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.
One of the many racers who ran S&S parts at the BUB Motorcycle Speed Trials last August was Jimbo Fischer. This is a pretty cool story so we’ll let Jimbo tell it in his own words.
Well we sure proved the quality, strength, and endurance of the S&S Super Stock SB-100 engine this year at the BUB/AMA Speed trials at Bonneville.
The “Great White Dyno” threw us a couple glitches as usual, that were analyzed and remedied quickly. We had to beat the existing record of 156.096 - An early lesson from Warner is - Don’t waste a minute of time - get there and beat the record first day out. That’s exactly what we did, three times.
After we set a new record of 162.299 mph on the first runs, Dyno Mike downloaded data - the decision was made to change the rear wheel sprocket and drop one tooth. Next time out the following day - we broke the record again, with a two way average of 167.418 mph. He’s still pulling hard so the decision was made to change the rear wheel sprocket again and drop one more tooth. That resulted in a third qualifying record run of 168.702 - In the impound the decision was made to check data - The ignition being on for the process a bit too long made for some high drama at the 5mi. start for the return record run. After trailering the bike to the 5 mi. start the signal was given - we’re next up - get ready. I hit the start button - and - it’s a very low battery - engine won’t turn over. OH S**t ! !
Trying to push start it - he won’t go - Suddenly, like the Cavalry coming to the rescue - Jeff Bailey and some of the S&S crew pull up with a starter pack and we get him fired up.
So with a little last minute high drama we were off to our best speed for the meet, and brought in a 170.552 mph and a two way average of 169.627 for a third time AMA Record in four days of racing.
I must say a huge THANK YOU to my team mates Warner & Mike, as well as to George Smith and all the great talent at S&S that put this engine together, and to our sponsors who also helped with much needed parts - like Wayne & Donna Pingel, and Jim Wallin at AutoMeter and the folks at Magnetrol flow & control.
Four days of racing, breaking the AMA record three consecutive times puts me on cloud nine.
One of the many racers who will be attending the BUB Motorcycle Speed Trials this August is Jimbo Fischer. This is a pretty cool story so we’ll let Jimbo tell it in his own words.
The Gray Ghost Story
"It was an early Sunday morning, spring 2001. Just finished making my first cup of morning coffee, and I hear my wife Barbara call me over to the table. “Hey Jimbo” she says, “ there is an old 1974 Sportster in the paper here, and it says it needs some work, you used to be pretty good at that. – (I worked in a machine shop in early 70’s, and made custom parts, and built my first Sportster from scratch in 71) – Why don’t we go and check it out, you need a hobby besides work”. I am to say the least, a bit surprised, pinching my cheek to make sure I am not dreaming. Not one to argue with this woman much, I just had to say, “yah, that sounds like a good idea sweetheart”. A call was made, a meeting set. We got there and first look made it well said,” needs some work”. Leaning on the side of the garage with a raggedy old tarp on it. Rolling it into the drive I first noticed the S&S carb, then the dual plugged cylinder heads. The young man tells me it was his dad’s bike and was given to him, but he couldn’t keep it running right. Said it was an old S&S stroker. Hhmm hadn’t been plated in over a year.
After about a ½ hr. of tinkering, we got him started, made a deal we could both live with, and began the journey home. Got only half way to the expressway, coughin’, spittin’, sputterin’, and here comes a good spring rain storm to finish the ride to his new home. I kind’a laughed while riding in the rain in that condition thinking, “oh well it’s our Baptism, here we go”. We spent the next year or so doing a frame off restoration. Giving him a retro look with FL struts and rear fender with a Beehive tail light, an old Mustang Bobber tank, keeping the old style pull back handlebars, & head light.
Taking the engine apart. The lower end checked out ok, but he needed a fresh valve job, & rings. Sure enough, it is a 4 5/8 S&S Stroker, complete w/ rods and pistons, with a set of Andrews X series cams, big XLR valves and some nicely done head work.
Riding him to some HOG meetings one of the guys said, why don’t you enter him into the dealers’ choice for the 100th H-D Anniversary in Milwaukee. I figure it’s a long shot, there are a lot of very cool newer bikes out there. So entry was filled out, pictures sent. Couple of months go by, I have just about forgotten about it when Barb comes into the garage holding an envelope. “You looking for this Jimbo”? I see the 100th logo in the corner and start to freak out. Sure enough, the Old Gray Ghost was invited to partake in the Harley 100th as part of the personal collection exhibit. That was stage one.
Stage two came about a year or so later when Barb, once again she started it, brought up the idea of going to the AMA-BUB International Speed Trials at Bonneville and do the “Run whatcha brung”. That’s all it took. After being there, you realize why they call it, “Salt Fever”. That year, we came within 14mph of the existing record for his class. Too tempting to pass up, we spent the next year getting him set up for some real action on the salt. Making a 4in. extended swing arm, making our own oil tank and battery box to narrow his frontal exposure, getting properly speed rated tires, and a whole punch list of requirements. With some parts help and good advise from old friend Steve Manthey, and some tires from Ozzie at WildFire we were headed back to the Salt Lake.
First pass in 07 found a slipping clutch at about 110mph. Back to the pits, make the adjustments, get ready for the next day. Second day of racing (tach quit working) but brought us a qualifying pass of 121.982 – we had to beat 120.444 – the qualifying pass made us eligible for the return record run (in the opposite direction), which we turned a 125.598mph, establishing a new AMA Land Speed Record for his class with a two way average speed of 123.79.
So this old Sporty, 34 years old, almost parted out, gets brought back to life, comes back a few years later and establishes a new land speed record for his class. M/PP 1350
That’s why we call him – “The Gray Ghost”
This year the Ghost will be returning to the salt, with a completely rebuilt engine, thanks to Jimmy “Smiley” Smith, crew chief for Edge Racing, to try and increase that mph number, and also compete for an FIM International title.
I guess that’s why they call it, “salt fever”.
I gotta say thanks to most of all, my wife Barbara, she found the bike and got me started again. And many thanks to Steve Manthey, to my brothers and family for their support and encouragement in chasing a dream. Last but not least, with all due respect, my many thanks to a world class gentleman named Warner Riley for your tutoring of a junior class Land Speed Enthusiast.
Project Gray Ghost
M/PP – 1350
2007 AMA Land Speed Record"
Check back later for “the rest of the story” and we’ll see how the Grey Ghost has been prepared for the 2012 season with a new S&S engine!
Nowadays, most people know that S&S Cycle offers some of the best motorcycle engines for Harley-Davidson® motorcycles, but back in the day, old timers knew S&S for high performance carburetors such as the venerable Super B, the Super E, Super G, and even the now discontinued Two-Throat. So how did S&S Cycle make the transition from "The Carb Guys" to the "Engine Guys"
It's a long story because S&S has a long history, but here's a brief, condensed version.
S&S Cycle was founded in 1958, and the first product sold was a solid lifter conversion kit featuring light weight aluminum pushrods. It wasn't too long before S&S introduced stroker flywheels to make Harley® engines bigger. Then came larger carburetors for gas and nitro, capable of supplying the demands of larger displacement stroker engines. The nitro engines were bending stock connecting rods, so S&S came up with stronger connecting rods for both Sportster® and big twin models. Big bore cylinders and pistons, and the improved Super carburetor were introduced in the 1970's, and the as time went on, more and more parts were added to the line. Some were purely high performance parts, but many could even be used as stock motorcycle replacement parts. Predominantly however, S&S was known for carburetors, and the iconic S&S teardrop air cleaner cover made it easy to spot a bike with an S&S carburetor.
By the early 1990's, with the addition of crankcases and cylinder heads, S&S had enough parts to put together a fairly complete v-twin engine. These almost complete motorcycle engines were brought to market as "Long Block Engines", indicating that they were not quite all there. Some stock Harley-Davidson® or aftermarket parts were needed before they were ready to run.
During this time period, Harley-Davidson® motorcycles were becoming increasingly popular, and as a result, hard to get your hands on. It could take anywhere from 18 to 24 months to take delivery of a new Harley®. With that kind of supply and demand imbalance, it didn't take long for enterprising entrepreneurs to start building custom bikes to fill the void. There were a lot of available aftermarket parts for v-twins, so these new manufacturers didn't have much trouble coming up with parts to build these "clone" bikes as they were sometimes called, with one exception – the engine.
The timing was perfect for everybody. The new "Custom OE" manufactures needed engines, and S&S could supply them. So the v-twin motorcycle buying public had a choice between waiting a year and a half to two years for a new Harley-Davidson® motorcycle with an 80 cubic inch engine, or taking immediate delivery of a custom built bike with an 88 or 96 cubic inch S&S engine.
S&S became the motorcycle engine of choice for most of the new manufactures, and as a result S&S became known to more and more people as an engine manufacturer, as opposed to a company that makes go fast parts to hop up a Harley-Davidson® engine. It's important to note that S&S was, and still is both. S&S manufactures complete high performance engines, but high performance parts for Harley® engines is still a major part of the product line to this day.
To complete the story, S&S continued to come up with more styles and sizes of engines, and today S&S can supply a complete engine for just about any big twin model from 1936 to 2006 and a fair number of Sportster Buell models as well. It's quite a list:
(click the Harley® model to view the S&S replacement)
In addition, S&S produces special engines for custom applications such as alternator/generator KN, P, and SH series engines, as well as the new KN-Kone engine that was named "Engine Of The Year" for 2011 by V-Twin magazine. Let's not forget S&S Cycle's proprietary X-Wedge® engine, which has received a lot of attention in connection with the British Morgan three wheeler and the Italian CR&S motorcycles.
That's our story, and we're sticking to it!