- CCE 50TH Anniversary Bike
Custom Chrome Europe 50TH Anniversary Bike
50 years of Custom Chrome is more than enough reason to celebrate! To commemorate this anniversary, Custom Chrome Europe has commissioned a stunning custombike, built by German top-customizer and parts manufacturer Thunderbike in Hamminkeln/Germany. Premiered at Motor Bike Expo 2020 in Verona, the 50th Anniversary Custom Chrome Custombike will be presented at motorcycle and custombike events all over Europe.
Building a “tribute bike” is always a challenge: Spanning the time of five decades even more! Just recognizing the different trends and styles of the last thirty years, when customizing individual one-off bikes reached never before seen levels in quality and technology, would be impossible to realize in one custombike. Since Custom Chrome Europe in 1998 was set up as the European branch of the then Morgan Hill/California based distribution company, it has encouraged its customers, professional and private builders from all over Europe, to realize their rolling phantasies – and during the last decades, many of these bike dreams have been forged into dream bikes. One of the long time CCE partners, Hamminkeln/Germany based Thunderbike, can also look back to a more than 35 years long history and has become one of the most active parts manufacturers and custom shops for Harley-Davidson in Germany, if not Europe. After building a considerable number of CCE’s “Bolt On And Ride” bikes since the program started in 2009, the team of Andreas Bergerforth was the logical choice for the challenge to create a fitting expression of half a century of Custom Chrome…
As Thunderbike has already built an impressive number of custombikes for CCE’s successful “Bolt On And Ride” bike lineup, they were the logical choice for the job: Andreas Bergerforth and his team not just have a reputation for excellent homologated customparts, but a history of outstanding show-winning one-off customs that have scored European- and World-Championship titles, often advanced and superior in style and technology. The concept for the “50th Anniversary Custom Chrome” bike already reflected the attitude to catch the spirit of the seventies customizing and merge it with todays technology – and the need for, at least in the main markets of Europe, homologated parts. Thunderbike did not just deliver that, they built a truly outstanding 21st century ride that fifty years ago nobody would have even dreamed of!
The project started with a stock Milwaukee Eight 2020 model year “Street Bob”, powered by the 107 Cubic Inch version of the 8-valve motor, Harley-Davidson’s answer to ever increasing noise and emission rules not only in Europe, but in California too. That the new M8-powered “Softail” has become harder to customize is a factor that all the more challenged Thunderbike’s R&D department: The CC 50th Anniversary Bike is a visible proof of that, it is the first CCE Milwaukee Eight with pneumatic suspension front and rear. Plus the front end is a pneumatic “Springer” type fork, homologated and with full functioning ABS! Thunderbike had developed the new “Radical 2.0” front end when it became obvious that Harley itself would not return to the popular style they had re-introduced with the Evo-powered FXSTS “Springer” for the 1988 model year. The demand for a functioning Springer fork was coming from independent and authorized Harley-dealers alike – and Thunderbike came up with a superb design that combines state-of-the-art technology with modern retro look. All who know Thunderbike’s showbike history: The 2008 European Championship-winner “Open Mind” marks Thunderbike’s boldest steps into developing super-clean pneumatic front suspension. The rear pneumatic single shock comes from a traditional “air suspension” manufacturer: Sturgis-based “Legend Air Suspension”. Both suspensions operate independently, raising the bike from parked position up to well beyond stock “Street Bob” riding height. This “Softail” is a real rider!
Before / After
With many of Custom Chrome’s own brands and even more of CCE long-time partners to be considered for having parts on this project, it was a difficult procedure to decide the final parts list: The stock spoke wheels were exchanged for RevTech’s superb “Velocity” design wheels, for not altering too many parameters of the rolling chassis, the wheel sizes of 21 front and 18 rear were retained. Shinko white wall tires add a touch of “Old School” look. As usual, the RevTech wheels are supported by brake discs and belt pulley of the choosen design, at the front end gripped by a 4-piston Performance Machine radial brake caliper.
- Rear Fender Thunderbike Shorty
- Seatplate Thunderbike Shorty
- Front Fork Thunderbike Radical 2.0
- Frontfender Thunderbike Radical 2.0
- Headlamp Thunderbike Unbreakable
- Grips Thunderbike Phantom E
- Toppers Thunderbike Base Smooth
- Speedo Riser Kit Thunderbike
- Side Mount Licence Plate Thunderbike medium
- License Plate Lighting Thunderbike
- License Plate Bracket Thunderbike
- Handlebar Standard Ape Hanger 1 1/4″
- Footpeg Set Thunderbike Drilled
- Shiftpeg Base Alu Thunderbike
- Caliper Bracket PM Radial Thunderbike
- Pushrod Covers Arlen Ness 10-Gauge
- Lifter Block Cover Arlen Ness 10-Gauge
- Transmission Side Cover Arlen Ness 10-Gauge
- Timer Cover Arlen Ness 10-Gauge
- Derby Cover Arlen Ness 10-Gauge
- Wheels RevTech Velocity Midnight (21×3,5 & 18×5,5)
- Hub Kit Front RevTech
- Hub Kit Rear 25mm RevTech
- Turn Signals Rear Highsider Proton 3-1
- Turn Signals Front Thunderbike Stripe LED
- Pulley RevTech Velocity 1“ 66T
- Air Shock Legend Air Mono
- Exhaust BSL Top Chopp Staggered
- Brake Disc Front RevTech Velocity
- Brake Disc Rear RevTech Velocity Back
- Mirror Highsider Montana
The bodywork looks surprisingly stock, thanks to the use of the stock fuel and oil tanks, but front and rear fenders are both Thunderbike originals, the rear one perfectly fitted with Thunderbike fender struts to the stock mainframe. Thunderbike sidemount license plate and the new Highsider “Proton Two” LED Taillight/Turn Signal combinations add to the clean look of the tailend. The fitting single seat also comes from Thunderbike and offers long-distance capabilities. These will certainly be tested in the 2020 riding season, when the 50th Anniversary Bike will hit the road to many European events. Riding position is somewhat relaxed, thanks to a Santee “Apehanger” handlebar, raised again 1 ¼ Inch by a Thunderbike riser. The stock Harley-Davidson riser-mounted digital displays will certainly dampen the demand for other miniaturized instruments – as it is well known that Harley-Davidson is following custom trends and reacting to them. A complete set of Rebuffini hand controls and switches are mounted to the “ape”, the Thunderbike “Phantom” grips are special made one-offs with distinctive “50th Anniversary” logo. The almost invisible LED indicators hidden under the controls, a Thunderbike part that exchanges for the bigger stock parts. Highsider “Montana” mirrors have been choosen to be mounted as the bike will hit the road soon.
When introduced, the Milwaukee Eight motor (as every new Harley-Davidson motor since the Knucklehead), raised discussions about its abilities to be customized. Performance of the motor was rarely questioned, as the times of drag racing style duels at the traffic lights seem to be a thing of the past, both in the US and Europe, but the sound of the completely new developed V-Twin is always a highly discussed topic of Harley riders. The first to customize one of the new Milwaukee Eight touring models was the Arlen Ness team, which customized a brand new M8 quite literally “overnight” on August 23rd 2016, when getting hands on a just introduced 2017 “Electra Glide”.
Within weeks, the Arlen Ness team had a full line-up of “10-Gauge” style engine and gearbox covers, including a much appreciated M8 rocker cover design that change the look of the heads into a cooler “Ness-style” look. Since Arlen Ness started his shop in San Leandro/California at the same time as Custom Chrome, the “Ness dressed” motor/drive train is a fitting tribute to both brands, closely working together for decades.
The “Air Perform” air filter is a new design by Bike Shop Linz (BSL), for years well known for their cool exhaust systems, one of which is also delivering the fitting “soundtrack” for the 50th Anniversary Bike. Mounted is BSL’s “Top Chopp Staggered” exhaust system, Euro 4 compliant, for which CCE will also offer a combined homologation certificate which will be valid for the combination of BSL’s air filters and exhaust systems. This will simplify mounting the parts from Linz/Austria for all M8-powered Softails!
Conception and design of the 50th Anniversary Custom Chrome bike was the brainchild of then CCE Managing Director Andreas Scholz, working out the details with Andreas Bergerforth, always in co-operation with CCE’s “New Products” team and CCE Corporate Design Manager Carsten Behrens, who developed the eye-catching 50th Anniversary Logo and sketched studies of the paintjob.
The final version was handed to Ingo Kruse, one of Germany’s most renowned Airbrush artists. With his usual attention to detail and devotion to quality, Ingo performed an outstanding paintjob that is merging the style of early Seventies Harley-Davidson style with todays Custom Chrome Europe corporate design – and the favourite base colour of European customizers: Black.
How advanced and sophisticated this Anniversary bike really is, becomes obvious when thinking back twenty, ten or only five years: Who would have believed that a dual air suspended rolling chassis would become an almost “Bolt-On” option, ready to be mounted at any stock Softail Harley. Air suspension custombikes such as Thunderbikes “Open Mind” were expensive one-off creations that would cost 6-digit Euro numbers, now it’s becoming mainstream affordable, not to forget the return of a superb Springer design fork for Harley’s new “Big Twins”. In 1970, 8 valves, fuel injection and Anti-Blocking Systems would have looked like coming from another planet at the time the “routine” Apollo 13 mission missed to touch down on the moon surface! Today, they are not just established
Text: Horst Rösler Fotos: Ben Ott
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