Here’s the lowdown on the uber-cool S&S 55th Anniversary show bike built by Francesco Mattioli of Crazyoils, for the S&S display at the 2013 Big Bike Europe show in Essen, Germany.
Since the European continental coolness index has its own scale, S&S wanted a special display bike with European attitude for Big Bike Europe. Something a little different from the show bikes we travel with here in the states. To make that happen, S&S contacted Francesco Mattioli of Crazyoils Custom Bike Builders to build a special bike for the show. Francesco’s shop is located in Segrate, Italy, just outside of Milan.
Francesco is a member of the International Master Bike Builders Association and is building a reputation in Europe and the United States for his unique, stylish and most importantly, rideable custom bikes. You can check out his work at his website at http://www.crazyoils.net/. S&S asked Francesco to build a custom bike based on a Harley-Davidson® Sportster® motorcycle that would be unique and innovative, but at the same time still retain that Sportster mojo.
Francesco started with a stone stock 1991 XLH 883 Deluxe, but since S&S gave him a free hand in the design and construction, all that we really knew about the end product was that it would be really cool and it would be very fast. We knew it would be cool because Francesco was building it, and it’d be fast because of the S&S parts that would be used in the engine. In Francesco’s words “You cannot have a great engine without having a great performing bike to go with it. But at the same time it will still look like a Sportster.” We had no doubt that this would be a stunning bike from the very beginning, and these photos show that our confidence was not misplaced.
As amazing as this bike looks, it’s not just a pretty face. This bad boy was meant to move. That’s what bikes are for isn’t it? Since the engine has been upgraded from 883 to 1200cc with the S&S 883-1200 conversion piston and cylinder kit, not to mention S&S 482 cams, Crane Hi-4N ignition, S&S Super E carb, a Stealth air cleaner with Muscle cover and S&S performance mufflers, it should be an exciting ride indeed. Lookin’ good. Soundin’ good. Goin’ fast.
In 1942, Harley-Davidson® made 462 U model motorcycles, 41 of which were slated for the U.S. Army. Harley-Davidson also produced 426 Sidecar versions for the U.S. Army, and these U Models w/ sidecar ironically were USA models. Since only the U.S. Military can make the great American icon more American, S&S® decided to do a military motorcycle for the 2012 Flathead Power® road tour. Long time S&S employee, Bonneville record holder and military vehicle enthusiast, Dan Kinsey jumped at the chance to work on this project. Since the majority of our flathead parts are for the big twin flatties, the bike would have to be a replica of one of these rare 1942 models.
Built and painted by Bonneville Record Holder, Dan Kinsey, of S&S® Cycle.Diving into the historical archives and internet pages filled with nose cone art and pin-up babes, very little on the U.S. Army U models could be found. Not wanting to give up on the project, we did the next best thing, duplicate what we knew of the 45" WLA models to create our own WLA/U model hybrid. Some initial parts and a wealth of knowledge from our friends at WayBack Wheels got us well on our way. Dan went to work stripping down the “F-bobb” (an S&S built U model flathead bobber style motorcycle) bike and repainting it in olive drab green. Starting with cut down fenders, Dan created some parts from scratch and retro fitted other WLA model parts. Given that the WLA 45" engines used a three-bolt inlet flange on their smaller carb, we had to generate a 3D model and a rapid prototype of the air inlet casting for the oil bath intake system. Our version has the U model four-bolt carb flange and with S&S being S&S, we just couldn’t resist adding the patented stinger to the intake.
Jumping in on the replica rage, Marketing Director Gary Wenzel went so far as ordering a replica Tommy gun to fill the empty scabbard. The designation lettering is even unique to Flathead Power and S&S. On the rear fender, the division designation uses the S&S founding year, 1958, in the call out AGF-58C (Army Ground Forces, 58th Calvary) and the vehicle designation; FHP 1 of course! After three months of hard work and research, the 2012 Flathead Power display and pit bike is complete. This bike features Flathead Power heads, 80" cylinders, pistons, solid lifters and kicker cover. But this bike isn’t just for display – we’ve set it up with a foot shift and a hand clutch so our show staff can easily tool around the show grounds.
You'll can see this bike at these shows:
Perkiomen AMCA Swapmeet
Oley, PA - April 27-29
National Motorcycle Museum Show & Swapmeet
Anamosa, IA - June 1-3
J&P Open House
Anamosa, IA - June 23-24
Oshkosh Air show
Oshkosh, WI - July 23-29
Blackhawk Vintage Races & Swapmeet
Davenport, IA - Aug 31-Sept 2
In the November issue of IronWorks magazine, Stephen Berner published a great article titled "Scott Sjovall's X-Glide: More than the sum of its parts" covering his experience with Scott's motorcycle. The X-Glide is a lab rat of S&S Cycle's research and development and is a true workhorse in the name of better motorcycle performance research. Scott lent Stephen his X-Wedge powered custom homebuilt for a week and had a few things to say about it.
"The X-Wedge was debuted to the VTwin press during 2007, heady times in the V-Twin industry indeed. It was a new engine designed for the blossoming OEMs who were looking for an EPA-compliant workhorse; a worry free high performance engine made in America from a name they could trust. That in and of itself had value and leverageable brand equity. 'It is powered by an S&S XWedge engine, you know.'"
"Well things being what they are and history being what it is, looking back we obviously are much wiser, smarter, and a hell of a lot more conservative in how we spend our hard earned cash now. But if it weren’t for the boom the X-Wedge might not have been developed. And friends, I can report that it is indeed a well-developed engine."
But let me tell you, this is a great engine; a responsive power plant that can go to a whole ‘nother level of V-Twin riding. A 56-degree cylinder configuration, a wider configuration than a 45-degree engine layout. It is this characteristic that prevents us from simply sticking this beastly strong S&S engine in our stock framed machines. The front cylinder and exhaust pipe wont fit a stock configuration and the back cylinder would be crowded."
"And so every once in a while a knowledgeable enthusiast would typically ask three questions: the first was “What am I looking at?” The second, “What’s it like to ride?” And the third, after hearing my answers, was “Where can I get one?” So, this is how I answered those queries.
What is this? This is a 132-inch, S&S XWedge-powered, Rolling Thunder frame’d Road Glide derivative owned by Scott Sjovall, VP of Product Development at S&S Cycle. The front end is off a Hayabusa. All the running gear/bodywork is a blend of S&S and H-D for the most part.
What’s it like to ride? It’s a lot like a Harley but it spools up faster, goes longer, is stronger, has more torque and doesn’t run out of breath. The engine seems unflappable and doesn’t mind redline/rev limiter shifts through all the gears, all the time. It never complains. At slow parking lot speeds, you can feel the longer frame but in every other situation the bike is like a locomotive; strong, straight in terms of handling, and has seemingly boundless enthusiasm for the task at hand. Sixth speed is ridiculous—a total “you’re gonna collect autographs” gear. Put it this way: you are doing 75 MPH at 2900 RPM in 5th and the engine is barely breathing. What are you planning on doing in 6th gear? Getting tickets, uh huh.
Where can I get one?: Unfortunately you can’t get one. Well, let me rephrase that: you can’t buy one “baked.” You will need to connect with a builder who can put the bike together or you can do it yourself if you are a crafty hands-on type that has done work like this before. Working with a frame manufacturer like Rolling Thunder insures you’ll have what you’ll need in terms of tabs and mounts, and S&S has some real patient tech support folks that can work with you to answer fitment questions and make recommendations. The bodywork and accessories are available most anywhere. Put it this way: S&S wants you to succeed."
To read the entire article, click here to download the pdf.
Coming soon: The X-Glide hits the drag strip!
Photos taken by Chris Callen of Cycle Source