CUSTOM BIKE HARLEY SPIRIT
text/photo Marian Curzydło
"MOTOCYKL " 9/2005
The beginnings of Harley Spirit go back to the mid-1970s. We were joined with Cipiór by the same desk at the Secondary Technical School of Mechanical Engineering. We both just got mad about having machines of large capacity. Without discussion we agreed that less than 0,5 liter (also on the shelf in a liquor store) sucks.
And so it started. ‘Cipiór’ started with Ural, and when I bought BMW R 71 from 1943 somewhere in the country we were both caught. We rode through Poland up and down, we took part in all motorcycle events, for instance in the cult rallies in Wolsztyn. At last happened what must have happened – we moved to H-D. Of course, in the Polish People's Republic it could only be WL. During the 1980s, I ran my own business and for some time I changed two wheels for four. However, Cipiór did not betray motorcycles, particularly H-D, even once and he became a well-known person of a motorcycle world, not only in Poland. In the mid-1990s, the mixture of petrol in my blood as well as scarred genes made me return to the single-track vehicles. Then, I turned to a new H-D model – my company was doing quite well. At the beginning there was Bad Boy, then Softail Standard, and at last Electra. Everything to find the proper and the perfect one.
After the journey to Barcelona for the 100th anniversary of H-D in 2003, I realized that riding stock models of Harley, particularly Electra, is boring. I decided to come back to the roots, that is to my adolescence, smear grease all over my hands and build something I invent and draw myself. I wanted to bowl the world over and to show an excursion chopper. So I sold Electra and started looking for a drive from, of course, Harley team. An unexpected result of this running was the purchase of H-D with Evolution 1340 engine with a mechanical compressor MagnaCharger. I could do nothing else but change my original plans and build something entirely new. From the machine we gained, only a drive and a frame were left and the whole rest was thrown away.
On account of professional experience, Cipiór as an active mechanic (he studied at the Polytechnic, he worked in garages) took care of an engine. He replaced original engine elements with stronger ones, tuning elements. He also changed the lubrication system (see: Technical data). However my task, as I studied at the Academy of Fine Arts, was to take care of the design of our project. After sandblasting and pulverizing the frame, my torment to find an appropriate form for the machine character began. I treated the planning as sculpture classes; I made models from styrodur in a scale of 1:1. Thus, I found the satisfactory shape and the lines of a petrol tank, a spoiler and a saddle. Step by step, making particular parts by hand or buying elements in customizing companies, I was shaping the spirit of the Spirit.
In this motorcycle, all details, even the smallest ones, are crucial. That is why, when you take a careful look, you will see such details as, for example, a data plate made of stainless steel and with my trademark etched on it with the frame and the engine numbers originally impressed. The name of the motorcycle is not painted letters but trademarks on the tank which were made of brass, engraved, chromed and filled with enamel.
The present shape of the Spirit is an effect of our more-than-a year-long work. We, as all other people who had the chance to taste customizing themselves, became convinced that something always would appear as the result of work which effects were more or less anticipated. So after many thousand kilometers of riding in spring that year, we started to make changes. Cipiór again focused on the engine (seal, clutch modernizations, electronic ignition) and I hit upon a mad idea of ‘balancing’ the machine. A compressor and exhaust were on the right of the Spirit, which caused an optical asymmetry. I could not look at it. On the left side of the machine, despite the clutch offset, too little was happening, it was too empty. And this, not the lack of power (although it is never enough of it) decided to attach nitrous oxide installation. In order to make it a bit more awesome, I fixed the NX bottle to the rocker. These are aluminum clasps, which at the same time are the basis for the chains cover in which a ‘nitro’ bottle is fixed. The whole fills the right side of the rocker smoothly. It gives me plenty of satisfaction when I see how people react when they see the right side of the machine from the compressor side and then when they are completely shocked at the sight of the bottle for the nitro system at the other side.
A really funky machine was created. But it is not just an original motorcycle. I have a feeling that we succeeded in giving the machine parts of our souls. Harley Spirit is just the same individualist as me and Cipiór. While designing it and rummaging in its guts, we remembered all the time to create a custom which would not be just art for art’s sake, but it had to make sense. We didn’t want Harley Spirit to be another show bike which can be hardly seen out of a car carrier, we wanted to ride it freely. In June 2005, I proved irrefutably that Spirit is a real, outstanding motorcycle, a kilometer-swallower. Within eight days I made 4,000 kilometers (from Cracow to the rally in Saint Tropez on the French Côte d'Azur and back). During this journey there was a day when I made more than 1,000 kilometers at one go! On my way back I climbed over 2,000 meters above sea level. And all of this in the weather characteristic for all climate zones – a heavy rain pelted down on me, in the summer in the mountains in Austria and Italy I tasted the temperature close to zero degrees centigrade, in the city traffic jams on the Côte d'Azur I fried in the 40 degrees centigrade heat. And when I came back, we would walk as proud as peacocks – hundreds of hours of suffering were not in vain. Harley Spirit didn’t let us down. The basic two parameters specified before the construction was started: It has to look good but also to ride – were fulfilled in 100%.
But don’t be misled, the construction is not over yet. Despite the fact that H-S looks great and rides without any failures, it is not an accident that it has an inscription ‘Under construction’ on its rear mudguard (picture at the bottom page 77). It is a sign that the construction is still in progress, that not every idea has been implemented, and that there are still some elements, in our opinion, which need to be improved, changed.
I am paying my debts to Spirit using every mean I can. That is why I etched my name, the Harley Spirit logo and the website (www.harleyspirit.com) on my business card made of stainless steel.
I am going to build one more machine. It will be a tourist and ascetic chopper, on the stiff frame, of course, in order to enjoy riding even better. I already have it in my mind. It seems that it will be only for 'wandering'. The Milwaukee company has probably lost one customer forever.