"This year marks 100 years since the U.S. declared it was entering the First World War. As the country braced itself for the conflict, Indian Motorcycles significantly ramped up efforts and dedicated virtually the entire production line to the war "
It may be abnormal, but that's what makes it beautiful
If I were to ask you to name the most famous motorcycle builders in the world, there would most likely be a long and varied list.
But Abnormal Cycles founder Samuele Reali has no doubt: Harley-Davidson and Indian.
His conviction in this joined the two brands in a special custom-build motorcycle to pay tribute to their stories and heritage. The union of components that speak different languages has given birth to a sidecar, which – seen for the first time – looks more of a work of art than a simple three-wheeler.
The chassis is a 1928 Indian Scout 101, while the front fork is from a 1916 Indian Powerplus.
As this is a sidecar rather than a basic motorcycle, the frame is derived from a 1914 Model F Harley-Davidson, while the buggy was made in aluminum from Abnormal sketches.
The engine, on the other hand, could not be a simple 600cc Indian motor. It needed an appropriate power unit and it uses a 1937 1,340cc Harley Flathead.
Front and rear lights – gems – levers and handlebars, the tank and various ornaments, are the result of a search across Europe’s little markets. Abnormal Cycles has calculated travelling at least 6,000 miles to find components. “Our online store is the physical markets”.
Not eBay but “niche worlds, where we find hidden pieces; wondering what the pieces were and how can I reuse them”.
For example, the gearshift lever is an antique walking stick while the covering of the oil cup is part of a boat.
Just the wheels and braking system are from the modern era. Made from Abnormal Cycles projects, but without giving up on the current disc brakes. The Special has rear drum brakes.
The biggest complexity, rather than finding parts themselves, was to find out ways to unite components that were never intended to be together. It’s almost as if UN diplomats all met together without interpreters.
In this case the interpreter has been Samuel Reali, with his artisan workshop at the gates of Milan.
Four years of work, testing and road testing to ensure that all components fit and talk to each other in the Abnormal Cycles language with the motto “Keep your feet away from land”.
I was able to admire this special tribute to Harley Davidson and Indian in a unique context: the UNESCO site “Crespi d’Adda’s Worker’s Village”. A magical place where time stopped in the early 1900s, just like the components of this sidecar, which were all produced before the 1940s.
We are at the final stages of its creation.
It’s doesn’t pander to fashion, and many of the unique materials used are on show. Aluminium and California root wood, both in exterior details and inside of the buggy, by Ad Kustom Furnitures.
Unmistakably Indian design, unmistakably Harley’s buggy, and the Flathead sound. In the boulevards of Crespi d’Adda’s, the components were harmonious and spoke the same language of artisan passion and history.
This Special, first presented in Zürich 2017, is ready to make its way to the world builders’ championship.
It does not have a name for now and is not for sale. But it’s worth noting the components cost £48,000.
Abnormal, but beautiful.
Thanks to: Crespi d’Adda Cultural Association
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