At Retro Write Up we feature high quality custom or restored motorcycles of all shapes and sizes. We support and respect the clever, low budget, home workshop created motorcycle just as much as those more sophisticated custom machines built by our homegrown South African professionals. We do not ever wish to judge or compare the motorcycles we feature as this would be arrogant and unfair to the builders and our readers. Choosing what we think our diverse readers will enjoy is already hard enough. The majority of the motorcycles we feature are built by or for owners who intend to ride their machines. There are a group of South African custom motorcycle builders who build machines to push the envelope of customisation. They build motorcycles to win shows. They expect their work to be judged. These show machines are built at high cost with only the best components and materials used. But throwing R500 000 at a custom build still does not create a showstopper. Judges will look past all the trick imported components and look for the builder’s own fabrication and signature features. These motorcycles’ radical looks are either loved or hated by the beholder. We are honoured to have the 2013 Harley Davidson Bike Week (South Africa) overall custom bike winner as our featured motorcycle.
Overall custom winner at Bike week 2013
This exotic was built by Lourens from L.J. Miller Engineering in Centurion, Pretoria. Lourens only started building motorcycles three years ago as a hobby. Unbelievably he has now won top honours at Bike Week twice, in 2011 and 2013, with two completely different creations. His winner this year is a ’50s styled bobber like no other.
Powered by a beautifully manufactured S&S 93 cubic inch replica of a 1950s Harley Davidson Knucklehead engine, this bobber has elements which hark back to the sexy but lethal boardracers of the early 1900s. A softail frame provides the rigid look whilst still providing rear suspension. Most of the brass components were machined by Lourens. The imported Mustang tank was also modified by him. The interesting front suspension and lights were imported by him especially for this bike. The leather seat was custom made by the legendary Deon who owns Leatherman. The long hot rod wrapped exhausts are positioned to be a feature, not an after thought.
As if having the ultimate bobber engine was not ’50s enough, this motorcycle also has a hand gear shift lever which, unlike most Harley based retro customs, actually works as does the foot clutch. For ease of operation, Lourens has added a really cool centrifugal clutch system which allows an uncoordinated rider like myself to accelerate away from being stationary without having to worry about using the foot clutch. Simply engage first gear while the bike idles, open the throttle and away you go! Although fitted with an electric start, the six speed gearbox has a functioning kick start pedal, just to round off the ’50s feel.
Lourens’s attention to detail is apparent in every fastener and every bracket. Even the fender struts and seat mounts are works of art. By using a disc in sprocket brake system the back wheel is uncluttered and fully visible. These Shenko 16″ tyres are a must on any retro Harley
Study this front end view carefully. Absorb and enjoy the detail. Now imagine yourself with a leather flying helmet and goggles crouched down over the tank. Now you are getting the picture. Lourens made those boardracer handlebars and brass speedo housing himself.
Over the last three years Lourens has established himself as one of South Africa’s top high end custom motorcycle builders. If he was a less modest man, he would be building a crate to send this bike over to Sturgis or Europe to give the rest of the world’s custom builders a fright