Eric Kerkhoff’s 1981 Harley Davidson Ironhead “Harton”


Great to have my bike chosen as Cafe Racer TV Bike of the Week! Here’s a little more about me and the Harton. I´m addicted to motorcycles as a result of my early years as my father always ride, restored and collect vintage motorcycles. Beside my weakness for vintage jap street bikes from the sixties I used to compete in classic racing with a Suzuki t500. Racing at these events you just can´t get around the incredible Norton Manx(s) on the track. Of course, I wanted one…

As I can not afford a Manx Norton I decided to build myself a cafe racer that should have the look and feel of a Norton Manx look. I already had a ´54 featherbed wideline street frame, in which my initial intention was to use a Yamaha XS650 engine, but I found the 650 twin looking small in the featherbed frame. Fast forward a while… For a few years I had and rode a ´81 XL1000 Sportster and I really liked the old Ironhead Sportys, that brought me to idea to use a Ironhead engine instead of the XS650 and to fulfill another wish at the same time.

Getting to the build and performance of the “Harton” and it’s Ironhead engine, it should have a separate carburetors for each cylinder. This is done by reversing the rear head so I could mount the second carb on the left side and the exhaust on both sides to give it that traditional English look. As I already was machining the heads I dual plugged them for better running as well. In my opinion, another thing the bike needed was a open belt drive, this took me a lot of time, but finally got it to work properly. And it looks/sounds smashing!

The engine was fully rebuilt with KB pistons, Crane HI-4 single fire ignition and Kibblewhite BD valves all breathing via Dellorto carbs. After completing the engine and moving to the actual bike the goal was to use so many as possible vintage parts. The original Manx tank would not fit my bike as i needed to have a lot more space underneath it so I built one myself, also the oil tank, exhaust headers, seat and many other small parts are home made, this took me a lot of time but at the end it makes the bike just as I envisioned it which could not have been done with off the shelf parts. I was lucky to find a very rare CMA 8-leading shoe front brake for my project, a Triumph/BSA conical hub was used at the rear, both fitted in Borrani rims using stainless spokes. Other parts used are original short roadholder forks at the front, Megaton silencers and Tomaselli levers, Smiths conical racing Rev-counter and chronometric speedo.

Building this one took me a lot longer than I was planning, but I will never regret it, it ended just what I had in mind when I started the project.

Thanks for the interest and Greets to all,

Eric Kerkhoff   –  Netherlands