"Motoring brands don’t come much bigger than Harley-Davidson. In fact, brands in general don’t come much bigger than Harley-Davidson. It’s a name that transcends industries, cultures and the seven continents. And probably Mars when we colonise it. "
Hawgholic: Harley Goes Kabuki and Knievel
Tokyo's Harley Holic and the funnest sled imaginable
Somewhere deep in the south of Tokyo is a tiny little workshop that is forever Milwaukee.
Hawgholics is the passion child of Gaku – one of the nicest fellahs you’re likely to meet and purveyor of some of the most nonsense-free Harley-Davidson based motorcycles you are ever likely to see.
“My first motorbike was a Shovelhead from 1984,” he tells me as we look at his amazing creation, a bike I’m calling the Kabuki-Knievel. “Ever since then it has just been Harley-Davidson for me.”
The bike stood out at 2015 Mooneyes Yokohama show – mostly because of its simple sense of fun and purposefulness. “The Desert Sled style is more popular in Triumphs, of course,” he tells me, “but this is based on a 1937 Flathead engine with a small K style frame.”
“The frame was made in Tokyo,” he says. It is adorned with a beautiful red white and blue paint job that fuses a Kabuki style look with the bonkers stunt rider who made Harley-Davidsons desirable for a generation of English kids growing up in the seventies. “I’ve never thought of the Evel thing with this bike before, Gaku says. But now you mention it.” Kabuki is a Japanese dance and theatrical form that emphasises skill and precision – and of course the colourful makeup worn by the practitioners.
The thing that sticks in the mind about the Kabuki-Knievel Sled though, is that great tank work. “It’s very simple,” he tells me as he grabs a bag full of colourful magazine cuttings and shows me the lacquer that he renders the images with. “It is simple but effective.”
There are subtle little touches of humour and aesthetic gestures all over the bike – some that are functional, but most that just make the bike saturated in a sense of joy that is far away from that unreconstructed machismo that so many Harley-Davidsons encapsulate.
“The clips are just for show, but would really help with cooling,” he says. There are those pretty but less than functional countersunk drill things in the
There are those pretty, but less-than-functional, countersunk drill things in the crank case and a custom exhaust that looks like it has been hammered out on the back of an old rock somewhere in the desert near Barstow.
So many show bikes, especially Harleys, are so precious, coming across like gleaming museum pieces that should never perform an active function.
This is one stunning show bike that you want to open up on the beach.
Never mind the consequences.
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