If you’re a regular here, you’re probably familiar with El Solitario MC. The controversial customs from this Spanish workshop have driven some readers to unprecedented heights of apoplexy—and others to delight.
‘Impostor’ is arguably their most infamous release—a BMW R nineT encased in a skeletal structure. Comments ranged from “It embodies everything wrong with the custom bike scene,” to “Ego stroking for wealthy hipsters.”
But El Solitario have many fans too, and one is motorcycle historian Paul d’Orléans: “In this era of universal tattoos, identical work-wear outfits, and cookie-cutter customs, David Borras and the El Solitario crew are the real deal; true individuals. Nobody is building anything like this, period, and they really don’t care what you think.”
Underneath Impostor’s terrifying exterior lay a modern, well-performing motorcycle, and most people missed that. “We totally ruptured the aesthetics of the motorcycle, but respected its framework,” says El Sol’s David Borras.
He calls the thought process “an anthropomorphic search for the beast within.” And it’s this very philosophy that guided their newest project: ‘Malo/Bueno.’
Unashamedly dark, raw and loud, Malo/Bueno is based on a 2003 Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200. The name translates as “Bad/Good”—a label for people that “look fierce from a safe distance, but turn into sweet teddy bears if handled with care.”
To get the point across, the Sportster’s been wrapped in outrageous, almost medieval bodywork. All the metalwork is hand-hammered—from the robotic headlight assembly, right through to the fork leg covers, fuel tank and tailpiece.
There are finer details to appreciate too. The cockpit’s punctuated by dimples and drilled bits, and there’s an inscription on the blacked-out air filter cover. Union River was responsible for the stunning leatherwork on the seat and grips.
Lurking under the monstrous visage is a fairly stock and utterly rideable Sportster.
“Every El Solitario motorcycle is prepared to get on a cross country road trip,” says David, “as that is what they are meant for.”
“We do not produce show bikes, as we despise that genre—understanding that it is a shame to spend countless hours in constructing a supposedly liberating instrument like motorcycle, for the sole purpose of looking at it.”
So the Harley’s simply been treated to Fournales rear shocks, ISR controls and Motogadget instrumentation. There’s an LED tail light out back, and super bright Baja Designs LEDs poking through the headlight shroud.
The exhaust is a modified two-into-one Screaming Eagle system. And the tires are as day-to-day as they come: Bridgestone Spitfires. Naturally, everything’s been murdered out; there’s not a stitch of chrome on this bike.
Malo/Bueno might look outlandish, but it has the heart and soul of a daily beater—and we love it for that.
As for the haters? El Sol aren’t too bothered.
“With our motorcycles we look to create an impact on the viewer, and this does not necessarily mean pleasing their eyes with easy, indulgent proposals.”
“So it is easy to expect the polarizing of opinions as reactions of strong hate and disregard, especially from the most narrow-minded elements of biker culture—but we wouldn’t have it any other way.”