The ICON Elsinore returns

Salt Flat Dreams: MB Cycles’ S&S-powered Softail

S&S Cycle powered Softail by MB Cycles
Over the past fifteen years, Martin Becker of MB Cycles has carved out a reputation as one of the best custom Harley builders in Germany. He’s a regular at shows and in magazines such as Custombike, but you don’t need to be a V-twin enthusiast to spot that his work is something special.

A few months ago, we were entranced by Martin’s S&S-powered ‘Dr Skin’ bobber. We’re now drooling over this follow-up build called ‘Bonneville GS.’ And just to clear up any confusion, the name is a nod to the salt flats rather than the iconic Triumph model.

S&S Cycle powered Softail by MB Cycles
“The rolling chassis of this bike was standing around in my shop for quite a while,” says Martin. “The plan was to build a race bike for myself and take it to the Bonneville Salt Flats.”

Then Guido Sommer, a customer and friend, visited Martin’s Heidelberg workshop for a beer and to discuss another project. “He saw the rolling chassis and immediately fell in love.

S&S Cycle powered Softail by MB Cycles
“Two or three beers later, he had talked me into selling it to him. You can’t say no to such an amazing customer, and it’s also my job to build motorbikes!”

Guido usually gives Martin a free rein with his commissions, so Martin decided to go for a sporty, low-slung look. The 2002-vintage HPU Softail frame sits low, and is luckily road legal. “You need a frame which is already registered in Germany,” Martin explains. “It’s not possible any more to build a ‘new’ bike with a new manufacturing date.”

S&S Cycle powered Softail by MB Cycles
There are so many details and mods on this Softail, we could write several thousand words about it.

Power comes from a mighty 113ci S&S Evo-type motor, which is matched to a Super E carb and pumps out around 100 horses. The stubby exhaust is a modified unit built to Martin’s design by the Austrian maker BSL, with a clever sound management system from the Dutch company Jekill & Hyde. (At the touch of a button, it can switch from ‘quiet’ to ‘loud.’)

S&S Cycle powered Softail by MB Cycles
S&S also supplied the air cleaner, coils and ignition, but the drivetrain comes from Ultima—with a six-speed transmission and a 2-inch belt drive primary.

Fitting those parts was relatively simple for Martin, but the suspension required a whole new skillset. The forks (and Brembo calipers) are from a Suzuki GSX-R1000, hooked up via modified triples from Wunderkind.

S&S Cycle powered Softail by MB Cycles
At the back, there’s a rare JMC aluminum swingarm, which Martin modified to attach to the hand-made rear fender without conventional struts. The rear suspension is an adjustable-height air system from Legend and the wheels are from the Californian specialist DNA. Shod with Dunlops, they measure a hefty 21 inches at the front and 18 at the back.

S&S Cycle powered Softail by MB Cycles
Martin made the perfectly integrated solo seat himself, but stole the fuel tank from a 1960s 125cc German moped—now heavily modified and topped with a pop-up gas cap. Top marks if you recognize the fairing, though: that’s from a 2018 Harley Sport Glide. The ‘bug spoiler’ lower down is from Cult-Werk.

Chiko’s Pinstriping handled the matte paint, which contrasts with the lustrous black powder applied to just about every other part by Metal Skin Works of Reichelsheim.

S&S Cycle powered Softail by MB Cycles
The cockpit area is crammed with top shelf parts, with ABM clip-ons, MB’s own grips, Beringer controls, and a Motogadget Motoscope Pro speedo.

The engine start button and exhaust loudness buttons are neatly set into the top triple tree: there’s no conventional ignition because the bike is controlled by a Motogadget contact free digital ignition lock.

S&S Cycle powered Softail by MB Cycles
After six months in the shop, Guido’s Softail is ready to hit the road and burn rubber. And although it won’t get a taste of the salt, Martin hasn’t given up on that dream.

“The idea of Bonneville hasn’t died yet—it just looks like I have to find a new donor bike,” he says. “But first I have to start and finish some other orders…”

MB Cycles | Facebook | Instagram | Images by Riders Eyes Photography

S&S Cycle powered Softail by MB Cycles

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