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Contents

Issue Twenty Five 40: THE BUELL EXPERIENCE

Mallory Park echoes to the sound of fully road-legal Buells being thrashed round the track and much, much more.

47: SOFER HOG RALLY

52: HERITAGE SOFTAIL AND KING PIN TOUR HEAD-TO-HEAD Street bikes with luggage should provide the ideal combination of form and function: how do these two very different motorcycle compare?

62: BULLDOG BASH 2007

The 21st Anniversary of the Bulldog Bash lived up to its billing, with top flight bands, excellent quality show bikes, a full programme of events and brilliant weather.

68: TRIBUTE ACT

John Strowlger’s controversial contribution to the 2007 custom bike scene might not be original, but it required the same commitment, engineering prowess and tenacity. Stunning.

74: NCC HARLEYS AND HOT-RODS

There used to be dozens of these sort of gigs across the country, and dropping by will make you realise how much you miss ’em.

76: AMERICAN IRONHORSE QUICKSPIN Three Spires Customs have brought an AIH Texas Chopper over for “Product Evaluation”: would we like to ride it? Let me think ...

4: NEWS & NEW PRODUCTS 12: REVIEWS

Roof’s Boxer V, Harley-Davidson’s Switchback Jacket and “How to Build a Harley-Davidson Torque Monster”.

14: 2008 XL1200N NIGHTSTER

The budget 1200 Sportster follows in the footsteps of the Street Bob in proving to be much more than just a cheap Harley.

23: HDRCGB OSWESTRY 2007

The Rider’s Club International Rally returns to the Welsh borders.

28: CHIEFY’S CHOPPA

Seventies styling meets 21st century technology to create a classic chopper that’s built to ride.

34: STURGIS 2007

Mutch saddles-up and wanders round the bad-lands at America’s most remote major rally: it’d be a crime not to.

Editor: andy.hornsby@american-v.co.uk Features Editor: rich.king@american-v.co.uk Contributors this issue: Ian Mutch, Horst Rosler, Frank Sandler, Bulldog Press Corps, Steppenwulf Proofing: Amanda Wright (At last! Someone to blame!) Design: inhouse.design@american-v.co.uk All editorial enquiries to: editorial@american-v.co.uk Advertising Manager: Emma Howl EmmaHowl@warnersgroup.co.uk 01778 392443 Advertising Sales: Andy Fraser 01778 392054 Advertising Production: Joanne Osborn: 01778 391164 joanneo@warnersgroup.co.uk

Trade Sales: Natalie Cole: 01778 392404 nataliec@warnersgroup.co.uk Subscriptions: 01778 392484 Annual Subscriptions UK: £24.75 EU: £36.75 RoW Zone 1: £38.55 RoW Zone 2: £42.75 (all include postage) American-V, PO Box 336, Crewe, Cheshire, CW2 7WY. Tel: 0207 993 8002 Printed in the UK by Warners (Midlands) PLC, Bourne. Distribution by: Warners Group Publications Plc West Street, Bourne, Lincolnshire, PE10 9PH Tel: 01778 391135 Now in its second year in the newsagents, its fourth year on paper, and its sixth year of continuous publication since launching on the Internet, American-V sets out to be the magazine that its founders actually want to work on ... and mostly succeeds. The full archive will remain on-line at www. american-v.co.uk and might even be brought up to date one day. Don’t hold your breath though. E&OE

82: RAINY DAZE 4

The only event that could look at the mid summer of 2007 with an ironic smile. Did it rain? Course it did. Did they care? No, they just brought towels.

86: AMD PRO SHOW

The foremost international show that attracts the top international names in custom building: Want see what style we could be riding in ten years time?

92: PROJECT VICTORY

Development continues at a snails-pace, with attention turning to the back end: exhausts, indicators and number plate.

94: HARLEY DAY AT THE ACE

Feed the jukebox, start the Sportster, ride hard to Hanger Lane, filter to and round the roundabout, through three sets of ill-timed traffic lights and back before it finishes. Yeah right! Have you got “Shine on you crazy diamond” by Pink Floyd?

98: RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS

Bee falls foul of the licensing authorities ... the Motor Company’s licensing authorities.

www.american-v.co.uk

The biggest of the UK HOG rallies, with five chapters chipping in and the excellent colonial splendour of the National Rifle Association’s Bisley facility as a perfect site.


American-V American-V # ONE

News & Products

S&S LAUNCH NEW P-SERIES MOTOR As S&S hurtle towards their 50th Anniversary, they have announced a new model of engine designed to build on the successes of their Shovelhead-style SH model and what better tribute to the motor that was in production back in 1957, the Panhead. To many, the Pan is the quintessential Harley-Davidson motor, untainted by the AMF years and changes in production practices, and it will undoubtedly provide the basis for many customs but its main role in life is to provide the motive power as a daily bike, and consequently it is not a faithful reproduction but a modern version of it, and you will immediately recognize that it’s based upon the wellestablished S&S bottom end. What isn’t as immediately obvious is that the top end is a known quantity too, because on top of a pair of familiar, albeit silver-painted, cast iron barrels sits the phenomenally successful SH-Series heads re-engineered to lose the top three fins and hide the improvements that S&S made over the original Shovel – like the 1.5:1 rocker ratio – underneath the eponymous rocker cover. Everything that the SH-Model was, the P-Model is, and S&S are happy to be judged on that reputation. It was obviously never intended as a replica, so you’ll struggle to sneak it into competitions and win as a Panhead, but with engine sizes of 93 – in high and low compression guises – and 103 cubic inches, it’ll make a good and healthy street motor and should give people cause to do a double-take when you pass them. It’s crying out to be retro-fitted into an Evo Heritage Softail chassis as an engine upgrade – a version is available in cases that will fit 1970-99

EDITORIAL

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With an issue full of events and a news section full of bikes, this issue has quite a different feel to most but shows graphically how broad the world of American motorcycles has become, and how strong the interest is in the UK, and it’s growing. So apologies to those who are looking for our extensive new products selection, that will be held over until next issue’s Christmas ideas special. The diversity of styles bears testament to the new influences coming into custom biking generally, and the availability of superblyengineered motors from American manufacturers is creating manufacturing opportunities on this side of the Atlantic in much the same way as it has done in the US, and it’s very interesting to see that that most traditional of British styles is among the first to embrace that opportunity. Mind you, there are at least three Café Racer’s in production to my certain knowledge – all of which are likely to be very different to each judging by the influences of their builders – and we’ll be covering the first of them next issue, and that’s really going to be a hard act to follow.

frames – to make the Heritage look even more like a Hydra, as well as getting a kick in the pants from the increased capacity and S&S’ ‘Proven Performance’. Of course you might want to mothball your original motor, Pan or Shovel, in which case you could use the other crankcase options that will work with 1954-64 (and 1948-53) tin primaries, and 1965-69 pre alternator alloy primaries. You won’t have to wait too long before you see this motor used to good effect, and it will be one of the engines used for their 50th Anniversary celebrations next year, but they are available now, having been officially launched on October 1st – which, incidentally, is the launch date of the X-Wedge motor.

It’ll be interesting to see if this is a presage to the sportier ranges coming out of Milwaukee and East Troy, with the XR1200 due next Spring, and the 1125R that should be with us in time for the NEC Bike Show, but there is a much stronger and growing interest in American engineering in the UK than probably at any time in our past. Reflecting that diversity, we’ve got a plan up our sleeves for a wake-up call that will be of interest to all those who don’t think they can afford a proper chopper, with a real-world buildoff series that’ll get your mind working overtime. There has never been as broad a range of clubs either, and we’re going to resurrect something that we started in issue one but didn’t have the time or resources to follow up: club corner will be making a reappearance with contributions from HOG and the HDRCGB, as well as UKBEG representing the Buell contingent and the VRA for Victory. There is a strong social element to American motorcycle ownership – particularly Harley-Davidson – which is easy to underestimate, and with clubs as different as

www.sscycle.com the Owners Group and Rider’s Club representing both ends of the scale with a substantial crossover in the middle, membership offers a range of benefits and opportunities. We’ll also be starting a photo competition in the next issue, which was going to start this time until we ran out of space, so get your cameras out and your thinking heads on, and get adventurous. There will be a prize of a subscription and back issues for the top three winners, as well as the winning photographs reproduced large, every issue for the next twelve months, with all entries going into a final competition with a new and independent judging panel to win a major prize at the end … once we’ve worked out what that’s going to be. It’s not a “shoot your ol’ Lady” competition, and is intended to get your creative juices going rather than appealing to your baser instincts, taking all aspects of living with an American motorcycle as its subject. I know I keep saying it, but there really hasn’t been a better time to be playing with American motorcycles.


CUSTOM CHROME UNVEIL NEW MOTORCYCLE IN FAAKER SEE

CCI’s American kit bike program might be under review, but the European arm is going for it big time, and are almost stealing W&W’s clothes in creating their latest kit bike at the 2007 European Bike Week. Called the Cuba Libra, it is intended to conjure up the image of a Harley imported from Cuba, and the Maze Grafx paint features Che Guevara’s face and ‘rust’ details to artificially age Thomas Sonnet’s latest creation, and the result is effective right up to the perfect chrome of the discs and calipers, but then you can go too far. For tips on distressing new metal to make it look old, contact Exile. As with all kits, the picture on the metaphoric box lid is the equivalent to a serving suggestion on a ready meal and it’s easy to imagine a generation of new ‘Hydra Glides’ taking to the streets, and relatively realistic ones at that: the lines of the frame are not just another Softail-style frame masquerading as something older, but a proper rigid frame, and better than that, a wishbone rigid frame. If they sell this as a rolling chassis, you can’t imagine a better home for the new P-Series motor or one of Jammer’s Pandemonium motors. As sold in its kit form, you do get a choice of motors – 88, 100 or 110-inch RevTechs in natural of black and chrome finish – and a five-speed RevTech box with a kicker, but more importantly you get a choice in spec: Basico and Extremo. No prizes for guessing what that Spanish translates as, but worth knowing what it means. The bike shown is the Extremo, which means a Xzotic Panhead-style motor, foot clutch, hand shift, sprung seat post and the funky old air-filter; the alternative is a regular air filter on a regular motor, sprung solo seat and conventional controls for hand and feet from RST’s range. Prices range from 12,499 Euro for the 88-inch, natural finish Basico, to 15,559 for the 110-inch black and chrome Extremo: a nicer seat, less conspicuous brakes and – I have to say – a 93inch low comp P-Series engine would see me right. www.custom-chrome-europe.com

NICK GALE CUSTOM CYCLES TO IMPORT CLIMAX MOTORCYCLES

Dutch builders, Climax, have signed up Nick Gale Custom Cycles as UK agent to distribute their range of European-approved, S&S-engined custom bikes. Built to a high specification, to a standard that satisfies every member state within the EU – which is a hell of an achievement in itself – they lend a unique twist to the available hardware and have very much their own style. A lot of that comes down to the use of a Kodlin frame, which has a very distinctive shape as well as TuV certification, and it’s interesting to see how that basic shape has been reworked to suit the four distinct styles. You’ll know Fred Kodlin from his work with Custom Chrome Europe, one of his bikes gracing the cover of the Custom Chrome catalogue a few years back, when he took the prestigious Bike Builder of the Year, and his “Take Over” frame forms the backbone of the Climax range. The A1 is the sole high neck chopper, with the G1 being an almost inevitable Pro-Street derivative which has also provided a foundation for a more minimal bobber, the M1, and broader dresser/ cruiser, the R1 – each very distinctive. The S&S motors are 113-inchers and surprisingly running on Mikuni HSR42, which I can only guess is to meet emissions, and there is another obvious penalty for being EU approved which can be seen in the exhaust, which makes the best of a bad job, but nothing that can’t be easily resolved at the point of purchase. The big deal is that they’re available across Europe and carry all certification for Type Approval and so don’t need our ‘get out of jail free’ card: SVA. There are wheel and fork options which can make a substantial difference to the price, but are essential elements to specifying a one-off, and the paint choices are about infinite. Nick Gale Custom Cycles, 0208 998 6775

»

www.climaxmotorcycles.com

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Roadtest: 2008 XL1200N Sportster Nightster

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2008 XL1200N SPORTSTER NIGHTSTER

The hubbub has died down now. The 2008 open days have been and gone, and those who took the time to attend one will probably have mixed feelings about what they saw. No Rocker Tails, no Fat Bob and no new Buell or XR yet … so why did you go? And why were you invited? Because, with your hand on your heart, if you thought you were only going to see a new Sportster, would you have gone? I’d suggest perhaps not – especially as it was the last bank holiday of the year, with Shipley, Oswestry and Harley Day at the Ace, or even just a last chance to head for the hills on your own or with mates in excellent weather – but Harley have a clever, if sometimes irritating marketing strategy when it comes to new models. The Nightster is an important model for them, and they want to make sure that as many pople see it as possible. Why is it important? Because it is potentially the Street Bob for the XL range, and a way of raising the profi le of ‘the other Harley’ to an existing customer base that can often dismiss the Sportster as not a real Harley, or worse: a girly bike. But the Nightster is not to be dismissed so easily. Two years after the Street Bob’s arrival, aggressively priced and designed to appeal to the traditional Harley fan, the Dyna range has enjoyed wider acceptance but some of it has been at the expense of the XL. With a reducing gap between the XLs and Big Twins, the Sportster hasn’t looked quite the bargain it used to be, and the lack of an XL1200R at any of our local dealers or on Harley’s press fleet, for us to put last issue’s XXL883 against speaks

»

»

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Event: HDRCGB, Oswestry 2007

If there was a competition to find the busiest weekend of the Harley calendar, there’s a damn good chance that August Bank Holiday would be the winner. The classic weekend for the HDRCGB’s national rally, it has left a part of itself in its former home in Shipley, moved the rest of it on to Oswestry and shares its Sunday with Harley Day at the Ace Café in London. »

OSWESTRY2007

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Xl1200C Vs Dyna Low Rider

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Custom: Chiefy’s Choppa

CHIEFY’S

CHOPPA Living, as we do, in a post-Discovery Channel world of big-buck themed choppers, dripping with chrome, hewn from billet or otherwise finished to an excessive, inappropriate level, it’s nice to look back at a more innocent age – I was going to say less ostentatious, but then remembered the collars, lapels, trouser legs and ties and thought better of it: The Seventies.

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In which prolific lensman, philosopher, debater, raconteur, long distance rider, prevailer over adversity and screamin’ heterosexual, Mr Mutch, ponces off to the Badlands with more camera equipment than you can shake a stick at, blags a bike from a long time friend, Pepper, and continues his unceasing search for America … and a rare delicacy known as ‘biscuits and gravy’. Readers of a sensitive disposition are forewarned that there are at least six non-American motorcycles on the next few pages, and some very nearly naked women, but that’s Sturgis for you.

STURGIS2007

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Event: Sturgis 2007

Biscuits and Gravy

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Xl1200C Vs Dyna Low Rider

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Tracktest: Buell Experience, Mallory Park

BUELL EXPERIENCE:

MALLORY PARK

It’s a funny old game, is building a brand. It’s not something that many of us need to think about, especially those us who are riding Harleys because it’s not so much a brand as an icon: we’ve grown up with it, and even those people who have no interest in motorcycles know what a Harley-Davidson is, and have an idea as to what it represents.

Buell, on the other hand, is a different matter. Buell is a newcomer, and considered to be a contradiction in terms as far as the motorsport-mad Brits are concerned. Outsiders have never heard of them, and insiders generally fall in to one of three camps: lovers of American bikes who think they are a waste of a Harley engine; sport bike riders who think that the concept of a quick American bike is an oxymoron and can’t be any good because it’s not powered by a liquid-cooled in-line-4, doesn’t generate 180hp and doesn’t generally worship at the alter of Japanese technology; and then there are the enlightened who have ridden one and ‘got it’. I liked to think of myself as one of the enlightened and, having absorbed the full engineering spiel that has been issuing forth from East Troy for nigh-on ten years, thought I had the measure of Erik’s eponymous creation. I’ve enjoyed the benefits of mass centralisation fi rst-hand, low unsprung weight has enabled me to faithfully track

poor road surfaces on dodgy bends with impunity and the rigid chassis has provided consistent, predictable handling on my old Cyclone and every test bike since. I knew just how good a Buell was … or at least I thought I did. In reality, I’d barely worked mine or any other example into a sweat … well, that was until a week ago last Thursday when I went on The Buell Experience, and got the opportunity to put a range of models through their paces at one of the UK’s premier racing tracks: Mallory Park. Designed to challenge your expectations, whether a convert or a cynic, the Buell Experience course, billed as the Ultimate Riding Experience, is about the cheapest way to get onto a race track in the hot seat of a motorcycle; and costing less than most track sessions with your own machine would set you back, at £79, includes a decent lunch and the expert attentions of a bunch of people who you really wouldn’t expect to find within a hundred miles of a bar and shield. Each of the four courses per day is a half day event for up to twenty people, which is about enough people to make it interesting on the track without being crowded, and keeps things easily controllable on all disciplines. It comprises four track sessions, a half-hour blast round the local country lanes and an off-road introduction to the Ulysses. Then you have the option of the skills course or, if you’re brave enough, a couple of laps round the circuit to show you where you went wrong, on the pillion seat of a specially adapted XB12R Firebolt ridden by a hero of British Superbikes on his local track, Matt Llewellyn. Having sneaked onto the afternoon session – and saving myself an ungodly wake-up call to get to Mallory for 8am – I lined up with another fifteen grown-ups in a wide variety of brightly-coloured leather romper suits ready to play: there is a stipulation that either one-piece race leathers or zip together jacket and trousers are worn on the track. As it happens, I’ve had a set hanging up for the last eighteen months that were rescued from a charity shop by some friends and this was the first opportunity I’d had to wear them without feeling self-conscious.

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Event: Bisley 2007

As HOG’s European Rallies have wandered around the various countries that make up the member states, they’ve had a tendency to leave behind a little piece of themselves which has, in a number of cases – most notably Port Grimaud, Barcelona and Hamburg – ending up becoming a national focus in subsequent years.

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BISLEY2007

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Head to Head: Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail vs Victory Kingpin Tour

There was a time when a touring bike was a regular bike with panniers temporarily – or permanently in very few instances – attached to its sides to carry a pair of socks, and room for a tent somewhere, but they have long gone.

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THE BATTLE OF

THE ‘SOFT’ TOURERS American-V.co.uk

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Xl1200C Vs Dyna Low Rider In a summer when the rivers burst their banks, when the reservoirs finished fuller than they started and when every outdoor event organiser crossed their fingers and hoped that theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d weather the storms, the 21st Bulldog Bash at Long Marston Airfield shone like a beacon of hope.

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Event: The Bulldog Bash 2007

Largely weatherproof with its concrete thoroughfares, plenty of covered accommodation and the historic town of Stratford-uponAvon on its doorstep – populated by businesses that have come to rely on the increased trade on the annual motorcycle invasion, and never more so than this year, after the Avon burst its banks a month earlier – it manages to put up with the worst of weather better than most. Sure, you still get wet in tents, and it makes a mess of the ‘run what you brung’ drag racing, but it takes more than a bit of rain to dampen the spirits of people determined to party hearty in the safe, trouble-free atmosphere of the Hells Angels’ annual contribution to the motorcycling camaraderie, billed as Europe’s biggest biker party. As inclusive an event as you can imagine, the Bulldog Bash throws its arms open to all elements of the motorcycling fraternity and high-performance petrol-heads rubbed shoulders with high handlebar’d Harley folk, and everything in between. This year the organisers went to great lengths to court every element of the country’s motorcycle press and the diversity of hardware that fi lled every available space in the town, pubs on route and petrol forecourts bore testament to their success. To underline the importance of its coming of age anniversary, big-name headline bands with mainstream appeal were booked, with the Alex Harvey Band, Status Quo and The Damned ensuring broad appeal to a wide audience – and they really did pack them into the massive marquee: the stage was set for a big ’un. It promised to be a landmark year, and that’s what was delivered.

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TRIBU 68

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Custom: Tribute Act

UTEACT Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s nothing like a bit of controversy to shock people out of their torpor, and this is one bike that has had people whispering behind their hands ever since it hit the streets: a radical custom that bears an uncanny resemblance to a bike that was built by our old friend Paul Stewart at Dynamic Choppers in Las Vegas. Âť

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Event: National Chopper Harleys & Hot Rods night Xl1200C Vs Dyna LowClubâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Rider

Once upon a time, the arterial roads on England were littered with what became known as roadhouses: watering holes, if you like, for thirsty travellers to take a break, and places where groups gathered for one reason or another. It made sense that they should become home to mobile groups, and consequently no surprise that many became bike pubs.

NATIONAL CHOPPER CLUBâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S

HARLEYS & HOT RODS NIGHT

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They’re largely gone now, victims of the breathalyzer and a new social responsibility, and a lot of the social aspect of motorcycling has gone with them, exchanged instead for a Sunday ride-out to one of a number of bike haunts around the country, and I for mourn their passing. I’ve only just realized how much, having gone down to the Bulls Head outside Leicester for the National Chopper Club’s Harleys and Hot Rods night – the last Wednesday of the month.

It’s not that it’s a massive event, but that’s a large part of its appeal: informal, relaxed and friendly, and a chance to cast an eye over a cross-section of bikes – the NCC have no specific affi liation to the Harley-Davidson – and the odd mad Hot-Rod or classic Yank car. It reminded me very much of my misspent adolescence at the ‘Grobs’ in the centre of York, having the feel of an eighties bike pub on a Friday or Saturday night and I can think of no better way to spend a summer’s evening. Good beer – albeit in moderation – and a good vibe, and the sort of place where a man who considers that suspension is not an option can turn up on a Road King without getting a hard time … well, not much. Words & pics: Andy Hornsby

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IRON

HORSE So, you want a high-end, radical chopper – like the ones you’ve seen on the telly – but you recognise your limitations in the spannering department. There’s no shame in that, and it’s a sign that you’re comfortable in your own skin to be able to acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses, and nothing gave choppers a worse name than the ones built by those who were out of their depth in engineering terms with Lego.

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Quickspin: American IronHorse Texas Chopper

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Xl1200C Vs Dyna Low Rider

RAINY DAZE 82

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Event: Rainy Daze

It was a year when any final suggestion that Harley owners were fair weather riders was dispelled once and for all, and if ever an event was going to live up to its billing on the wet weekends of 2007, it was Rainy Daze 4.

Talk about tempting providence, the Rainy City HDC aren’t shy about dragging their bikes out in all weathers, but still I’m sure they were glad that after three years at a rugby club on the outskirts of Stockport, whooping it up inside a big marquee, they’d found a new home less than ten miles away with substantially better permanent facilities. It was a shame that it was the very last rugby club that sprang to memory as I drove round and round south Manchester – yes, I know, but I thought some of the damp campers might want a little light reading while sheltering from the deluge. I needn’t have worried, the camping field was a bit soggy in places but the facilities were brilliant and people migrated from the traders’ marquees to the bar and back, with the occasional sortie to the area set aside for the bike show.

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Xl1200C Vs Dyna Low Rider

AMD

PRO SHOW 2007 Every year it canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t possibly be topped, but every year the standard gets higher, the styles more diverse, and the participating nations greater in number: it is of course the American Motorcycle Dealer OfďŹ cial World Championship of Bike Building, now in its fourth year and a purposebuilt facility on Lazelle Street, Sturgis. 86

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Event: AMD Pro Show 2007

1st PLACE:

SE Service, Skogås, Sweden, Hulster 8 valve

The only people who were conspicuous by their absence were the Brits, which must be slightly disappointing to the organizers – AMD is, after all, a UK-based publication – which is largely down to the lack of an affi liate show in the UK, but it hasn’t had an apparent detrimental effect on the spectacle. I’ll largely let the pictures tell the story again, to leave the maximum available space for the pictures, but not before congratulating the Sapka Muvek crew for their creditable fi fth, to point out that you need to look carefully at 13th placed VAV tuning’s engine cases and to make sure you spot the transmission on the 15th placed Tempest Cycles entry. No words of mine will do any of these justice, and as good as Horst Rosler and Frank Sandler are, neither can their pictures: you really need to make a point and go to one of these events once in your life to fully appreciate the workmanship and vision. To counter the criticism that you won’t see a lot of these bikes parked outside the pub, they play a similar role to Formula 1 cars: you might not see many of these on the road, but you will certainly see bikes inspired by them, and technologies pioneered on them in a street near you soon.

Words: Andy Hornsby andLucius Frank Sander Pics: Pics: Horst Rosler 3:(HR) Esox by SE(FS)

Service, Sweden: 1943 80-inch Harley flathead (HR)

2nd PLACE:

Chicara Motorcycles, Saga, Japan, Chicara Art 2

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Technical: Victory# ONE American-V

PROJECT VICTORY There are two things that count against you when you attempt to change a bike that you are also running: you can’t take it to pieces and leave it scattered around the workshop, and you keep changing your mind.

So goes the story of our Project Vegas. We still haven’t managed to deal with the forks, but they are now going to be a lot simpler than the original plan of raked yokes, 120/70x21 front wheel and a modified front mudguard with a central rib to match the rest of the bodywork, but we got to the end of the original Dunlops’ lifespan in an unexpectedly short 5,000 miles and had to make a decision. There’s no shortage of decisions to make, but the obvious, exciting ones can easily be countered: Performance? Need to sort out exhausts first. Paint? Need to be sure there are no bodywork changes. With Victory slotting a 90/90x21 tyre beneath the same wrapround front mudguard that seemed snug round the original 80/90, we knew that we could do the same and, while we were about it, could change the rear tyre from the 170/60 of our 2003 model to the 180/55 that replaced it on the same rim for 2004. Seeing as both of the original Dunlops were bordering on the illegal, I had a chat with Avon to see how a pair of Venoms would behave and we’ll see how they compare in terms of longevity. Having had 8,000 miles out of an AM21 fitted to the back of a 120hp XS1100, I’ve got high expectations, but only time will tell whether the Vegas really is as brutal user of rubber as the dead Dunlops suggest.

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I don’t know whether it’s the tyre compound, or the extra 10mm width, but the Avons give a greater confidence to the front end than before, and while it still looks little lost in the chunky front end, fi nally resolving the headlamp issues will take away some of that clumsiness. I’ve noticed that when grounding-out on corners, the contact is much less aggressive, as well as a lot easier, and bearing in mind that both tyres are wider and have pushed the bike’s centreline further out when canting over, that means it’s leaning further and suggests that the already excellent handling has improved. A new top yoke to reduce the impression of the tall headstock, and close the gap between the yokes is still on the agenda and if that takes the front end slightly higher I’ll deal with it through the forks’ internals or else a use a trick to complement the Bike Buddy Pro air-ride at the back: air forks. It’s another one of those running rethinks that could come to nothing, but it would be dead trick if we could work it out, and will add another dimension to the Vegas … providing it can be done safely.


Until then I’ve started playing around the back end a little more. I can’t help feeling that the clean smooth line of the rear mudguard is disrupted by the square number plate but we’ll only fi nd out how much by removing it. Four nuts later, followed by some cursing while trying to unravel the secrets of the wiring, the number plate bracket – which also acts as the anchor for the indicators – was off and all became clear. Without the number plate and bracket, the back end slammed down on its deflated shock looks great, but I’m not 100% sure about how it looks at its full ride height. Bolting the number plate onto the swing-arm as a side-mount, using the wheel spindle to anchor it, is the obvious solution, and again it looks right at rest but a little iffy at running height. As it was off – and as I have no intention of bolting it back on until I’ve seen it a few times and got used to seeing the bike without it – I tried the other alternative of mounting it above the frenched LED stop/tail, and I’m not sure it doesn’t look better there. It’ll move around between the two over the next few days, and I’ll also mock-up a couple of alternative plates: a three-line one that will make it narrower and taller, and might suit the ride height position, and a single row that will take the curve of the mudguard and act as an extension, slightly inside the mudguard allowing space for illumination, but might be too compromising for most traffic cop’s discretions – as if a sidemounted black and white plate wasn’t enough. Or, of course, I could just stick some white digits on the black paint of the mudguard … maybe not. If at all possible, I won’t be refitting the original number plate bracket, but that does

mean I’m going to have to consider what to do about indicators. I’ve struggled to fi nd exactly the right indicators for a while and am still drawing a blank. LEDs are an obvious route to take, as the tail-light unit is already an LED, but there are few out there that really suit the lines of the bike. With the availability of 12-volt LEDs now, I’m seriously considering fabricating something specifically for the bike and working with its lines. I’m inclined to mount it on the swing-arm, but am mindful that when the bike’s at a normal ride height, the upper silencer obscures it … but then the exhausts are on borrowed time too – the weld holding the top baffle tube has cracked all the way round and the baffle is making a bid for freedom. As with the indicators, I’ve yet to see a pair of exhausts that will suit the Vegas – most seem to be derived from existing Harley styles modified for the Victory’s exhaust port – and I don’t just want Stage 1 versions of the stock mufflers, so I’m considering getting one made:

a slightly upswept two-into-one made will keep tight to the swing arm and is designed to looks right whether the suspension is up or down, but there’s a part of me that wants shotgun or maybe X-pipes, the front pipe crossing the barrels above, and following the line of the pseudo timing cover, the rear pipe low, but I think that might suit more traditional bodywork. While twin pipes could have smaller chopper pots, any silencer on a two-into-one will be a reasonably big bore to fit in with the scale of the bike – an area where many fail for my tastes – and the challenge is to make the headers work with the lines of the engine, reinforcing the v-twin form, and most especially continuing to mask the casting between the ‘timing’ cover and the fi nal drive pulley cover. I’ll be looking for performance and clean running more than noise, and if it can be tucked in tight it should make the bike easier to ride with the rear suspension dropped, because it currently scuffs the trailing edge of the lower silencer. Most of which we should be able to resolve in time for next issue … allegedly. Words & pics: THE TECHNICAL TEAM

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Event: AceVs Café Harley DayRider Xl1200C Dyna Low

ACE CAFÉ HARLEY DAY The Ace Café has been part of the landscape of London’s A406 for as long as anyone you’re likely to bump into will care to remember, but goes back to 1938 to cater for hauliers using the then-new North Circular Road, rising to become a major icon in the mindsets of the nation’s motorcyclists in the sixties.

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into every available space in the near vicinity. Even HarleyDavidson had a presence with a display of current models and the chance to check-out the new Nightster for those who hadn’t attended one of the dealer open days on the same weekend, and Dutch manufacturer, Climax, was showing their range of S&S-engined bikes which are now available through Nick Gale Custom Cycles A whistle blew shortly after lunchtime for the customary ride out to Covent Garden for a spot of posing, but there wasn’t much evidence of a mass exodus with many being happy just to make the most of the good weather, food and music, doing what motorcyclists have been doing at the Ace for more than forty years: chatting oneto-one – and all without the use of a mobile phone or an internetenabled computer: what will they think of next? Words & pics: Andy Hornsby

The current quiet road that passes its frontage was the North Circular itself at the time, and the building that now bears the name is the 1947 replacement for the original café that was bombed in the war, which was extensively rebuilt for its grand reopening as a café in 1997 – it had closed in 1969 and had various uses over the intermediate years – and now serves as the primary focal point for every kind of wheeled and motorized event in North London. The last Thursday night of the month is Harley night – and was actually where new issues of American-V were first seen in our pre Newstrade days – but there are other events scattered through the year where riders of American motorcycles will fit right in, and Harley Day on the last bank holiday of the year, is one such event.It gave me a chance to get back down to catch up with Mark and Linda Wilsmore, and revel again in the sights, sounds and smells of massed ranks of motorcycles of all generations and styles spilling out of the carpark proper and crowding

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American-V 25 Preview  

A taster of American-V magazine, issue 25, packed with road tests, custom builds, classics and events related to Harley-Davidson, Buell and...

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