Published by January 8th, 2018 in Builders, Customs and Editorial.
If you attentively follow the custom scene, here in the US and abroad, you know that each year the most admired bikes are those looking the most simple to build. As a matter of fact they are the most difficult to conceive, require handcrafting to perfection and always feature at least a couple of little known mechanical tricks. Have nothing on your bike that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. It’s what most builders aim for when starting a project. “Murder One” is one of these super clean bikes largely responsible for making Martin Becker of MB Cycles a custom builder household name in Europe.
Unusually for a custom of this level of handcrafting, “Murder One” was completed during a CUSTOMBIKE SHOW build-off competition where it was assembled on stage in 2 days. Of course all parts were already fabricated and prepped in advance at the shop, but all assembly had to be performed and all electricals had to be made front of spectators. In addition to winning this build-off, “Murder One” is since then an easy gold winner in all shows where it is displayed, even convincing Custom Chrome to commission MB Cycles for a 2018 “Bolt On and Ride” promo bike…
Some will react to this feature wondering how such a bike can be homologated and ridden in over-regulated Europe, especially in Germany where all European Union restrictions and laws are typically precisely followed. As a matter of fact, Martin Becker realized that to get any chance to promote his shop in winning big bike shows he had to build without constraints, forgetting all laws, thinking of homologation for later after 1 year of show tour, accepting then to perform the legal modifications and adaptations required. “Murder One” is one of the few Twin Cam 96″ using an Evolution-era 5-speed transmission and a Shovelhead chain drive installed in a one-off long and rigid lowrider frame, 60’s drag bike style. The Twin Cam engine originates from a Harley touring model, was taken apart to the last nut and bolt for a full rebuilt and balancing. Personalization was done with a series of covers from French company EMD. These covers also inspired the ribbed rear cylinder pipe heat shield and the air cleaner.
The unique frame was bent by Dutch VG-Motorcycle, a long-time expert at building replica, custom and one-off frames that qualify for TUV European homologation. A few inches of stretch in the tailend section offer that drag style look, emphasized by the absence of any accessory or part above and behind the gearbox. That huge empty space alone is an outstanding achievement, made possible by the conversion of the fuel-injected Twin Cam to a carburated S&S Super G setup, helping in the subsequent minimisation of the electric system. Reminding you that all electrical wiring was conceived on stage during 2days, it is remarkable that in such a short time all cables and connectors were routed and hidden inside the frame, the handlebars, forks and body parts, almost completely out of sight. Even the brake lines are mostly hidden with the front brake cylinder hidden under the flat bottom tank.
Oil tank was custom fabricated and positioned under the rigid frame and extended to the down tube featuring a right side window to check the oil level! The Twin Cam motor case was modified with a custom-made backplate where usually the Twin Cam gearbox is attached to the motor. Driveline is via a MB Cycles modified 1 3/4″ Primo belt drive. Final chain drive features a frame-mounted chain-tensioning sprocket. Serious modifications were performed on the Springer-style front end supporting a hand-hammered headlight. And to cut down the budget, MB Cycles opted for a set of stock Harley “Breakout” wheels (21 x 3.5”front, 18 x 8″ rear) looking like they were designed and cut just for this project. Minimalistic body work includes a one-off massaged steel tailend and gas tank. Exhaust is from Jekill & Hyde. MB Cycles(photography at H. Roesler for Cyril Huze)