Most custom motorcycles fit within a particular genre. And that genre will have its own conventions, as well as its fans and detractors. But occasionally you see a bike that is utterly timeless, almost beyond ‘classic’. And this is one of them, from the New Hampshire workshop of Walt Siegl.
“I was hoping to create a motorcycle that has the charm of the big roadsters from the 60s and 70s,” says Walt, “but with modern performance. I also wanted to build a bike that doesn’t require too much maintenance and technical expertise to keep on the road.”
The FX Roadster started out as a beat-up 1970 Harley FLH. “I always liked the look of the shovelhead engine. And the aftermarket offers so many good choices for updated mechanicals—you can build a really strong motor/transmission combo.” So Walt enlisted Andrew Rosa of Rosa’s Cycles on Long Island to rebuild the engine and transmission: “Over the years I’ve had quite a few motors built by Andrew, and his work is the best I have come across,” says Walt.
The motor is an 84-inch stroker with balanced flywheels, lightweight pistons, a performance cam and worked heads that flow better than stock. And the transmission is now filled with gears that have better ratios for acceleration and highway speed.
“That combo has all the rewarding bravado of a big vintage twin,” says Walt. “Torque is everywhere. It’s reliable and you can throw dust at guys on machines that come from a more modern world.” All the primary parts are by Tech Cycle, with a smooth and strong operating diaphragm clutch in a lightweight aluminum clutch basket, a two-inch belt drive, and a quiet electric starter.
Walt reworked the Harley frame and reduced the rake by two degrees. He added a frame loop in the back and a new swing arm for better steering. “Most Harley swing arms point upwards, and some owners also add rake and fork length. That’s a big reason why the bikes handle like tanks.”
Walt filled the 39mm Showa forks with Progressive Suspension springs and performance sliders. Works Performance helped Walt with the rear suspension, providing shocks that gave him the ride height he was after, without sacrificing performance and comfort.
The rims are high-shoulder Excels, fitted with Buchanan stainless spokes, and the brake calipers are modern-era Harley units with semi-floating rotors. A heavily altered Benelli tank and straight bench seat, upholstered by Vivian Smith, give the bike a classic profile.
The FX Roadster is perhaps the motorcycle that Harley should have built forty years ago—a machine to compete with the Ducatis, Nortons and BMWs of the day, not to mention the Japanese makers. That never happened, but thanks to master craftsmen like Walt, we can say ‘Better late than never’.
If his Harley FLH tickles your fancy, contact Walt via his website—it’s for sale.