Bike of The Week for Week 4 of Cafe Racer TV Season 2

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

Bike of The Week for Week 5 of Cafe Racer TV Season 2

John Wheeler’s 2005 Triumph Bonneville


CRTV Team,

Kind of  a sad, but interesting story on this bike. My good friend passed away from a heart attack the day we finished reassembling the motor on this bike.  There were four of us there that day, working on the bike, a typical “garage day”  on a Sunday afternoon in May 2008. He suddenly stood up and was sweating very profusly and was very disoriented.  He then collapsed and died of a massive heart attack at the age of 53.  His widow gave his bike collection away to his good friends and I ended up with the cafe bonnie you see here, mainly because it was the project the 2 of us worked on so long, and the year before we had traveled from ATL to Cambria CA for the New Triumph Bonneville Rally that is a yearly event out there. About 70 Bonnies from around the country were there in 2007.

Anyway, back to the bike.  Originally this bike was never intended to be as you see it.  It started life as a totalled 2005 Bonneville Black.  The plan was to use this bike to build a 100 RWHP Bonnie motor and kinda use it as a “test bed”.  So it was rebuilt using used (some very used and abused) parts and lots of black tape on the frame to hide all the “crash damage”, and it was kinda thrown together with the big plan being a custom built “featherbed” style frame with modern upside down forks, and high tech shocks, disc brakes, etc to replace   the current rolling chassis. Kinda a modern version of a Triton using state of the art suspension, brakes, tires.  So this bike was never intended to “live”  just hold the motor for a awhile.

The motor – 904 big bore kit, carrillo rods, forged high comp pistons, porting, bigger stainless valves, HD valve springs, billit intakes, FCR 39 carbs, stroker crank taking it 988 cc.  Barnett clutch,  custom grind cam, shim under bucket conversion, custom programmed ignition module, and from the attached dyno sheet you can see we made the 100 RWHP goal.

So after I inherited the bike, I can’t bring myself to just part it out and save the motor.  So having built 3 other custom Bonnie/Thruxtons, I had  parts and a vision.   So I stripped the bike to the bare frame, removed all the tape and had it powder coated silver, added Norman Hyde Thruxton rear-sets with Linkage I modified.  Located some steel side covers to replace the plastic ones, the bike has Excel polished alloys with Buchanan stainless spokes. I added Thruxton forks, polished the lower legs and engine cases, cam cover myself, got an old alloy fender I modified and fitted to the rear, added a MAS alloy Thruxton front fender and it has the 320mm floating Thruxton rotor, and EBC HH pads all around. Stainless Steel Brake lines, I put on Hagon Nitro rear shocks with adjustable preload and compression / rebound damping. My friend who passed away had the bike tank painted with PPG candy apple grape over a gold base coat and the PPG white accent and added I added the Monza fuel filler.  I added the Hyde M bars, and a friend made the billet gauge cups, and gauge mount and did the cutting of the Union Jack on the sproket cover. I replaced all the damaged handle bar controls with some adjustable T100 controls.  I also added the Hyde fork brace and some progressive fork springs and lighter oil. So basically I built the bike as a “keeper”  and plan on riding it as long as I’m able.

Thanks for the interest.

John Wheeler

Bike of The Week for Week 6 of Cafe Racer TV Season 2

Roger Reeds 2001 Royal Enfield 500 Bullet


CRTV Team,

I wish I could say I did all the modifications to the bike myself, but a lot of it was done before I. By who, I don’t know. It was a blurry photo of a dream in a craigslist ad at first. Originally I had this relatively stock Royal Enfield, which I loved.

I yearned to buy all the cool parts from the mail order catalog places that support us Enfield owners (e.g. The bike you see now was a 2 hour drive away from where I was living in San Diego, up in Torrance, but the price was right and it looked like it had some cool parts. I took the trailer up there hoping it was really what it looked like in the photos and I was in luck. I picked this one up for just a few hundred dollars more than I was able to sell my stock Enfield. And the cool parts I wanted were all there: dry clutch, gas shocks, electronic ignition, disc break, alloy tank, matching turn signals/fenders, café bars (of course), and even a cool crank case breather. I suspect it also has an oversized head, but haven’t verified. It sure sounds and feels like it.

All I did was pick it up, dust off the parts, turn a few wrenches doing things like adjusting the dry clutch, painting the side covers black, and installing a glass fuel filter for old times sake. I also installed a floor stand because it can be really hard to kick start without one!

What it is at the core, is an Indian built pre-unit Bullet 500 made in 2001 that I love!

Roger Reed