Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Got a great e-mail from Rick. Always cool to hear from like-minded folks! Check out his awesome bikes above, plus he's got tons more fantastic bike pics here:
Here's the story from Rick, I love this stuff:
"CHR1000(Custom Harley Racer) -- back story:
I graduated from art school in 1966 with a fine art degree (useless unless you wanted to teach). A friend and I worked nights as guards at the Walker Art Center, and we would wander the empty galleries talking about what the perfect motorcycle would look like and what its components would be. It took two years of research and phone calls, but I managed to actually cobble together what I thought would be "perfect". It was very close, but in the end it became an albatross around my neck. It was a hell of a journey, though, and I'll always be very proud I undertook the project.
Before I die, I may just do it again.
And "Next time, we'll get it right!" (to borrow the last line from Bob Seger's Roll Me Away).
The tank was from a Canadian supplier, as was the fiberglass seat - as you can see, it mounts with a single top-tube bolt (just like the fiberglass tank on my '66 BSA Hornet). I always planned to paint the bodywork, but stayed so fond of the green metalflake and white seat fairing, that I never got around to it. The taillight was a Bates and the headlight came from Drag Specialties, which was just a little shop on Lyndale Ave. back then. I don't know if I got the drag bar with risers from DS, but I got the VDO tach and Magura levers from Germany. The Ceriani road-racing fork, Borrani rim and Fontana four-leading shoe brake came from Italy via Jim Belland, who took them off an HD factory racer, and the tire was a racing Dunlop from the Brits - rear tire was a Continental, Universal tread - don't remember if it was British, but the Girling racing shocks were. The engine was built from scratch by the Eide Bros. shop in north Minneapolis, and they wired and final assembled the bike, but I put all the main parts together in my basement and then got about seven friends to drag it up the stairs and out the back door using the usual bait - couple of cases of beer. As I've said elsewhere, Mert Lawwill's builder/tuner Jim Belland made the frame for me (for a paltry $300!) - I spent a whole summer calling and bugging him about it - got to be pals with his lovely wife Wanda, who had to field most of my calls (spent 250 1968 dollars on the phone bill for the summer). I have no memory of how I connected with Jim, except I know I first called him at the big San Fran HD dealer where he worked. (I never had any interaction with Mert.) I remember sending a drawing of what I thought a Sporty frame should look like, and he said it was so much like their KR750 racing frame that all he needed to do was raise the backbone tube to fit the overhead valve Sportster engine into it. He finally sent it, (I had to have the nickel-plating redone) with the Ceriani/Fontana fork/brake as a surprise for my patience (for only $100!). When the Eide's got the bike running I went to get it, and the sky opened up with a cloudburst, so I rode it home under seriously god-awful conditions. To say the little Harley had a "personality" does not cover it - when the cursed Tillotson was behaving, it scared the bejesus out of any other bikers on the street, which was exactly as I planned - and those shorty glass-packs made a sound like a pack of banshees chained in the backyard...hehehehe. I figure maybe 100hp moving 380lbs. of bike with 150lbs. of little ol' me; it would lift the front wheel for a block or so...and then I'd hit second gear and be gone.
It cruised past other bikes reading 125mph, but since speedos aren't to be trusted, who knows what it topped out at.
It steered like it was on rails and the big Fontana hauled it down like a couple of modern discs. But vibration was intense and the two 500cc 12:1 cylinders were almost impossible for me to kick over, plus the carb would simply not stay tuned.
After two on-again off-again summers with my little "CHR1000", I took it out to the Norton/Ducati dealer and traded it in
on a Commando 750. On the way, a squad car pulled me over for noisy pipes (big blue flames shooting out of the glasspacks) and I told the cop I was taking it to trade in on a Norton and he let me go. I still miss my little Harley bullet, but not the grief it gave me.
I think I invested a total of $3200 into it, which was a lot to invest in a bike back then.