Text by Michael Stein - Easyriders
The trend towards wheels with an excessively large diameter may have attracted some attention in the automotive sector. However, for custom bikes such mega rims are still rather an exception. But here comes a “Fun Ride” Harley conversion with a record-breaking 24-inch front wheel.
Andreas Bergerforth – his boss from Thunderbike – had the idea for the “XXXL Wheeler”. The roots of the Hamminkeln-based company lie in custom bike construction. Today Thunderbike is also the official Harley-Davidson dealership for the Lower Rhine region. Since everyday business is actually much more than a full-time job, Andreas dragged his plans for the “fun bike” project around with him throughout the season.
He had discovered the impressive front tyre in Metzeler’s price list. After the silt had been ordered without further ado, the question arose as to what could be done with such a rubber. After all, there is no such diameter: no rims, no blanks, no wheel discs…
- Model Harley-Davidson Softail FXSTB Night Train 2008
- Engine TC 96cui
- Fuel Injection EFI
- Gear 6-Speed
- Exhaust Thunderbike Funride
- Air Cleaner Thunderbike Powerfilter Kit Cross
- Handlebar Thunderbike Flip
- Hand Control Rebuffini Mini
- Grips Thunderbike Funride
- Footpegs Thunderbike Funride
- Fuel Tank Thunderbike Alu Stretch
- Front End Harley-Davidson Dyna (modified with Air Ride)
- Swingarm Thunderbike Kreuzfeuer
- Suspension Tricky Air Ride
- Rims Thunderbike Spoke 4.5×24 front & 9×21 rear
- Tyres Metzeler ME880 130/70-24 front & ME880 260/35-21 rear
- Brake Discs Thunderbike Spoke
- Front Brake Caliper Harley-Davidson
- Rear Brake Caliper Driveside Brake
- Lackierung Ingo Kruse / Kruse Design
Who knows the often very spectacular custom bodies of Thunderbike, might think that the 24 inch would have been the foundation stone for another high-tech show stepper. But far from it, because apart from the extraordinary dimension of the front wheel, the motto was “Back to the Roots”. The result is a puristic looking machine that reminds of the old bobbers and early choppers. This doesn’t mean, however, that the bike wouldn’t impress with a multitude of technically ingenious details on closer inspection. In order to keep the load as low as possible despite the ultra-high bike, an air suspension has been built into the fork. V-Rod tubes had to be used, combined with bridges from the Street Bob. Stand pipes were nitrided for a particularly appealing appearance.
A 2008 Night Train served as the basic basis for the conversion. The night train from the Harley Softail range seemed particularly suitable because the series machine already features various black parts. This fits perfectly into the overall concept of the rather gloomy plane. As Andreas explains, the colour scheme of the body was inspired by the Harley Sportster Nighster variant, whereby master painter Ingo Kruse was once again commissioned for the paint work, including the pinstripings, as in previous Thunderbike projects.
Since there were no suitable rims to be found in the relevant catalogues, two car wheel disks were divided and planned at the interfaces. The next step was to mill the corresponding inner rings and stars, which were then welded or bolted together. In addition, several other parts were made especially for this bike. The exhaust system with its milled end cap as well as the handlebar grips and footrests have to be mentioned for example. In this context it is worth mentioning that such components often serve as prototypes for parts that are included in the in-house custom parts catalogue. And it was from this that they made use of, among other things, the tank and fender. In addition, “Made by Thunderbike” also applies to the handlebars, swingarm, intake manifold and air filter. The frame and the almost standard Twin Cam engine still define the bike as a genuine Harley. However, with typical custom bike features, including the fact that the brake lines as well as all cables and cables are mostly inside.
Shooting: Dirk Behlau