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Built Under Pressure: HardNine’s Harley XLCR tracker

1979 Harley XLCR tracker by Danny Schneider of HardNine Choppers
Building a custom bike is often beset with difficulties: there can be unreasonable client demands, unforeseen technical issues, cashflow problems, and in some countries, strict regulations to circumvent.

We tend to dwell on these in our reports, but sometimes the build story is only half the real story. The other half is life outside the workshop, and on occasion, life ‘gets in the way.’

1979 Harley XLCR tracker by Danny Schneider of HardNine Choppers
Swiss builder Danny Schneider of HardNine Choppers has had a lot on his plate recently. But that didn’t stop him from finishing this amazing 1979 Harley-Davidson XLCR custom, which is one of the most appealing tracker builds we’ve ever seen.

The former professional motocross racer built two Triumph flat trackers in 2012, and felt the itch to build a Harley in the same style.

1979 Harley XLCR tracker by Danny Schneider of HardNine Choppers

It was just a question of waiting for the right bike to turn up, and eventually a client with an XLCR asked for a HardNine bike. “I said, I’ll only do it if you let me build a tracker!” says Danny.

The client agreed, and Danny started working on the Harley two years ago. Then life got in the way. His baby girl was born—and five months after that, he was unfortunately diagnosed with testicular cancer.

1979 Harley XLCR tracker by Danny Schneider of HardNine Choppers
He was prescribed a course of high-dose chemotherapy, which finished two months ago.

And in these two months he’s been in his shop in Bern 15 hours a day, racing to complete the XLCR for the MBE Expo show in Verona, Italy. Grueling, to say the least.

1979 Harley XLCR tracker by Danny Schneider of HardNine Choppers
Although it failed to capture the imagination of American riders in the late 70s, the XLCR is coveted these days—with good examples going for around $20,000. And Danny’s client owns three.

It’s unusual to see a heavily modified XLCR, but Danny has done an excellent job. Under the hood, he’s given the grunty 997cc v-twin a power boost by overboring it and fitting a KB Performance piston upgrade, which takes capacity out to around 1,340cc.

1979 Harley XLCR tracker by Danny Schneider of HardNine Choppers
Danny’s also replaced the Keihin carb with a modern S&S Cycle unit, and fashioned a completely new exhaust system out of nickel-plated steel. “From the beginning, I wanted the pipes underneath the rear end,” he says.

So he’s moved the oil tank to provide room for the pipes, and hand-hammered out a new aluminum rear end with little slits to help release heat.

1979 Harley XLCR tracker by Danny Schneider of HardNine Choppers
There’s a matching new handmade split-tank too, which echoes the upper silhouette of the stock XLCR tank but is much shallower. (And the left side now houses the oil.) In between the new metal is a simple seat pad, which Danny also made himself.

1979 Harley XLCR tracker by Danny Schneider of HardNine Choppers
The new front end is lifted off an FXR: 38mm Showa forks shortened by a few centimeters, and upgraded with an Öhlins cartridge kit. At the back are high-spec Bitubo shocks.

1979 Harley XLCR tracker by Danny Schneider of HardNine Choppers
The spoked wheels were originally designed for FXR hubs, and are F21/R16. “Then I drove the bike to Beringer,” says Danny. At the head office in France, some four hours from Bern, they made custom rear and double disc front setups—along with magnesium racing discs.

There’s another racing touch in the battery placement, right behind the engine: “It’s exposed, because I wanted to keep it vintage racing style,” says Danny.

1979 Harley XLCR tracker by Danny Schneider of HardNine Choppers
“I’ve mixed original parts with high-end racing parts, and there are tons of handmade parts too—which would take forever to list.”

The bars are amongst the handmade parts, and are fitted to Roland Sands Design risers and dressed with Biltwell grips. The footpegs are aftermarket, but modified to fit the XLCR.

1979 Harley XLCR tracker by Danny Schneider of HardNine Choppers
Inspiration for the beautiful blue-and-white color scheme came from an unusual source. Danny spotted a mini-bike with a scheme he liked in Bern, stopped and took a photo of it, but the picture turned out to be a poor reference.

So he went looking for it again, seven days later—and got a better photo, with enough detail to allow him to replicate the colors. The light sky blue gives the XLCR an airy and fresh vibe—in contrast to the loud and fast riding experience it delivers.

1979 Harley XLCR tracker by Danny Schneider of HardNine Choppers
It’s an incredible result, especially considering the stressful circumstances Danny has been working under. “This bike was built during my best and most difficult times,” he says. “It’s my most ‘emotional’ build.”

Well, diamonds are made under pressure. And this tracker is a very good cut indeed. Brilliant work from Danny Schneider—and here’s hoping that life gets a little easier from now on.

HardNine Choppers | Facebook | Instagram | Images by, and thanks to, Christine Gabler and Marc Holstein.

1979 Harley XLCR tracker by Danny Schneider of HardNine Choppers

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