen any of the videos you'll know exactly what I'm talking about) and the 3ML is no exception.
Straight away some things become pretty clear as you paw over the photos of the 3ML Thruxton. For starters that bodywork is by no means of Triumph breeding. Up front is a half fairing that bares a striking resemblance to that of Ducati's iconic MH900e. Mounted low on the frame the fairing blends back into the tank for an ergonomic and streamlined finish. The tank itself is also a non-genuine part that appears more retro sports bike than modern classic. Then all the way at the back end you'll find a completely custom rear cowl into which the bikes twin mufflers are mounted.
Glancing down from the tail you'll also note some significant changes to the bikes frame. A completely revised rear subframe hovers the tail end above the rear wheel, which is now held in place by a retro fit monoshock swingarm. For suspension Icon looked to their friends at Nitron for a suitable shock while upfront they chose to replace the Triumph forks with a beefier set of Harley items. The fork and swingarm swap allowed from the fitment of matching diameter KZ1000 wheels which wear extra tall and swollen Avon rubber.
With the changes to the rear of the frame the Thruxton's airbox is no more, replaced by pod filters that live beneath cross drilled covers. The complete removal of the lower cradle of the frame makes the engine perform as a stressed member. To take advantage of the open space this set up has created the Icon team created a 2-into-1-into-2 exhaust system that runs beneath the engines bottom end before making its way up into the tail. You only have to watch twelve seconds of the video below to know that they've done a great job getting their Thruxton to sound right.
"We were on a high-speed burn out of the wretched SoCal gridlock, headed east in a heap of trouble. An olive-colored missile pitted against the red-tinged rock of southwest Utah. We had come looking for nothing. About 3 days in, we found it."
If the Three Martini Lunch represents a new direction in style for these Icon 1000 builds you can bet you'll be seeing more of them appearing on these pages.
First published by returnofthecaferacers.com
Saturday, August 27, 2016
Glemseck 101 is just around the corner. Set in southern German town of Leonberg, it’s a two-wheeled celebration of gasoline and good taste.
It also attracts some of the most outrageous customs on the planet. We’ve seen everything from turbocharged boxers to fire-breathing Yamaha XJRs. But a 350cc Jawa with a steampunk vibe? Now das ist different.
Sixteen teams will compete—a mixed bag of manufacturers and custom builders. The bikes are limited to two cylinders and a 1200cc maximum.
But it’s as much about style as it is about speed. A panel of judges—and a public vote—will determine the best-designed bike, to be crowned alongside the fastest.
No prizes for guessing which category Urban Motor are gunning for. With a whopping 18 horsepower on tap, this little 1964 Jawa 350 will be racing against 21st century machinery like the BMW R nineT and Triumph Thruxton R.
Shop boss Peter Dannenberg’s hardly fazed: “Those who sprint slowly are seen longer!”
We love the elegant minimalism at play here, which belies the inordinate amount of work that went into the build. Everything wrapped around the Jawa’s two-stroke mill is—quite obviously—completely custom-made.
“If essence is the key, then we want to do it right,” says Peter. “We want to make a statement.”
Urban Motor tossed all but the engine, before building a whole new chassis from steel tubing. The design of the alloy bodywork was a collaboration with Marven Diehl of KRT Framework, who fashioned the metal himself.
Marven was also responsible for the Jawa’s quirky front suspension design, with its integrated handlebars. And no, we don’t know how it works.
Everything’s book-ended by two skinny, 23” alloy SM Pro rims. A solitary drum brake (at the back) handles the stopping duties.
On the engine side, Urban Motor have installed a Jikov carb, and fabricated a pair of short, graceful exhausts. With no need for lights or turn signals, the wiring’s been stripped down to the bare essentials.
The Jawa now weighs a svelte 90kg, with finishes as tasteful as its silhouette. Sven van den Brandt handled the only paint on the project: a touch of matte gold on the forks and swingarm.
The grips are wrapped in leather from Red Wing, and the seat was made to spec by C. Benda. There are some smaller details to digest too: from the exposed throttle assembly, to the direct-mount rear sets.
Urban Motor have given their build an appropriately quirky name: ‘EASY (…like Sunday morning).’
“We are not dogmatic about competitions and rules,” explains Peter. “We like to see the big picture and enjoy divergence with humor, fun and the winking of an eye.”
Will it win the races? Probably not, but you can bet it’ll win hearts.
first published by www.bikeexif.com