Text by Lech Wangin, photos by Marian “Pacjent” Curzydło.
It's rare one finds a custom motorbike in which the mechanical and functional basis and the aesthetic form create together such a harmonious whole.
To create a machine which is mechanically and functionally efficient and at the same time original, attractive and aesthetically refined in every detail requires a combination of a mechanic's knowledge and an artistic panache. And one also needs to know a lot about the history of the marque which forms the basis of the project. All these qualities are possessed by the the owner and creator of the neat bobber you see in the picture.
Marian Curzydło, known in Kraków Harley enthusiast circles by the nickname “Pacjent” is artistic photographer and earns his daily living in photography and graphic design. The motorcycle bug bit him when he was still a pupil at mechanical technical college. He and his classmate Boguś “Cipiór” Sikora tinkered with old bikes, because the two-strokes produced in 'Eastern' Europe didn't interest them. Like many teenagers fascinated with motorcycling, they dreamed of having their own big four-cylinder machines. “Cipiór’s” first bike was a Ural, whilst “Pacjent” became the proud owner of a BMW R 71 from the 1970's. Now with their own wheels, they threw themselves into the whirl of motorcycle life. They rode the length and breadth of the country, partying at bike rallies, and they didn't miss out on the cult Harley parties of the '70s at Wolsztyn. So began the passion of the two friends for Milwaukee Iron and their first experiences with the old side-valve WLA model.
In the 1980's Marian devoted himself to the creation of his own firm, and exchanged two wheels for four. However, as life shows, he who is once enchanted with the American motorcycle is never cured of his ilness. In the mid '90s, Marian returned to the fold and once again joined his classmate. He had a few modern Harley models, but in his motorcycling soul there was still a note of longing for the romantic old days when almost every trip had to be bought with a slog in the garage, to return to the run-down mechanisms their former good state. Besides this, only riding on a machine one has put together with one's own hands gives full satisfaction and satisfies the need to be an individual. And so the Harley Spirit project was born. It was a joint undertaking of “Pacjent” and “Cipiór”, and its fruit was to be a classic chopper which would put all others in the shade. It turned out a little differently. By coincidence, the two custom enthusiasts came into possession of a drag bike. The machine had a long frame with a distinctly lowered seat and an Evolution engine fitted with a mechanical turbocharger from the American firm Magna Charger. The two Cracovians set to bringing the bike to technical and stylistic perfection. “Cipiór” took on the work of the drivetrain, whilst “Pacjent” designed and built a completely new body. Although the machine looked like a concours show bike, which would cover long distances only on a trailer, Marian proved otherwise, getting under its wheels a trip to Saint Tropez, where an international rally of enthusiasts of the American marque was held. This success whet the custom appetites of team “Harley Spirit” and soon a project was born for a cool new bike. It was to be a chopper with long forks, a stiff frame and a 300mm wide rear tyre, powered by a mighty engine with a capacity of more than 2 litres, equipped with a turbocharger and on top of that even a nitro installation!
Unfortunately, work on this project was cut short by the tragic death of Boguś.
Marian took the death of his friend very hard. For a long while he wasn't even able to go near a motorbike. It was only after a couple of months he sat behind the bars of a new Fat Boy, but as before, riding a factory machine didn't give him full satisfaction. And so the idea of building something individual came back to him, but completing the turbocharged chopper project was out of the question - advanced mechanical tuning was “Cipiór’s” department. Marian bought a worn-out 1996 Bad Boy and decided to transform it into a minimalist 1950s-style bobber. Taking the bike apart into its component parts, he quickly realised that the majority of the parts held no hope of further use without failure. The extent of the wear and tear is best reflected by the fact that in the springer forks over over 90 of the 100 elements had to be changed. Before he set to work on the project, Marian added to the equipment of his workshop a TIG welder, a lathe and a milling machine. He also took a few lessons from experts, so as to recall in practice the secrets of machining and welding. He wanted, as far as possible, to do all the work himself. And there was a good deal to do. The original frame was retained, though it underwent the necessary stylistic treatment. Some of the brackets were removed and new ones fitted in their place. The factory rear shock absorbers were replaced with pneumatic shocks from Progressive Suspension. The Harley received beautiful wheels of classic narrow proportion, which caught the eye with their mass of eighty square-section twisted spokes. The original bulky rear mudguard made its way to the dustbin, and its place was taken by a light and elegant little mudguard attached to the swing arm and 'moving' with the wheel. The driver's footrests were substituted with retro-style floorboards. It's time now to explain where the name Hemeroid came from. It was in accordance with the project's stylistic principles that the bike received a chromed metal saddle equipped only with two small leather cushions. The sight of the saddle provoked an immediate association; “You could get haemorrhoids off that”. Although the seat looked great, in the end it was substituted with a larger Corbin saddle. It took a while before springs were chosen which provided suitable comfort and in whose size fitted the shape of the machine. “Pacjent” wouldn't be himself if he didn’t go to a lot of trouble to ensure that minor components fit perfectly, complementing the style and image of the machine. This role is filled by chrome exhaust covers with round holes and chrome plates in a similar style adorning the rear mudguard and the fuel tank. These are reflected, as if in a mirror, in chrome circles on the front mudguard. These elements, together with the black paintwork, give the bike a hot rod look. Whilst on the subject, it's worth mentioning that Marian's motorbike, as befits a two-wheeled hot rod, is characterised by a lively temperament, courtesy of an S&S Super E carburettor breathing through a K&N conical filter. When the rider wants a particularly thrilling sensation, he or she can use the on-board nitro system.
Work on this machine cost the owner precisely 159 working days, of which the last were 12-14 hour days.
I don't think one needs to be a specialist in the ins and outs of customising to see that this work hasn't gone to waste. The bike looks fantastic and has its own style, indeed it couldn't have been otherwise since “Pacjent”, in creating this machine, wanted to honour the memory of his tragically dead friend. One can be certain that in this machine lies the spirit of the late lamented Boguś “Cipiór” Sikora.
Harley Springer Haemorrhoid