Direct Hit: A 1968 Harley-Davidson FL hardtail from Japan


Takuya Aikawa is on a roll. There hasn’t been a operating of the Yokohama Scorching Rod Customized Present in the previous few years that he hasn’t introduced at the very least one medal dwelling from. His accolades embody two ‘Better of Present’ awards, a ‘Finest Element Work’ award, and an entire bunch extra.

And in case you’re questioning—sure, this 1968 Harley-Davidson FL is a medal-winner too. Aikawa-san constructed it final 12 months, took it to Mooneyes, and got here dwelling with the ‘Finest Bike American’ trophy. And it’s straightforward to see why.

1968 Harley-Davidson FL hardtail by Sureshot
Takuya runs Sureshot—a workshop located in Chiba, simply east of Tokyo. Sureshot repairs, companies, and customizes Harley-Davidsons, however their essential focus is dyno tuning. That efficiency angle has shone by means of on their previous few customs; lithe machines that look quick, even when they’re constructed utilizing classic donor bikes.

This previous Harley shovelhead is a beguiling (and deliberate) mixture of previous and new. Takuya needed to construct a customized bike loaded with stylish particulars, however he needed to make use of the fashionable manufacturing methods that Sureshot has employed lately to create them. The result’s a surprising bike that hides an astonishing quantity of ingenious particulars.

1968 Harley-Davidson FL hardtail by Sureshot
Most of these particulars are straight from Takuya’s creativeness, since Sureshot’s consumer left the styling as much as the workshop. His solely requests had been that the bike ought to have a inflexible body, an electrical starter, and an everyday foot shifter quite than a hand shifter. (He finally needed the bike as straightforward to journey as a thin, vintage-styled hardtail may be.)

In the event you’re pondering that the bike seems to be loads skinnier than a 1968 Harley-Davidson FL, you’re proper. Takuya mated the entrance half of a shovelhead body to a inflexible rear triangle, then narrowed the entire thing.

1968 Harley-Davidson FL hardtail by Sureshot
The entrance forks are from an ‘Auto Race’ bike. Auto Race is a Japanese type of flat track-slash-speedway racing, however it’s held on asphalt as an alternative of filth. As you’d think about, transplanting the forks from a thin Auto Race bike to a chunky classic shovelhead was hardly a plug-and-play affair.

First, Takuya needed to liberate the forks from their backside yoke (the system is a one-piece association), then lengthen the legs to go well with the Harley’s journey peak. As soon as every part was put collectively, he fabricated new triangular braces to take a seat in opposition to the forks; a direct nod to the unique Auto Race fork designs.

1968 Harley-Davidson FL hardtail by Sureshot
The guts of the beast is a rebuilt 1,200 cc shovelhead engine, kitted with upgraded pistons, an Andrews camshaft, and Kibblewhite valves. The transient referred to as for a motorcycle that might run clean quite than sizzling, however Takuya nonetheless couldn’t resist tossing a beefy S&S Cycle L-carb, and a Dynatek Dyna 2000i ignition system with a bespoke map, into the combo.

“A carburetor is a purposeful half,” he provides. “However for Harley-Davidson, additionally it is a robust exterior ingredient that evokes efficiency. And I’ve at all times been performance-oriented.”

1968 Harley-Davidson FL hardtail by Sureshot
Not solely did Sureshot’s consumer request an electrical begin system, however he additionally signed off on the removing of the kick-start lever altogether, in a bid to simplify the structure and save just a little weight. That left Takuya free to experiment with an concept that he’d been sitting on for some time—relocating the transmission.

“I’ve at all times needed to construct a customized bike that’s enjoyable to journey,” he mentioned. “Growing the ability of the engine is vital, after all, however weight discount and mass centralization may also make an enormous distinction within the dealing with of the bike. The explanation for that is that I consider that if the transmission, which is the second heaviest part after the engine, is positioned nearer to the engine, the mass shall be extra concentrated and the bike’s dynamic efficiency shall be improved.”

1968 Harley-Davidson FL hardtail by Sureshot
Takuya tucked the transmission in by shifting it up and ahead whereas sustaining the size of the drive belt. That precipitated points with the place of the clutch launch arm, so Sureshot transformed the clutch to a hydraulic system. Not wanting to stay a fluid reservoir on the handlebars, Takuya mounted the clutch grasp cylinder to the facet of the crankcase, connecting it to a Tomaselli lever through a cable.

In a bid to optimize mass centralization even additional, he additionally fabricated a set of matching mufflers, tucking them in tightly beneath the bike. Given the inherent structure of the American V-twin engine, getting the mufflers to take a seat completely throughout from one another was no imply feat—however Sureshot pulled it off by snaking the headers tightly across the motor.

1968 Harley-Davidson FL hardtail by Sureshot
One of many shovelhead’s coolest options can also be the toughest one to identify. The bike is loaded with billet aluminum elements that don’t seem like billet aluminum elements. “The explanation for this, is to comply with a basic model,” says Takuya.

“I eliminated the minimize marks which are attribute of billet aluminum elements, and as an alternative gave them a solid floor look, polished them, and rounded the sides. All of this was finished by hand.”

1968 Harley-Davidson FL hardtail by Sureshot
The identical philosophy was utilized to the wheels. Takuya began with a set of stable billet aluminum items, measuring 21” up entrance and 18” out again. He then minimize out the center of every wheel, machined a ridge to accommodate spokes, after which smoothed every part right down to erase all traces of the machining work.

Taking inspiration from classic Montesa trial bikes, Takuya constructed a set of spokes with handmade turnbuckle tensioners to lace up every wheel. The entrance wheel makes use of a twin main shoe drum brake from an previous Suzuki ST400 Tempter, whereas the again makes use of a hydraulic drum brake with a Brembo grasp cylinder.

1968 Harley-Davidson FL hardtail by Sureshot
Sureshot was additionally answerable for the shovelhead’s glossy new aluminum bodywork—and for smaller elements like its headlight housing and distinctive break up handlebars. The levers are welded on to the bars for an excellent sano impact, whereas Tarozzi foot controls sit additional down.

Rods Design dealt with the paint, Rio Studio was answerable for the logos and pin-striping, and Manabu Yamaguchi Artwork Craft lined the scooped bobber seat in horse disguise. And this classic shovelhead excels in all three of these areas.

1968 Harley-Davidson FL hardtail by Sureshot
With bikes that look this good, is it any surprise that Aikawa-san’s trophy cupboard is getting crowded? All that’s left to do now, is wait and see what he comes up with for this 12 months’s Mooneyes present.

Sureshot | Fb | Instagram | Photos by Makoto Morichika | With due to Tadashi Kono

1968 Harley-Davidson FL hardtail by Sureshot


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