No doubt that the January’s International Motor Bike Expo in Verona, Italy is the place to go to admire some brand new top of the line Customs competing in the Italian Championship of Custom bike Building. Lots of rolling pieces of art, many of them having a beginning of last century pedigree, featuring an original antique chassis and/or motor. You are looking at “The Legend”, a top winner creation built by Italian motorcycle shop Gallery Motorcycles. It features a 1917 Harley-Davidson model J engine, gearbox and carburetor in a custom hand-made chassis with some vintage parts sourced at other Italian expert and supplier Rebuffini.
Half of all 1917 Harley-Davidson motorcycles were sold to the Army for messenger and traffic duties during WWI, and I have no idea how the motor ended up on the Gallery Motorcycles shelves. Probably as a demilitarized unit dumped among other vehicles all over Europe after the war ended in 1918. Merit of this bike is not only the hand-crafting skills of owner Mirko Perugini but his personal dedication at rebuilding and making work the V-Twin, four-stroke 60.35 cubic inches Harley-Davidson 17J engine with single-speed transmission and electrics.
It was nothing else than a partial piece of scrap metal collecting dust. Many engine parts were missing and even pistons had to be manufactured, but engine internals are strictly authentic. As you can see, cylinders are customized in heat black wrinkle paint, valve train parts and authentic Schebler carburetor are nickel-plated to perfection. Although the objective is not to race it, today this motor could take you to a maximum speed of 85 mph, or about 137 km/h.
From there, and without a client to breathe in his neck, Mirko Perugini took his time to build a Boardtracker rigid chassis to his own taste. Rear derives from his previous extreme custom Lowriders, freeing space for the one-off seat suspension, a true masterwork by itself. Front suspension is an inside pneumatic single-shock that Mirko introduced in 2012 on one of his successful projects called “Tazio”, a bike tribute to Italian racer Tazio Nuvolari. Fuel circulates in the frame backbone. Handlebars, grips, forward controls, pegs, etc are one-off “Made in Italy“ by Livo Rebuffini. A series of links transfer the turning motion. Mirko also developed in collaboration with Rebuffini his own cable operated shift system. Fromt wheel features an AJP disc brake and the rear a Kustom Tech‘s sprocket brake although true Boartrackers had none…
Paolo Salvini of “Spray Art” excelled with the green olive color so popular in 1917 and added some pinstriping because we were in 2016. For the bare metal parts, instead of clear coat, Mirko and Paolo invented their own paint treatment. They call it “Brushed Paint”. In this case, it consists of painting frame, fork, fender and tank and accompanying sub-assemblies in steel gray, then brushing this paint. To add more authenticity to this build, what was supposed to be the visible welds apparent on all frames and forks of the beginning of last century, are highlighted in gold. A very smart use of paint to make the past lives on… Gallery Motorcycles (photos @ H. Roesler for Cyril Huze)