A street-legal beach racer with WWII-era style…
The Race of Gentlemen — aka T.R.O.G. — is an annual event held on the Jersey Shore, where people come from all over the nation to race their hot rods and motorcycles down an eighth-mile strip of beach in front of the legendary Wildwood boardwalk and thousands of cheering spectators. It takes place just a stone’s throw from Cape May, once known as the “finest racing beach” in the world, and keeps alive the long American tradition of beach racing that reaches from the Daytona Beach and Road course to the Jersey Shore to the West Coast.
Enter Hoxton Moto of the UK, who make films for their dedicated Youtube channel (youtube.com/hoxtonmoto) and build custom bikes, which have been featured in such prestigious shows as Bike Shed London and Revolution Exhibitions. Like many of us, the Hoxton Moto crew has long lusted after the Harley-Davidsons and Indians of the 1940s, particularly the T.R.O.G., but the price of entry on these machines is just so steep:
“Finding and affording an original Harley or Indian of this era was beyond our means so this created an opportunity to build a replica with a twist.”
The team decided on a ’70s Ironhead Sportster as their donor, picking up a 1974 XLCH1000 that had been collecting dust in the previous owner’s garage. From there, they created the staggering, street-legal Ironhead beach racer you see here, enlisting the help of girder fork genius Jake Robbins and seat specialist Glenn Moger along the way. We especially love the handmade air intake and the wild friction damped, twin spring rear suspension — an homage to the Bentley & Draper Spring Frame.
The result is a drool-worthy tribute to the beach racers of a bygone era, and a bike we’d sure to rip across the sand. Below, we get more details from Shaun of Hoxton Moto.
Ironhead Beach Racer: In the Builder’s Words
Hoxton Moto’s core business is making films for its dedicated motorcycle youtube channel, Hoxton Moto. We also build bikes which have included a 1960’s Honda Race Replica, CB550 Brat Bike, and a Moto Morini Café Racer — which have all been exhibited at the Bike Shed Show in London and Revolution Exhibitions in Hastings.
Harley Project Inspiration
For years we have drooled over the styling of Harleys and Indians from the 1940’s. We were also inspired by the images of TROG in the USA. Finding and affording an original Harley or Indian of this era was beyond our means so this created an opportunity to build a replica with a twist.
So with this dream in mind, we set out to find a cheap Harley as a donor bike. We decided on a 1970’s Ironhead. After a lengthy search we found the ideal donor bike. The bike had been imported into the UK as a restoration project but aside from occasional tinkering it had languished in a garage for over 10-years. Without revealing our intentions, a deal was struck and like many bike projects the previous owner’s dream became our dream. Although our dream was in a very different direction…
We stripped the donor bike completely, retaining just the engine and frame. We approached Jake Robbins Engineering (renowned Bike Builder and Girder Fork Specialist) to fit a set of his hand-built girder forks and to create a rigid rear end. After a short one-way discussion and bamboozled by his vision, Jake persuaded us to let him loose on the rear suspension to create a friction damped, twin spring, live canter lever, spring frame. This was Jake’s homage to a Bentley & Draper Spring Frame. Like a man possessed the angle grinder came out, the welder spluttered and snorted and he smashed out the conversion.
Retaining the original rear wheel and brake, we sourced a 16’’ front rim and a drum brake from an Enfield Bullet. After producing the rolling chassis, we moved onto the styling.
Three important features of the styling were handlebars, fuel tank and the seat. Jake had some old bars collecting dust in his workshop which he donated and we set about fabricating the seat and tank.
The seat was relatively quick to fabricate once we had decided on the shape and dimensions. However, we deliberated over the fuel tank design, we didn’t want to build a classic shaped Harley tank, we wanted something unusual. After much carving, rasping and choking on foam particles, a shape emerged. Once the design was agreed we started to cut, bend and shape the sections of the tank, mount lugs, fittings and then snotted (welded) it all together.
After completing the overall design, we had to find a way of mounting the essential oil tank and battery box. We built the oil tank from scratch; designed to be rubber mounted in the small space between the engine and frame. The battery box was yet another hand built feature and then mounted on the swinging arm.
A predominant feature of the Ironhead is the air intake housing, we looked at all the aftermarket designs, of which there are many, but decided that we had come this far and we would fabricate our own. With the left over ally from tank build and a few hand tools the air intake shape evolved into its unique and apparently eye-catching design.
The rear mudguard and lights were found at auto-jumbles. The seat was covered be Glenn Moger. The control cables and wiring were all done in-house. To finish off the beach racer look we fabricated and mounted the race plates.
Finally, the bike was sprayed and painted by hand, with a sign-writer brushing in the numbers and tank design.
We now just hope the previous owner doesn’t see what we’ve done!
- Changed original telescopic forks for girders.
- Rebuilt front wheel using 16 inch rim, fitted a Dunlop tyre and an Enfield drum brake..
- Discarded original rear twin shocks for a twin spring frame.
- Used original 16’’ rear wheel and drum brake but fitted a Coker Classic tyre.
- Designed and fabricated in-house: fuel tank, oil tank, seat pan and race plates. Mudguard, levers, tacho and lights sourced from autojumbles. Control cables and wiring all done in-house.
- Girder forks and rear suspension supplied, built and fitted by the modest genius which is otherwise known as Jake Robbins Engineering.
- Seat upholstered by Glenn Moger.
- The bike is entirely hand painted to achieve a rustic age look and will improve with age, fuel / oil leaks and wear and tear.