Quantum Leap. Four Years To Master The Art Of Motorcycle Rear Steering.

Whatever your thoughts and mine on a specific custom motorcycle, they all end up contributing, in one way or the other, to the evolution of the custom motorcycle industry. Even if they will never be produced, for reason of cost or functionality, in large or very limited number. As a matter of fact, most builders of high end custom motorcycles don’t care one second about marketing when they start a very wild project. Just pushed by the passion to try to do something different, to be the first, to be the one who dared, the one who had enough imagination, technology knowledge and tenacity to make their dream happen. They just want to do their thing and “Quantum Leap” is a pure example of a Custom Builder devoting 4 years of his life on the objective of making a rideable rear steering motorcycle.

I have known Eddie Meeks & Simon Salomon for 17 years, met them while competing in bike shows against their “Hardly Civilized” twisted customs. Eddie is the artist/designer/painter/fabricator/builder and also an architect. Simon is the legal/accounting/financial/logistics partner making things possible for Eddie. Their bike, Quantum Leap, created a big buzz during the 2010 AMD World Championship Of Bike Building in Sturgis, and for good reasons. It’s shaft driven and steering is by custom made hydraulic pumps and works by movement of hydraulic fluids. I asked Eddie to summarize for you the story of this wilder than wild motorcycle. And when you are finished you will understand why I said in a previous post that some custom motorcycles can’t no more be appreciated and judged on appearance, but from the inside…

“I am of course an artist and architect, and during the 4 years of this build had to design a restaurant/bar, a marina. a covered bridge. I had to plot a development of 600 acres and design 2 different sets of condominiums and a 10,000 square foot house and a 5 stall equestrian barn, so I had to often quit on the bike project to do my architecture work. But the entire bike from concept to finished product was entirely built by just me. No other people work in my shop, I am a one man show as far as bike fabrication and building.

This bike was created, designed, fabricated, built, molded, painted and finished by just me. The idea of doing a front wheel drive, rear steer bike came to me because I was completely bored to death with the bike scene and I felt at the time doing another conventional front-end steer rear drive bike was a waste of my time and if I was going to build anything ever again (I quit the bike building business for 5 years because of boredom) I would only build something so radical it would have to be 180 degree turn from conventional, so swapping the drive and steering ends was my solution to end the boredom and it worked. This bike I feel is absolutely radical and a stunning piece of rolling art. I feel it came out exactly as I wanted it to and it now resides in a private collection and is the centerpiece of the collection.

“The bike project started in March of 2006, I drew 2 concept drawings then I did a better cleaner drawing and airbrushed it on an illustration board 15″x20″. This became our model drawing which I built the bike from. Being an architect by trade I drew the entire bike in absolute scale side profile (1/4″ = 1 inch), then proceeded to refine the bike into a workable real motorcycle. After finalizing the scale drawings on vellum on my drafting table, I proceeded to design the frame in scale on a see thru drawing overlaid with the fully sheet metal drawing under it. Once I finalized the frame design, making sure all components individually would indeed work with the frame design, I then went to designing on my drafting table to scale a special frame jig and all the frame jig fixtures. After that I drew each piece of the frame jig and all its jig fixtures to real size, 1″ equals 1″, and then wrote CAD programs to mill out on our  CNC mill each and every piece of the jig and its fixtures.

This took months and around August of 2006 I was finished with milling all the jig fixtures (all out of cold rolled 1018 steel) and was ready to start building the frame. I finished the frame around March of 2007 and started on things like the battery box, oil tank, gas tanks (there are 2 gas tanks) and other components. I designed each and every component that had to be made by lathe or mill on my drafting table first and then either hand milled them or hand lathed them or wrote CAD programs and had the CNC mill the part(s). All the other parts and pieces were made over the next 3 years.

As far as the bike:  The drive is a standard Baker 5 speed right side drive that I modified and milled the side plate to accommodate my own designed side plate that holds a bearing housing that holds the upper sprocket which is attached to a custom made axle by me that goes thru the bike and into a ring and pinion oil bath gearbox on the left side of the bike. This gearbox is what take the chain drive and reverses the drive from spinning perpendicular with the bike to spinning parallel with the bike. This splined shaft, now turning as a driveshaft should is attached to a universal joint and shaft to another universal joint which goes into another bearing housing which is attached to the front swingarm. this universal joint is splinned and o-ringed and equipped with a grease fitting because it, as it turns, also slides in and out with the movement of the front suspension (just like a driveshaft on a car) This splined shaft runs thru the swingarm into a second oil bath gear box that puts the drive back to a perpendicular motion to drive the front wheel. The swingarm is actually a single sided swingarm designed to hold the entire load of the bike, but after many hours in trying to design a brake system as well as the drive hub all on one side I gave up and put the 360degree brake on the other side and designed a brake arm system that is there to hold the brake. This has a thru shaft into the hub, which is like a car, and the front wheel is bolted thru the rim into the threaded hub.

The rear of the bike is a fully operational triangulated swingarm with full suspension via “Custom Cycle Controls” air shocks (which I have 2 sets of on this bike, one set in rear and one set in front) The steering is all Hydraulic oil that is pushed with 4 hydraulic cylinders (all 4 dual action) where the fluid is in a push/pull motion all the time, one side pushes, the other side pulls.  The engine is a 101 Patrick Racing motor  The wheels (front 18 x 13″, rear (18 x 4.25″) were made by RMD billet, The rear wheel was a wheel that we saw at Cincinnati in 2008 but Shannon only had this one wheel and this one size ready to make, so he asked me to design our front wheel (being 13 inches wide) so I designed the blades on my drafting table to scale and sent the drawings to him and he custom milled out the front wheel for me.”

Wheelbase is 75″. Pipes, oil tank, gas tanks, all sheet metal, handlebars, grips/pegs, brake/shifter components, all drive components/gearboxes/shafts, axles, seat base and wiring harness all by Eddie Meeks. Both brakes by 360, carburetor by Mikuni, upholstery by Butch Watson, headlight hand made by Eddie Meeks. All the plating on the bike is pure nickel, either bright, black, and copper. no chrome.  All the sheet metal is steel except the silver side pods that Eddie made from .063 aluminum sheet. He hand made over 500 individual pieces for the bike and has clocked 2086 hours in building it. Hardly Civilized (photography H. Roesler, Frank Sander)

Note from Hardly Civilized. We no longer care about building whole bikes for customers, except for special occasions for people with deep pocket. What we are concentrating on is parts design and prototype making for motorcycle builders and production type companies that want forward thinking ideas put to use and new innovative designs of whole bikes for production or individual parts designs and delivering working prototypes.

Barnett Harley-Davidson

37 Responses to “Quantum Leap. Four Years To Master The Art Of Motorcycle Rear Steering.”


  1. 1 TRACEY STRAIN Aug 20th, 2010 at 10:46 am

    this is truly a work of art ,and you can tell the man is very passionate about his work. . Eddie you are the man !! keep up the amazing work, that is what the industry needs to wake it up again..
    Tracey Strain
    Fat Monkey Customs.,

  2. 2 Wikked Steel Aug 20th, 2010 at 10:54 am

    Beautiful, amazing work and engineering.

  3. 3 Knucklehead Aug 20th, 2010 at 11:00 am

    Looks great. But I want to see the video of someone riding it.

  4. 4 Dave Blevins Aug 20th, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    It is interesting, and I like the look of the body work at the front wheel, without question a lot of thought and creative problem solving went into it and that deserves congratulations.
    As for the rear steering, my concern is that in agressive cornering a rear wheel turning beyond the straight line plane causes the the stationery front wheel to act as a pivot point, thus amplifying the rear wheel’s non-linear trajectory and possibly cause an oversteer. In simple terms, the rear may want to pass the front in hard turns under acceleration. I suppose the front wheel drive helps in countering this action to a degree, but it probably would still take some getting used to…
    Certainly is an interesting machine, definitly not a cookie-cutter bike by any means. I too would love to see some video of it being ridden, very exciting stuff.

  5. 5 Jeff Nicklus Aug 20th, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    I love it! I have questions about the rear steering, the bike could handle like a fork lift and no doubt would take some getting accustomed with, but I love the bike! This is what a “Custom Builder” is all about.

    Over & Out,

    Jeff

  6. 6 J Aug 20th, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    Hmm, well, 5 mins on your turned-around bicycle will probably answer most questions about the wisdom of rear-wheel steering, but nice to see someone still using a drafting table!

    While you’re at it, why not go two-wheel steer? Would seem to be much more of an engineering challenge than just reversing a tank and seat, ya? The physics on that one make the brain hurt- lol….

  7. 7 Jason Aug 20th, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    Fabulous bke. Tremendous work. Nobody should care about the imperfections of rear steering. It’s the way the industry is progressing, with people doing it, for love and by passion. Bring us more stories like that Cyril.

  8. 8 High Gear Aug 20th, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    What a machine! Historic custom. To discover, enjoy and preserve. The work of a lifetime for Eddie Meeks.

  9. 9 hoyt Aug 20th, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    “could handle like a forklift”….a forklift has 4 wheels (some stability) & a relatively minimal top speed.

    Obvious hard work, but in terms of a motorcycle, if it can’t lean around a corner at decent speed, then it is boring.

    Is it pushing the envelope to further the cause or just hard work that happens to have 2 wheels in line?

  10. 10 Grayhawk Aug 20th, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    May be a liltle challenging, the man is gifted and his site shows the ranges of his talent and good taste in many areas.

    Food for thought

    http://www.wannee.nl/hpv/abt/e-index.htm

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvNIKzNWCiE&feature=related

  11. 11 loony Aug 20th, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    WOW !! Why? some may ask. because He Can….
    Beautiful Bike, Great Engineering.

  12. 12 Shifter Aug 20th, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    Crazy bike and crazy builder, but it’s all good. I agree that a video showing it be ridden would be great. This one is going to go to quite a few glossy paper magazines.

  13. 13 Jeremy Aug 20th, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    Using one of Cyril’s favorite expressions the builder is a master of complications.

  14. 14 Greeko Aug 20th, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    How long is it?

  15. 15 Racer2 Aug 20th, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    Only do what you love and do it well. Mission accomplished.

  16. 16 john reed Aug 20th, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    I love both the shape and the engineering of this bike,
    This is a very interesting configuration,and I would
    love to find out what it handles like

  17. 17 burnout Aug 20th, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    Probably handles better than the wacky bike!! peace

  18. 18 golfish Aug 20th, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    very nice…I just have one question. What was Jeff’s question?

  19. 19 RUB Aug 20th, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    it must be nice to have so much time & money to waste .

  20. 20 golfish Aug 20th, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    Sorry, I really have to stop trying to read 5 diff blogs, threads at the same time. Lots of work into this bike. Kudo’s to the builder.

  21. 21 Kyle Aug 21st, 2010 at 6:15 am

    Crazy beautiful!

  22. 22 Mike Tomas Kiwi Indian MotorCycle Co Aug 21st, 2010 at 9:13 am

    I enjoyed judging and pouring over this bike at the AMD show and was thoroughly impressed with the level of detail in every single part. The closer I looked the more I was drawn in and impressed.

  23. 23 Jose Aug 21st, 2010 at 11:59 am

    Kudos for daring and accomplishing in a beautiful manner. Support custom motorcycle audacity.

  24. 24 C. Michaud Aug 21st, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    Let’s no forget that in addition to its technolgy that I don’t understand very well, this custom has an overall design never seen before. A truly unique piece of motorcycle art.

  25. 25 Jeff Nicklus Aug 21st, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    golfish,

    Questions: Hell, I forgot now ??????

    Over & Out,

    Jeff

  26. 26 Jimmy Reiz Aug 21st, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    What I see is true custom building. Not a crappy bike with junkyard trash thrown on it and called a custom by some magazines. I hope we come back to a time where custom building was art on 2 wheels, like this beauty. Hello Cyril? You were the master.

  27. 27 Kurt Simmers Aug 22nd, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    2 -Wheel Art Museum piece! Well done.

  28. 28 Radical Henry Aug 22nd, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    The man is crazy. Good crazy though…

  29. 29 la Aug 23rd, 2010 at 10:02 am

    Fantastic job Eddie. A masterpiece from the original idea, design, jig work… to completion.
    What a talent to create from conception to completion. Can not wait to see the next project.
    ;)

  30. 30 EBass Aug 23rd, 2010 at 10:41 am

    Not that it will ever be ridden, but if it was, I’m wondering if it would feel like riding a flat tracker with the rear “sliding” out, rather than the front flopping in since it is no longer relying on counter steering? Any smarty pants engineering types out there who can elaborate on the likely handling characteristics?

  31. 31 hoyt Aug 23rd, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    The AMD should seriously consider a riding portion like the 50th S&S event. If not, put bikes like this in an Experimental class.

  32. 32 maroco Aug 23rd, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    The bike loocks fantastic, but to turn maybe to dangerous (but it´s only my opinion).

  33. 33 putra Aug 24th, 2010 at 3:28 am

    to turn maybe to dangerous…

  34. 34 jatinder pal Aug 24th, 2010 at 5:54 am

    Sick man….love the design and engineering….this bike should be the winner of AMD championships…

  35. 35 larry Aug 24th, 2010 at 9:53 am

    I’m impressed with how well Eddie was able to build such a technologically complex bike and yet end up with such clean lines and an uncluttered look!

  36. 36 dragon Aug 24th, 2010 at 10:12 am

    Great job

  37. 37 Vladimir Bilyak May 27th, 2011 at 5:49 am

    Once I was struck by a similar idea. At this point prompted viewing of track racing. With a sharp gas the front wheel lifted, losing traction. The vibration and steering is very difficult to stabilize the motorcycle. When the reverse configuration (front drive wheel, and steering – rear), the machine should behave far more robust. It is strange that none of the manufacturers of motorcycle racing is not using this idea! By the way, I still have a four-valve design of the rotary engine (not patent).

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