The era of chrome-and-billet choppers is drawing to a close. Even Harley-Davidson dealers are swapping the leather tassels for carbon fibre and murder-black paint jobs. In the UK, a south coast dealer called Shaw Speed and Custom is setting the pace, creating show bikes that win at the world’s top custom motorcycle shows and beating the Americans at their own game. In the build-up to the AMD World Championship held at Sturgis, the latest two bikes from SS&C are creating a stir. The ‘Nascafe’ is a low-slung, dragster-influenced machine created in association with the American watch manufacturer Bell & Ross. Embedded in the tank is a $4,000 BR 01 Carbon timepiece, a further touch of originality.
The XLST3 is another radical departure from the norm. Dirt-track tires and race plates give the bike a sporty look rarely seen on Harleys, and the stock suspension has been replaced by high-performance items more commonly seen on superbikes. These are not the sort of motorcycles the Teutel family builds on American Chopper, and they’re all the better for it. Harley-Davidson is taking note too, with a new ‘Dark Custom’ range designed to attract younger, more style-conscious bikers.