Max Hazan has a motto tattooed on his hand: “Ever forward in creation.” And he’s a man of his word, building intricate, unusual machines that willfully ignore the fickle winds of fashion.
It’s an intensely individual approach, and one that has positioned LA-based Hazan at the top of the ‘motorcycle as art’ genre. He has entered the rarified atmosphere occupied by top-flight builders like Shinya Kimura, Chicara Nagata and Ian Barry of Falcon Motorcycles.
This is the second Ducati M900 that’s been through the Hazan Motorworks weight-loss program. The commission came from an enthusiast in England, and Max was understandably reluctant about building a similar bike. But the appeal of the classic Ducati Monster platform was hard to resist.
“I’ve always gravitated toward carbureted bikes, particularly air-cooled singles and twins,” says Max. “There’s much more creative freedom when you don’t have to factor in the peripheral parts that injected, liquid-cooled four-cylinder engines require. And they also sound the way a motorcycle should.”
As always with Hazan Motorworks builds, Max began with a full-scale mockup. “I started with the engine, welded up the frame, glued a huge block of foam to it, and let the lines of the bike dictate what shape to make.”
The foam technique allows Max to work in ‘real’ 3D, so he can analyze the proportions of every part. “I then transfer these parts directly to aluminum,” he says. “I’m often asked if I draw bikes first—and although I do enjoy the idea of drawing bikes and design them ‘in my head,’ it doesn’t translate to the finished product in the way that 3D shaping does.”
On this build, Max has kept the M900 head tube and front engine mount, but remade the rest of the frame. The swingarm is a beefy Ducati 1098 item, which meant removing about an inch of aluminum from the back of the engine case and machining new pivot bushings. “Not an easy bolt-on modification, but it was worth all the work,” he comments. “The swingarm transformed the bike and gives it the stance that it needed.”
The next focus was the sound. The full stainless steel TIG welded system may take you a few minutes to process: It looks like a snake wrapped around a tree branch. And it sounds more like a drag-racer Harley than anything else.
Weight is just 360 pounds—around 165 kilos in metric terms—and the rebuilt engine puts out between 90-95 hp. Wheels are Carrozzeria forged items, with the front taken from a Ducati 916 and the rear from a 1098. They’re running 17-inch hand-cut slicks.
The tachometer was based on images from the client showing an antique diver’s watch. So Max commissioned Buz Ras of Seattle Speedometer to machine a custom instrument, which is now recessed cleanly into the top of the tank. The rest of the electronics are hidden in a recess under the fuel tank, keeping the clean look around the engine.
So how does it ride? I can say that it was unlike any Ducati Monster I have ridden before. The bike feels unbelievably light, and the front wheel lifts off effortlessly. The ergonomics are great for everyday riding and canyon carving: Not too low or hard on the wrists, but not too high and clumsy either.
It was hard to get off this one.