Like many accomplished customizers, Martin Becker has lived an eventful life. For almost twenty years he’s been building bikes in the beautiful ancient city of Heidelberg—and petrol has been coursing through his veins since he got his first moped at the age of 13.
At 16, he started an apprenticeship as a motorbike mechanic, but his love affair with two wheels was interrupted by travels through India, Burma, Nepal and Thailand.
Martin rode through south India for weeks on a rented 500cc Bullet. On a trip to Rajasthan, he met some locals with custom Royal Enfields, and his custom building journey began.
He bought two Bullets, rebuilt them, and sent them to Germany.
By 2007 he’d caught the eye of the influential German magazine Custombike and these days he focuses on V-twins, mostly with old rigid frames. The TÜV restrictions in Germany are getting more draconian year-by-year, and old Harley frames—or aftermarket replicas from Santee or VG—give him extra liberty.
The story behind this classy S&S-powered shovelhead is just as interesting. It has an original 1955 ‘straight leg’ FL frame, to keep it road legal, but just about everything else has been modified.
‘Dr Skin’ belongs to dermatologist Dr. Andreas Schlegel, who admired an S&S-powered hardtail that Martin had built for a mutual friend. He wanted something similar, but a little skinnier and with a more classic look.
Martin already had the Panhead frame in his shop, and started figuring out what parts to fit. He quickly agreed on a style with Andreas: “We decided to make it classy, with black and white lines. To be honest, I was never a big fan of ‘colorful’ motorbikes.”
Power now comes from a new 93ci S&S Shovelhead motor, which pumps out 75 hp. S&S also supplied the Super E carb, the Teardrop air intake, and the ignition and coils. Handmade header pipes feed into SC-Project mufflers, and the oil tank is handmade too.
The gearbox is an S&S 5-in-4 transmission case, assembled with Andrews gears. Designed for 4-speed Big Twin frames, the case is only compatible with chain drive—but Martin has fitted a 2” ‘Shorty’ open belt drive primary from BDL. This works with an electric start—and encloses the tiny lithium battery. There’s also a BDL hydraulic clutch to keep the drivetrain operating smoothly.
Martin’s hooked up a set of Sportster forks at the front, shortening them by two inches and adding an extra three degrees of rake. They’re hooked up to Sportster bars via Biltwell risers, and are graced with hand controls from KustomTech.
The stance is absolutely spot-on, helped by a 21-inch front wheel and an 18-inch rear rim. Braking is very solid indeed, with a four-piston Performance Machine setup on the front wheel and a two-piston disc at the back. The rubber is classic Heidenau, for more of a vintage vibe.
If you’ve figured out where the gas tank is from, you’ve got better eyes than us: it’s been lifted off an old NSU bike. The lovely rear fender is from Cooper Smithing Co. in the States, and the classy black paint was handled by Chikos Pinstriping. The frame has been cleaned up and powdercoated to match by Metal Skin Works, and it’s topped off with an MB Cycles seat.
Andreas requested an unorthodox touch to finish off his bike: a compact trunk on the left side to house essentials such as a bottle of whisky, cigars and a lighter. So Martin located a suitable case from an old Moto Guzzi police bike and adapted it to fit.
“It was a very cool job and it also ended up in friendship,” Martin reports. “A few times, Andy brought his ‘tools’ when he visited me in my shop—and took some of my blood to check my condition, or cut out some birthmarks!”
For Martin’s sake, we’re just really glad he didn’t make any mistakes while building the bike …
Published at Mon, 01 Jun 2020 17:01:16 +0000