Even with hundreds of new motorcycle offerings each year, some revolutionary and innovative, there remain some motorcyclists who cannot buy what they want to ride. So they build their own motorcycles.
It’s evident that David Christensen had a sleek and stylized machine in mind when he designed and fabricated this motorcycle. Those schooled in Industrial Design would say with some of its orderly rectilinear forms it leans more toward design but includes good styling as well. There is also a bit of pure decoration, like the finned panel at the rear of the tank, on the sides of the chin spoiler, battery box and attached to the primary cover, plus the way the rare fender finishes similar to that of trim tabs on speedboats. And note the aircraft fittings and careful routing of oil lines on the side of the oil tank; they have become decoration but are functional. Don’t miss the nicely crafted brackets which hold cables and hydraulic lines in place or the nice mounts for the rear turn signals, and dozen of stainless steel locking fasteners.
The frame looks to be a solid design with many straight tubes. Almost fully exposed, the silver paint integrates it with the painted sheet metal parts and aluminum parts as well. With the steering head reaching for the sky, the space beneath the fuel tank could become lockable storage, and offered another trapezoidal form to complement the fuel tanks. Like on many Harleys, the fuel tanks hang to either side of the frame, the gauge cluster is central, but this is an entire different take on that layout, and panel fit is superb.
Selecting off the shelf components to incorporate is crucial to a good design as well; few would like to make from scratch their own hydraulic brake system. Christensen sourced Honda parts from the 1970’s but put them on the lathe for some detailing and polishing. The wheels are very unconventional being disk, but also in size with a Crager 17” front and a 15” fender-hugging Centerline rear dropping the bike a bit and scaling it down, even exaggerating the length of the needle-bearing springer front end.
David Christensen’s Harley-Davidson FL-powered custom is one of about 15 interesting expressions always on display at the National Motorcycle Museum; examples of design and fabrication in motorcycles. But after a two year run the temporary Allstate Motorcycle CHOPPER STORY presented by J&P Cycles will be dismantled in April. You can always enjoy this custom, donated to the permanent collection by Christensen, and other customs in the permanent display when you visit.
- Engine, Transmission, Carburetor and Ignition: Stock 1978 Harley-Davidson FL
- Primary: Karata Belt Drive
- Frame, Fork, Swingarm, Forward Controls: Custom Fabricated
- Front Wheel: Cragar 17”
- Rear Wheel: Centerline 15”, Modified Honda Disk
- Handlebar: Modified Harley-Davidson
- Tank, Seat, Sissy-Bar: Custom Fabricated
- Wheelbase: 68 Inches
- Builder: David Christensen